It is the morning of Hug-A-Smurf Day in the Smurf Village, and Empath met Tapper at the entrance of his tavern. "Salutations, fellow Tapper," Empath greeted.
"Smurf o' the morning to you, my good Empath," Tapper responded, giving each other a hug. "And happy Hug-A-Smurf Day to you. I always enjoy smurfing a hug with you."
"This smurf enjoys them as well, Tapper," Empath said. "You're the one who helped this smurf not be afraid of hugs when this smurf was still fearful of being touched by any Smurf."
"I am not ashamed of ever helping you become the Smurf that you are, Empath," Tapper said, smiling. "Have you seen Grouchy lately?"
"If the other Smurfs are starting to engage in the holiday's activities after Papa Smurf's announcement, he should be coming any minute by this smurf's estimation," Empath said.
"Empath! Tapper! Quick! They're smurfing after me!" Grouchy shouted, running straight toward the tavern.
"Ah, smurf o' the morning to you, my fellow Grouchy," Tapper said. "You're just in time...my tavern is open for you. Smurf right in and make yourself comfortable."
"Thanks!" Grouchy said as he rushed past them and straight into the tavern.
Empath looked at Tapper with some amusement. "This smurf didn't think a Smurf like you would be purposely keeping a Smurf from being hugged on Hug-A-Smurf Day."
"You know me, Empath, that as much as I like the holiday, I do not like how my fellow Smurfs abuse the holiday, particularly when it smurfs to Grouchy," Tapper said. "That is why I have established my tavern as a No Hug Zone on this day, and that is why I have smurfed you to help me keep the other Smurfs out of the tavern."
"Even if it's Papa Smurf?" Empath wondered. "This smurf is not sure he would like not being able to go somewhere that is made off-limits to him."
"I'm sure that Papa Smurf would understand my reasons, Empath," Tapper said. "I have no reason to believe that he would smurf in a way that is totally against his own good nature."
"This smurf senses that he won't, Tapper," Empath said.
"Ah, greetings, my good laddies," Duncan said as he approached the tavern. "There's nothing like a good hug with my two closest fellow Smurfs to smurf off my Hug-A-Smurf Day."
"Smurf o' the morning to you, my fellow Duncan," Tapper said as he and Empath received their hugs from him. "You're not here to try smurfing a hug with Grouchy now, are you?"
"Aye, that Grouchy Smurf is just too finicky a Smurf when it comes to smurfing anything from any Smurf," Duncan said. "I'd rather he smurf me a hug if he's going to smurf that way, but I'm not going to smurf any offense from him if he doesn't."
"We're just trying to keep the other Smurfs from 'mugging a hug' with Grouchy, as some Smurfs are fond of saying, Duncan," Empath said. "It's going to be tricky, with some Smurfs looking for a way to catch Grouchy off-guard and ambush him with a hug. But we're certain that we'll succeed in keeping Grouchy safe from the hug-muggers."
"That's a way of smurfing it, Empath," Duncan said. "If anyone's going to try to ambush me, they're going to wish that they haven't tried smurfing it. Anyway, I'll leave you both to your guarding Grouchy while I go smurf some hugs from the other Smurfs, particularly that Hefty Smurf."
"Aye, I would think my fellow Hefty wouldn't know if you truly love him as a friend or just want to smurf him with the kind of hugs that you smurf with him, Duncan," Tapper said.
Duncan laughed. "I'll let the laddie think whatever he wants! It's not going to change how I feel for him a jot, even for all the times that he smurfs me by that name Gutsy!"
After Duncan departed, Empath said, "This smurf senses that there's a story about Grouchy that concerns this particular holiday, Tapper."
"Aye, Empath, that there is," Tapper said. "About a few years before you smurfed home for good, there was this fairy who smurfed a magic ice wand that would smurf the hearts of whoever it smurfed cold, so that they would not feel anything. I have seen my fellow Smurfs get smurfed with this ice wand before I myself fell victim to it. Papa Smurf read from one of his books that the power of the ice wand can only be broken if the holder of the wand was smurfed a hug from a confirmed grouch."
"And every Smurf knows that Grouchy is a confirmed grouch," Empath said.
"I would liken him more to an introvert, but make no mistake, that is what he is, Empath," Tapper said. "Grouchy didn't like that he had to smurf a hug to anybody, much less be smurfed a hug from anybody, but Papa Smurf said that if he didn't smurf a hug with the holder of the ice wand by sunset, the Smurfs who were smurfed by the wand would have frozen hearts forever. When it finally smurfed down to just him, Smurfette, and Baby Smurf, the fairy kept trying to smurf Baby with the ice wand, but its power didn't work on babies, so that gave Grouchy some time to try smurfing a hug with the fairy. It wasn't easy, but when Smurfette told him to do it for Papa Smurf, Grouchy bravely reached out and smurfed a hug with the fairy, and when that happened, the wand's power was broken over both the fairy and the Smurfs that were smurfed by it."
"And this made the Smurfs so grateful for Grouchy that they wanted to smurf a hug with him, whether he wanted one or not," Empath said.
"That poor Grouchy could never be smurfed alone, even for smurfing a heroic act, Empath," Tapper said. "I wisely chose to smurf myself away from Grouchy, because I know how he feels and I would never smurf him a hug unless he specifically asks for one."
"This smurf shares the same sentiment, Tapper," Empath said. "Still, for all the times that he knows what it's like for this smurf to be a Psyche, not being able to express any emotions, this smurf wishes that he would grow beyond himself and not be afraid to express himself with other Smurfs besides the both of us."
"All in good time, Empath, all in good time," Tapper said. "We must let the work of the Almighty smurf into his heart and help him to understand that he is truly loved despite who he is at heart. I will never stop praying for the moment when Grouchy will not be as...uh, grouchy as he normally is."
Empath nodded, understanding. "In the meantime, this smurf will never stop being a friend to Grouchy, and this smurf knows you'll never stop being one as well."
Then Smurfette appeared. "Hello there, Empath, and hello there, Tapper...happy Hug-A-Smurf Day," she greeted, giving the two Smurfs a hug.
"Smurf o' the morning to you, my dear Smurfette," Tapper responded. "I always enjoy the embraces that I smurf from you, even if they're only because we're friends and fellow Smurfs."
"I enjoy them even more with my big blue teddy bear," Smurfette said, giggling as she was obviously referring to Empath. "By the way, have either of you seen Grouchy? I wanted to smurf him a Hug-A-Smurf Day hug, but I can't find him."
"I'm afraid that he's unavailable, Smurfette," Tapper said.
"Oh, really?" Smurfette asked, looking at Tapper and Empath with some suspicion. "You're not trying to hide him from every other Smurf on this day, are you?"
"We're only trying to protect Grouchy, Smurfette," Empath said. "We know how much he hates this day, and we don't want to see him get hurt by any Smurf."
"I honestly don't see how a hug could hurt any Smurf, Empath," Smurfette said.
"You should know that Empath himself did not like being smurfed in a way that he didn't want to be smurfed, Smurfette," Tapper said. "There's nothing wrong with a Smurf saying no to how anyone is going to smurf them. Even you as a female Smurf must realize this need for yourself as you have a hundred Smurfs all wanting to smurf you as their one true love."
Smurfette seemed to understand. "Well, I didn't think I would ever have to equate my feelings as a female Smurf with those of Grouchy or Empath. If that's what Grouchy wants, then I'm going to respect that, even if it hurts me for doing so. I just don't want Grouchy to feel so alone on this day like he normally does."
"This smurf can assure you, Smurfette, that he will not be alone," Empath said.
Smurfette smiled. "I'll smurf the both of you later when I'm done smurfing hugs to all my fellow Smurfs," she said before she departed.
Tapper sighed. "If I were Grouchy, I wouldn't have passed up the opportunity of smurfing a hug from Smurfette. She's the Smurf that every Smurf would want to smurf a hug from any day of the week."
"She is very popular as the only adult female Smurf in the village, Tapper," Empath said. "And given how nature works, she's also very attractive. This smurf senses that Grouchy must feel the same way toward Smurfette like his fellow Smurfs."
"If he does, Empath, he's very secretive about it," Tapper said. "My good fellow Courier smurfs me of the times that he delivers messages and packages that are unsmurfed to Smurfette, and they are usually very nice gifts, which makes her wonder how smurfed them to her."
"And you think that all these gifts and messages come from Grouchy?" Empath asked.
"I can't think of another Smurf who would smurf so far out of his way to smurf his affections to Smurfette without letting her know it was him, Empath," Tapper said.
"This smurf hears that Amore is so interested in Smurfette that he would do anything to be her one true love, Tapper," Empath said.
"Aye, but that Amore certainly has his head in the smurfs when it comes to actually talking to her," Tapper said, giggling. "The most he will smurf around her is play his accordion and sing his serenades, which I have to admit smurf pretty good smurfing from him. The members of the Puffo clan have the best romantic singers in them."
"This smurf thinks that you sing better than Amore does, which makes this smurf wonder if you ever tried serenading to Smurfette," Empath said.
"I prefer to do most of my singing during my private hours of worship to the Almighty, Empath," Tapper said. "But being around Smurfette does at times smurf a song in my heart, which makes me a little sad that she will never hear anything of what I feel towards her besides our friendship."
"Well, if there's a chance for Grouchy to be happy with Smurfette, Tapper, this smurf would be willing to risk not spending the rest of this smurf's life with her to make sure she is happy as well with him," Empath said.
"That would indeed be a miracle, Empath...that would indeed," Tapper said.
Just then the Smurflings came around with Puppy. "Hi, Empath...ready to smurf me a big Hug-A-Smurf Day hug?" Sassette greeted.
"Hey, smurf some arm for me, Empath," Snappy insisted.
Empath picked up Sassette and Snappy together in his arms and squeezed them tight. "Oh, you two are getting so big!" Empath jested, laughing after he let them go.
"Holey hickory nuts, Empath, what are you and Tapper smurfing here?" Nat asked as he and Slouchy received their hugs from Empath and Tapper.
"We're just here to help out a friend who doesn't like hugs, my dear fellow Nat," Tapper answered.
"Grouchy never seems to like anything in this village, I bet," Slouchy said.
"There are some things that Grouchy likes, Slouchy," Empath said. "It's just that hugging isn't one of them. We just want to keep him safe from those who want to 'mug a hug' with him."
"Smurf me about it, Empath," Sassette said. "On Smurf Friendship Day, when Cupid's out with his love arrows, I can't get the boy Smurflings to stop following me. It's like I turned into Smurfette or something."
"You'll never be like Smurfette, Sassy," Snappy said. "It doesn't mean that we don't like you or anything like that."
"So Grouchy is going to smurf in the tavern all day?" Nat asked. "He must get pretty lonely when he just has himself to smurf with."
"Not to mention pretty boring," Slouchy added.
"I'm certain that your fellow Smurf is pretty capable of entertaining himself, my fellow Smurflings," Tapper answered.
"So are you four going to smurf something special today?" Empath asked.
"Well, we're going to smurf off into the woods to play with Tracker smurfing over us, Empath," Nat said. "It's certainly a nice enough day to smurf with each other."
"It's just too bad you can't smurf with us, Empath, because you're always much fun," Sassette said.
"Yeah, more fun than even being around Brainy," Snappy said.
"This smurf is certain that there will be other opportunities for that," Empath said. "The only thing this smurf wants you to do is enjoy yourselves."
"Before we go...can't we have just a moment in the tavern to...," Slouchy tried to ask.
"No!" Tapper answered sternly. "Now move along before I have Empath smurf you on your way!"
"Well, just thought I would ask," Slouchy said with a slight laugh. "We'll smurf you both later."
As the Smurflings made their goodbyes and ran off with Puppy, Empath turned to Tapper. "That was a rather harsh response to the Smurflings coming from you."
"I may be a gentle Smurf, Empath, but I am not an easy pushover like our friend who used to be called Pushover," Tapper said. "You remember how he used to be, and this was before the Firefly Festival we smurfed some years ago. The way he smurfs now, though, it makes me wonder if he shouldn't be called Stubborn Smurf."
"And you want to be just as stubborn as he is about letting any Smurf come into your tavern to hug Grouchy," Empath said.
"If Grouchy's going to enjoy this day without being hugged, Empath, we might as well be strong enough to smurf in the gap for him," Tapper said. "We must be ready to smurf for anyone who will dare try to smurf our No Hug Zone, no matter how they will attempt to do so. This will indeed be a test of our faith and Grouchy's trust in us."
Empath nodded. "Then this smurf will stand beside you to make sure that we will not fail him."