Part 7

Back in the village, there was a rehearsal for the wedding ceremony that Brainy Smurf was in charge of. He wanted to make sure everything went along smoothly in the rehearsal as it would in the actual ceremony, but without all the players, and also with a few Smurfs causing problems like Dimwitty bringing the wrong things to the bride and groom, it was very frustrating to both Brainy and to the others in the rehearsal.

Then during the rehearsal came a shout. "Success, my fellow Smurfs! We've safely brought the Pussywillow Pixies to our village!" It was Duncan with the Smurfs that went with him into Pussywillow Hollow, plus some others.

Smurfette left her place in the rehearsal, as did most of the other Smurfs, to greet their new arrivals. Brainy did not like this interruption one bit.

"Oh, my young child," Elderberry said as she and Smurfette greeted each other with a hug. "I'm so happy for you. I wouldn't think that I would be able to see someone like you get married to one of your fellow Smurfs!"

"So where is the lucky bridegroom?" Lilac asked.

"He's over there at the altar with Brainy," Smurfette said. "Empath, the Pussywillow Pixies are here!"

Empath left the altar to meet the new arrivals. "It's so good to see you again," Empath said to them. "This smurf only wishes that our first meeting was under better circumstances."

"You look like such a brave and noble soul, young man," Elderberry said. "Not that I don't think highly of your friends that escorted us here."

"Yes, well, these Smurfs are truly a brave and strong group, Elderberry," Empath said. "This smurf couldn't think of any Smurfs who would be best suited for the job."

"Okay, you Smurfs, let's smurf this rehearsal again from the top," Brainy said as he approached them, disgusted by all the hassles and interruptions. "I suppose that the three of you Pussywillow Pixies are assigned to be the bridesmaids for Smurfette."

"That's right, and I'm supposed to be the flower girl," Acorn said.

"Fine, then you four can join Smurfette as we resmurf the rehearsal one more time," Brainy said.

"Brainy, the pixies have just arrived," Smurfette said. "Can't you smurf them enough time to relax before smurfing them through a rehearsal?"

"You're the one who wanted this wedding to be so smurfect, Smurfette, so I'm just trying to follow orders and making sure that everybody else follows them, including the bride and groom," Brainy said.

"Well, I say you should let them relax and stop worrying so much about how smurfect this wedding is going to be," Smurfette said.

"This smurf agrees with what Smurfette has to say, Brainy," Empath said. "They seem to know what's expected of their roles in the wedding. They'll do just fine regardless."

Brainy pulled on his hat, ready to tear it off his head. "Oh, fine! Smurf it your way! But don't blame me if your wedding doesn't turn out to be smurfect!"

"My, my, this Brainy Smurf seems to be rather touchy today," Elderberry said.

"He just wants to do a perfect job at the wedding," Empath said. "By tomorrow, he's not going to care about all these little problems and will just enjoy himself the way he normally does."

"Yeah, by smurfing everybody to sleep," Snappy said.

"We just want to thank you for thinking about including us as part of your wedding," Bramble said. "It looks like it's going to turn out to be beautiful anyway."

"Hey, Clumsy," Pansy said as she spotted him among the Smurfs. "Long time, no see. How have you been doing lately?"

"Uh, you know, just the same as usual for me," Clumsy said. "Smurfette just smurfs so pretty, I can't wait to smurf her in the wedding dress."

"Me too," Pansy said. "Of course, I would probably trip and fall if I were to wear a wedding dress."

"It don't matter to me if you'd still look pretty in one anyway," Clumsy said.

"Oh, that's just sweet of you," Pansy said, as the two of them went off to talk to each other.

Empath turned his attention to the Smurfs escorting the Pussywillow Pixies. "So how was it staying in the hollow for about a week?" he asked Duncan.

"Uhhh, I feel like the smurf of the place has smurfed onto me, Empath," Duncan said. "And then I had to deal with Hefty smurfing on about you and Smurfette all the time. I think there's something wrong with the boy."

Empath noticed that Hefty had just left, wearing a facial expression more commonly found on Grouchy.

"This smurf senses that he isn't comfortable about what's going on," Empath said.

"So, are we on for smurfing the bachelor party in the Imaginarium?" Tuffy asked.

"Of course, Tuffy," Empath said. "Why wouldn't this smurf want to attend such a party?"

"Some of your fellow Smurfs might think you'd change your mind if you smurfed through the bachelor party, Empath," Century said.

"Really?" Empath said. "That depends on what's going to happen during the party."

"Just be prepared for anything, is all that I can smurf you, Empath," Duncan said. "This will separate the Smurfs from the Smurflings."

Empath sighed as he began to wonder what's in store for him.

Meanwhile, Handy had a private talk with Marina the mermaid. "So how's life with your...uh, new boyfriend?" Handy asked.

Marina laughed. "He reminds me so much of you, Handy...he's smart, brilliant, inventive, brave! He showed me the people who lived in his village under the sea, and it just amazes me how much they are like your people...well, except that there also female Snorkelians."

"I just wish we could smurf more time together, Marina," Handy said. "It's just so unfair that I have to smurf on land and you have to smurf in the sea. I'm glad that you've smurfed somebody who will always be with you."

"Handy, he can never replace the feelings that I have for you," Marina said. "I still love you and I still wish that we could actually be together. I still appreciate that you went out of your way to rescue me and my father King Aquarius, and that you got the lilyroot from the Pool of Avalon during the time he was sick."

"Yeah, those were the days, all right," Handy said. "And now I'm surprised to find out that I'm a grandfather Smurf to one of my creations."

"The Clockwork Smurf," Marina said. "It's surprising how much he looks like your Papa Smurf now."

"There's just so much that smurfened with him while he was smurfing with King Gerard, I just wish he could have smurfed me more often about those things," Handy said.

Marina held Handy's hands in hers. "Handy, you'll make a good husband and father someday. My only hope is that you'll find somebody that will care for you just as much as I do."

"That's my wish as well, Marina," Handy said. "But there will never be anyone in my life who's like you. Nor will there be anyone like Smurfette."

"No, I guess not," Marina said, smiling as they looked into each other's eyes.

By the end of the day, with all the preparations done and the rehearsals finished, the Smurfs went their own separate ways to their own separate parties. Smurfette joined her female guests in the dining hall where Biscotti and Culinary served finger food and she opened up all the gifts her fellow Smurfs have made for her, including the ones that Nanny Smurf have knitted over the week. Then Tailor arrived with Vanity.

"This is the finished wedding dress, Smurfette," Tailor said as he presented it inside the box. "There's also the hat that Empath smurfs you're supposed to wear when you become his wife."

Smurfette pulled out the dress and showed it to all her guests. "Oh, Smurfette, that is absolutely gorgeous," Lilac said.

"That is a very beautiful wedding dress, my child," Elderberry said.

"Shucks, you make me wish that I was young enough to smurf that thing," Nanny said.

"That dress seems very appropriate on you, Smurfette," Flowerbell said.

Laconia signed a message of approval which Smurfette understood.

"So how does it feel to soon become the wife of Empath Smurf?" Bramble asked.

"Gee, I don't know," Smurfette said. "It's like so exciting and yet so scary at the same time. I can't believe this is actually happening to me."

"Laconia says she is sure you'll make an excellent wife," Periwinkle said, interpreting her signs.

"Being a wife," Smurfette said. "It's like something I always wanted to be, and yet it means that I won't be the Smurf I used to be anymore."

"That is part of growing up, my dear child," Elderberry said. "To step from being a maiden into being a mother is no small easy task. In some ways, I envy that you have found a mate that you will love with all your heart and soul. It's just something us pixies can only ever dream about."

"I only wish that I had your courage, Smurfette," Flowerbell said. "I wouldn't have had to rely upon my charms to trick anyone into loving or marrying me."

"But the thing is, Smurfette, we'll be there to witness your smurfing from being a single Smurf into being Mrs. Empath Smurf," Nanny said.

Smurfette shed a tear. "I know, and I'm very grateful to have you all here as my witnesses, and as my friends. This is the very day I have waited for. And I don't want to let anybody down."

"You won't, my child, you won't," Elderberry said. "Believe in yourself."

Meanwhile, unnoticed by any of the female guests at the bridal shower, a lone Smurf was watching the whole thing, remembering the days when it was just him and Smurfette, and hardly anyone stood in his way except for the other Smurfs whom Smurfette had also loved. It seemed so fair and honest...until Empath came along, and all bets were off. Now he wanted so much to tell Smurfette how much he loved her, and yet no matter what, it wouldn't change how she would ever feel towards him at all.

He felt a single tear fall from his eye, watching Smurfette being all happy.

Meanwhile, in the Imaginarium, the adult male Smurfs were holding their bachelor party. Only this party wasn't what Empath or anybody was expecting.

"Ah, here we are again, right where I want you to be," Gargamel said as he was holding a good deal of the Smurfs captive in his laboratory. "You rotten little Smurfs think you can always get away from me, but this time is where I will prove you wrong. Soon I will be able to complete my Philosopher's Stone, and with that stone I'm going to turn half of your village into gold, and the other half is going to serve me and my cat on our dinner plates!"

"You won't get away with this, Gargamel," one of the captured Smurfs said.

"Always the same refrain that I hear from you," Gargamel said. "Well, where's your beloved Papa Smurf this time? Is he going to save you like he normally does? Or is he too cowardly and too impotent to do anything about his little Smurfs?"

"Empath will come to save us, and then you'll be sorry," another captured Smurf said.

"Oh, yes, the son of Papa Smurf," Gargamel said. "Let him come...I will be expecting him."

"Uh, Gargy, don't you think it would be better to give up the Smurfs rather than risk having Empath come to their rescue again?" Scruple asked a bit fearfully.

"Have you no faith in the power of evil, my worthless student?" Gargamel reprimanded. "He is just one powerful Smurf, but his power is no match for mine."

"That's what you think," Empath said, emerging from behind a vial on a shelf. "Crazy, sound the alarm!"

Crazy appeared from behind another vial and made a very loud siren noise. Then every Smurf popped up from everywhere in Gargamel's lair and attacked the evil wizard, some with various projectiles, others with direct assaults.

"Azrael! Scruple! Stop those Smurfs!" Gargamel shouted as he futilely tried to swat some away.

But Scruple was easily overwhelmed by the number of Smurfs attacking him. It was the day of their final battle with Gargamel when he wore the Gauntlets of Gantharros, except that they were fighting him without the gauntlets.

"There comes a time when every Smurf must stand up for what is good and cute and blue in the world," Narrator said as he was observing the Smurf attack on Gargamel. "And on this very night before Empath and Smurfette's wedding, that time is now!"

"Hey, seriously?" Grouchy said, standing beside Narrator.

"Sorry, it's kind of what I do," Narrator said.

"Hey, gato estúpido! Tratar de cogerme!" Zipper said, taunting Azrael.

Azrael tried to give chase to Zipper, only to find that Zipper was always one step ahead of him, easily evading him. He ended up luring Azrael into a net where he got tangled up in, struggling to find his way out until he hit his head against a wall, knocking him out.

Then came Wild Smurf swooping down from the rafters with a big sack that he dumped right onto the wizard's head, blocking his vision. Gargamel found himself falling right to the floor, where a bunch of Smurfs were waiting to tie him up with rope.

The captured Smurfs cheered as Empath unlocked the cage they were trapped in. They rejoiced as they saw their nemesis again on the floor at the mercy of his prey.

"This is one victory that's definitely worth celebrating!" one of the Smurfs said.

"And here's where we have the victory celebration," Jokey Smurf said. "Cue the beach and the music!"

The scenery then changed from Gargamel's hovel to the beach front setting where the Smurfs normally held their beach parties. Sloppy was already there with his band ready to start the music. And soon the Smurfs were dancing and singing and having the time of their lives together.

Polaris stood by and watched the festivities from a distance, not wishing to participate in them. "A rather interesting setting for this 'bachelor party' of yours, Empath," Polaris commented.

Jokey went over to where Empath and Polaris were standing. "Great idea for a bachelor party, isn't it?" he said.

"A very interesting surprise, indeed," Empath said. "One last adventure we'll have together against the evil wizard Gargamel. This smurf appreciates the sentiment."

"It's too bad Hefty isn't here to smurf the fun, though," Jokey said as he went back to join the others in dancing.

"Wait a minute," Empath said as he went over to talk to Jokey. "You said that Hefty hasn't appeared in here?"

"I haven't smurfed him at all, Empath, and neither did Tapper smurf up," Jokey said. "I could understand why Tapper wouldn't smurf up, but Hefty?"

"You suspect something has happened to him?" Polaris asked when Empath rejoined him.

"Duncan said earlier that Hefty was just going on about this smurf and Smurfette when they were both escorting the Pussywillow Pixies," Empath said. "And this smurf sensed that Hefty wasn't happy. This smurf must go and talk to him to find out."

"This one will remain here to make sure the festivities don't get out of hand," Polaris said as Empath exited the Imaginarium.

Empath realized that if neither Hefty or Tapper showed up at the bachelor party, there was only one place Hefty would go. It wasn't exactly the place that Hefty himself would frequent, and Empath knew that Hefty wasn't much of a drinker of sarsaparilla ale. But Tapper's Tavern was the place to look for him.

"Thank Smurfness you're here, Empath," Tapper said as Empath entered the tavern. "I was going to smurf your bachelor party, but I just knew one Smurf wasn't going to attend it, and I didn't know what to smurf, so I let him smurf here!"

"Where is Hefty?" Empath asked.

"Over by that table, smurfing with that Psychelisphere," Tapper answered, pointing in that particular direction. "All I smurfed him was a single mug of sarsaparilla ale, and not his usual kind, either. But it's like he barely even smurfing it!"

"This smurf will handle this, Tapper," Empath said as he went over to the table where Hefty was sitting. His face wore frustration, and not just from how badly he was trying to play the Psychelisphere. Something was definitely on his mind.

"Would you mind if this smurf just sat here with you, Hefty?" Empath asked.

Hefty shrugged, barely noticing Empath at all. "Be my smurf."

Empath sat across from Hefty and watched him continue playing the Psychelisphere. "It's rather strange to see you play a game that doesn't require physical exertion, Hefty," Empath said.

"Just so much on my mind about what's smurfing on, I don't know what to smurf," Hefty said, again not paying any attention to Empath.

"What is it that you're thinking about?" Empath asked.

"Just that one question, Empath...why," Hefty said. "Why is it that Smurfette will never smurf in love with me no matter how hard I try to please her? Did I smurf anything wrong to her?"

"All this smurf can sense is that the only thing you did to Smurfette was just be yourself around her, Hefty," Empath answered. "She wouldn't expect anything less than that from you."

"But it's still not enough," Hefty said. "I can see now that nothing I can smurf for her will ever be enough to smurf her heart."

"And you blame this smurf for it, Hefty," Empath said.

"Yeah, I blame you for everything that smurfs wrong in my life," Hefty said. "You smurfed into my life and smurfed a mess of it. I smurfed pride into being the first...the firstborn among the Smurfs, the first that found Smurfette out in the forest, possibly even the first that smurfed in love with Smurfette. And then you came and smurfed me that being first isn't everything. I really hated you for it, Empath. I wished that you could smurf back to Psychelia and never smurf back at all if it would mean that everything in my life would be smurfy."

"Do you still wish for this smurf to go back to Psychelia now?" Empath asked.

"If that would mean that Smurfette will marry me instead of you, then yes!" Hefty said. "But I see now that you truly don't belong in Psychelia anymore. And I can't wish for anything unsmurfy to happen to you or Smurfette because I'm too much of a Smurf for that. The thing is, I can't offer you or Smurfette anything but grief because the only thing I'm good at is smurfing muscles and smurfing with my fists!"

"That's not true, Hefty," Empath said. "If anything, whatever differences we may have with each other, you have always inspired this smurf to be strong and brave and to rely on this smurf's own physical strengths when this smurf's mental abilities aren't enough. This smurf would gladly give up all my minds-eye abilities just to be able to know what it's like to be you for a day. And those heart tattoos...this smurf originally thought you wore them because you love to show how strong you are. But now, this smurf sees that you have chosen that particular marking because you love to show that you care for your fellow Smurfs, and how you choose to show how you care for them is by using your strength to help others, not to hurt them."

"Yeah, I really helped my fellow Smurfs back then in the day, Empath," Hefty said. "I treated you, Grouchy, and everybody else really badly, and I'm beginning to realize how much of a jerk I was and how much of one I became over the years. Even Smurfette sees me as a jerk. I guess I desmurf it."

"We all have our faults, Hefty," Empath said. "But the one thing this smurf never wants you to stop being is who you are. And no matter how much you hate this smurf, this smurf is never going to hate you in return. You are my Smurf brother and you are my friend. Nothing in the world will ever change that."

"I'm not sure I can ever be a friend to you, Empath," Hefty said. "And I'm not sure I can let you marry Smurfette without me smurfing anything about it."

Empath sighed. "You have the right to confess yourself at the wedding, Hefty. Just get some rest and we'll see what happens tomorrow." He got up from his seat at the table and began to leave.

"Empath," Hefty said, "remember when you smurfed my hand when I was smurfing you hard in the chest, and I had to have my hand smurfed by you or else I wasn't going to smurf it again? You never apologized for it."

"This smurf can only apologize for causing you pain, Hefty, but not for the intent," Empath said.

"Well, I hated you for smurfing that to me," Hefty said, looking away from his game to look at Empath. "But now all I want to say is...thanks for smurfing that to me. I needed you to smurf me in my place."

Empath didn't know what to say to that. "This smurf will see you in the morning, Hefty," he said before he left.

Late at night, when every Smurf has gone to bed, Smurfette looked at herself with the wedding dress she was going to wear. She had to admit that it looked really beautiful on her. Tailor and Vanity had really put their hearts into making the dress be everything Smurfette wanted.

And then she looked at Empath's hat lying on the chair next to the mirror. She knew what it symbolized: the moment she wore the hat, she would no longer be just a child Smurf or even a single female Smurf. She would forever belong to Empath as his wife.

She picked up the hat and looked at it some more, pondering what she would look like wearing something that she knew has Empath written all over it. She felt like she had to satisfy her curiosity.

Immediately her other hand removed the white hat from her head and tossed it onto the chair before she placed Empath's hat on her head. She then looked at herself in the mirror with the wedding dress and Empath's hat.

She was startled at the sight of the Smurfette that was now staring back at her. It was like the day Papa Smurf had transformed her into a real Smurf. Except that now it wasn't that Empath's hat made her more beautiful or anything. It just simply made her look really different.

She continued to examine herself, turning this way and that, stroking her hair and trying to see something in this Smurfette that would soon become Empath's wife in more than just formality. She imagined what she would look like in everyday clothes, greeting her fellow Smurfs as well as her husband-to-be wearing his hat. She imagined what she would look like as a mother of Empath's children while wearing the hat. She imagined a lot of things, even what she would look like at Nanny Smurf's age while wearing the hat.

And through it all, she felt a bit scared. This was like a point of no return for her, that she cannot go back to the Smurfette who was originally so content with flowers and dresses and just loving all her fellow Smurfs equally without much of a care in the world.

But even through the fear, Smurfette managed to smile, as if being married to Empath would make her somebody to be recognized in the Smurf Village. She knew everybody would treat her different. But they would not treat her as a nobody Smurf anymore.

Already she was calling herself Mrs. Empath Smurf in her thoughts. It had such a beautiful sound to it that she didn't mind repeating it over and over. She could live with such a name.