Part 5

The three Smurfs arrived in the Smurf Village only to be greeted by Tapper. "Oh, blessed smurfs of Éire, thank the Almighty that the three of you have returned," Tapper cried out.
"Tapper, this smurf senses that something terrible has happened to Smurfette while we were gone," Empath said.
"The poor girl has smurfed into a faint while I was smurfing her to the tavern for a bit, and Hefty had to smurf her into the infirmary where Dabbler and Papa Smurf are right now smurfing over her," Tapper reported. "I fear that she's not going to have long to smurf."
"Michty me, that is not the news that I want to hear of her," Duncan said.
"Pray tell, were you successful in getting Hogatha to remove that horrible spell from Smurfette?" Tapper asked.
"This smurf regrets to inform you that Hogatha has prevented us from doing so, Tapper," Empath said.
Tapper sighed with resignation. "At the very least you have tried your best, Empath. All we can smurf now is pray for a miracle to happen."
"What do you mean, that's all we can smurf?" Brainy said, not liking what he was hearing. "We should smurf back there with Empath's mindlink and force Hogatha to smurf back what she's taken from Smurfette! We can't just let Smurfette pass away from us like that, can we?"
"Trying to force Hogatha to remove the spell right now wouldn't accomplish anything, Brainy," Empath said. "As long as she's enjoying her private moments with Harlequin, that would be the last thing on her mind that she would ever want to do."
"What a sad thing to know that it's what Hogatha is smurfing Smurfette's beauty for, a single night of unmarried pleasure," Tapper said with a hint of distaste in his voice. "I will smurf you to Smurfette right now so you can let her know what's happened."
Empath, Duncan, and Brainy followed Tapper into the infirmary, where they saw Smurfette lying in a bed, looking incredibly old and on her last legs of living. The three Smurfs were shocked at how much Smurfette has aged in such a short time.
"Thank Smurfness you returned, Empath," Papa Smurf said as soon as he appeared. "I can't understand for the smurf of me how this Spell Of Syphonia is making Smurfette age quicker than I was expecting. According to my understanding of the spell, it isn't supposed to smurf this amount of aging with beings that have longer lifespans like us."
"Perhaps it's because of the spells that you used to make Smurfette into a real Smurf, Papa Smurf," Empath said. "Since she wasn't a real Smurf in the first place, the spell must be tapping into the other spells that would give her youth and beauty for as long as she lived."
"Hmmm, that would seem to be the case," Papa Smurf said as he stroked his beard in thought. "Still, I don't like the thought that there's nothing I can do to reverse this process, which seems to be only smurfing worse for her."
"How long do you think Smurfette has to live, Papa Smurf?" Empath asked.
"At this rate, I would say that she would smurf well into the morning at the best," Papa Smurf said with some foreboding. "At the worst...she may not be..."
Empath understood what Papa Smurf was saying as he noticed his voice was trailing off. "This smurf appreciates what you are doing, Papa Smurf, as this smurf is sure that Smurfette will."
"Empath...are you here?" Smurfette spoke, her voice very faint and weak.
Empath took a hold of Smurfette's hand. "Yes, this smurf is here, Smurfette. This smurf regrets to inform you that this smurf cannot get Hogatha to remove the spell from you."
Smurfette sighed as she nodded slightly to the news. "Would you please smurf the night beside me, if this is going to be my last night of being alive?" she asked.
"Of course, Smurfette," Empath said, trying to fight back how he was feeling about Smurfette passing away. "This smurf won't ever leave your side."
Empath looked to the other five Smurfs gathered around her, and all of them quietly understood what Empath and Smurfette wanted. They left the two Smurfs alone with each other in the infirmary, realizing that this would be their last night together.
"Oh, please, Lord God Almighty, watch over my dear sister Smurfette and smurf her safe under the shelter of your wings, and let her know how much You love her and want her to be part of Your kingdom, where she will be happy forever and ever," Tapper quietly prayed.
"Amen," Duncan added, overhearing the prayer.

Empath laid on a bed next to Smurfette all night, looking into her face and watching her sleep for as long as he could stay awake to do so. He couldn't help feeling sorrowful for what Hogatha was doing to her all because she wanted to have one night with a wizard that she was attracted to. It didn't seem right that Smurfette was made to suffer for somebody else's pleasure, and it galled him that there was nothing he could do about it but hope and pray for a miracle as Tapper was spending the night in his own sleeping quarters doing.
Still through it all Empath sensed a bit of peace within Smurfette, knowing that he was there beside her and that he wasn't going to leave her until it was time for her to leave him, whenever that would be. It wasn't how Empath wanted to ever spend his last night with Smurfette, even if the only thing they could do together was hold hands since they were not married. But Empath was nonetheless grateful for the time he had with Smurfette for however long he had to spend it since he left Psychelia, for it was through her that he would know the love of a female Smurf, which was something that only Smurfette herself could show him.
As he drifted off to sleep, Empath had a dream. It was the night after the Smurfs had expelled Gargamel, Azrael, and Scruple from the forest forever when he had taken Smurfette on a flight over the entire forest, showing her every place that she wanted to go and see, even the moon in the sky which was clear enough to see on that night. As they flew back downward and returned to the Smurf Village, Smurfette noticed that they stopped at a graveyard where Empath had a bouquet of roses wrapped up in one of Papa Smurf's red hats placed at the marker of a Lillithina Smurfette, whom Smurfette now knew was Empath's mother…and Brainy's mother as well.
"This smurf knows that I wasn't the child you always wanted, Mama Smurf," Empath spoke sadly to the grave-laden Smurf, "but at the very least, you helped make Papa Smurf very happy. And though he broke your heart with what he had smurfed with me, this smurf wants you to know that I have forgiven him, and I forgive you as well. If only this smurf could have known you when you were alive, you could hear what this smurf had to say to you."
"Empath, wherever your mother is right now, I have a feeling that she smurfed everything you told her and knows you mean well," Smurfette chimed in, leading Empath's gaze away from the grave marker. "She might have smurfed you into this world, but I don't think she can ever love you the same way that Papa Smurf, your fellow Smurfs, and myself can."
"Then she is truly gone from this world, never to be a part of this smurf's life again," Empath muttered.
Smurfette nodded, gently holding Empath's face. "She is part of the past now, Empath, as is your life being smurfed away from us. I want you to live with us in the present, because there's no other Smurf I want to share tomorrow with than you."
With that, Smurfette pulled Empath closer and kissed him full on the mouth. The kiss seemed to last forever, and when it ended, Empath felt like he didn't want it to end, for it was such a wonderful feeling, even more wonderful than when she first kissed him on the cheek. It made Empath realize that Smurfette would always be there for him, no matter what happened, and that she would always love him. It made Empath feel that he loved Smurfette as well.
"Great Ancestors!" Empath whispered. "This smurf wants to live and share that same tomorrow with you, Smurfette."
He gently took Smurfette in his arms and kissed her on the mouth. It was a kiss that this time felt like it had lasted forever for them both.
But then suddenly something in that dream changed, and Empath felt like he was kissing a totally different person in Smurfette's place. He let go and saw that the female he was kissing was Hogatha.
"So was that kiss good for you, blue boy?" Hogatha asked in a mocking tone, laughing and snorting. "It certainly was for me."
Empath stood looking aghast at the form of the female that now stood before him. "Hogatha! What have you done with Smurfette?" he demanded.
"Oh, the little bluebell you were with," Hogatha said rather casually. "Well, I took her home to my castle and used her youth and beauty to make myself the most beautiful sorceress in all the land, and it was all because of that dreamboat Harlequin, who is truly a sorcerer among sorcerers."
"You used Smurfette's beauty just so you could have a night alone with that wizard," Empath said very angrily. "This smurf won't let you get away with it."
"Oh, but I have, and I shall, and there's nothing you could do about it, because once Smurfette's beauty is gone, I shall remain the most beautiful sorceress that's ever lived, and that will leave you without anyone in your life to fall in love with," Hogatha said with every bit of delicious malice. "Won't that be a terrible shame for you and your little blue friends?"
Empath became so angry that he reached out to grab Hogatha, only to find himself inside a cage that just magically appeared around him.
"Ah, ah, ah, shame on you to do that to your dear old Aunt Hogatha, sweetie," Hogatha scolded. "You should have better respect for your elders, especially when one of them is going to take all your friends someday and use them as part of my beauty treatments. I'm sure there's enough essence in your entire village to keep me looking young and beautiful for years to come."
Empath then saw that he was no longer in the Smurf Village, but rather inside Hogatha's castle, where he could see dozens of cages, each with one of his fellow Smurfs inside. They were all crying for help, wanting Empath to free them and rescue them before Hogatha drains their essence from them. Empath struggled to break free of the cage he was in, but the bars were too strong for him to break.
"Goodbye, blue world," Brainy cried out as he was plucked out of his cage by Hogatha and carried toward the giant cauldron of boiling blue liquid that the evil witch was ready to dump him in.
"Hogatha! No! My brother! Don't do it!" Empath cried out, watching helplessly as Brainy was dropped into the bubbling liquid, with Hogatha laughing maniacally.
"Empath," Smurfette called out, causing Empath to wake up. He could see that it was now morning and Smurfette had awakened from her sleep, but she still looked like she was dying.
"Smurfette, this smurf is pleased that you're still with me," Empath said as he got up from the bed and went over to hold Smurfette's hand.
"I dreamed last night about how much I wanted to smurf old together with you, when we're old enough to be grandparents," Smurfette said. "But now it looks like I'm going to smurf old before my time without you. You must really hate me for it."
"Smurfette, how can this smurf hate you for what's happening to you?" Empath said. "Growing old with you is what this smurf always wanted to do with you. It doesn't matter to this smurf how old you are or how old you look. What this smurf cares about is the fact that this smurf will always love you and that this smurf will always see you as the beautiful Smurf that you are."
"You really think...that underneath all this age...that I'm beautiful?" Smurfette asked, not sure if she could believe what she was hearing.
"It would be an honor for this smurf to grow old with you in the time that we have together, for however long we have to live together," Empath said, sounding very sincere.
With that, Empath gently raised Smurfette up in her bed so that he could kiss her on the mouth to prove that he truly loved her.
The kiss seemed to last forever, but after it had ended, Smurfette looked into Empath's eyes and smiled. "Oh, Empath, that kiss just started to make me feel young again," she said.
Then Empath noticed something. "The kiss did a bit more than just make you feel young again. Here, take a look for yourself."
Empath handed Smurfette a mirror to look into, and she was surprised at what she saw staring back at her. In an instant, all the lines, wrinkles, and spots on her face vanished, and all the color has returned. She saw that her hair was losing the grey and becoming a vibrant blond again.
"Empath, I don't believe it!" Smurfette exclaimed. "I'm starting to be young again! I'm becoming beautiful again! This is a miracle!"
She got out of bed and disrobed herself in front of a mirror to see how her body looked. She was amazed to see that the age was disappearing and that she was now young and beautiful again, just like she wanted to be.
Papa Smurf had just walked into the infirmary to check in on Smurfette when he noticed that Smurfette was without her clothes on. "Smurfette, what's going on?" he asked. "Why are you smurfing around in...?"
"Papa Smurf, look at me," Smurfette said excitedly. "My face! My hair! My body! Everything about me is back to normal! I'm a young beautiful Smurf again!"
Papa Smurf had to look away from Smurfette as he went over to where Empath was sitting. "Great Smurfs Of Fire! How did this even happen, Empath?"
"This smurf isn't sure that this smurf has a definite answer, Papa Smurf," Empath said, sounding just as surprised as Papa Smurf was. "All this smurf did was kiss her, and then suddenly she started becoming young again."
Papa Smurf watched as Smurfette dressed herself up in a towel and posed this way and that before the mirror, liking everything that she was seeing of herself now. "Amazing...simply amazing," he said to himself.

Meanwhile, in Hogatha's castle, Hogatha had just woken up, feeling refreshed from having enjoyed a pleasurable night's sleep with the wizard of her dreams beside her. She seemed ecstatic as she woke up in good spirits, humming a song to herself as she dressed herself up in the same dress that she removed before going to bed, when she started to feel herself change.
"Huh? What in the devil's name is wrong with me?" Hogatha asked herself.
She got her answer when she looked at herself in the mirror and saw that the beautiful version of herself that she made with the Spell Of Syphonia had worn off, and that now she was back to being her original self again.
"Oh no!" Hogatha cried out. "Harlequin can't see me like this! I've got to think of something!"
At that moment, Harlequin had awakened and dressed himself in his fine clothes. "You know, Hogatha, I was thinking that we could spend a quiet day along the river having a picnic with ourselves," Harlequin spoke as he was heading out of the bedroom. "It's surely a nice day outside, and I would like so much that we..."
But as Harlequin emerged from the bedroom, he could only see Hogatha in her true form instead of her beautiful self. "Kind madam, I would like to know where it is that the beautiful woman named Hogatha went this morning," Harlequin requested.
"Oh, you mean that young woman you spent the night with?" Hogatha replied, trying to sound like that woman was someone else. "Oh, you see, she went to gather some things in the forest that I need for my...uh, cleaning spells. I happen to be her housemaid who looks after the darling while she's here...I mean, gone...you know."
"I didn't know that the fair maiden would be so busy with her work," Harlequin said. "If you do come across her, please inform her that I would like very much to see her again at her convenience. It would be a shame if we never get to continue meeting together like this."
"Yes, of course, dear...whatever you say," Hogatha said, sounding eager. She used her magic to unseal all the doors and windows so that Harlequin could depart. She watched as he headed for the door, but just as he summoned his magic carpet to appear, Hogatha had a fit of conscience that made her realize something. "Wait! Harlequin! Don't leave!" she called out as she ran to intercept Harlequin.
"What is it, dear madam?" Harlequin asked. "Is there something important you need to tell me?"
Hogatha found it very found to say what was on her mind. "I need to tell you something about the real Hogatha you were with last night."
"Don't be afraid, madam," Harlequin said. "You can tell me whatever it is you need to tell me about her."
Hogatha swallowed hard. "You see, the woman you were with last night was me."
"What do you mean, she was you?" Harlequin asked, sounding confused. "What kind of nonsense are you talking about?"
"Well, I...uh...used a magic spell to make myself that beautiful...because I was afraid that you wouldn't meet me...if you knew how I really looked," Hogatha confessed, looking like she wanted to die at that moment.
"Oh, I should have known that's what you did in order to have me spend time alone with you," Harlequin said, sounding a bit disappointed. "I guess I'm not the only magician around here living with disguises."
"You, the great Harlequin, are wearing a disguise?" Hogatha asked, not believing what she was hearing from him.
"As a matter of fact, I am," Harlequin replied. He removed his beard to reveal that the only thing he was actually wearing on his face was a moustache. "This is all part of making me look so dark and mysterious, that it might help me to attract some young sorceress who would want to spend some time with me. I didn't realize that it would be so effective that someone like you might find me that attractive."
Hogatha stared at Harlequin, finding herself amazed beyond words at how different he looked without his beard. "Well...I certainly didn't mean to be..."
"Now that we know each other in truth, I would be willing to keep your secret if you're willing to do the same for me," Harlequin said as he put his beard back on. "I pray that this will be the last time we will ever meet each other in person like this." With that, Harlequin got onto his magic carpet and flew away.
After a while of seeing him depart, Hogatha screamed. "NO! I bet it's those goody-goody Smurfs that did this to me! Ooooh, they just ruined my future with Harlequin, I knew it!" She stamped around in anger, pounding the ground again and again. "I'm going to make those Smurfs pay for what they have done! Nobody does this to Hogatha and gets away with it! Nobody! Nobody! NOBODY!"
Harold squawked as he realized that one of Hogatha's plans have failed once again.