Papa Smurf and Flowerbell both walked out of the Imaginarium together talking with each other. "So how's the lucky couple of Woody and Laconia doing since the day they were married?" she asked.
"I haven't smurfed any complaints from them so far, so they must be happy with each other," Papa Smurf answered.
"It's so nice that two people can settle down and have a happy life together instead of having to always find love in the wrong places," Flowerbell said with a deep sigh.
"You don't seem happy with the freedom that you now have away from being a captive of Lord Balthazar," Papa Smurf noted.
"Believe me, I am happier now than I was when I was his prisoner, Pops," Flowerbell said. "But every day that I'm on my own, I just wish there was someone in my life that I can share my freedom with."
"The forest is a real big place for a woodnymph like you, Flowerbell," Papa Smurf said. "There has to be someone besides this imp who's bothering you that will care for you just as much as I do."
"That's nice to say, but somehow I just don't feel complete without you in my life," Flowerbell said sincerely.
"Well, hello there, sweet stuff," a familiar voice broke in. They both watched as Avarice appeared suddenly before them, with the imp's arms stretched open wide and his face with an expression of unbridled joy.
"Avarice, what are you doing here?" Flowerbell asked, already sounding annoyed at his presence.
"Why, I've come to take you back home, my little pudding pie," Avarice answered. "I don't know why you've decided to just run off without me, but now I've come for you and we're going to be happy together."
"We were happy together once, Avarice," Flowerbell said. "But I know where your heart truly lies...it's that Treasure of the Ancient Trolls you want the most."
"Well, once we're married, my dear, that treasure will also belong to you," Avarice said. "Don't you want to be known as the wealthiest woodnymph that's ever lived in this forest?"
"Not if that means I have to live with you for the rest of my life," Flowerbell answered, repulsed at the thought.
"So it's you who's after Flowerbell," Papa Smurf said as he addressed Avarice. "I should have known from our last encounter together that you wouldn't give up smurfing after the Treasure of the Ancient Trolls. Why are you after her and not Smurfette this time?"
"Oh, Papa Smurf, can't you see what this precious jewel has done for me? She has shown me true love by coming to my rescue after you had me dancing around for years wearing those magical dancing shoes," Avarice answered.
"If I knew what you were really after, I would have left you dancing in those shoes until your feet got sore, Avarice," Flowerbell said.
"So you're telling me that you're in love with Flowerbell, all because she smurfed you out of the spell that I cast on you?" Papa Smurf said, sounding incredulous. "And I'm supposed to believe that you're truly a changed person because of that?"
"Believe what you want, but my little honeysuckle has been a godsend, and I would give everything I have just to have her as my one true love, Papa Smurf," Avarice said. "And I'm not going to leave here until she admits that I'm the one that she truly loves with all her heart and soul, and when she does, you Smurfs are going to marry us."
"Admit that I truly love you? Fat chance, Avarice," Flowerbell snapped. "I wouldn't be surprised if Papa Smurf cast those magic dancing shoes back on your feet just to get you away from me forever."
"But he can't, now that I have a protective spell on me that prevents him from doing just that, my little cutie," Avarice said. "You Smurfs are going to be seeing lots of me around the village, annoying the heck out of you, until you give me just what I want: my own darling Flowerbell as my wife." And with that, Avarice disappeared again.
Hefty, Smurfette, Empath, and Polaris approached Papa Smurf and Flowerbell just after Avarice disappeared. "Papa Smurf, you wouldn't believe who we smurfed into in the forest when we were smurfing in the berries we collected," Hefty said.
"It's that horrible creep Avarice, Papa Smurf," Smurfette said. "And I think he's after Flowerbell."
"I know, my little Smurfs, I know," Papa Smurf said. "We were just smurfed a visit by him to let us know that he's going to be harrassing us until we give him Flowerbell to be his wife."
"Surely you're not going to give in to this Avarice's demands and let Flowerbell be married to him, Papa Smurf?" Polaris asked.
"No, I won't, Polaris," Papa Smurf said. "But right now I'm not sure what else I can do. It's either we marry Flowerbell to him or else he'll just keep hassling us until we smurf in."
"There's got to be some other way that the two of you can keep Avarice from having his way with Flowerbell, Papa Smurf," Empath said. "But this smurf isn't sure if the two of you would be comfortable with that other way that you both may be thinking of right now."
"Of marrying each other?" Papa Smurf said, realizing that for himself. "Empath, I want only what's best for Flowerbell, but the idea of marrying her just to smurf her away from Avarice wanting to marry her is...well, it just feels so unsmurfy."
"Then I guess you don't really love me, Pops," Flowerbell said with a heavy sigh. "I thought that you would be the one who would come to my rescue, but I guess that I was wrong about you."
Papa Smurf saw her slowly walk away, as if her heart had been broken. "Flowerbell, that's not how I feel for you at all," Papa Smurf tried to say.
"Poor Flowerbell," Smurfette sighed, feeling her heart going out to her at that moment. "I just wish I was the one married to that imp instead of her."
"You really want to take Flowerbell's place as the one married to Avarice if that means all you get is being chained to someone whose heart is not fully set on you, Smurfette?" Empath asked.
"What would you want me to smurf, Empath...just let that imp continue to bother everyone else until he smurfs what he wants?" Smurfette replied, sounding a bit angry. "Flowerbell doesn't deserve what's being smurfed on her."
"Neither do we deserve that imp harrassing us if we don't turn Flowerbell over to him, Smurfette," Hefty said.
"Papa Smurf, we have to find some peaceable solution to resolve this situation if we're going to have any peace among ourselves," Polaris said.
Papa Smurf sighed heavily. "I'm going to smurf some time alone to think about this, my little Smurfs. Empath, you're in charge of the village for now until I smurf to a decision."
"This smurf understands and acknowledges, Papa Smurf," Empath said, nodding with agreement.
Smurfette walked with Empath and Polaris after Hefty and Papa Smurf departed. "This one is curious to know more about this Avarice whom we have encountered just recently, Smurfette," Polaris requested.
"Some of what I know is from what Narrator had smurfed me, but anyway, Avarice was this imp who was searching for the lost Treasure of the Ancient Trolls, which he found smurfed somewhere in this forest," Smurfette explained. "The Spirit of the Ancient Trolls wouldn't let him smurf the treasure, however, until he fulfilled either of the two tasks presented to him: he was to either smurf three valuable items from Dreadful Hollow -- a feather from the giant vulture, fire from the volcano, and the fabled blue diamond from its cave -- or he was to smurf out a fair maiden with a pure heart who's willing to marry him."
"And this was around the time of Papa Smurf's birthday, which this smurf had heard," Empath said. "So how did the Smurfs get involved in this situation?"
"Well, I wanted to smurf on a dancing performance for Papa Smurf on his birthday, but the problem is is that I thought that I was a natural at dancing -- which smurfed out to be wrong, Empath," Smurfette continued. "So while I was out in the forest pouting about what the other Smurfs thought of my dancing, this imp, whom I didn't know his name at first, presented me with these magical golden dancing shoes which would make me the star. I smurfed them onto my feet, and soon I felt like I have been dancing for ages."
"But this gift the imp gave you at the time didn't come without a price, and that price was that you were to marry him," Polaris surmised.
"Sadly, yes, Polaris," Smurfette replied. "When Avarice smurfed up inside my house to get what he was after, I tried to run away and get protection from my fellow Smurfs, but none of them could stop that imp from making me dance my way toward him before we disappeared and ended up in his castle together. Papa Smurf and the others showed up sometime later as the imp's captives, and he smurfed them the challenge to collect the three items of Dreadful Hollow before sunrise if they wanted to smurf me from marrying him."
"But the Smurfs did meet that challenge, and even after all that, Avarice still wouldn't let you go, Smurfette," Empath guessed. "So how did you finally escape?"
"Papa Smurf used Avarice's magic book to remove the magic dancing shoes from my feet and then smurfed a spell to cast them onto Avarice's feet and those of his guardian gargoyles," Smurfette answered. "Needless to say, he didn't smurf the treasure he was after, for he also lost the three items from Dreadful Hollow to a moat creature."
"It is a fortunate thing that you ended up not being married to this greedy imp, Smurfette," Polaris said. "However, we're now faced with the problem of having to give in to his demands regarding his pursuit of Flowerbell."
"Not to mention what Papa Smurf's going to do about her as well, Polaris," Empath added. "This smurf doesn't want to force these two to marry each other if they don't truly feel the same about each other, but that seems to be the only option that's going to truly work."
True to his word, Avarice popped up here and there to harrass the Smurfs wherever they happened to be in the village. He showed up in Handy's workshop when he was busy banging nails into one of his inventions and he ended up banging his hand with the hammer by the distraction. He showed up in Greedy's kitchen when he was busy preparing the next meal of the day and he ended up tossing the salad right onto his own head. He showed up in Jokey's house when he was busy preparing one of his surprises and he ended up causing the surprise he was working on to explode. He showed up when Archer was busy practicing with his bow and arrow outside his house and he ended up shooting an arrow into a Smurf's hat. He showed up when Tuffy was busy carrying a heavy load of wood to Carpenter's house and caused him to not look where he was going, tripping over a rock and dropping his load right onto another Smurf.
The Smurfs were not happy as they showed up together at Papa Smurf's laboratory to complain about Avarice's appearances. "Look at what he smurfed to my hand," Handy cried out.
"Look at what he smurfed to my salad," Greedy said.
"Look at what he smurfed to one of my surprises," Jokey said.
"Look at what he made Archer smurf to my hat," the Smurf with the arrow shot into it said.
And there were many more complaints raised before Papa Smurf silenced them. "I'm sorry, my little Smurfs, that we're all having this problem with Avarice smurfing up here and there to cause problems," Papa Smurf said.
"Yeah, but what are you going to smurf about it, Papa Smurf?" Vanity asked.
"That imp is just one real pain in the smurf," Tuffy said.
"Nobody can even smurf a good rest as long as he's around," Lazy said with a yawn.
"I hate Avarice smurfing around like this," Grouchy said.
"We all hate Avarice smurfing around!" the Smurfs shouted together.
"I understand, my little Smurfs, believe me, I understand," Papa Smurf said, trying to bring some peace into the situation. "I am currently working on a solution that will help us get rid of him."
"You'd better smurf on that solution fast, Papa Smurf," Handy said.
"Oui, before all my masteurpiesas become disasterpiesas, Grand Schtroumpf," Painter said.
"I hate your disasterpiesas," Grouchy said.
Papa Smurf paced around the laboratory, trying to think of how to resolve the situation, while Empath and Polaris looked on, the both of them not sure of what to say about the situation.
There was a knock on the door, and Empath opened it to allow Tapper to come in, carrying a cup of fresh hot smurfberry tea. "I figured the village leader would need something a bit relaxing to help him think, my fellows," Tapper said as he placed the cup on the table.
"We're at a loss for what to do, Tapper," Empath said. "Either we must marry Flowerbell to that odious Avarice, or we must marry her to Papa Smurf. Flowerbell doesn't want to marry Avarice, and Papa Smurf isn't sure that he wants to marry Flowerbell."
"I feel sorry that we're smurfed in such a bind between two possible outcomes that none of us want, my fellow Empath," Tapper said. "Even my patience is being tested by Avarice's random appearances to smurf havoc all over the village just to get what he wants."
"This one only wonders what's the worse thing that can come out of Papa Smurf marrying Flowerbell if that's the only option that will work," Polaris said. "She will be forever protected from Avarice's further advances toward her, which is a significant advantage."
"But Papa Smurf still doesn't know if he loves her enough to give her that as an escape option, Polaris," Empath said.
"Love isn't always about feelings, you know...it's about caring enough to smurf what is right and proper and just because that's what you want for the other person," Tapper said. "It's about smurfing past the shortcomings of the other person and giving ourselves without resmurfation for the sake of the other because their lives matter more to us than our own."
"So you want Papa Smurf to consider making a sacrifice for the sake of Flowerbell," Empath surmised. "He's already made a big sacrifice having to become the father and village leader of nearly a hundred Smurfs. I'm not sure if he's ready to make another sacrifice just yet."
"Whatever Papa Smurf chooses as his solution, even if it is something that we may not like in the long run, we will stand by it and honor it, Empath," Polaris said.
Then Papa Smurf stopped pacing around, seeming to come to a solution in his mind. "No matter what I may say or think, I can't deny that deep down in my heart, I do truly love Flowerbell," he finally said.
"I know that you do, Papa Smurf, but if you do truly love her, you will smurf what is right for her, not because it's the easiest thing to smurf, but because it is the right thing to smurf," Tapper said.
"But if we're going to beat Avarice at his game, we're going to need to do this thing fast," Empath said.
"A single day is not going to be enough time to get all the Smurfs prepared for a wedding day if we're going to have a wedding for Flowerbell," Polaris said.
"We don't need to smurf a big fancy wedding if we're going to marry Flowerbell to either groom, Polaris," Tapper said. "As long as there is love between the groom and bride, that will be enough for a wedding."
"My thoughts exactly, Tapper," Papa Smurf said in agreement. "And I know now just what I'm going to smurf."
Smurfette and Sassette saw Flowerbell sitting outside Smurfette's house on her doorstep, looking really sad. "Weeping willows, that poor woodnymph looks like she could use some cheering up, Smurfette," Sassette said.
"I know, Sassette," Smurfette said. "I'm going to need some time alone so that I can smurf to her and see what's wrong."
"Okay, Smurfette," Sassette said, nodding with acceptance before she ran off.
Smurfette sat next to Flowerbell at the doorstep and put her arm around her friend's shoulder. "What seems to be the problem, Flowerbell?" she asked gently.
"Pops just doesn't seem to love me, Smurfette," Flowerbell answered. "I thought that coming to him to get out of marrying Avarice was going to be so easy because he once cared about me."
"But Papa Smurf does still care about you," Smurfette said. "He doesn't smurf about it much to anyone, but deep down in his heart I know that he still thinks of you and the joy you smurfed into his life."
"But is that just enough for him, Smurfette?" Flowerbell asked. "Am I only good for making Papa Smurf feel young and desirable for someone his age?"
"Papa Smurf hasn't smurfed anybody in his life since his wife died years ago," Smurfette explained. "I never knew her personally, but from what I know of her, she was the best thing Papa Smurf ever smurfed in his life until his son was born, and that only made things better for a while for the two of them. But even when Papa Smurf broke his wife's heart by smurfing their son away to Psychelia and made her believe that their son died, he never stopped caring for her after they had separated."
"So I'm competing with a ghost from his past, and I don't measure up to the one that his heart truly loves, is that it?" Flowerbell asked.
"You'll always be special to Papa Smurf in your own way, Flowerbell," Smurfette said. "He loved you enough that he let you come smurf us at the wedding of Woody and Laconia a few years ago. I'm sure you're worth just as much to him as the wife he loved before you."
"And you want me to trust in him and know what he's doing, even if it's for my own good," Flowerbell said. "What if he wants to send me away like he did when I betrayed him that time when I lured him into marrying me?"
"Papa Smurf would never smurf that if he cares about you," Smurfette said. "He doesn't like Avarice anymore than you like him now. Papa Smurf would be a much better husband for you, even if all he has to smurf you is his love."
Flowerbell laughed a little. "I guess there really isn't a better choice for me. It's either Avarice or Papa Smurf. And I sure don't want it to be Avarice."
"Things will be better for you, Flowerbell, I promise," Smurfette said, looking directly at Flowerbell's face for assurance as the two of them smiled.
Late that night, the Smurfs have all gathered together in the Imaginarium forest setting, as Empath thought it was the best place they could gather together and have a discussion without Avarice possibly overhearing it.
"This smurf apologizes for having pulled you out of bed, but Papa Smurf has decided that we're going to go ahead with a wedding for Flowerbell," Empath told the group.
"A wedding for Flowerbell?" Brainy asked, sounding incredulous.
"Boy, smurf about your quick wedding proposals," Vanity said.
"But who is it that Flowerbell is going to marry?" Snappy asked.
"We're going to keep that part a surprise until Avarice shows up again," Empath answered. "This smurf wants to see the look on his face when he finds out who it will be."
"Oooh, a surprise," Jokey said with a snicker.
"But we don't have much time to set up a wedding for Flowerbell," Party said.
"We're not going to make this a big fancy wedding, Party, we're just going to gather together for a wedding," Empath said.
"Whatever you want from us, laddie, we're going to smurf it," Duncan said.
"I hate surprise weddings," Grouchy said.