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Chapter 1: Somebody’s Getting MarriedEdit

            “Um, like, Piggy, honey—you have a run in your stockings,” Janice said, half-apologetically. 

            Piggy looked down in exasperation.  “What—again?” she mumbled, cursing the pantyhose gods thoroughly.  Too late to send an underling out for more, she thought despairingly, and Scooter never seemed to buy the right shade anyway.  “I’ll stop off on my way home.”

            Filming had been going well.  The new movie was weeks away from a wrap.  Her costumes were inspired and her hair looked great.  Even Kermit had been more attentive than usual, which Piggy had enjoyed, but somehow, this latest film had made her glum.  It is not much fun to be playing a bride when no one wants to marry you.  The thought made her feel so pathetic that she bristled immediately.  Moi did not need to get married to some stupid frog.  Moi was independent.  Moi had a career, and an adoring fan base—not to mention a best-selling calendar that showed every sign of being a collector’s item.  She lifted her head high, stuck out her chin (and other assets) and strode to her dressing room.  Kermit had been closing in on her but something about her posture as she moved away warned him Dabneyoff.  He watched her go, though, worried that all his plans were going awry.

            Once Piggy had gone, Janice snuck over to where Camilla was waiting off-stage.

            “Like, did you get it?” she asked.  Camilla nodded after a careful look around, then proffered a bag to Janice, who took it eagerly.  Reaching inside, Janice pulled out what appeared to be a small pile of silk and lace.  She held it up carefully.

            “Like, wow,” Janice said.  “This is so beautiful.  What do you think?”

            Camilla clucked something and Janice just laughed.  “Yes I know,” she said, “but Floyd isn’t going to see this.”  The women looked at each other and sighed.  “I hope this works.”

            “Guys, we’re running out of time.  The movie wraps in a few weeks, and then I’m going to be tied up in post-production for forever.  It has to be this week, or we’re going to have to postpone it.”  Kermit didn't just sound nervous--he looked nervous as well.

            Postpone it?” snapped Rizzo.  “Don’t you mean start from scratch—again?”

            “Look—I’m working on it.”

            “Well work harder—I’m tired of walking around on eggshells.”

            “That sounds like fun,” Gonzo said, then glanced quickly around to be sure that Camilla hadn’t heard.  Kermit sighed.

            “I’m trying, Rizzo.  Gonzo—any luck?”

            “Not yet.”

            “Sheesh,” Kermit said irritably.  “What’s taking so long?”

            “I’m trying too, okay?    I’m running every one I can find—there’s one coming tonight, but so far—“

            “Should have known the Rabbi wouldn’t work,” Rizzo muttered.

            “Why not?  He seemed nice.”

            Kermit and Rizzo exchanged exasperated glances.

            “Because he keeps kosher, Gonzo.”

            “I don’t care who he keeps, I don’t see why he couldn’t—“

            “Shhhhh!  She’s coming.”

            Kermit began to rifle through a stack of papers noisily.  “Now—see here on page 36, where the frogs are supposed to come in and—“

            Piggy rounded the corner on her way out of the studio and stopped abruptly, looking suspiciously at the three of them standing nonchalantly against the wall.  They looked too nervous to be nonchalant, and too nonchalant to be convincing.

            “What?” she growled, lowering her sunglasses and tapping one high-heeled shoe impatiently.

            “Good job today,” Kermit said, stepping forward.  As soon as Kermit moved, Gonzo and Rizzo scuttled away with alacrity.  Kermit smiled what he hoped was a winning smile.  “You, um, look nice, Piggy,” Kermit began, but broke off immediately at the flash of danger in her eyes.

            “Yeah, yeah, frog.  What do you want?”

            “Want?” Kermit repeated.  “Um, nothing.  I just wanted to tell you that you looked, um, you know, very nice today.”

            “As opposed to other days?” Piggy said archly.  This trap was so obvious that Kermit knew she was more interested in warning him off than engaging in battle.

            “Of course not,” Kermit said hastily.  “I just meant—oh, never mind.”

            “Speaking of never mind, I’m not buying this.  What is it you want?  Planning to have Moi sky-dive into a vat of pudding this time around?”

            A picture bloomed in Kermit’s mind’s eye and he was momentarily distracted.

            Piggy’s angry voice brought him sharply back to the moment at hand.  “Well?”

            “What?  Oh—oh, no.  I was just, you know, going over some of the script things with, um, Gonzo and….  You really do look swell today.”  He gave her his best pollywogish look but it skittled off the starboard bow without leaving a mark.

            “Hmmpf,” Piggy said, marching around him.  She was almost at the corner when she stopped and swung her head of glossy hair about to look at him.  This time, she took the sunglasses off and pinned him with a look.  “Kermit,” she said sweetly, but there were teeth in that sweet voice.  “There are no frogs in the script on page 36.”

            “Oh—are you, are you sure?” Kermit stammered.

            “Positive,” Piggy said levelly.  She looked at him for a long moment.  She was in a mood, her eyes said plainly, and smart frogs wouldn’t mess with her.  “Whatever torturous script idea you’ve got cooking just better not involve me—got it?”

            Kermit gulped, getting it.  “Okay,” he said meekly, and Piggy’s heels click-clacked away from him.  ‘Rats!” he thought furiously.  “This may be harder than I thought.”

            “Here, driver,” Piggy said, tapping the glass that separated her from the limo driver.  He touched his cap to her and pulled over neatly beside a corner drugstore.  “I’ll just be a moment.”  Piggy stepped daintily out of the big black limousine once the driver had opened the door and walked into the store briskly.  It wasn’t a fashion boutique, but Piggy had discovered that they did sell high-end pantyhose and a local brand of enormous home-baked cookies, which made it a doubly useful place to stop on the way home.  She carried five pairs of pantyhose up to the counter along with an oatmeal-raisin cookie and was debating whether or not to grab a couple more cookies to stash in her hotel suite when she happened to glance over in the next aisle.  Despite herself, she smiled.

            “That’s so funny,” Piggy thought absently.  “That’s the fourth minister I’ve seen in here this week.  They must give some sort of ministerial discount, or something.”  With her scarf and sunglasses, Piggy felt reasonably certain that she was anonymous, or gave enough of an impression of trying to be anonymous that the polite British citizens would let her shop in peace.   She rounded the corner, looking for her brand of soda, and almost collided with the minister she had seen.  A priest, she thought, looking at the collar, and probably Anglican.

            “Excuse me!” he said jovially.  “I don’t usually run people down.”

            Piggy smiled.  She opened her mouth to say something, but shut it again with effort.  The priest looked at her questioningly and started to turn to his own shopping when nothing was forthcoming.  Her mouth opened again, and this time she couldn’t seem to stop herself.

            “Father, do you believe in marriage?”

            The priest turned around and looked at her in surprise.  “Beg pardon?”

            “Not today,” Piggy murmured.  “Um, I said, do you believe in marriage.”

            He smiled at her.  “Could you be a little more specific?” he asked.  “It does sortof depend, you know.”

            Piggy hesitated, looking like she might bolt, despite the kindly face and welcoming demeanor of the man with the collar.  He reached out a hand in greeting.

            “Before we talk about marriage, maybe we should introduce ourselves,” he said, and his eyes were merry with mischief.  “Hi—I’m Robert.  My friends all call me Bob, or Father Bob.  Why don’t you call me Bob.”

            Piggy blushed and smiled in spite of herself.  “Hello, Bob,” she said, calling up her company manners without any hint of diva-ness.  “I’m—“

            “Miss Piggy.  Yes—I sort of gathered that, despite your, um, disguise.”

            Piggy continued to stare at him in surprise and he smiled.

            “I’ve seen all your movies, and I was a big fan of the show when it was on.  But please, I’m keeping you from asking your question.  You wanted to know if I—“

            “Believe in marriage,” they said together.  Piggy blushed and looked down again, fiddling with the scarf and sunglasses.

            “Well, the short answer is yes—yes I do believe in marriage, if two people love each other and want to be committed to each other for a lifetime.”  Still she hesitated, so he added gently.  “Did that answer your question?”

            “Um, sortof,” Piggy muttered.  “I guess Moi was wondering if you knew what to do if, um, if you could tell me how, um, hmmm.  What if one of the people loves the other one, but the one that she loves doesn’t know if he loves her back.”

            “Ahh,” Rev. Bob said solemnly.  “I think I see the problem.”  He opened his mouth to speak, hesitated, then looked around at the gathering dusk of the beautiful spring day.  “I was going to call a cab,” he said, “but maybe we could just walk and talk a little about your question.  My church is just a few blocks away from here and a brisk constitutional would do me good.  What say, hm?”

            Piggy nodded, slowly smiling.  “That would be nice.”  Her voice became wistful.  “I would like to talk to someone about it.”

            “I’m a very good listener.  Occupational requirement.”  He reached for her bag.  “Please—allow me.”

            “Oh no,” Piggy said.  “You don’t need to do that.  I can carry it myself.”

            “Please let me,” Bob insisted.  “Humor an old-fashioned fellow whose mother would be shocked if he didn’t offer to carry a package for a pretty young lady.”

            Piggy smiled and deferred to him, handing over the package without further protest.  “If vous insist.”

            “I do.”  The minister looked doubtfully at her four-inch heels.  “Do you want to put on walking shoes?”

            Piggy looked down at her shoes in surprise.  “These are walking shoes,” she said simply.  Piggy took a moment to dismiss her driver, and off they went. 

Chapter 2: A Man of the ClothEdit

            “But won’t she notice them?” Fozzie asked. 

            “I’m hoping to keep them out of sight until we’ve finished filming.”

            Kermit had waged a tremendous internal battle trying to decide whether or not to let Fozzie in on his plans.  Fozzie was a prankster, but secret-keeping was not his forte.  In the end, the bonds of friendship had overridden Kermit’s cautious nature and he had told Fozzie everything.  Fozzie had stared fixedly at him for a long moment, then reached out gently and embraced his friend.  “I’m happy if you’re happy,” was all he said.  What more was there, really, Kermit thought gratefully.

            Reverend Bob had been very sweet last night, Piggy thought fondly.  They had had a nice dinner together at the rectory and she had told him everything she felt she could about her relationship with Kermit.  He had been sympathetic and kind, and had even promised to stop in and check on her during filming.  Piggy had left his name and business card with the security at the door and hoped he would come by after the big morning shoot was over, because—after that—she might need someone to talk to.  She took a deep breath.  This was going to be a hard day, but she was a professional and she was going to grit her teeth and get through it one way or another.  But that didn’t mean she had to like it.

            Bobo came up to Kermit, trying so hard not to look sneaky that he stood out like a sore thumb.  Kermit grasped him firmly by the arm and pulled him around the corner into the relative darkness of a studio hallway.

            “Just wanted you to know I got this this morning,” Bobo said.  Kermit took the paper from him, reading it.

            “Oh, good,” Kermit said, and let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.  “Look—send Rizzo over to tell me if—“

            “Boss!  Kermit!”  Scooter’s voice came urgently from the hall behind him and Kermit leaned out of his hiding place and waved a slim green arm.

            “Here, Scooter.”

            “Bacon in the building,” Scooter said, “and she looks very unhappy.”

            They exchanged worried glances, and Kermit looked a little flustered. 

            “Um—thanks Bobo,” Kermit said absently.  “Go on back to your post.”  Bobo obeyed, lumbering away whistling tunelessly.

            How unhappy?”

            “Well, people weren’t actually flinging themselves out of her way, but I got the impression that they might if they had to.”  He hesitated, looking at Kermit solemnly.  “Boss—are you sure you want to do this?”

            “Absolutely,” Kermit said firmly.  “After all that she’s put me through, it’s about time she got a taste of her own medicine.  And you can bet your—“

            “He’s here—he’s already here!” Rizzo interrupted breathlessly.  “And those other guests that you were expecting are here, too!”

             “Good,” he said, not looking very calm.  “Um, can you put them in with our friends from the Street, and tell them I’ll come see them just as soon as I can get changed.  What about the other other guests!”

            “Their flight should have gotten in 20 minutes ago.  Beauregard went to get them,” Rizzo said.  If anything, this raised the anxiety level in the room.

            “Should’ve sent Sweetums,” Kermit muttered, “but there’s no help for it now.  Look—I’ve got to get changed.  I cannot be late for this.”  He began walking rapidly toward his own dressing room and they trotted to keep up.  “Let me know the second they arrive, okay?  And Rizzo—are you sure that Gonzo knows what to do now that—“

            “Absolutely,” Rizzo said firmly.  “The little blue screwball may be an idiot, but he won’t let you down.  He knows what he’s doing.”

            Kermit stopped outside his dressing room.  He put his hand on the door, then turned and grinned at Scooter and Rizzo.  His eyes were warm with gratitude.  “Thanks for helping me with this, guys.  I—it means a lot.”

            “Sure thing.”

            “No problem, boss.”

            Kermit took a deep breath.  “Let’s just hope it works, okay?”

            There was a tentative knock on Piggy’s dressing room door.  Assuming it was Scooter or Kermit, Piggy called entre vous without getting up from her chair, continuing to powder her nose.

            The door opened slowly and Piggy turned to see Father Bob peek in the door.

            “I hope I’m not disturbing--Well, well,” he said, clearly surprised.  “I was going to apologize for appearing on the set so soon.”  He smiled at the vision she made in yards and yards of white satin and lace.  “Well, um, in light of our conversation last night might I just say that I’m surprised to see you, um, like this.”

            “Not quite what it appears,” Piggy said simply, blushing in spite of herself.  She stood up and took his hand, drawing him into the room and toward the single chair.  The wedding dress rustled around her and she could feel his puzzled gaze on her back.

            “Things never are,” Father Bob said placidly.  “Perhaps you’d better tell me.”

            Piggy told him, and his “ahh” of comprehension cleared the lines of worry from his face.  He looked at Piggy and opened his mouth to speak but shut it, clearly debating whether or not to voice an opinion.

            “Please,” Piggy said gently.  “Moi is open to advice from every quarter.”

            Bob gave her a reproachful look.  “Not from every quarter, I hope,” he said solemnly, then smiled.  “Might I say that you look very lovely in that dress,” the Reverend began.  “Do you think that seeing you looking so fetching will tend to cool Kermit’s ardor or, perhaps, reawaken it?”

            Piggy’s deep blush was telling.  “That had occurred to me,” she murmured.

            “Thank goodness,” Father Bob said.  “I would have been worried if it hadn’t.  If it’s the latter, I take it that would be considered a good thing, yes?”

            “Yes.”

            “And if it’s the former?”

            Piggy was silent for a moment, looking at her hands.  “I’m trying not to think about that,” she whispered at last.

            “This is a difficult time for you.”  He shifted in the chair.  “You care about Kermit, I know.”  It was not a question, but she answered it anyway.

            “Yes.”

            “And you have reason to believe he could feel the same about you?”

            Piggy hesitated.  “I—I…, sometimes I think so, but other times, I’m just not sure.  I know that he cares about me—Kermit is a very caring frog, but I don’t know if he really loves me, or if that’s just one of a million possibilities.  Or a one-in-a-million possibility,” she added wryly.  Her eyes were very sad and she didn’t quite carry off the humor.

            “Could you….”  He stopped, weighing his next words carefully.  “Piggy, it sounds as though it’s possible that Kermit might never make the move on his own.”          

            “Yes.  I know.”  How it pained to admit it—even to herself, much less to someone else—but the truth will be spoken, and she had done it.

            Bob looked at her, his lined eyes compassionate.  “What will you do if that’s the case?”

            “I—what can I do?  I don’t want to leave.  We work well together, and we’re, we’re friends,” Piggy finished firmly.  “I think I could stay as long as there isn’t anyone else in the picture.”

            “You are asking a great deal of yourself.”

            Piggy little shrug was elaborate in its simplicity.

            Bob leaned forward, obviously about to say more, but there was a frantic pounding on the door.

            “Miss Piggy—Miss Piggy!  It’s me, Gonzo—open up, won’t you?”

            Piggy had spent the last few days stuffing her feelings into some inaccessible place.  For a moment, they surged out and Piggy jumped to her feet, ready to “hi-yah” her furry blue cast-mate into the stratosphere, but when he opened the door, it was impossible to proceed.  He was wearing minister’s togs, and Piggy just stared at him, stupefied.  Bob looked at him with interest while Gonzo eyed the simple collar around his neck

            “Another man of the cloth?” the minister asked.  Gonzo shook his head.

            “Not unless you count spandex,” he said truthfully.  He took off the mitered cap and held forth a furry blue hand.  “Gonzo the Great,” he said.

            Bob took the hand and shook it.  “Father Bob the priest,” he said faintly.  “Nice to meet you.”  Clearly puzzled, Bob looked to Piggy for guidance.

            “Gonzo is playing the minister in our movie,” Piggy said by way of explanation.  “Gonzo—this is my friend, Father Bob, who has come to visit me on the set.  What was it you needed?”

            “Needed?” Gonzo said absently.  He looked Piggy up and down appreciatively.  “Wow, Piggy—that’s a great look on you.”

            Piggy pulled herself up to her full height.  Ministerial robes or no ministerial robes, Piggy thought she could hit him if only he didn’t put the hat back on.  She took a step forward and Gonzo saw the warning in her eyes.

            “Just wanted to make sure you were ready for the big scene,” he said, “and, um, show you my outfit.”  He looked a little uncomfortable.  “Not exactly a role that suits me,” he said ruefully.

            Father Bob had been on the verge of speaking but had been battling the impulse bravely.  At this openly dangled temptation, he could not help himself.

            “Perhaps—perhaps I could help.”

            Gonzo and Piggy turned to look at him at the same instant.

            “Cool,” said Gonzo.

            Piggy said, “How?”

            Bob put a conspiratorial arm around each of them, drawing them closer.  “I have a little idea that might solve more than one problem,” he began, “if you’re willing to be just a little bit daring….”

Chapter 3: You Really Got Me This TimeEdit

            I couldn’t be any more nervous if I were a real bride, Piggy thought miserably.  She waited just outside the door of the soundstage chapel, trying not to pace, trying not to panic, trying not to pass out.  All I have to do is walk down the aisle and meet him at the front.  I can do this.  I can do this.  I can--

            Kermit appeared beside her outside the chapel set doors as though from thin air.  Piggy stared at him as though he had two heads.  What was he…?

            “Hey Piggy,” Kermit said softly, too low for the microphones to pick up.  “You look terrific.  I thought this scene would be nicer if we go down the aisle together.”  He smiled at her.  “Ready?”

            Unable to speak, Piggy nodded.  Somehow or other, she hadn’t prepared herself for what it would be like to see him this way, all dressed up for a wedding that wasn’t going to happen, all gussied up with no plans to go anywhere.  He looked suave, he looked debonair, he looked…he looked wonderful.  Piggy couldn’t meet his eyes, blushing to beat the band.  Oh, how she wanted this to be a real wedding!  Oh, how she wanted him to really be the groom to her bride!  What would he do when he saw Father Bob?  What would she see in his eyes?  Piggy was suddenly very afraid of that answer.  If a genie appeared out of anywhere now, or a fairy godmother to grant her deepest desire, she would turn the hands of the clock back and never know, never face what might happen at the end of this aisle.  She had to tell him, to warn him, to stop this chain of inevitable events that just might separate her forever from the one she loved.

            “Kermit,” she began nervously.  “I need to tell you something.”

            The chapel doors began to open.  Kermit smiled at her, his eyes encouraging.

            “Tell me later—it’s time to get married.”

            “But—“

            The music was playing, her cue coming up.  Piggy turned toward the front of the chapel slowly and began to walk down the aisle with Kermit at her side.

            “He’ll make me happy each time I see him.  He’ll be the reason my heart can sing.  He’ll stand beside me, and I’ll have everything.”  Her voice broke a little on the last note, but Piggy kept her composure.

            “She’ll make me happy each time I hold her, and I will follow where my heart may lead.  And she’ll be all I ever need.”  He was looking at her now, looking at her as though he meant every word, looking at her as though he loved her.  Well what do you expect? a little voice inside her head prompted nastily.  He is, after all, an actor.

            “Days go passing into years,” sang the little children.

            “Years go passing day by day,” sang some of their oldest cast members.

            What might it be like to grow old with Kermit?  Years and years of seeing his face across the breakfast table, building a home together, a family, children bouncing on his knee.  What would she do if she had to grow old alone?

            “She’ll make him happy, now and forever.  Until forever, their love will grow.  She only knows he’ll make her happy.  That’s all she needs to know.”

            There was a lot more that Piggy wanted to know, a lot more she never wanted to know.  It was like standing outside time, watching yourself do something and not being able to affect the outcome.  The interminable aisle came to an end, and Father Bob stepped behind the altar.  Gonzo had been correct—the ample he wore had been ample indeed, and the simple stole had completed the outfit.  Father Bob has passed emphatically on wearing the hat.  “I’m not a bishop,” he’d said firmly, “and I’m not the Pope.”  He had, at least, let Piggy powder his head.

            Father Bob looked at Piggy for just a moment, smiling just enough to seem appropriate.  Beside her, Piggy felt Kermit stiffen. 

            “Piggy—I thought Gonzo was playing the minister?” he said softly, looking confused.

            It was too late.  Piggy couldn’t stop it.  She felt light-headed.  She felt dizzy.  She felt close to hysteria.  She turned and gave Kermit a little laugh that she hoped was coy, that she hoped would show him that this was just in fun, just in jest, not something that she really, really, really wanted.  Kermit gulped and turned back to face the minister.

            Why didn’t he yell “cut?” Piggy wondered.  Why didn’t he stop and make a scrunchy face and say, “Hah, hah, very funny Piggy—now can we do this again, the right way?”  Why didn’t he do something?

            “Do you Piggy take this frog to be your lawful wedded husband?  Do you?”

            Wow, Piggy thought absently.  Bob has a nice singing voice.  She couldn’t seem to focus on anything but the moment, but she heard herself sing, very composedly, “I do.”  Kermit was gazing at her with such warmth that Piggy had to look just past him.  If he held her in that warm gaze she might just melt away.

            “Do you froggy take this pig to be your lawful wedded wife until you die?”

            Kermit hesitated.  “Well, I….” he said uncomfortably.  “Well, um….”

            Do you?”

            “I—“

            Kermit looked at her and she couldn’t help but meet his searching look.  For just a moment, Piggy thought Kermit actually swayed toward her, but when she blinked, he was just standing there, gazing at her fondly.  He gave a little shrug and turned to face the minister as though his mind was made up.

            “I do,” he sang, his voice as clear as a bell.

            Piggy thought she might faint.  The chapel set around them erupted into shouts and cheers and dozens of doves.  One of her nephews was jumping up and down in the seat.  Link was crying.  Rowlf was crying.  Gonzo and Camilla were dancing in the aisles. 

            “What better way could anything end, hand and hand with a friend,” Kermit sang, smiling at her.  Without warning, Kermit leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek.  Piggy’s mouth fell open in surprise.  He had kissed her!  Kermit had actually kissed her.  She turned to him in surprise, no longer aware that the cameras were rolling, and Kermit pulled her into his arms and kissed her, his mouth moving insistently with hers. 

            This is it, Piggy thought.  I’m either dreaming or I’m dead.  Kermit is actually—

            He sat her back on her unsteady legs and turned her toward the auditorium, facing all of their friends.  Piggy was grateful for his arm around her waist because she didn’t think she could stand up by herself.  Beside her, Kermit gathered himself to speak.

            Dear friends, Piggy thought he might say, I want to thank you for coming to my wedding. It means so much to—

            “Cut!” Kermit hollered.  He took his arm from her waist, turned to Piggy and shook his head ruefully.  “Piggy,” he said appreciatively, his voice full of admiration.  “You’ve pulled a lot of pranks on me over the years, but this one tops them all.”  He made a fist and tapped her lightly on her soft shoulder.  “Good one, Piggy,” he said, laughing a little.  “You really got me this time.”  And then he left her standing there.

Chapter 4: Too Far to Lose NowEdit

            Kermit met Scooter outside the chapel set doorways and they set out for the viewing room at a dead run.  Kermit tripped twice because he was looking over his shoulder, and Scooter had to steady him to keep him from going down.

            “If you want to live to see this thing through,” Scooter said after the third time, “you’ve got to keep moving.”  He gave Kermit his best bullying look.  It wasn’t as good as it would get in later years, but it shook Kermit out of his distraction.

            “I just—I want to do this as quickly as we can,” Kermit said emphatically.  “I may not have much time.”

            The film crew had been alerted and they were ready for them, feeding the freshly made film into the projector as soon as they possibly could.  Watching them, he knew they were pulling off miracles to the right and left of him, and he was more grateful than he could express.

            “Ready for you, Mr. the Frog,” one of the men said, grinning broadly.

            “Please--let me see it,” Kermit said eagerly.  Scooter crowded up next to him so they could both watch from the same perspective.  They ran the footage as quickly as they could without compromising the quality or the sound.  He looked at the film from every camera, assessing every angle.  When the last reel had run, the two of them exchanged delighted grins.

            “That was great, Boss—just what we wanted.”

            “It was perfect,” Kermit said.  He let out a deep sigh, squared his shoulders and gave Scooter his best dare-devil smile.  “Now that that’s out of the way, I’m ready for some fun.”  He started out the door, but Scooter put a hand on his shoulder.

            “Hey Boss,” he said hesitantly.  Kermit turned to find Scooter fidgeting nervously with his jacket buttons.  “Um, be careful, won’t you, Kermit?”

            Kermit nodded solemnly.  “Very careful,” he insisted.  “I’ve come too far to lose now.”

Chapter 5: I Got It Already!Edit

            Piggy banged the door of her dressing room shut.  “Stupid frog,” she muttered.  “Stupid wedding dress.”  Her breath caught suddenly.  “Stupid me!” Tears sprang into her eyes and, horrified that she might actually cry, she took a deep calming breath and began to rid herself of the yards and yards of white lace.

            “How could I have been so stupid?” Piggy thought wretchedly.  Love me?  Kermit doesn’t love me, and he never will.  To him, I’m just one of the chorus—the lucky one who gets picked to play the lead.”  Anger made her feel better, but it didn’t diminish the sadness or the empty feeling in her chest.  When this movie wrapped, she would have to figure out where to go, what to do next.  Neither seemed to matter very much.

            The knock came sooner than she expected, but she had steeled herself for it, her tears stashed away and her eyes cool.

            What?” she called.  Smart men had run from that tone of voice, but Kermit hadn’t always made smart choices where Piggy was concerned.

            “The director would like to speak with you,” Kermit called back.

            Piggy rolled her eyes.  Oh, great, she thought.  He’s wearing his ‘I’m the director’ hat, now, which means I’ll have to act professionally.  The big coward.  She heaved a sigh.  If she was going to have to deal with him, she didn’t want to do it in close proximity.

            “I’m coming out!” she shouted.

            Kermit was lecturing before she even got the door open.

            “Miss Piggy, I would like to know what you think you were doing out there?”

            She came to the door of her dressing room wearing not the wedding dress itself, but the undergarment designed to shape and support it.  Although she was probably more concealed that she was in half of her regular street clothes, Kermit was clearly flustered by her appearance in her underwear.  Just like she hoped.  Hah!  Take that, you, you—frog, you.

            “Miss Piggy, I like a joke as well as the next person, but I am not accustomed to my cast members showing up unprepared.”
            “Unprepared?” she sputtered.  “What do you mean unprepa—“

            “And next time I expect you to show up on the set dressed and with all your props.”

            Piggy stared at him.  Props?  “What are you talking about?”

            “Where’s your ring?” he demanded as though she hadn’t spoken.

            “My—my ring?  What ring?”

            Kermit put his hands on his hips.  “Piggy—this is supposed to look like a real wedding.  How can this be a real wedding if you aren’t wearing the engagement ring?”

            “Engagement ring?  I don’t know anything about an engagement—”

            “Give me your hand,” Kermit demanded. 

            Piggy looked at him askance.  “Why?”

            “Just give me your hand,” Kermit said irritably.  With some reluctance, Piggy put forth her hand.  Kermit removed a little velvet case from his pocket and opened it carefully.  He took the ring that was nestled firmly on its bed of velvet and slipped it on Piggy’s hand while Piggy stared at him uneasily.

            “Where’d you get this?” she demanded.  The stone was too large to be real.  “A gumball machine?”

            “Tiffany’s,” Kermit muttered, standing back to look at the ring critically. 

            “Oh—the gumball machine at Tiffany’s,” Piggy snarked.  She wanted to look closer at the glittering stone, but the gem was sparkling so much under the backstage lights that she couldn’t get a proper look at it.

            “And now you’re undressed!” Kermit complained.

            “You yelled cut!” she snapped back.  “Usually, that means we’re done.  Now if you’ll excuse me—“

            “You are not excused,” Kermit huffed.  “We’re going to have to go and shoot that whole thing again.  Surely I don’t have to explain why?”  His voice was dripping with sarcasm and Piggy wanted to murder him.

            “You don’t have to explain anything to me!” Piggy shouted.  “I got it!  I got it, already.  Sheesh—you are the most uptight, infuriating—“

            “Don’t start, Piggy,” Kermit barked.  “I put a lot of time and expense into this day and I’m not about to—“

            “Fine!” Piggy shouted.  She was sure—she was certain—that most of the cast was lurking just out of sight.  Somehow, they always managed to have the most embarrassing fights in public.  The thought of all those witnesses took the wind out of her sails.  Suddenly, Piggy wilted.  “It was just—it was just supposed to be in fun.”  Not entirely true, but not entirely false, either.  But it hadn’t been very fun, after all, and now she was humiliated in front of practically everyone they knew.  “I’ll put the stupid dress back on so we can film it again.”  She banged into her dressing room.

            Outside, Kermit crossed his arms across his chest and smiled.

            “But why can’t I go see Uncle Kermit?” Robin complained.  “We came all this way and now I can’t even—“

            “In a little while, dear.  Just be patient,” said an ever-gentle voice.

            “But I hate being patient!” Robin whined. 

            “Remind you of anyone?” a gruffer voice asked.

            “Now dear….”

            Before any response could be made, Ernie and Bert approached with Big Bird and stood looking at Robin curiously.  Ernie waved.

            “Hello,” he said.  “I’m Ernie and these are my friends Bert and Big Bird.”

            “Hi.  I’m Robin.”

            “Wanna come play with us?”

            Robin looked up hopefully for permission.  “Can I?  Can I please?”

            “Of course.”

            “We’re not supposed to get dirty,” Ernie explained as they walked away.  “But we can play something quiet.”

            “I don’t like to get dirty anyway,” Bert said firmly.

            “Hi—I’m Big Bird, and I live on Sesame Street.  Where do you live?”

            “Well, sometimes I live with my Uncle Kermit, but right now I’m staying with my grandparents in the swamp.”

            “What’s a swamp?” asked Big Bird.

            “Um, there’s water and grass and lots of mud.”

            “Sounds messy.”

            “It is.  It’s great.”

            “I live in a nest.  Maybe you could come see it sometime….”

            Their voices were lost as they moved further away.

            “Well,” said the gruffer voice.  “That was very nice of them.”

            “Yes, very nice.”  She laid a hand lightly on his arm.  “But then, Kermit’s always had nice friends.”

            “Um, Boss?” Scooter said tentatively.  Kermit looked around in surprise to find a very pale-looking Scooter standing behind him.  Gonzo and Rizzo stood behind him, their eyes downcast.

            “Yeah, Scooter?” Kermit said.  He couldn’t wait to tell them how the last--
            “Um, I don’t know how to tell you this but…but she’s gone.”

            Kermit felt sick.

            “Gone?  Bu-but I just, um, we just…gone.  How can she be gone?”  He sat down suddenly, not caring that there was no chair.  “Oh, Scooter,” he said softly.  “This is all my fault.  I shouldn’t have—“

            “Oh!” Scooter said suddenly.  “Oh, sorry—I didn’t mean Miss Piggy.”

            Kermit gave him such a look that his assistant shrank back, but his next words sent a chill down Kermit’s spine.

            “Piggy’s still in her dressing room,” Scooter said.  He gulped.  “I meant, um, the other one.”

            Now Kermit began to look pale.  “How—how did this happen?”  He looked at Gonzo and Rizzo accusingly.  “I thought you guys were riding herd on her?”

            “Hey, we were in the scene with you.  I thought Bobo was watching her, but—“

            “How can she be gone—gone where?”

            The four men looked at each other nervously.

            “Well, she can’t have gone far.  Fan out—look for her!”  They stared at him, frozen in place.  “Now!” Kermit cried, waving his arms about his head.  They scattered. 

            Oh geez, Kermit thought miserably.  This could ruin everything.

Chapter 6: Hitting the Mother LodeEdit

            Once safely on the other side of the door, Piggy leaned against it and felt the hot tears beginning to spill.  Desperately, she blinked them away.  What could she have been thinking?  How stupid was she?  Kermit was her director—nothing more, nothing less—and the sooner she came to terms with it, the better.  And now, to have this go so spectacularly wrong in front of practically every muppet she had ever worked with…!  For the first time she could ever remember, Piggy did not want to go out in front of the cameras.  Heatedly, she dabbed at her eyes, powdering a little to hide the redness and began the job of putting on the stupid dress.  Piggy made a sound that was half-sigh, half-whimper.  It wasn’t a stupid dress—it was a beautiful dress, and Kermit had not only insisted that she pick out one that she personally liked, but had come with her to give his approval. 

            That had been a magic day, Piggy thought miserably.  Kermit had been so attentive that day—so very sweet, that she had actually begun to hope that—  The tears came again with the dress half-on and half-off and Piggy jerked it down savagely so she could mop at her eyes again.  Now, picking out a wedding dress just seemed like salt in an ever-constant wound.  Piggy’s shoulders began to shake.  She could not do this—she could not!  There was a commanding knock on the door.  Sheesh—couldn’t he just leave her alone?  She hesitated, wondering if she could just ignore him.

            The knocking came again, more insistent.

            “Pigathius—open this door!”

            Piggy almost fell off her chair.  Oh no—it couldn’t be—not here, not now!

            She stood up, trembling violently

            “M-Mother?  Mother, what are you doing here?”

            “Open the door this instant, Pigathius!  What do you mean leaving me standing out in the hallway?”

            Piggy walked to the door unsteadily, unlocked it as though the doorknob might bite her and pushed the door open just a crack.  Hortense came charging in.  Piggy’s dressing room usually seemed spacious, but Hortense seemed to fill all of it with the force of her presence. 

            “Well, just look at you,” Hortense said, grasping Piggy’s gloved hands.  They were cold, but that wasn’t what arrested the older sow’s attention.  Feeling an enormous lump beneath her grasp, Hortense looked down quickly at Piggy’s left hand.

            “My, my,” Piggy’s mother said admiringly.  “He may be a slave driver, but he’s not a cheapskate.  What a beautiful ring!  What a beautiful—“

            She glanced up, put her hands on her large hips and looked at Piggy in frank disappointment.

            “And you’re still not dressed.  For heaven’s sake, dear—what’s taking so long anyway?”  She manhandled Piggy, turning her around so she could zip up the dress.  Piggy, who usually took umbrage at any unwanted handling, complied meekly.  “And look at your hair—it’s a complete mess.”  She snatched a brush off the dresser and began to correct the damage done to Piggy coiffure when she was getting out of and back into the dress.  Stunned into submission, Piggy just let her. 

            “There,” she said finally.  “Well, Pigathius, you make a lovely bride.”  Piggy raised her eyes at last to meet her mother’s in the mirror.  Her mother was smiling, and for just a minute, Piggy thought her mother blinked back tears.  She shook her head to clear it.  Hortense crying?  That was about as likely as…as her marrying Kermit.  Piggy looked away hastily and turned to face her mother.

            “Mother—why are you here?  In London?  Where’s Daddy?”

            Hortense looked at her in surprise.  “Why, Sweetie—you didn’t think we’d miss your wedding, did you?”

            Piggy gauged the distance to the door.  If she sprinted, she just might make it out of the building before anyone could stop her, and she could cross the border into France under cover of darkness and start a new life where no one even knew—

            “Pigathius?”

            Piggy’s eyes felt hot, but she would not cry in front of her mother.  “I’m—I’m not getting married,” Piggy said quietly.

            “Well, of course you are,” Hortense insisted.  “Oh, I know it’s normal to get nervous on the big day.  Heaven knows your father was an absolute wreck, but once you—“

            “Mother—I’m not getting married.  It’s—it’s just part of the movie.”

            Hortense was not easily stopped in her tracks, but she stopped now, looking at Piggy in what appeared to be genuine concern and abject confusion.  “The movie?” she asked slowly.

            Piggy nodded miserably.  She waved the gaudy ring about, then lifted the frothy folds of the dress and let them fall limply back.  “This isn’t my ring, this isn’t my wedding dress, Mother—these are just props.  And I’m not really getting married.  Kermit doesn’t love…”  She stopped and swallowed, pressing her lips together firmly.  “Kermit is my director, Mother, and we’re—we’re friends, friends who are in a movie together pretending to get married.”

            “But—but I don’t understand,” Hortense said, obviously flustered.  “Kermit said—“

            The door opened behind them with no preparatory knock.  Normally, anyone who dared enter without knocking got himself karate-chopped into next week, but Piggy was so rattled by her Mother’s unexpected appearance that she just startled and looked to see who it was.

            Scooter stood practically quaking in the doorway.  “Piggy, Kermit wants to know if—oh!  There you are Mrs. Lee.  We’ve been looking for you.”  Taking his life in his hands, Scooter took her arm, drawing her away from Piggy as the women stared helplessly at each other.

            “Wait, young man,” Hortense said, but Scooter’s grip was surprisingly strong. 

            “Come with me, Mrs. Lee,” he was murmuring.  “We’ve got a place set up for you and your—“

            The door swung shut behind them.  It was only then that Piggy realized that Scooter had never told her what Kermit wanted to know.  She sighed, looking at her reflection in the mirror.  Her face was composed, her eyes huge.  She did indeed make a beautiful bride, but it didn’t matter—at least, it didn’t matter to anyone else.  Piggy closed the door behind her and went looking for her director.

Chapter 7: The Cake and the Bakery With ItEdit

            “Oh—there you are,” said Kermit, not even looking at her.  “Piggy—I need you to look these papers over and sign them before we do the wedding again.”   Inwardly, Piggy groaned.  Script changes, she thought irritably.  As if there wasn’t enough stacked on her plate.  But when she looked at the papers, they didn’t look like script changes.  They looked like certificates of some sort—and they looked official.  Now very uneasy, Piggy looked closer at what was clearly a marriage license.

            “Why do I have to sign this for the movie?” she said nervously, looking around for Kermit.  He seemed to be very close at the moment, standing just behind her.

            “You don’t have to sign it for the movie,” Kermit said gently.

            “Then what—“

            “You just have to sign it to marry me.”

            The pen dropped from her nerveless fingers.  “Wh-what?”

            Kermit stepped forward and slipped his arms around her, looking intently into her blue eyes.

            “Please, Piggy,” he said softly.  “Sign the paper, won’t you?”

            Those big blue eyes filled with tears.  Piggy looked around, wanting help from any quarter.  None was forthcoming.  Without warning, she withdrew from Kermit’s embrace and fled back toward her dressing room, but Kermit caught her before she could go very far.  He was laughing, and his arms held her close.

            “Please,” Piggy said desperately.  Of all the mean jokes!  “I don’t want to play this anymore.  I just want to go—“

            Kermit kissed her.  They had shared many kisses in the course of their relationship, some more memorable than others.  This one, out of all of them, took the cake and the bakery with it.  After what seemed like a very long time, Kermit released her lips, but he didn’t let her go.  Piggy stared at him, put her hand to her flushed lips.  Kermit smiled.

            “Marry me,” he said earnestly.  “I don’t want to play this anymore, either.”

            Piggy just looked at him, unable to make her brain shift into gear.  “But—but when we filmed the scene this morning, and Bob said, let’s see what he does if we—and then you were all huffy about the—and I thought you were mad about….”  Piggy looked like she might swoon, and Kermit tightened his hold on her.  It felt good, Kermit thought, holding her tight like this.  He intended to make a habit of it.

            “And what was my mother doing here?  She said you—“

            “Piggy—I didn’t think you’d want to do this without your parents.  I had them flown in.”

            “Oh, but, Kermie—“ Piggy said, and Kermit felt like a band around his heart had suddenly broken free.  She had called him Kermie, again—it was going to be okay.

            “Yes, Piggy?”

            “What about your parents?”

            Kermit pointed and Piggy looked over to see Mr. and Mrs. The Frog waving at her merrily from behind a doorway.  Piggy waved back faintly.  All the doorways seemed filled with people—friends, cast-members, family.  Piggy turned in a slow circle, looking at all the smiling faces, then turned back to Kermit, bewildered and flustered.  To her consternation and delight, Kermit dropped to one knee in front of her and reached for her hand.

            “Oh, Kermie….” Piggy began, but trailed off, gazing at him as though there were nothing else in the whole wide world.

            “Piggy, will you marry me?”

            Piggy looked at him helplessly.  She couldn’t think, she couldn’t move, she didn’t--

            “I—oh, Kermie, I—“

            “Say YES!” shouted Hortense, and everyone began to laugh. 

            “Yes,” Piggy said wetly.  “I will.”

Chapter 8: Your Girl NowEdit

            They ran the whole scene again, and though the cameras were rolling, this video would never grace any commercial movie screen.  This time, Piggy’s mother sat down front, where the bride’s mother was supposed to sit, and while her father declined to “give her away,” he walked her down the aisle with pride.  James and Jane the Frog sat opposite them with a whole row of frogs, beaming at everyone who looked their way.

            “Finally got his clump,” James murmured, leaning on his cane.  “It’s about bloody time, don’t you think?”

            “Hush, Dear,” Jane said, patting her husband’s knee affectionately.  “Kermit’s just a late bloomer, that’s all.”  They looked toward the front of the church where Kermit stood waiting for his bride beside a beaming Fozzie.  Freed from the need for secrecy, Kermit had wasted no time asking his long-time friend to stand up for him, and Fozzie had been moved and honored to do so.

            When the last ‘I do’ had been spoken, this time with a great deal more enthusiasm than the first time, the scene once more erupted into happy chaos.  The doves, which had been perching calmly around the ceiling took to flight in a flurry of feathers and added to the festive air.

            Father Bob had come down from behind the altar and pressed a fond kiss on Piggy’s cheek.  “Hope you won’t hold this against me,” he said.  “I did my best, but I was so afraid you wouldn’t take the bait that I pushed things along a little.”

            “A little?!” Piggy protested, but she kissed his cheek anyway.  Even Gonzo had been forgiven, amnesty being offered through the groom’s side of the family.  For the first time she (or anyone else) could remember, Piggy didn’t have anyone’s name on her list.

            She was floating around in a daze, and the only constant was Kermit’s arm settled firmly around her waist.  Everyone was there, and while she had certainly looked forward to visiting with them as fellow members of the cast, she was now doubly moved by the fact that everyone she knew and loved best had come to bear witness to this happy, happy day.  There was cake, there was punch, there was a huge reception on the soundstage across the lot from them.  Piggy would remember most of it in very sketchy flashbacks if at all, because the only thing she had eyes for that day was Kermit—Kermit who loved her and wanted her and asked her to marry him.  She loved him immeasurably for asking, and loved him even more for proceeded to marry her on the spot when she’d said yes. 

            They were dancing now, full of champagne, caviar and good wishes.  The Electric Mayhem’s music filled the room with sound.  Kermit felt a preemptory tap on his shoulder and looked up in surprise.

            “Um, hello, Mr. Lee,” he said respectfully, returning the older boar’s firm handshake.  His new father-in-law put a hand on his shoulder and looked him straight in the eye.  Beside him, Kermit felt Piggy inhale sharply, then stop breathing altogether.

            “Son,” Pignatius Alyoicious Lee said in his deep, gruff voice.  “Pigathia hasn’t been a little girl for a long time, but she’ll always be my little girl.”  He gave Kermit a hard look, an astute look, man to man, um, pig to frog.  Kermit bore up under it without flinching.  “But now, I guess, she’s your girl.  You take care of her.”

            “I intend to, sir,” Kermit said firmly.  He heard Piggy catch her breath and start breathing again as Pignatius leaned in and brushed a dry little peck across her cheek. 

            “You be good, now,” he said sternly.

            “I will, Daddy,” she whispered, and leaned forward to press a kiss against his weathered cheek.  When she did, Piggy saw something she had never, ever seen before.  She saw a tear running slowly down his face.  She put her soft hand against his face and looked him in the eye.  “Thank you, Daddy—for coming.”

            “’Course,” he said uncomfortably.  “Had to.”  He allowed the smallest glimmer of a twinkle to appear in his eye.  “Your mother would never have let me hear the end of it if I hadn’t.”   It was just enough of a truth to be a lie—they both knew why he’d come.

            Without another word, he turned and strolled away.

            They had only had time to exchange glances—Piggy’s flabbergasted and Kermit’s self-assured—when Hortense bore down on them like a ship steaming toward port.

            “Where’s Pignatius?” she demanded.  “I thought I saw him with you a moment ago.”

            “I think he went to get some punch, Mother,” Piggy lied creatively. 

            “Oh.”  Hortense turned her penetrating gaze on the new groom and regarded him levelly.  Beside her, Piggy felt Kermit trembling ever-so-slightly.  Standing up to her Father was one thing, but standing up to her Mother

            To the happy couple’s supreme surprise, Hortense reached out at last and patted Kermit awkwardly on the head.

            “Well,” Hortense said at last, “I guess you’ll do, won’t you?”

            “Yes ma’am,” Kermit said, glad his voice didn’t break.  The corners of the older sow’s mouth turned up slightly in imitation of a smile, but her little eyes held some genuine warmth.  She turned abruptly and walked away.

            When they were alone again on the dance floor, Kermit put his arms around Piggy and held her extra close.  “Everything okay?” he asked softly.

            Piggy leaned into his embrace, letting him hold her as close as he wanted, which was very.  Her voice was very small.  “No,” she said softly.  “It’s perfect.”

           

            “We’re—we’re going away?” Piggy said, aghast.  “But I’m not—I haven’t packed,” Piggy protested.  She looked at Kermit accusingly, but he just smiled an insufferable smile.

            “Don’t worry too much about packing clothes,” Kermit said, completely straight-faced.  Piggy gave him a look, blushing furiously, but his expression remained bland.  “Janice and Camilla are packing for you,” he said at last, taking entirely too long to finish his thought.  His thought led to some thoughts of her own, and Piggy realized for the first time that tonight, Kermit would belong just to her.  Her knees felt wobbly and she wanted to sit down.  Kermit steered her expertly toward a chair and went to fetch her a cool, frothy glass of punch.  If he was aware of the reason for her wobbly knees (and C’mon, guys—the frog knows, okay?) he didn’t mention it.

            Piggy watched him go like someone in a dream.  My frog,” she thought suddenly.  My Kermie.”

            Janice and Camilla appeared at her elbow, giggling, and drew her away with them into the relative privacy of the hall.  They shoved a little package into her hands and waited, still giggling, while she opened it.

            “Oh, Janice,” Piggy said.  “Oh Camilla—this is, this is beautiful.”  Piggy held up the sweet little negligee and looked like she might cry.

            “Oh, like, don’t cry, Honey,” Janice said, enfolding Piggy in a warm embrace.  “Your guy pulled a big surprise over on you—we just thought we’d help you return the favor.”

            Camilla wrapped Piggy in her soft, feathery wings and held her close, then whispered something naughty in Piggy’s ear that made them both laugh.

            “I’ll have to let you know,” Piggy said, blushing to beat the band.  “Just as soon as I find out myself!”

            “You’re not mad?”  They were swaying together to the music, gazing at each other happily.

            “Mad?”  Piggy touched his face.  “How could I be mad?”

            “Because I tricked you?”  His eyes looked worried.

            “It was a lovely trick.”  She looked at him, then ventured quietly.  “But, Kermit—why didn’t you just ask me?  Didn’t you know I’d say yes?”

            Kermit looked uncomfortable.  “Well,” he said, “Um,….”

            Piggy let out a soft gasp and her face lit up with understanding.

            “It was because of the movie, wasn’t it?”

            Kermit squirmed some more.  “Not entirely,” he muttered. 

            Piggy just looked at him in affectionate reproach. 

            “Um, maybe,” he admitted.  “Sorta, kinda.”

            Piggy waited some more.  She could wait as long as it took.  She had practice.

            “Um, yes?” he said at last.  “Please don’t be mad about it, Piggy.  I knew if we tried to film this as ‘Our Wedding’ then the whole thing would sortof degenerate into this big spectacle.”  He was silent for a moment, then decided to come completely clean.  “I wanted the scene to play a certain way, and I knew if you knew it was the real thing you’d be looking at me the way you’re looking at me now.”  His voice had gone all dreamy.

            “Like how?” Piggy murmured.

            “Like there’s nobody here but the two of us.”

            Piggy sighed and snuggled her head against his shoulder.  “I wish,” she murmured, and Kermit felt a jolt like an electric shock run down his spine.  It took him a minute to get his voice back.

            “Um, I let you pick the dress,” Kermit said hopefully.

            “It’s a beautiful dress.  It’s the dress I would have wanted for our wedding.”  She was silent for a moment, almost afraid to ask.

            “Did my ring actually come from Tiffany’s?”

            “Yep.”  He looked at her uncertainly.  “Do you—do you like it?  Was it what you would have picked?”

            You’re what I picked,” Piggy said softly, resting in his embrace. “That’s the only thing that matters to me.”

            She was silent for a moment.

            “Kermie?”

            “Yes, Piggy?”

            “I like the ring, too.”

            “…and we hope you’ll come see us sometime soon,” Jane the Frog said softly.  She held Piggy’s face between two feather-light hands, but her eyes were fathomless and gentle.

            Piggy nodded.  “We will,” she said softly, looking at Kermit.  “When post-production is over.”

            “Promise, Mom,” Kermit said, leaning forward to kiss his mother’s smooth cheek.  Jane put one of those light hands against his cheek and held his cheek close to hers for a moment.

            “I’ll hold you to that.”  She stepped back and beamed at them fondly.  James, beside her, looked at his pocket watch pointedly.

            “Gonna miss your train,” he observed.

            Kermit looked at the watch face keenly.

            “We’ve got a few more minutes,” Kermit said.  “The train doesn’t leave for Paris until—“

            “Paris?” Piggy said wonderingly.  “We’re going to Paris?”

            “Yep,” Kermit confirmed.  Scooter appeared at his elbow, beaming at him and handing over the tickets and passports and baggage claim checks to his very happy employer.  Kermit looked at Piggy earnestly.  “It’s only for four days,” Kermit said unhappily, “because of filming, but I thought that would give us a chance to, um,….”  Of a sudden, the frog was having trouble voicing some of his thoughts, and just as much trouble not voicing others in front of his parents.  Best leave it alone, he thought firmly.  He turned and embraced his parents one at a time.  Piggy did the same.  As they turned, they found all of their friends lined up to wish them well, offering hugs and handshakes and the occasional ribald comment.  Sweetums even gave Kermit a noogie until the laughing amphibian cried “Uncle,” then Kermit lifted Robin from Sweetums shoulder and gave him a peck on the check.

            “Be good for Grandma and Grandpa,” he said solemnly.  Robin returned the sober look.

            “And you be good for Aunt Piggy,” Robin returned in kind.  Beside him, Kermit felt Piggy stifle the urge to laugh.

            “I’ll, um, do my best,” he intoned soberly, then he and Piggy joined hands and ran for the door in a shower of birdseed.  He handed Piggy into the comfort of the limo and followed her.  Once inside, Kermit wasted no time at all pulling Piggy into his arms and kissing his wife with all the proprietary interest one might expect from an eager groom.  Piggy twined her arms around Kermit’s neck, closed her eyes and spent the ride to the train station kissing her husband experimentally, trying to find the perfect combination of angle and timing.  If they worked at it, Piggy thought dreamily, they might just get the hang of it by the time they had to go back to work.  The thought made her smile, because, when they did go back to work it would be together.  Just the way they should be.

Chapter 9: HomeEdit

            “They’re coming—they’re coming!” shouted Scooter excitedly.  “It’s really them this time!”

            “Oh, I was so worried,” said Fozzie anxiously.  “I was afraid their train would be delayed again.”

            “They’re getting out of the taxi now,” said Gonzo.

            “Oh, like, look!  They look so cute!”

            “Wow—they’re really married now.  I can’t believe it.”

            “Yeah—the little green man must have taken leave of his senses,” came Floyd Pepper’s raspy voice.  There was the sound of a smack, then, “Hey baby—I was just jokin’—you know I’m behind the frog.”

            The studio door began to open.

            If Kermit had entertained hopes of making anything resembling a discreet entrance, those hopes were dashed the instant he poked his head around the door frame and saw dozens of eager eyes all staring back.  Kermit gulped.

            “Um, hello everyone.  We’re, um, back.”  The rest of Kermit appeared, followed closely by the whole of Piggy.  The scrutiny they received was friendly but intense, and Piggy pressed against Kermit’s back as though fearful of some unexpected attack.

            This is awful, thought Scooter.  I should do something, but he stayed rooted where he was, unable to move.

            There was a sudden commotion at the back of the room and, seemingly without any social discomfort at all, Fozzie plowed serenely through the masses, walked right up to Kermit and embraced him.

            “Welcome back, Kermit,” he said happily.  “How was your trip?”

            Without waiting for an answer, Fozzie released Kermit and moved to enfold Piggy in a warm hug.

            “You look just lovely, Piggy,” Fozzie said simply.  He turned with one arm around each of them.  “C’mon guys,” he said sternly. “Let’s give a big warm welcome to Kermit and Piggy, Mr. and Mrs. The Frog.”

            With enthusiasm, the crowd surged forward, the ice broken once and for always.  When Gonzo got in line to hug Piggy for the third time, she forgot her shyness and swatted him hard enough to make him see stars.

            “Thank you,” he murmured, staggering happily back toward his dressing room.

            “Did you have a good time?” Bunsen Honeydew asked, peering myopically through his glasses but beaming at them fondly.

            Beside him, Kermit felt Piggy stiffen with suppressed laughter.  He dared not look at her while a blush suffused his cheeks.

            “Um, yes,” Kermit said firmly.  “Yes—it was very nice.”

            “Bet you saw some beautiful sights,” Rowlf said, eyes wide.  Kermit turned and met his friend’s eyes, more than passing aware of Rowlf’s devilry.

            I will get you for this, Kermit’s look said plainly, but he nodded and smiled perfunctorily.  “Oh yeah,” he said casually.  “Gorgeous.”

            Scooter finally snapped out of his reverie and began to herd people away from the somewhat flustered couple.

            “C’mon, people,” he said, playing traffic cop.  “We’re trying to get ready for the first shoot of the day, and I’m sure we’d all like to be done before lunch.”  Grumbling, people dispersed.

            At last, it was only Scooter and the happy couple.  Kermit turned to Piggy, took her gently into his arms and kissed her chastely on the lips while Scooter tried not to gawp.  Kermit released her and she floated blissfully toward her dressing room.

            “Stage call in twenty,” Kermit called after her.

            “Yes, Mon Capitan,” Piggy said obediently.  Scooter fought to keep his jaw from hitting the floor.  At last, he turned and grinned at Kermit in delight.

            “So…married life is…good?”

            “Oh yeah,” Kermit said fervently.  “It’s terrific.”  He looked at Scooter and the gopher actually saw him shifting gears from husband to director.  “Catch me up, Scooter.  What did you get done while we were, um, gone.”

            Scooter heaved a quiet sigh of relief.  He’d obviously been worried for nothing.  Kermit was still the same director, the same boss, the same frog he had always been.  That would never change.

            “Well,” Scooter said.  “We filmed part of the letter sequence scenes.  I think they went well—you can take a look at them whenever you’re ready.  Today, we’re supposed to do, um…”  He flipped pages frantically.  “Quelle difference, but that’s after lunch, and right now we’re queuing up for the bus terminal scenes.  Oh, and I wanted to get You Can’t Take No for an Answer in the can today.”

            “The Electric Mayhem ready?”

            “Always—well, Animal probably needs to be walked first.”

            They were moving now.  “When do we go on location?”

            “Later in the week.  We’re still waiting on park permits.  We’ll probably do the street scenes first, then let everybody but you and Miss, um—“  Scooter broke off suddenly, cheeks coloring a little, and looked at Kermit helplessly.

            “It’s okay, Scooter.  She may be Mrs. The Frog now, but she’ll always be Miss Piggy.”

            “Oh, good,” Scooter said with a heartfelt sigh.  “I just—I hadn’t thought about it.”

            “There’s a lot to think about,” Kermit said with a twinkle in his eye.  “I’m learning something new every day.”

            For a second, Scooter just stared at him, not sure whether to be reassured or scandalized.  Before he could formulate a response, Kermit was moving again, shedding his traveling clothes as he walked.  “Anything else I need to know about the week?”

            Scooter consulted his clipboard hurriedly.  “No, I don’t think—oh.  Well, the scene we’d talked about earlier—the one you weren’t sure about doing last week?  We’re scheduled to do that on Friday.”

            “Friday,” Kermit mused, his expression thoughtful.  “I think by Friday it will be fine.”  He turned and put a hand on Scooter’s arm.  “Thanks for minding the store while we were gone.  And on short notice, too.”

            “Sure thing, Boss.  Glad to help.”

            They grinned at each other.

            “Um, boss?”

            “Yeah, Scooter?
            “You need to change.”

            “Oh!”  Kermit looked down at the remains of his traveling clothes.  “Yes.  Guess I better.”  He trotted off.  Scooter stood for a moment, lost in thought.  Fozzie came up and stood beside him.

            “Good to have everybody home,” Fozzie said with a sigh,.  “Now things can get back to normal.”

            Scooter gave him a look.  “Back to normal?” he teased.  “Since when has anything around here been normal?”

            Fozzie tried to look stern.  “You know what I mean”

            “Yes, I do,” Scooter admitted.  “Hey—I wanted to ask you about your hibernation scene.  Did you look at the new script pages?”

            Fozzie gulped.  “Um, yes,” he quavered.  “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that….”

            They walked off together toward the dressing rooms, but Fozzie’s voice floated back clearly. 

            “Um, is it really necessary to have a coed cave?”

            “Time to go,” Kermit said much later that day, his hands clasping Piggy’s plump arms and pulling her close.

            “Home?” she asked, her expression tender.  Home with Kermit, she thought giddily.  I’m going home with Kermit.

            “Um hum.”  He leaned forward, unable to touch her without wanting to claim a kiss.

            “Where?” Piggy asked.  Kermit stopped in mid-pucker.

            “Where?” he repeated blankly, scrunching up his whole face. 

            Piggy put her arms around his neck, slipping her hands beneath his frill.  “Yes—where?” she repeated patiently.  “Your place or mine.”

            Kermit continued to look blank.

            “I, um, I didn’t think that far ahead,” he admitted sheepishly.

            Piggy started to giggle.  “Um, my place is bigger.”

            “Only in closet space.  And you never have any food at your place.”

            “You never have anything I can eat at your place, either,” she protested.

            Kermit pulled her a little closer.  “We’ll send out for something,” he murmured, leaning in for a kiss.  Piggy dodged him determinedly, intent on settling the question at hand.

            “But I don’t have any clothes at your apartment,” Piggy insisted, and inhaled sharply at the keen look of interest on Kermit’s face. 

            “And this is a problem?” he asked mischievously.  Piggy put a hand over his mouth, blushing furiously and looking around to make sure they were not overheard.  There was no one close by.  Kermit pressed a smoldering kiss against her open palm, and when she jerked it free, he took advantage of her distraction to tug her in tight and kiss her.  Her surprise quickly changed to enthusiastic participation, and they stood just outside Piggy’s dressing room door kissing to beat the band.  If the entire cast and crew had wandered by, seen them and bought tickets it is doubtful they would have cared.

            Kermit played his trump card.  “My apartment is closer,” he murmured.  Piggy let out a shaky breath. 

            “Okay,” she said.  “I’ll get my coat.”

Chapter 10: Your Place or MineEdit

            Piggy stood in the doorway of Kermit’s apartment and surveyed her surroundings doubtfully.  Kermit’s temporary domicile was definitely on the cozy side.

            “I’m pretty sure my locker on the bus terminal set is bigger,” she said dryly.  Kermit turned and gave her a scrunchy faced look.

            “Ha ha,” he said.  “At least you can see the furniture and the floor.”  It was true.  Piggy was pleased to note that Kermit was tidy, but not obsessively so, and there was a minimum of bachelor clutter.

            Piggy made an indignant face herself.  “It is not Moi’s fault if they do not provide enough closet space for Moi’s entire wardrobe,” she sniffed.

            “To heck with your wardrobe,” Kermit murmured, putting his arms around her and smiling at her fondly.  Piggy settled her arms around him.  Her eyes were soft but they contained an impish gleam.

            “Moi is willing to suffer hardship in order to be with you, Mon Capitan.”  She kissed him before he could make a smart retort, happy to know that this argument could have only one possible conclusion.  The thought made her giddy and giggly and she pulled away after a moment and busied herself hanging up her coat in the minute closet.  Kermit let her go, but only because she couldn’t go far.  He went into the tiny kitchen to see what there was that might serve as supper.  Piggy joined him there, but after a few moments of cabinet peering it was unanimously decided that they would have to send out for food, and that their time was much better spent smooching than cooking.

            How strange this is, Piggy thought, to be standing in the miniscule kitchen kissing Kermit—her Kermit!—while supper was on its way.  When the egg rolls and other food arrived, Kermit went to the door and gave the delivery person the first large bill that came out of his wallet without even looking at it.  He returned immediately to Piggy’s embrace, but the smell of the food soon pervaded their senses.  They put aside one set of appetites for another, and carried everything over to the somewhat lumpy couch.  Kermit passed over chopsticks and took a pair himself, and they sat cross-legged on the couch facing each other, laughing and eating until every last crumb of food was gone.

            This is easy, Kermit thought.  Married life is a snap.  He liked the sight of Piggy sitting on his couch.  He liked the thought of her in his apartment.  He liked better the thought of her—

            “Kermie—I’m going to go get out of my work clothes.  These pantyhose are killing me.”

            Kermit perked up immediately.  “Need any—?“

            “I do NOT!” Piggy said hastily.  She disappeared into the little bedroom with her purse and her attaché case of hastily packed items from her dressing room.  Tomorrow they would have to have more of a plan, but tonight—tonight she was content to leave things to the whims of fate.  Piggy smiled as she shimmied out of her dress and into the silk dressing gown that would have to double as pajamas tonight.  She looked down at the big diamond on her left hand and smiled.  Fate had been pretty kind so far this week.

            Kermit hadn’t even touched the coffee that the Swedish Chef had so generously provided—and he hoped it had no hostile designs on him—when his personal assistant came running up.

            “Okay, Boss—I’ve finally gotten all the permits that I think we’ll need.  We can start filming in the park tomorrow.”

            “Super,” Kermit said.  “Um, did you remember to tell them that Animal—“

            “Oh yeah,” Scooter said.  “I warned ‘em but they were okay with it.”

            “Swell.  Let’s get everybody together before lunch and we’ll talk about tomorrow.”  He hesitated.  “Um, Scooter—did you make a seating plan for the bus?”

            “No,” the gofer admitted.  “I thought we’d just do first come, first pick.”

            Kermit looked at him worriedly.  “Remember what happened last time?”

            Scooter sighed.  “I’ll make a seating chart.”  He turned to go, but swung back around and gave Kermit a sly look.  “Guess you’ll want to sit with the Missus?”

            In spite of himself, Kermit blushed.  He was going to have to work on that.  He had a Missus now, and he had better get used to it.  “Yes, thank you Scooter.  That would be fine.”

            Scooter’s smile broadened.  “You know, I have to say this whole thing is working better than I thought it was going to.”

            “Oh, you have to say that, huh?” Kermit snarked, moving off toward his office.  Scooter hustled to keep up.

            “Aw, c’mon Kermit—don’t be sore.  I just meant that, you know, Piggy’s been so, I don’t know, nice to work with this week.  She seems….”  He stopped, trying to find the right word.  “She seems happy.”

            Kermit stopped and turned around to look at Scooter, but there was no guile on the young man’s face.  Kermit’s expression softened.

            “Yeah,” he said softly.  “Me, too.  I…I should have done this a while ago.”

            Scooter shrugged.  “So you did it now.  Looks like a good call, Boss.”

            “Yeah.”  He looked toward his office, then toward Piggy’s dressing room door nearby.  “Um, I’m going to check in on Piggy.  Then we’re running some of my scenes with Lonny, right?”

            “Right.  You want everybody to stay close?”

            “Naw—send ‘em off on break, but get ‘em back here before lunch for a quick meeting.”

            “Sure thing, Boss.  I’m on it.”

            Watching him scurry off, Kermit smiled.  It seemed like everything in his life was suddenly falling into place as though preordained. 

            The thought that he had finally found his center made him smile.  Now that he had taken the plunge, he couldn’t seem to remember why he’d been so skittish about the whole idea of marriage.  Piggy had seemed happy this week.  She had gone out of her way to be accommodating to everyone.  When they were filming “Quelle Difference” she had even taken direction from him—without question—something he could never remember happening in all the years of their association.  Although he remained a little surprised by her newfound docility, Kermit hadn’t really thought it odd.  He’d actually enjoyed the looks of stupefied surprise on the faces of their cast members when she had simply said, “Yes, Kermie,” and done exactly what he’d asked. 

            He’d covered his own surprise quickly, and watched her with interest as she’d played the scene the way he’d asked.  Ultimately, he’d concluded that her instincts in the scene were superior to his own, and they’d reverted to the first way she’d played it.  He had more difficulty hiding his surprise when she refused to gloat.  Though they still had incredible chemistry on film, the burgeoning friction that had often overcome them in their working lives had other, more productive outlets now, making life both peaceful and sweet.  Every unmarried member of the cast and crew—which was almost everyone—seemed awed by the sudden and inexplicable shift of power.  Kermit swelled with pride and sat taller in his director’s chair.  What a smart move it had been to marry Piggy, he congratulated himself.  I should have done this a long time ago. 

            As if reading his thoughts, Piggy looked up from having her overly-made-up face carefully cleansed, and her own make-up replied.  Her smile was tentative, but Kermit answered it with warmth.

            “You look beautiful, Piggy!” he called.  “The camera loves you!”

            Piggy suddenly did not need rouge.  “What about the director?” she asked, her eyes shining.

            Kermit grinned.  “Him, too,” he said, and went to see if Mrs. Rivers was ready to run the scene again.

            Democratically, Kermit had followed Piggy home to her room at the hotel the second night after their return.  If Kermit’s apartment had been spartanly tidy, Piggy’s was an explosion of glorious excess.  There were clothes everywhere—evening gowns and dresses and more lingerie than he had ever imagined was necessary to grace one shapely form.  Kermit tried not to sit on anything that looked like it had been recently pressed, and made several futile attempts to discern a pattern amongst the cast-off clothes, but Piggy did not leave him much time to dwell on her house-keeping shortcomings.  They procured food from room service, ordered a movie they did not watch and found better things to do with their time than organize Piggy’s lingerie drawer.

            To his surprise, Kermit found himself oddly content amidst the chaos.  Home has ceased to be a particular geographic destination and had come to mean the place where he would find Piggy waiting for him.  It dawned on him at some point (around two in the morning) that they would have to do something about living arrangements once they returned to the states, but that time seemed forever away.  They needed to get through filming so he could begin the arduous process of piecing the film together scene by scene, keeping this and discarding that, splicing that close-up and rejecting that sequence altogether.  “Life’s like a movie, write your own ending….” he hummed in his head.  A happy one, he decided firmly.  It has to be a happy ending.  In the darkness, Kermit smiled, then snuggled into Piggy’s embrace and let sleep claim him once again.

Chapter 11: Men Are Such Pigs!Edit

            It had been a long day already.  They had filmed a great deal of side-walk walking that morning, and those who weren’t needed for the next set of scenes—which was most of them—were lounging in various states of fatigue on the soft green grass.

            “Like, my feet are so worn down I’ll bet I’m an inch shorter,” said Janice.  She took off her sandals and stretched her feet out in front of her with a blissful look.

            “Well, I’m an inch taller,” said Fozzie, “cause my feet are so swollen.”

            “I’m pretty sure I broke even between the calluses and the blisters,” said Gonzo conversationally.  “Anybody want to see?”

            “NO!” several voices shouted in chorus, but Gonzo shrugged it off, nonplussed.  “Suit yourself,” he said, “but you don’t know what you’re missing!”

            “Thank all that is good for small favors,” said Dr. Teeth, watching the furry blue fellow trot off.  He settled next to Floyd, who had lain back comfortably in the grass and was contemplating the clouds.  “Feels good to take a load off,” he murmured, grateful for the cool foliage beneath him.  He looked over at Animal, who was tethered to a small sapling by his spiked collar and a leather leash.  “Speaking of,” he began, “want me to take Animal out to—“

            “Naw, I got it already,” said Floyd.  “But if you’ve got anything edible on you, I think his blood sugar’s getting a little low.”

            “Scooby snacks okay?”

            “Which kind?” Floyd said.  “You know he hates the apple-raisin ones.”

            “Not to worry,” the good doctor assured his band-mate.  “These are the ones with chocolate and peanut-butter.”

            “You are the man,” said Floyd, and watched as Dr. Teeth tossed a handful of snacks to Animal.  They were caught and consumed with frightening intensity. 

            Once everyone got their wind back, and had had a chance to complain and kvetch, they got down to the serious business of enjoying the beautiful outdoors.  Sitting in the shade, it was extremely pleasant in the park. 

            Not everyone was sitting in the shade.

            “Um, okay everybody—this is the big action scene.”  Kermit smiled over at Piggy, but she didn’t see him.  She was talking animatedly to Gregory Hines, and watching with intense concentration as he demonstrated a particularly intricate tap turn—in sneakers, no less.  They had been doing impromptu tap routines all day, and Kermit was shocked to find that it was still possible to feel little niggling pings of jealousy when he saw his wife move with sinuous ease in another man’s arms.  He waved to get their attention, and Piggy broke off what she’d been saying, turned at once and gave him her full and focused attention.  For a minute, Kermit couldn’t remember what he’d wanted to say, then the paralysis fled and he looked down at his notes.

            “So—we want to get the chase scene out of the way today.  I know it’s hot and a little humid, but let’s get through this and tomorrow we’ll come back and do all the close-up shots when we’re fresh.”

            Heads nodded, people murmured.  Beside him, Juliana was bouncing a little, stretching her calf muscles before they had to jog.  She and Gary Facon, who was to play the hapless purse thief, had done more extensive stretching earlier, warming and readying their muscles for the demands ahead.  True to her nature, Piggy abhorred exercise for the sake of exercise.  She would dance, she would skate, she would do acrobatics or wax the car if she felt like it, but the thought of actually sweating on purpose toward no specific end genuinely horrified her.  Eschewing a formal warm-up, Piggy had instead spent her time tap-dancing with Gregory and taking a test run on the roller skates she’d be wearing.

            Kermit hoped they’d get the scene the first take, because it was already uncomfortably warm and he didn’t relish the thought of jogging the circuit more than once.  He and Juliana had walked the route they would take, matching dialogue to specific points on the trail so they would be able to pace themselves.  He had walked Piggy’s more extensive course with her shortly after arriving.  The cameras were in place, but the timing might be a little tricky.  Scooter and Kermit took turns sweating the details while everyone else just sweated.

            Leaving his wife and her erstwhile dance partner reluctantly, Kermit sat down on the soft green grass and looked at Juliana.  They ran the lines in a perfunctory manner before the camera’s started, then makeup came in to powder and pouf.  It was showtime.

            The first take went swimmingly until Juliana reached to pull him up on his feet.  He lost his balance and sat back down abruptly.  Laughing, a little embarrassed, Kermit planted his feet more firmly and they ran it again.  This time, it went off without a hitch.  They jogged and talked while the camera trundled along beside them.  It was surprisingly hard not to look at the camera when you were doing something like this, but the though of having to do it all over again kept Kermit focused.  They made the circuit without incident.  Kermit patted his brow with a handkerchief, inciting the ire of the makeup sergeants, and Juliana put a damp hand on her neck.

            “It’s hot,” she said, relieved to be done.  “I hope Miss Piggy doesn’t get too hot in that jacket.”

            The camera crew abandoned them to start Piggy’s run.  Kermit resumed his directorial status behind the cameras, watching with his lips pursed and his arms crossed as Piggy began to move.  Some of the others cast members who had gotten a second wind snuck in to watch the scene, careful to stay out of the way of the cameras.

            They filmed the entire sequence, including the scenes that would be re-shot later as close-ups—the gum, the purse snatch, the impromptu borrowing of the skates.  There was a pause while someone came and helped Piggy into the skates, but they kept the cameras running.  The scene would show up in the dailies, with Piggy making faces into the camera.

            “Getting dressed here,” she growled playfully.  “And I’m sweaty, so back off!”

            Nobody backed off.

            Gary Facon was a trouper.  He snatched the purse and took off like a quarterback, running until he was well past his mark.  Makeup came at one point to spray him down with fake sweat.  He raised his arms apologetically.  “I’m not sure I need any more,” he said candidly.  “I’m sweating like a—“  He caught himself in time, and although several camera folk snickered, he managed to avoid the wrath of his co-star.

            “Somebody just dodged a bullet,” Dr. Teeth chuckled.

            “As long as he dodged Piggy,” Gonzo agreed.  Kermit turned and gave them a look and they subsided, sheepish but not really sorry. 

            There were a couple of glitches that made Kermit unhappy, but the whole of it was good.  He watched with bated breath as Piggy made her final, spectacular leap over the rock and landed safely on the safety mattress provided.  After she’d been helped up and dusted off, and the mattress removed, they filmed the scene in which she launched herself onto Gary Facon, demanding her purse back and hitting him until the policemen came to rescue him.  Once he was off the scene, Piggy reverted to her sweet girlish self, thanking the ladies for helping her gather her things.  More than passing aware of how mercurial she could actually be, Kermit found this scene more than usually funny.  He nodded his head, pleased with almost everything.  Almost.

            When the cameras had stilled, he walked over and stood in front of Piggy.  She looked at him, eyes shining in triumph.  “All done?” she asked, but her face made it plain she thought the question rhetorical.  Kermit put his hands on her arms and squeezed, looking into her eyes.

            “Um…” he said.

            Piggy drew back.  That was not a good sound.

            “What do you mean, um?” she asked.  “What?”

            Kermit squirmed.  “Well, it’s just that there was this one part that—“

            Piggy put a hand on his chest and looked at him.

            “Are you asking me to do that whole thing again?”

            Kermit smiled, relieved she had not made him say it.  “That would be great, Piggy,” he said happily.  “Just one more time, please?”

            His relief was short-lived as he saw the warning spark flash in her eyes, but Piggy suddenly seemed to become aware of the crowd of onlookers.  She looked at the camera crew and most of the other cast members, watching her and her new husband intently to see what would happen.  Piggy cleared her face and her throat, her expression carefully blank.

            “Yes, Kermie,” she said softly, and went back to her original mark.

            Kermie went back behind the cameras while a wave of murmuring worked its way through the crowd.  If he was aware of it, he gave no sign.

            “Gosh,” said Fozzie softly.  “I—I don’t believe it.”

            “Like, that has never happened before,” Janice said, looking a Floyd.  Floyd shrugged, stunned beyond the ability to speak.  Maybe, he thought, married life has it benefits.  He took Janice’s hand and they moved off to take a nice, quiet stroll.

            They ran it again—the whole thing.  Kermit looked up at one point and found Gregory Hines sharing a bottle of ice-cold water with Piggy while they waited for her skates to be put back on and felt again that little thrill of jealousy.  Remarkable, he thought absently, that it still bothers me.  He watched them surreptitiously as Piggy swallowed, wiped her mouth, and accepted her co-star’s hand up to her feet.  She leaned in for a moment and kissed Gregory on the cheek.

            “Thank you, mon chere,” she said gratefully.  “I’m so hot I could just die.”

            Gregory laughed.  “You’re telling me,” he teased, and went off to sit in the shade until they needed him.

            Kermit was satisfied with the second run-through, but the sequence with Piggy on the sidewalk was bothering him now.

            “There’s too much interference in the foreground of the shot,” he insisted.  “I think we need to cut back on the number of people in the scene.”

            “It’s supposed to be a crowded park,” Piggy argued.  Her face was set in a stubborn, pouty line but she was respectful.  Kermit’s face was set as well.

            “I think the scene needs this,” Kermit insisted.  Piggy looked at him for a long moment, then darted a look at the cast and crew, who were openly hanging on every word they exchanged.  Miserably, she nodded.

            “Yes, Kermie,” she said resignedly, trudging off to her mark.  Kermit stayed right with the camera until the sequence was done, nodding with extreme satisfaction at the way it finally played.  Piggy flopped down, exhausted on the grassy hillside, gratefully accepting water again from Mr. Hines.  Kermit made his way back over toward the group, his expression distracted.  He was almost in the midst of the rest of the cast members before he seemed to register their presence.

            “Oh, hi guys!” said Kermit.  “I think we’ve got it now.”

            Rowlf cleared his throat.  “If I may be pardoned the observation,” he said admiringly, “that is one impressively domesticated swine.”

            Kermit felt himself blush, but it was hard not to enjoy the looks of frank admiration that they were all giving him.  Kermit laughed sheepishly, and looked back to where his wife sat on the soft grass, making desultory conversation.  He knew it was wrong, but couldn’t seem to help himself.

            “Oh, I don’t know,” he said nonchalantly.  “She’s still pretty wild at home.”

            There were snorts and chortles of laughter all around, accompanied by a great deal of manly back-thumping and worldly looks as they moved off.  A couple of them looked nervously skyward, as though expecting lightning to strike.  Guiltily, Kermit looked around, but Piggy was no longer sitting on the hillside.  He scanned the area quickly and saw Mr. Hines making for his limo, but there was no sign of Piggy.  He heaved a sigh of relief, glad for once not to see Piggy’s often awe-inspiring form close at hand.  Rowlf gave him a knowing look.

            “Better not let the Missus catch you saying that,” advised Rowlf.  “They’ll be trouble for sure.”

            Kermit tried to look unconcerned.  “Don’t worry,” he said.  “I’ve got everything under control.”

            From her vantage point behind the shrubbery, Piggy’s eyes narrowed.  “Men are such pigs,” Piggy fumed.  “Even when they’re frogs.”

            Moments later, she appeared at his elbow.  Guilt and affection made him smile at her warmly.  “Hey, Sweetheart,” he said fondly.  “You did super today.”

            “Are we finished here?” Piggy demanded.  “I’d like to get out of these skates.”

            “What?  Oh—oh, sure, Honey,” Kermit said.  “Here—you want me to…?”

            “No thank you,” she said crisply.  “I can get it.  Are we finished finished?  Finished for the day?”

            “Um, yes,” Kermit said firmly.  “And as soon as I talk to Scooter we’ll go back to—“

            Kermit realized he was talking to himself, and looked up in surprise.  Piggy was gone.  He shrugged, assumingly they’d meet up to ride home together.

            She was not waiting at the limo pickup, nor was she waiting at his apartment.  Kermit arrived at the hotel somewhat puzzled and more than a little flustered.  He found Piggy in her own apartment, up to her chin in foaming bubbles.  Her curls were pulled up into a feathery ponytail, and she had a glass of something fizzy sitting on the edge of the tub.  At the sight of her, Kermit felt his heart start thumping double-time and his knees go all wobbly.

            “My girl,” he thought happily.  “My wife.”

            Piggy had fumed her way through an initial scrub-down, but it is hard to hold onto a grudge when you are squeaky clean, buff, polished and up to your neck in steaming, sudsy water.  In spite of her best efforts, she felt her expression go all dreamy and knew she was falling back under his spell.  Kermit sat on the edge of the tub.

            “You were magnificent today, Piggy,” Kermit said solemnly.

            Piggy shrugged, noncommittal, and watched him from under half-closed lids.  Kermit tried another tack.  “I’m sorry I was such a perfectionist about that skating shot, but we finally got everything we need in the can.  You were a real trooper today, Sweetheart.  Do you want—“  He caught himself.  “Can I rub your feet?”

            For answer, one pink foot with immaculately painted toenails emerged out of the water.  Kermit smiled, took her foot between his hands and began to knead the ball of her foot gently, giving individual attention to each little, um, piggy.  When he was done with that foot, Kermit replaced it beneath the water and fished out her other foot, which received the same tender ministrations.  Kermit smiled and tried his pollywog eyes.

            “Still sore?”

            Sighing in exasperation, senses humming from his expert handling, Piggy opened her eyes.

            “No,” she admitted, “but there is one thing I’d like to know.”

            Kermit steeled himself, then squared his shoulders.  “Anything,” he said firmly, committed to answering her honestly.  “Ask me anything.”

            Piggy let her eyelids drift down, lowering her eyelashes coquettishly.  Her voice had changed into a sultry growl.

            “Are you coming in?” she asked.  “Or am I going to have to come out?”

            Kermit answer was not really that important.  Eventually, all roads lead to Rome.

Chapter 12: Something NewEdit

 

Kermit was already on the phone when Piggy woke up.  She yawned and stretched luxuriously, humming a little to herself in contentment.  Waking up next to Kermit every day had been one of the best things that married life had brought, but waking up to hear his voice in the next room wasn’t too shabby, either.  She threw on a robe and toed into her scuffs before sashaying into the living area of her suite.  At the sight of her, Kermit put his hand over the phone and made a kissy face at her.  Since their wedding—much to his own surprise and Piggy’s delight—Kermit had found within himself a strain of lovey-doveyness that would previously have mortified him.  He liked the simple domesticity of sitting across the breakfast table from Piggy playing footsie under the table.  He like the mornings when they tussled over the morning paper, and even better the mornings when they just tussled.  He watched her wriggle enticingly into the kitchen area and pour a cup of coffee, to which she added three sugars and a generous dollop of milk.

“What?” he said, suddenly tuning into the conversation. “Oh, um, no--I haven’t told them yet.  I was hoping to do that--”  He was silent for a moment, listening.  “Um hum. I thought it looked great.  Much better than the--say again?  Oh, heh heh--yeah.  I liked that, too.”  Kermit looked around surreptitiously to see where Piggy was in the room and his manner became more secretive.  Noting it, Piggy’s eye’s narrowed slightly, but she feigned inattention to his conversation, even as her ears perked slightly.  Kermit saw the telegraph of Piggy’s attention and frowned, but his buoyant attitude did not diminish.  “Thanks--thanks a bunch, Jim.  I’ll let you know as soon as I talk to the gang.”  He hung up the phone and trotted into the kitchen to find Piggy.

“Good morning, Sweetheart,” he said, settling his arms around her happily.  “Jim says ‘hello.’”

Piggy regarded him guilelessly.  “What else does Jim say?”

Kermit kissed her quickly but managed not to meet her eye.  “Oh, nothing much,” he said evasively.  “But I do have some footage to show everybody at the meeting today.”

“The animation segment?”

“Um...” Kermit hedged.  “Something new.”

Piggy perked up immediately.  This might be interesting.

“Can I see before the meeting?” she wheedled.  She put her arms around his neck and batted her eyelashes coquettishly.

Kermit laughed and kissed her.

No, Honey.”

Pleeeease--just a little peek.”

“C’mon, Piggy,” Kermit said reproachfully.  “You know that’s not really fair.”

“All’s fair in--”

“Ha ha.”   He looked at her sternly, then disentangled himself and moved off to the bedroom.  Piggy followed him.

Kermieee,” she complained.

“Nope,” he insisted.  “C’mon.  Let’s get to the studio--lots to do today.”

“When is the meeting?”

“Um, we’ve got it scheduled for 11:00, but if we get the morning shoot done earlier....”

“Can’t you tell little ol’ me?”  She walked over and put her arms around his neck again.  “I’ve been awfully good.”

 Whatever response Kermit might have made was silenced when Piggy gave him a kiss that--a month ago--might have left him reeling.  Though pleasantly befuddled, he was building up a tolerance to her mind-boggling busses.  He merely smiled at her when she pulled away and said.  “Hmm.  Nice one, Piggy.  Come on now--get dressed.”

Piggy gave a humph of disgust and went to her room to change, leaving Kermit to ponder exactly how he wanted to share the news that Jim had just given him.

“You mean--you mean they want to replace us?” wailed Fozzie.

“What?”  Kermit was momentarily bewildered.  “No--no, Fozzie--nobody’s being replaced.”

Fozzie sank back weakly into his chair.  Wordlessly, and without changing expression, Piggy handed him a handkerchief, which he accepted gratefully and used to wipe his brow.

“But if we don’t use the animated segment, then what are we going to do about the song?”  It would have been hard to find a more amiable personality than Rowlf, but he looked unhappy and a little belligerent.  “I am not about to don a diaper just so--”

“Yeah,” chimed in Scooter, who had found his transformation to adulthood more than usually challenging since he had basically grown up backstage.  “I don’t want to look silly.”

Kermit waved his hands in front of Rowlf placatingly.  “No--not to worry, folks.  And nobody has to put on, um, anything they don’t want to wear.  Jim and some of the guys have another idea about the nursery scene.”

“Which is--?”

“Yeah--spill it!”

“C’mon Boss--just tell us.”

“Kermie, so help me--”

“Puppets!” Kermit practically yelled above the complaints.  There was a resounding silence.

“Puppets?  What do you mean--puppets?”

“I just don’t see how puppets could look realistic enough....”

Kermit was again making little placating motions with his hands.

“Well, Jim has a background in puppetry, and he thought--”

“Jim does puppets?  Our Jim?  Mr. Henson?”

“Gee--you think you know a guy and--”

“I didn’t know that Jim worked with puppets.”

“Yeah--in fact, several of the guys--and some of the gals--are pretty good puppeteers.”

“Hm--go figure.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Sure,” Kermit said.  “Remember that first show that Jim and I did together? It was called ‘Sam and Friends.’  Jim did puppetry on that show.”

“Really?”

“I don’t remember seeing any puppets.”

“Fozzie--you didn’t think that Yorick was--”

“Ohhh, yeah. Yorick....”

“And Jim and the crew are getting ready for a new, full-length feature film that’s made using puppets.  I’ve seen some of the sketches for the robotics and it’s just--”

“That’s wonderful, but I think we were talking about our movie,” Piggy reminded him.

“Yeah--and what about these puppets.  I don’t want anything that’s gonna be embarrassing,” Gonzo protested.

Everyone at the table stopped talking for a second to gaze at Gonzo incredulously. 

“You don’t want anything embarrassing,” said Rowlf.  “What about your act?”

“Exactly,” Gonzo said.  “I have my reputation to think of.”

“I was thinking about your reputation,” Rowlf persisted.

“Anyway,” Kermit said, hoping to ward off an argument.  He worked to be louder than the murmur of their combined voices.  Anyway, I, um, told Jim that we weren’t really happy with the animation segment that we did--and I have some comments on that in a minute--and he put together a segment using the soundtrack that we already made.”  He beamed at them, encouraging them with his own optimism.  “Will you at least look at the clip?”

One by one they looked trustingly at Kermit and nodded.

“Good,” he said, relieved.  He walked over to the light switch and turned out the lights.  “Roll film, Scooter.”

Scooter did as he was asked.

“Well look at you, cutie,” said Rowlf.  Although not thrilled about the prospect of wearing toddler togs himself, Rowlf had no trouble oohing and ahhing with the rest of them over Piggy’s too-cute-for-words puppet incarnation.  Piggy’s face flushed scarlet and she opened her mouth to protest, but it was impossible to miss the fact that they were all--every single one of them--charmed by what they were watching.  Once the focus shifted and the camera began to capture the puppet versions of her costars, the oohing and ahhing shifted to snorts, guffaws and downright abusive cat-calling among the males around the table, but there was no mistaking that they were enjoying themselves.  Leaning against the wall, Kermit smiled with relief and satisfaction.  This was going to work.  After the film had run, Kermit rewound it and ran it again so they could watch it in greater detail.  Some of the surprise had worn off, and now they were watching carefully for details.

“Like that sailor suit, Kermie,” Rowlf snickered.  “How ‘bout you wear that to the next board meeting.”

“Ha ha,” muttered Kermit, grinning nonetheless.  “Loan me your bib and we’ll talk about it.”

“I don’t see why they had to show my belly button,” Scooter complained.  “And my hair doesn’t really look like that, does it guys?”

No one said anything for a couple of beats, then everyone surged into conversation to cover the lull.

“How come Kermit gets to wreck all the riding toys?” Gonzo griped.

“The kid gloves are a nice touch,” Piggy admitted.  “And the bow.”

“I used to have an outfit just like that,” Fozzie murmured.  “It even had a hat.  And they got my bow right.”

“Guys?” Scooter persisted.  “Does my hair really look like that?  I mean--does it look like that now?”

Rowlf put a hand on his back.  “Don’t sweat it kid--at least you’re wearing pants.” 

Scooter sighed. “Maybe if I used more mousse.”

“So--so you like it, guys?  Do you really like it?”

“Got my vote.”

“Oh yeah.”

“Absolutely.”

“Certainly, Kermie.”

Kermit smiled at them all, happy to have used his contacts to resolve a problem.  Now--on to new business, but Gonzo beat him to the punch.

“So if they aren’t using the animated segment in this movie, what are they going to do with it?”

Kermit opened his mouth, stopped, shut his mouth carefully and smiled at them again.  “Um,” he said.  “That’s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about.”  He took a deep breath, not sure how to proceed.  “Well, you know I’ve always had a heart for children’s television.  That’s why Sesame Street is still something I make a priority in my schedule.”

“I love Sesame Street,” Fozzie said immediately.

“Yeah,” said Rowlf.  “They have some great skits.”

“Absolutely!  And some of my best friends are monsters,” Gonzo asserted.

“Jim works on Sesame Street, doesn’t he?” Scooter asked.  “And some of the other guys, too?”

“That’s right.  Jim and Frank and Jerry and a whole bunch of the other guys work on Sesame Street.”

“What do they do there?” Fozzie whispered to Scooter. 

Scooter shrugged.  “Ask Kermit,” he whispered back.  “I’ve never been completely sure.”

“Well, some of the folks were thinking that we might use the animated segment they we had done for this movie as a pilot to pitch a new children’s program.”

He had their undivided attention now.”

“What kind of children’s program?”

“Well, um, a cartoon, but not just a cartoon with characters chasing each other and hitting each other with bats and things.”

“What’s wrong with that?” asked Gonzo.  Piggy gave him a look, wishing for a bat of her own right about now.

“Please continue, Kermie” Piggy said sweetly.

“Um, well, we’d like to do something that would teach children things that would help them.”

“Like how to gargle through their noses?” Gonzo asked.  Piggy looked under her chair, hoping somebody had left an umbrella--or a brick.

“No.  No--things like sharing and taking responsibility and being kind.”

“That sounds nice,” Rowlf said.  Others nodded.

“Well, sure,” Gonzo said, “if you want to go for the obvious.”

Piggy stood up, and Kermit quickly interposed himself between her and the little blue performance artist.

“Do you think people would really watch it, Boss?” Scooter asked. 

“I do,” Kermit insisted.  “And so does Jim.  Also, it would be a nice venture that wouldn’t involve us on a daily basis.”

“But, but Kermit,” said Piggy slowly, a little uncomfortable about raising any objections.  “We didn’t actually meet until we were all grown up.”

Kermit smiled at her.  “And don’t think I didn’t appreciate that first meeting,” he said, and was pleased to see Piggy blush under the warmth of his gaze.  “That’s a good thought, Piggy, and I think our fans know that we didn’t actually meet as children, but this show would encourage children to use their imaginations.  Imagining us as children is just the beginning.”  He looked at them all, his eyes pleading just a little for their approval.  “And it would be something for the kids.  What do you say, guys?”

“Sure.”

“I’m in.”

“Yes, Mon Capitan.”

“You got my vote, Boss.”

“For the children.”

Kermit smiled, proud of his friends and their willingness to support what he hoped would be an important milestone in children’s television.  He kissed Piggy quickly before sending her out the door.  He couldn’t wait to call Jim and tell him the good news.

Chapter 13: The Hostess with the MostessEdit

            Kermit opened the door of his dressing room to find an anxious Fozzie pacing back and forth.

“Fozzie?” he asked.  “Is--is everything okay?”

“Um, can I talk to you a minute, Kermit?” Fozzie said nervously.

“Well, sure, Fozzie.  Come on in.” 

Haltingly, Fozzie crossed the threshold.  Kermit motioned to a chair and Fozzie sank down into it gratefully.  Kermit waited until Fozzie gathered himself together, wondering what on earth could have discombobulated his furry friend so thoroughly.

I can’t do it,” Fozzie burst out at last.  “Kermit, I just can’t do it.  Whenever I think about going out there I get all sweaty and cold and shaky and--”

“Calm down, Fozzie,” Kermit said, putting a hand on his friend’s shoulder.  “Whatever it is, we can get you out of it.”

“Really?  Really really?”

Kermit hesitated, not wishing to promise any further until he knew what they were talking about.  “Well, why don’t you just tell me what the problem is and we’ll see what we can do.  Okay, buddy?”  Fozzie looked up at him, desperately hopeful.

“It’s my scene,” Fozzie whispered.  “I just can’t do it.”

For a moment, Kermit was so stunned that he didn’t know what to do.  His mind was racing, trying to run through the day’s schedule in fast-forward.  He’d known Fozzie to get nervous before while doing his stand-up routine on stage, but movies were a more forgiving medium in some regards.  If you flubbed, you could start over--as many times as it took.  Kermit had run through the entire day’s schedule in his mind and was just as bewildered as he had been before.  Fozzie was starting to hyperventilate, so Kermit had to act fast.

“Okay, okay Fozzie,” Kermit said quickly.  “Let’s talk about this.  What--exactly--is it that’s worrying you about the scene.”  He hoped Fozzie would say something that would clue him in to what scene was making him such a wreck.  His hopes were quickly answered.

“Nobody said anything about a coed cave,” the distraught bear wailed.  “I was doing fine, I knew all my lines but the next thing I know, Bart the Bear has become Beth Bear and I’m just--I’m just panicked.”  He looked up at Kermit pitifully.  “You may not know this, Kermit,” Fozzie said quietly, “but I’m not really very confident around women.”

“Oh,” Kermit said, struggling to look surprised.  “Well, um, gosh, Fozzie, you’d, um, never know it.”

“You’re just saying that,” Fozzie said dismally.  “I’m a total write-off.” He balled his fists and un-balled them.  “It’s not that I don’t like women,” Fozzie murmured.  “I think woman are wonderful.  They’re all soft and nice and they smell really good.”  His eyes strayed to the picture of Piggy sitting on Kermit’s table.  “Um,” he stammered, “at least most of them are, um, nice and um--Kermit--you’ve got to help me!”

“Of course,” Kermit said.  “Look--if it’s too stressful, we’ll just cut the scene and do something else.”

“But--but I don’t want to disappoint everyone.  We’ve all worked so hard on this movie.  How can I tell everyone that I was too nervous to film my scene?”

“Everybody will understand, Fozzie.”

Fozzie looked morose.  “Hmmm,” he muttered.

Kermit knelt down beside Fozzie’s chair and put his hand on his friend’s back.  “Look--if there’s one thing I’ve learned, Fozzie, it’s that the people we make movies with are much more important than anything we film in those movies.  I mean, sure, we want to make a great movie, but if it’s going to make you miserable, we’ll do it another way.  Okay?”

“Okay,” Fozzie said meekly, but he did not sound convinced.

“Here--tell you what.  The scene doesn’t actually shoot until tomorrow afternoon, so let’s just get through today, okay?  Come have dinner with me and Piggy tonight and we’ll talk about it.  And when tomorrow comes, well, we’ll just hope for the best.  If it still doesn’t work out, we can probably film the scene in split screen or something, okay?”  That last was a slim possibility, Kermit knew, but it seemed to calm Fozzie down.  Kermit crossed his fingers and hoped that lightning wouldn’t strike.

“And he’s just beside himself,” Kermit told Piggy.  Piggy looked at him, her eyes merry.

“If he was, that would solve the problem, wouldn’t it?’

Kermit made a noise of frustration, not amused by Piggy’s teasing.  She put a conciliatory hand on his arm and tried another tack.

“Where were you thinking of going for dinner?”

Kermit looked blank.  “I don’t know.  Um, somewhere casual?”

Piggy looked thoughtful.  “Why don’t you invite him over to your apartment—it’s plenty casual.  I’ll take care of the dinner part, okay?”

Kermit shot her a look and his mouth began to quirk into a smile.

“Are you gonna wear one of those cute little aprons?”

“Out!” Piggy said, and showed him the door.

When Kermit arrived at the apartment with Fozzie in tow, the door opened to a profusion of wonderful smells.  The two men exchanged looks of delight and surprise as they came in and tried not to fall over each other in the narrow passageway.

“Wow,” said Fozzie.  “Piggy must have been cooking all afternoon.”

Kermit started to say something, but his comment was stilled by the sound of not one but two feminine voices coming from the kitchen.  Fozzie must have heard it, too, for he looked at Kermit in comic surprise.

“Piggy?”  Kermit called.  “Piggy, I’m home!”

Piggy poked her head around the doorframe.

“Hellooo,” she said.  Her eyes were wide and innocent, and Kermit knew she had to be up to something.  He hoped it wasn’t going to backfire.  Piggy took a few steps toward them, then extended her hand back toward the kitchen.  Kermit watched with his mouth gaping as a small, brown-furred paw clasped Piggy’s tightly, then Beth Bear came shyly out of the kitchen.  She waved, half-hiding behind Piggy’s well-endowed form.

“Hi,” she murmured.

Fozzie looked uncertain, but Piggy was advancing on him purposefully with Beth in tow.  Kermit tried to close his mouth and stay out of the way.

“So nice to see you, Fozzie,” Piggy said, leaning forward and giving his furry cheek an air kiss.  “Welcome to our home.” 

Kermit had just succeeded in closing his mouth, and he clamped his froggy lips together to keep it from falling open again.  He had never seen Piggy in “lady-of-the-house” mode before, and he was having trouble taking it all in.  With obvious effort, Piggy pulled Beth around and presented her.

“Fozzie—this is Beth Bear, daughter of Edgar and Cecille. I think you’ve seen their act before.”

“Well, sure,” Fozzie said immediately.  “I mean, who hasn’t?”  He looked at Beth, eyes alight with surprise and pleasure.  “Are you the little cub that used to be in their act?”

Beth looked down, obviously blushing, and nodded.

“The same,” she admitted, her voice rueful.  “Daddy always insisted that we were a family act.”  She looked up, her eyes searching Fozzie’s face.  You have a nice act.  I watch your show.”

 Fozzie took his hat off and cleared his throat.  “Thank you,” he said. 

“You’re funny,” said Beth.  “I like your telephone gags.”

“Really?” Fozzie asked, his eyes hopeful, then he seemed to collect himself.  He stood up straighter.  “Um, I mean, it’s really nice of you to say so.  How are your parents?”

“Fine,” said Beth.  “They had to go out to some meeting tonight.  Mama called Miss Piggy so see if she could, um, if I could stay with her.”

Kermit shot Piggy a look, but she was looking determinedly away.  If she could have whistled, Kermit was sure she would have been whistling by now.

“We don’t know many people in London,” Beth was saying.  “And Mom says she doesn’t like the idea of me staying by myself in a strange place.”

“Me either,” said Fozzie.  “I mean, I don’t know many people in London either.  And I don’t like staying by myself in a strange place.”  He played with his bow tie, then peeked up at her.  “But you know us, now.  And we’re real nice.”

Beth smiled, relieved.  Kermit came over then, and greeted Beth warmly.  She had certainly grown since he had seen her last.  She was taller than Kermit now, and her coat had lost that fuzzy, little-bear look.  She had on a rose-colored dress, and there was a bow behind one ear.

“Look at you, Beth!” Kermit said.  “I’m so glad you’re going to be in our movie.”

Beth looked anxious again.  “Me, too.  I—it’s my first grown-up role.  Mama said she’d come to the set with me tomorrow so I won’t be so nervous.

“Don’t be nervous,” Fozzie said.  Piggy and Kermit looked at each other surreptitiously, eyes wide.  “There’s really nothing to be nervous about.”

“That’s what Mom says,” Beth said earnestly. “But I’m glad she’s coming with me.”

Piggy began to shoo everyone toward the beautifully set table in the far end of the living room.  Kermit noticed that some of his furniture had been pushed against the wall to accommodate the little table.

Fozzie smiled and extended his elbow to Beth.  Giggling a little, she took it and they walked toward the source of the wonderful smells.  Kermit put his arm around Piggy and steered her toward the table as well.

“Kermit’s a good director,” Fozzie was saying.  “And Scooter always has everything ready for our scenes.”  He looked a little embarrassed.  “And if you need to start again, nobody yells at you.”

“Oh, good!” said Beth.  “I hate it when people yell.”

Fozzie patted her hand, his shoulders squaring.  “Don’t worry,” he said.  “Nobody will yell at you.”  He cast a cautious glance over his shoulder.  “Sometimes they yell at each other,” he whispered, indicating Kermit and Piggy.  “But they got married, so it’s okay.”

Beth giggled and Piggy made a sound like a sneeze, which was covered easily by the sound of Kermit coughing.

Fozzie got Beth’s chair, and Kermit stepped around and held one for Piggy.  In spite of the company, he pressed a kiss against the nape of her neck once she’d taken her seat, and Piggy turned and looked up at him.  Nobody said anything.  Nobody needed to.

They tucked in with relish.

Fozzie had stayed later than planned, telling every corny knock-knock joke he could think of to a rapt audience of one.  At last, however, he made his excuses and let Kermit walk him to the door.

“What a sweet kid,” he said to Kermit.

Kermit nodded.  “Nice family,” he agreed.  He turned his body slightly to share a private word with his friend.

“You still nervous about tomorrow?”

“What?  Me, nervous?  Naw, I was never really, um….”  He gave it up and smiled at his director and friend.  “I won’t be nervous,” he said.  He looked over to where Piggy and Beth sat, chatting amiably on the sofa.  His expression went all dreamy.  “And she smells nice.”

Kermit patted him on the back.  “We’ll see you tomorrow, Fozzie.  G’night.”

“Goodnight!”

Kermit watched him down the stairs, then rejoined the ladies.  He sat next to Piggy and took her gloved hand between his own, full of good food and relief.

“So, Beth,” he said.  “Are you still nervous about tomorrow?”

Beth laughed, totally relaxed now.

“Not at all,” she said.  She looked at Piggy, then at Kermit, biting her lip with indecision.

“My mother was a little worried,” she said, “because Fozzie’s a big television star.  She thought he might be, you know, sortof forward or a little too sophisticated to have patience with somebody young like me.”

“Fozzie’s a nice guy,” Kermit said.  He started to say something else, but there was a knock at the door.  Piggy went to answer it, and Cecile and Edgar came in and positively filled Kermit’s little apartment to overflowing.  After a few moments of hurried pleasantries, they collected their daughter and left.

Piggy shut the door behind them, then leaned against it, her expression sassy.

“I did good?” she asked impudently.

Kermit walked over and pulled her into his arms.  He kissed her fondly, then set her back from him so he could look at her.

“You amaze me,” he said.  “You did very good.”

Piggy slipped her hands underneath Kermit’s neck frill.

“Do I get a reward?” she asked.

“Um hum” said Kermit and moved to mold her close.

“Good,” said Piggy, wriggling easily out of his embrace.  “Then you can do the dishes!”

“Piggy…!” Kermit complained, but he did them just the same.

Chapter 14: It Doesn’t Work That WayEdit

            Kermit felt more than saw a furry blue presence at his elbow.

            “Kermit—can I ask you a personal question?”

            “Would it stop you if I said no?” Kermit responded, not even looking up from his notes.

            “Good point,” Gonzo admitted.  “I was wondering if I could, um, borrow Piggy for a few minutes.”

            That caused Kermit to look up.

            “Why?” he asked, instantly suspicious.

            “It’s personal.”

            “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

            Gonzo put his hands on his hips, looking annoyed.  “Well excuuuse me,” he huffed.  “Pardon me for trying to have a social life, Mr.-I-got-married-already.”

            Kermit sighed.  “What does Piggy have to do with your social life, Gonzo?”

            Huffiness had not worked, so Gonzo tried being reasonable—which, for Gonzo, was trying indeed.

            “I’m having some…domestic issues with Camilla.”

            Kermit looked at him askance.  “Such as?”

            Gonzo sighed, his eyebrows lowering in annoyance.  “Well, if you must know—“

            “And apparently, I must,” murmured Kermit.

            “—she won’t do what I tell her.”

            Kermit stared at him for a long moment, then burst out laughing.  This was obviously not the reaction his furry blue friend had expected, and Gonzo looked very huffy now, glaring at Kermit while his face flamed with heat.

            “Easy for you to laugh,” he muttered.

            Kermit managed to contain his mirth and put a conciliatory hand on his friend’s arm.

            “Gonzo, why do you think Camilla should do what you tell her?  And what makes you think that Piggy can help you?”

            Gonzo looked at him, his expression uncertain now.

            “Piggy does what you tell her.”

            Again, Kermit burst into astonished laughter.  “Since when?” he inquired.

            “Since you got married.  I thought maybe, you know, Piggy could give Camilla some pointers.”

            Kermit shook his head.  “First of all, you and Camilla are not married and even if you were I doubt she’d do what you tell her.  It—it doesn’t work that way.  And, secondly, well, first of all I should have said, Piggy does not do what I tell her.  She’s her own, um, pig, and she doesn’t take orders from me.”

            “Whatever you say,” muttered Gonzo.

            “Gonzo, she doesn’t!  And even if she did—which she doesn’t—that doesn’t mean that Camilla will do what you say.”  He tried—he tried so hard not to ask, but at last he couldn’t help himself.  “What do you, um, want her to do?”  Kermit cringed inwardly, hoping he wouldn’t be sorry he’d asked.

            “I’m wanting to recreate the stunt made famous by William Tell.”

            “You want to shoot an apple off her head?”

            Gonzo looked at him blankly.  “William Tell shot an apple off someone’s head?”

            Kermit looked toward his notes longingly and Gonzo, recognizing that look, hastened to get approval.

            “So…?”

            “Gonzo--please!”

            Gonzo looked disgruntled.  “So, you’re saying that you don’t tell Piggy what to do.”

            “Right,” Kermit said, beginning to re-read his notes. 

            “So…I don’t actually need your permission to get Piggy’s help?”

            Kermit looked up again.  “Wait,” he said.  “I didn’t say—“

            “Thanks Kermit!” said Gonzo cheerily, moving off.  Kermit watched him go, completely at a loss for words.

            He was standing like that, looking after the way that Gonzo had gone, when Piggy appeared at his elbow.  She leaned in to smooch him cheekily on the cheek, making him startle.

            “Good morning, Mon Capitan,” she said merrily.  She had her makeup on, and she was dressed for the morning shoot.  She looked in the direction Kermit was looking.  “What are you looking at?”

            Kermit turned and looked at her, and there was something in his expression that Piggy couldn’t read.  Piggy smiled, liking the grumpy little turn of his mouth.

            “Oh, nothing,” Kermit said wearily.  “But if Gonzo asks you for help today and you have to swat him?”

            “Yes?” said Piggy, mystified.

            “Swat him hard,” said Kermit.

            Piggy laughed and gave him a kiss on his grumpy mouth.  “Okay, Sweetheart,” she said, smiling.  “Whatever you say.”

            Then she left, and Kermit stood and stared after her.

Chapter 15: The More Things ChangeEdit

            “Yeah, but I don’t think it’s going to have the same effect if she leaves on a bus,” Kermit argued into the phone.  “We’re already using a bus for another shot.  Besides, I mean, leaving by train is sort of old-fashioned and romantic, but leaving by—what?  No.  No, I don’t think a motorcycle would be appropriate, even though—“

            Kermit was listening with a very disgruntled expression, the phone pressed up against where his ear would have been, if he’d had one, when Scooter poked his head around the doorway.  Kermit tuned out the raspy voice on the phone and looked at Scooter expectantly.

            “What it is Scooter?”

            “They’re here again,” said the young man disgustedly.  Kermit sighed, rubbing his hand across his face.  He held up a finger to Scooter and talked into the phone.

            “No,” he said firmly.  “I want a train—or a least a seat on one leaving the station.  What?  Yes!  Yes, of course I want—no.  No dining car.  Just a seat.  Get me a seat on a train leaving the station.  A window seat.  Yes.  By tomorrow.  Thank you,” he finished sarcastically.  He replaced the phone on its cradle, not tenderly, and looked up at Scooter.

            “Again?” he demanded.  “Look, Scooter, can’t you reason with these folks?  I mean, we did what they asked us to do, right?  We confirmed it!  We posed!  We kissed!  Piggy signed about twenty-seven-billion autographs.  What more do these people want from us?”

            “Um, exclusive pictures of your firstborn?” suggested Scooter.

            Kermit looked aghast.  “You d-didn’t,” he stammered.  “I-I mean, they don’t think, um, that, um, there’s going to be, um, a, um—“

            “Relax, Boss,” said Scooter.  “I was just kidding.”

            Kermit subsided, but looked so limp and shaken that Scooter was rather concerned.  He gave the rattled amphibian a chance to gather his wits, but before he could speak, Fozzie poked his head in the other side of the open door. 

            “Um, Kermit—I have a problem—“

            The phone rang.  Kermit answered it, and immediately began to shake his head.

            “No,” he insisted.  “Absolutely no live ammunition, Gonzo—and that’s final!”  He slammed down the phone.  “But Scooter—” he began.

            “Kerrrmittt,” whined Fozzie, sounding sortof desperate now.  “I need to talk to you about the—“

            “I was here first,” said Scooter indignantly.  “And I need to know what to do about all the—“

            “Guys!“ said Kermit, standing up and making soothing motions.  “Hang on just a minute and I’ll—“

            “Kermie?  Kermie, dear?”  Piggy joined the circus just inside Kermit’s open office door.  “Sweetheart, I am not happy about this scene in the restaurant.  It says I am wearing a waitress uniform, and while Moi can look stunning in anything, the clause in my contract specifically states that I will not were polyester—“

            “So?” demanded Scooter, shouting over the top of Piggy and the now-agitated Fozzie.

            “So what?” Kermit hollered back.

            “So what do I tell them?  Are you guys coming out again?”

            “No, Scooter.  We are not!  We’re supposed to shoot the scene with all the bears today, and I have to —‘

            “Want me to sic Animal on ‘em?”  Floyd had joined them at some previous point in the conversation.  Kermit’s office gave a definite impression of bulging at the seams.

            Scooter looked at Kermit and shrugged.  “It couldn’t hurt,” he suggested, but at the speculative look in Kermit’s eye, he hastily amended the suggestion.  “Or I could just send Piggy out….”

            “Send Moi where?” Piggy demanded.  “We’re not supposed to be on location until tomorrow!”

            “Look, if everybody could just—“

            “Kermittt!” wailed Fozzie.  “I really need to talk to you about something.”

            “Hey look, man,” said Floyd, “if this is a bad time—“

            It is!”

            “—I could come back and ask for an advance on the band’s pay later.”

            “No early paychecks!” said Scooter.  “We’re barely meeting payroll as it is!”

            “Bearly?  Was that a crack?” said Fozzie.  “Look, I am doing my best and if you guys—“

            “Arghh!” yelled Kermit, waving his arms over his head.  “Everybody stop talking!  I cannot hear myself think!  And I can’t answer any of you if you’re all talking at the same time!”

            Everyone stared, but subsided obediently.

            “Scooter--if Piggy goes out alone, we’ll never get her back inside for any filming.  If they want an interview, tell ‘em to call Marty and make an appointment.”

            Scooter sighed.  “Okay, boss,” he moaned.  He tried to give Kermit puppy dog eyes, but he just didn’t quite have the knack yet.  Kermit pointed.  Scooter went.  Halfway to the door, he turned and whined a little.

            “But—but there’s this one guy—jeez!—who’s really persistent.  Says he was promised an exclusive.”

            “Yeah, yeah,” Kermit muttered.  “Him and about fifty others.  Tell him to take it up with Marty, okay?”

            “You’re the boss,” muttered Scooter.  Usually, working for Kermit was a delight.  Today was the exception that proved the rule.  The gopher/personal assistant trudged dejectedly toward the big double doors that led out into the street.

            “Fozzie,” said Kermit.  “What was so urgent that it couldn’t wait?”

            Fozzie looked at Kermit and shifted from one foot to the other.

            “Fozzie—“ Kermit began in a warning tone, and the furry funnybear immediately thrust two almost identical ties out in front of him.

            “Which one do you like better?”

            Kermit stared at him for a moment, practically vibrating in annoyance, but he took a deep breath at last and tapped the one on the left.

            “This one,” said Kermit shortly.  Fozzie looked at it doubtfully.

            “Are you sure?” he began.  “Cause I thought the other one—“

            “Will you get out of here!” Kermit demanded.  Fozzie scuttled for the door.

            “Geez,” he muttered.  “You don’t have to be so grumpy about it.”  Grumbling, he left.

            Piggy would have darted in at this point, but Kermit held up a hand imperiously and she was so shocked that she subsided—at least, for the moment.  Kermit crossed his arms across his chest and gave Floyd his sternest look.

            “Something I can do for you Floyd?  Something that can’t wait?”

            “No problem, man,” said Floyd, backing for the door.  “I was just, you know, asking.”  He slid from the room, leaving Kermit alone with his wife.

            He turned to her impatiently, but at the look on her face, his own expression softened in response.  She was smiling at him, a sweet, amused, fond smile that made Kermit feel both sheepish and proud at the same time.  He stepped forward and looked into her blue eyes.

            “Something I can do for you, Piggy?” he teased.  “Something that can’t wait?”

            Piggy wasn’t born yesterday.  She backed up hastily.

            “No, ha ha,” she said, slipping from his attempted embrace.  “Nevermind.  I’ll just let you get back to work!”

            “Work?” Kermit snorted, and Piggy spared him a fleeting glance before dashing down the hall.  Somewhat surprised, Kermit found himself quite alone in his office.  He turned and stared at the phone, daring it to ring.  It didn’t.  It fact, no one bothered him for the next thirteen minutes, which allowed him enough time to collect his thoughts, call Marty, call Accounting, warn the prop department to be on the lookout for Gonzo and actually eat his lunch.  For the briefest of intervals, Kermit relaxed. 

            Married life or no, things were certainly getting back to normal around here.

Chapter 16: Scheduling and ConflictsEdit

            Fozzie’s scene had gone just fine, despite his earlier qualms about same.  Beth had turned in a very sweet and believable performance, and Fozzie had actually felt comfortable enough to joke a little, trying the scene a number of ways.  Although one version—with Fozzie shooting up out of unproductive slumber in alarm—was very funny, they had all concluded that the best version was the one in which a surprised and very nervous Fozzie merely subsided with a whispered protest.  Cecile had been a great help on the set, soothing the nerves of her nervous daughter and said daughter’s costar with a calm, motherly presence.  The scene was in the can and they were all waving Cecile and Edgar out the door with regret by the time the clock said it was time to quit for the day.  Before the young man left, Kermit commandeered Scooter for a few moments to go over the schedule.

            The week of filming had been full, but there had been several unanticipated changes.  He and Piggy had come back a day late from their honeymoon, which only added to the muddle.  Luckily, because the number of locations used and the difficulty of predicting weather and the whim of the permit-givers, they had still produced an appropriate amount of film every day, but the schedule had gone all kerflumpy.  Some of this would be resolved by filming on Saturday, but he hoped to involve as few people as possible. 

            “We still have to go back and finish at the park,” said Kermit, frowning a little.  “But we don’t need all the original permits because it will mostly be the close-up stuff, right?”

            “Right,” said Scooter.

            “So—can we do that tomorrow?”

            “We can do that tomorrow—you and Piggy and Juliana.  Oh, but we do need to check on the buggy ride.”  Scooter shuffled some papers.  “Uh-oh,” he said, frowning.  “Let me make a call.”

            Scooter got up to find a phone but Kermit stayed him with a hand, getting up himself and taking the opportunity to stretch his cramped muscles by walking to Piggy’s dressing room.  Might as well have a destination if I’m going to walk, he thought, a little defensively, but when he knocked there was no answer.  He wandered back to his office to find Scooter sitting with a disgruntled expression on his face.

            “What?” he asked.

            “Well, apparently the horse-drawn buggy drivers union doesn’t allow them to make any film appearances on the third weekend of any month ending in E.”

            Kermit looked at him for a moment.  “Say what?” he asked, his face scrunched up to indicate his consternation and disbelief.

            “I didn’t believe it either,” said Scooter, “so I called the Union office.  Apparently, Section E of the code, sub-section 14—“

            “Okay, okay,” said Kermit hastily, anxious to avoid a recital of the entire horse-drawn buggy driver’s code.  “Um, where does that leave us—beside buggy-less?”  This reminded Kermit that the thin little cellophane-wrapped sandwich he had managed to bolt earlier in the day had not been enough to sustain him, and he tried to push thoughts of food out of his head.

            “Oh—we can use the buggy,” said Scooter.  “Apparently sub-section 14 goes on to say—“

            “Scooter!”

            “Huh?”  Scooter looked up from his notes, and one look at Kermit’s face told him to cut to the chase.  “Um—buggy in, driver out.  If we can find another driver, we’re good to go tomorrow.”

            Kermit looked thoughtful.  “Let me call Jim,” he said.  “He might know someone.  What about the train station—are we still on with the train station?”

            “Oh—oh, yeah!  We’re good to go.  Tomorrow morning at 7:00 the train will pull out as many times as we want,” Scooter was happy to report.  He looked closer at his note.  “Um, provided it isn’t more than three,” he muttered, but Kermit was not put off.  He did not think they would need more than one shot to capture Piggy’s elegant departure by train while he watched from the station platform.

            “So, Piggy and I in the morning at the train station, and me and Piggy and Juliana in the park tomorrow at noon.  Will that bring us up to speed?”

            “Technically,” said Scooter slowly.  “But we still need to reschedule the big opening number.  We need everyone for that, pretty much.  When do you want to do it?”

            Kermit looked at the schedule.  Scooter was right—everyone was involved in that scene either backstage or with the audience full of extras.  Although they had originally planned to film these scenes at different times, it made sense to combine them.

            “When are the extras scheduled to come?”

            “Right now, Tuesday.”

            Kermit nodded his head.  “Tuesday it will be,” he said decisively.

            Scooter looked up at him and smiled.  “Coming down the home stretch,” he said, smiling.  “Then we’re on to post-production.”

            Kermit nodded.  Time was hurtling past.  Just at that moment, Piggy appeared in his office doorway, and time seemed to stop as he gazed at her.

            He looks tired and hungry and…wonderful, Piggy thought.  She intended to take him home and focus her attention on just him, determined to sooth all signs of tiredness and hunger away.  That tenderness was reflected in her gaze, and in her voice.

            “Almost done, Kermie?”

            The two men looked at each other.  Scooter nodded, satisfied.

            “Yeah,” said Kermit.  “I’m done for today.  Let’s go home.” 

            He could not even remember whose turn it was to host, whose domicile he was heading toward, but it hardly mattered.  He took Piggy’s hand and followed her out the door.

             

            The once-elusive train ticket had been procured.  As the early morning fog swirled around the station, Piggy had waved and dropped her little square of lilac linen and lace as the train pulled away.  So convincing was Piggy’s look of sad farewell that Kermit found his eyes stinging a bit as the scene progressed.  By the time they got to the end of the scene, there was a great lump in his throat that made him glad he had no lines to say.  What would it be like to have lost his courage at the last?  To have never proposed? To see Piggy riding away from him, not knowing when he would see her again?  When the scene had been run the requisite number of times, Piggy appeared on the train steps.  Kermit walked past all the crew hands ready and willing to hand her down and held his arms open to her.  Surprised, Piggy stopped on the steps, not sure what he wanted.  With a laugh, Kermit leaned forward, put his arms firmly around her waist and lifted her off the train, swinging her around and down on the platform next to him.  Love might give you wings, but it could give you strength in other ways too.

            “That was just right,” said Kermit, and Piggy stared at him in surprise as he stretched to kiss her on the cheek.

            “What was that for?” Piggy asked, aware of many watching eyes.  Kermit caught the look and looked around, sheepish but defiant.

            “Um, that was for a great performance,” he said a little too loudly.  Now baffled, Piggy just stared at him, but the new security she had found as his lawfully wedded wife had made her more sensitive, perhaps, to the little changes of face that marked his moods.  She looked at him and her blue eyes softened in response.

            “Thank you, um, Kermit,” she said formally, giving the evil eye to any gawkers.  All eyes were hastily averted, and Piggy leaned in and kissed him sweetly on his jaw.  “I’m here, Mon Capitan,” she murmured.  “And I’m not going anywhere without you.”  She stepped away and caught his hand, and Kermit held hers tightly in response.  They walked back toward the cameras.

            “That was…it was a little disconcerting seeing you ride away like that,” he said at last, opting for honesty.

            “There were times that it seemed like a good idea,” she responded, but her eyes said that she, too, was glad this had come to a different conclusion.

            “Yeah,” said Kermit.  “About that…”

            But Piggy merely tugged him after her toward the camera crew.  She wanted to be sure that her pert little hat had not been blocking her face.  Upon assurance that it had not, she had sighed, happy to be done, and had gone in search of a lime-ade, leaving Kermit to deal with the details until it was time to go to the park.

            The horse-and-buggy driver had arrived, and Scooter looked up at the tall, lanky form with obvious pleasure as he swung down from the carriage.

            “Mr. Henson!” he cried.  “Kermit said he was going to call you, but, but I didn’t know you were going to drive the buggy.”

            Jim smiled his big smile, and a glint of mischief shone in his eyes.  “Well, I don’t suppose they need a chaperone any more,” he said with a laugh, “but somebody ought to keep an eye on those two.”

            Scooter looked around carefully to make sure neither of them were in ear-shot, then nodded emphatically.

            “Yeah.  It’s been a little weird,” he confessed.  “Since they got married, Piggy treats Kermit like he’s the director.”

            Only someone who had worked with Piggy and Kermit in a professional capacity would understand why this was so very startling, and Jim just looked at Scooter in surprise.

            “Really?” he asked.  “You mean—“

            “Follows his directions.  Takes suggestions without having a fit.”

            Jim stared at him, flummoxed.  “I suppose you’ve checked for signs of alien mind control,” he said dryly, and Scooter laughed so loud he clapped his hand over his mouth. 

            “Well, I haven’t,” he admitted.  “But I’m sure Gonzo has.”  He smiled up at Jim.  Jim was tall, and Scooter, not so very.  “You look good.  How’s the new movie coming?”

            Jim’s eyes lit up at once, but he shrugged at the same time.  “It’s, um, challenging,” he said at last.  “I’ve never tried puppetry on this scale before.”

            “Speaking of,” said Scooter.  “I saw the film you ran on the nursery scene—we all did.”

            “Kermit said you liked it.”

            Scooter blushed.  “Yeah—all except my belly-button showing,” he muttered, but Jim just laughed and leaned down to muss Scooter’s hair.  Scooter caught himself just before he complained, certain that Jim was just trying to get a rise out of him.  A venerate practical joker, Jim could find all your buttons and push them with consummate skill, so Scooter merely tolerated the hair-ruffle and considered himself the moral victor.  He had little time to savor it, as Piggy and Kermit arrived almost at that instant, and then the filming took precedent over catching up.

            Juliana’s scenes were dispensed with first so she could get on her way.  Between takes, Piggy was extremely solicitous to the young actress.  Once the camera’s rolled, however, Piggy made a very convincing display of extreme displeasure and jealousy.  Juliana was very glad she did not have any designs on a particular amphibian.  She did note with some amusement that, between takes, Kermit seemed very satisfied with Piggy’s display of proprietary interest, scripted or no.  At one point, she looked up to find Mr. Henson watching them with a huge smile on his face, but when his eyes met hers, he merely shook his head.  She finished her scenes, took her leave of her fellow actors and went on her way.

            Finally, with nothing left to do but their fight scene and the buggy ride, Jim ambled over to talk to two of his favorite thespians.  Jim’s new movie was discussed and congratulations to the happy couple were immediately forthcoming, but the talk soon became practical.  With dawning wonder, Jim watched as Kermit sketched out how he thought the scene ought to play.  Piggy looked at him attentively throughout, and the erstwhile buggy-driver did his best to keep his jaw from gaping open.  When he turned at last to mount his buggy, he looked mildly flummoxed.

            “Oh, Piggy—one more thing,” Kermit said.  “You know that thing you do?”

            Piggy gave him a startled look, but Kermit was clueless until a telling blush began to creep up her cheeks.  Then he blushed and stammered himself until they both fell into giggling for a moment.  After a moment, Kermit tried to reassume his questionable air of authority (or perhaps his air of questionable authority).  “Piggy,” he said sternly.  “That’s not—I mean, the thing you do where you do something and then pretend that you didn’t.”

            Piggy stared at him.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

            “That’s it!  That’s perfect!”

            “What’s perfect?” Piggy asked, mystified but not about to let a compliment go unacknowledged.  She preened a little, brushing her hair back from her face.

            “Oh, you’re wonderful,” said Kermit fondly, leaning in to peck her on the cheek.  “When the buggy ride is over, just do that.”

            “Do what?” Piggy growled, but Kermit was moving away.  She looked at him in exasperation.  Honestly!  Sometimes that frog was just impossible to understand.

           

            When the scene was over, and the camera crews and technicians had all been sent packing, Scooter came over to take his leave.  Jim had offered to squire the happy couple around the park until the buggy had to be returned.  This offer was welcome to them both, and for more than one reason.

            Returning to the park had reminded Piggy of Kermit’s sanguine comments about her degree of domesticity and she had found it very, very easy to argue with him in front of the cameras.  Kermit had always held his own against Piggy’s tirades, however, so he bore up estimably under this scripted one, but some of the genuine emotion must have bled through on his part as well, and he felt truly baffled and indignant when the scene was over.  He tried to shake it off and his manners were very gentlemanly as he helped Piggy up into the buggy seat.  The scene played very nicely, in part because of their initial awkwardness with each other after the heat of the moment had passed.  But by the time the last lines had been delivered, Kermit was aware of Piggy’s softening toward him and all his warm and contented feeling seeped back to the surface.

            Jim turned around and grinned at them.

            “Ready?” he asked.

            Kermit settled back against the seat, one arm tight around Piggy’s waist and the other holding her hand.  “Ready, driver,” he said in an exaggeratedly urbane voice.  “Drive on.”  Piggy giggled and leaned her head on his.

            There is not much that a romantic horse-and-buggy ride through a beautiful park won’t cure, and there was not much that needed curing anyway, but the end of the ride found them happily nestled in the slowly swaying buggy.  Piggy stirred sleepily when the ride was over, smiling at her husband.

            “Ready to go home, Mrs. The Frog?” he asked.  Piggy nodded solemnly.  For the second time that day, Kermit swung her down from a conveyance right into his arms.  It was a feeling she hoped to get used to.

Chapter 17: Domestic BlissEdit

            It was their first afternoon at home with domesticity.  In Paris, they had had long, lazy afternoons together, but that was different.  They were on holiday then, away from the norm.  Here there was, perhaps, too much of the norm, or not enough, depending on how you looked at it.  Kermit’s apartment proved too small for separate pursuits, and while the time they spent in a single pursuit was both joyful and productive, the confines of the small space began to make themselves felt.  Piggy had tried to get comfortable with a stack of prospective scripts on the divan, but it proved a vain pursuit.  Kermit’s fairly utilitarian couch proved unequal to the task, and Piggy found she could not snuggle back into its corner the way she could on her own overstuffed loveseat.  This isn’t even as comfortable as that shabby old couch in Kermit’s office, Piggy though irritably, but when Kermit looked her way—as though sensing her distress—she dredged up a smile and pasted it on her face for his benefit.

            “How’s it coming?” Kermit asked.

            Piggy looked at him blankly.

            “The scripts?  Any good ones?”

            “Oh. Oh!  Well, I haven’t actually, um…opened one,” she admitted sheepishly.  “How about you?  Budget coming together?”

            Kermit nodded automatically, then laughed and began to shake his head.

            “No!” he groaned.  “I didn’t get here with everything I needed from the office.”

            “Oh.  What do you need, Sweetheart?”

            “Scooter,” Kermit said wryly, and they both laughed.

            “I think Scooter went cycling today,” said Piggy.  “So I imagine he’s irretrievable, but if you’d like to go into your office at the studio…?”  Then I could go to my hotel, Piggy thought with longing.

            Kermit brightened visibly.  “Would—would that be okay?”  He could not keep a note of wistfulness out of his voice.

            Piggy was wise in the ways of women.  She flashed him a look that managed to be both imperious and doting.  She stood up, then walked over to where he perched on one of the uncomfortable straight-backed chairs and brushed a fond kiss across his smooth pate.  “I suppose I could manage without you for the afternoon,” she said, and Kermit found himself even more bound to her—and summarily released.  He stood up and put his arms around her, claiming a kiss as one entitled, then began to gather his papers.

            “Thanks, Honey,” he said.  “I’ll feel better when I get this budget ironed out.”

            Piggy just smiled.  She’d feel better on her own couch.

            Kermit was surprised when Piggy joined him on the taxi ride to the studio, but less mystified when she had the driver drop her off near the shopping district.  He got out like a gentleman and opened the car door for her, accepting her demure kiss and watching with satisfaction as she sashayed into the nearest boutique.  He climbed back into the taxi and set his face toward work. 

            It felt later than it actually was when Kermit picked up the phone on his desk and dialed home.  Surprised when no-one answered, Kermit frowned at the phone before replacing it in its cradle.  He had only just replaced it when he snatched it up again and dialed Piggy’s hotel. 

            She answered on the third ring, sounding sleepy and tousled.  Kermit longed suddenly to be where she was.

            “Hi Honey,” he said.  “I’m all done here.  Want to meet me for some supper?”

            There was a pause on the other end of the phone, then Piggy said, “That would be lovely, Kermit.  Where shall we go?”

            Kermit named a place that elicited a squeal of pleasure from Piggy and smiled at her enthusiasm.  “Name a time,” he said.  Piggy did, and hung up to begin the transformation into the diva that the world expected to see.

            They had not been out in public in their own stomping ground since they’d gotten married, and their arrival in the restaurant created no small stir of interest.  Kermit had called as soon as he hung up from talking to Piggy, expecting to beg and plead for a reservation, but they had been ecstatic at the thought of having the celebrated newlyweds, Miss Piggy and Mr. the Frog, gracing their fine dining establishment.

            Fame was not new to either of them, but this degree of interest in their couplehood was a little disconcerting.  The movie had not yet wrapped, but news of their marriage had spread like wildfire, so the public had questions that could not yet be answered by simply pointing to the movie and saying, “Sort of like that.”  Her dress—what had her dress been like?  Who had done the service?  How long had they been engaged?  If either of them had envisioned a quiet supper of soup and savories and chilled champagne, it was laid quickly to rest by the steady stream of admirers that stopped by the table.  At one point, Kermit had moved his chair over next to Piggy, determined not to spend the entire evening with strangers between them.  Piggy had smiled and held his hand under the table, all the while keeping up a steady chatter about the movie, the dress, the ring, the surprise of it all.  After the first fifteen minutes, Kermit thought she should have just recorded it and played it over and over while people passed by, but Piggy was indefatigable when it came to her viewing public.  He was annoyed at the interruption of their time, and very, very proud of her all at the same time.  The thought made him smile.  Nothing was ever simple with them.

            By the time they had escaped the restaurant and slipped into a taxi, they were grateful for the silence and quiet of the cab’s interior. 

            Kermit started to speak but found that just sitting quietly and holding her hand was all it took to satisfy him.  Piggy, however, seemed unquiet, strung with nervous energy.  Kermit squeezed her hand, hoping she’d look at him, and was rewarded by a quick, nervous smile.

            “What?” he said, puzzled by her restlessness.  “Too many people, tonight?”

            “Yes!” Piggy said fervently, then blushed as Kermit laughed out loud.  He caught her hands and pulled her over for a quick kiss.

            “Too many people for me, too,” he said, releasing her.  His expression became solemn again.  “But that’s not it.  Something’s bothering you.”

            “No…not at all, Kermie,” Piggy said evasively.

            Piggy could lie, but it was not her strong suit.  Though Kermit was often baffled by her behavior and blind to her little white lies, the real whoppers still stood out like gangbusters.  This was one of them.

            “Tell me.”

            Piggy plucked at her gloves.

            “What will people think, Kermie?” she asked.  “When they see the movie?”

            “That it’s good, I hope,” said Kermit, not sure what she was getting at.

            “Will they…will they think the wedding is just a movie stunt?” Piggy asked.  “The way we filmed it…?”

            They had not been generous with details, although some of the questions had been entirely too personal for either of them to do more than blush and stammer, but Kermit had seen the looks of surprise and even disbelief on some of the faces.  He had acknowledged that as his just due, and had accepted some good-natured ribbing from fans who claimed never to have been fooled by his air of detachment.  His cover had been blown for sure, he had thought, and now the entire world would know how he really felt about his gorgeous co-star.  But Piggy’s question brought this into an entirely different focus.  It had never occurred to him that people would doubt the truth behind the fantasy, and that realization hit him with a solid wallop. 

            Kermit let out a slow breath.  He…he had not really thought about it that way before.  The movie had been one thing—a thing he had wanted, and had wanted to be a certain way.  But getting Piggy—that had been another thing entirely, though he had wanted that, too, to be a certain way.  He had taken for granted that what he truly wanted was obvious—to the world, as well as to Piggy.

            “Well, we are married,” he said at last.  “And I’ve got the girl and the ring and the license to prove it.  Isn’t that enough?”

            Piggy hesitated, then her brow cleared determinedly.  “Yes, of course,” she said firmly, but Kermit had seen the hesitation.

            “Piggy?”

            She did not answer.

            “But, Honey—“

            “Oh, just kiss me, won’t you?” Piggy cried.  “I’m—I’m so tired of talking about everything!”

            Kermit’s delight obliterated his arguments.  He obeyed his wife’s entreaty with enthusiasm and forgot—for quite some time—to question Piggy about her hesitation.  He forgot about the world and the world’s opinion, lost in a world of two.

            Kermit forgot, but Piggy did not.

Chapter 18: A Place of Our OwnEdit

            “Okay, people,” said Kermit.  “Tomorrow is the last day of filming, so we have to do everything right today to make that happen.”  He looked down at the sea of upturned faces from his stand on top of his director’s chair.

            “You guys have been troupers,” he said.  “Especially during my recent, um, incarceration in Paris,” Kermit finished dryly.  There were laughs all around.  Well, not quite all.  There was one co-star, at least, who was not amused.  At all.  “If you have a script problem, I’m going to be available for the next fifteen minutes.  After that, we shoot as written.  If you have a costume problem, check in with Hilda or one of her assistants, but don’t bring it up later.  Do it now.”

            Scooter slipped up and handed him a couple of papers.  “The following people need to see Scooter after this meeting:  Fozzie, Sweetums, Lew, Link, Piggy, Bobo….”  There were several names on the list, but Kermit got through them and then looked around.

            “Anything else?” he asked.  No one spoke, but there was a restless shuffling of feet, the beginning swell of a murmur.

            “Okay,” he said.  “Stage call in fifteen.  Everybody move.”

            Despite being first in line with Scooter with a little creative elbowing through the crowd, Piggy found herself needing to talk to Kermit when the fifteen minutes was all but gone.  She caught his eye easily, but catching any of the rest of him proved to be difficult indeed.  He signed papers, answered questions, resolved conflicts and looked her way about every 25 seconds with his ‘just a sec, honey’ look, but all for naught.  People were taking their places on the soundstage and Piggy had still not had her private audience to talk about the script.  And she wanted to talk about the script.

            At last, Kermit turned to her and Piggy sighed with relief and opened her mouth to speak, but instead of getting her question out, she found herself embraced and kissed impulsively by her new husband.  Fairy-tale PR aside, frogs are good kissers, and Kermit was indeed a frog.  Piggy didn’t mind the distraction, exactly—in point of fact, she contributed to it herself for a moment—but Piggy had a problem with her script and she intended to have her say.  She tried again when they separated at last, but Kermit was already moving away.

            “Kermit!” said Piggy.  Kermit stopped, turned and grinned at her.  “Aw—not now, Honey.  We’ve got to get on the set.”

            “Don’t ‘not now, honey’ me!” Piggy said.  She stamped one artfully shod foot on the floor.  “I am trying to talk to the director.” 

            Kermit pulled up short.  “Oh,” he said, and then, “Sorry, Piggy.  What can I help you with?”  He was all business now, and listened attentively while she talked about her scene with Juliana in the diner.  Kermit nodded as he listened, and commented intelligently, but Piggy could tell he had his mind’s eye on his watch.  She cut her comments short in something very like exasperation.

            Kermit was puzzled by her snippiness, but Piggy felt like she was getting the worst of both worlds today.  It was lovely that Kermit wanted her, but she needed him to be her director, too, and that role took precedence for her when they were on the set.  And while he was usually a very accommodating director—very accommodating, indeed—who would listen seriously to the things she wanted, she now felt somewhat guilty about lobbying for changes.  She couldn’t decide whether it was because she felt like she was getting special treatment, or because she felt that she wasn’t.  Yesterday, while they had been at home, she had felt like she was only getting part of his attention there (well-focused though it might be!) while the rest of him was actually here at the set, in spirit if not in the flesh.  This whole predicament made her head hurt, and that made her more grumpy and irritable than she had been before.  Piggy tried not to stomp over to the diner set and did some neck rolls to exorcize the furrows from her forehead.

            “What’s the matter, Miss Piggy?” asked Juliana, immediately seeing the tension in Piggy’s face.  “You look…you don’t quite look like yourself,” the young woman amended hastily.

            Perhaps because her scenes had called for her to be so very snippy with the character of Jenny, Piggy had gone out of her way to be friendly and charming to the actress when the cameras weren’t rolling.  Today, that put a bee in her bonnet, and she wondered crossly why Kermit had written her as so jealous and disagreeable.

            “Oh, nothing,” she said, and tried to dispel the dark cloud that seemed to have settled over her mood.

            Jenny said nothing, but her sweet face was so frankly disbelieving that Piggy had to laugh.  Jenny smiled back, not quite sure of the joke.

            “No really,” Piggy insisted.  “I’m just—I’m just having end of movie jitters, I think.” She did not want to confess that married life was anything less that perfect all day all the time.  Later, this would seem very funny to her—very funny indeed, but today, Piggy was stuck in the moment.  She let out a couple of deep breaths and pasted on a brilliant smile.  “Are you excited about the movie wrapping?” she asked, hoping to start a conversation that would distract her from her own musings.

            Juliana smiled.  “Well, it will be strange, won’t it, to not be filming?  I’ll guess I’ll move on to the next project—probably television work.  How about you?”

            Piggy was momentarily stumped.  “Um, we’ll go back to the states, I guess.  And Kermit will start post-production.”  She had not thought very far ahead, but then, in all fairness, she had not even known she was getting married two weeks ago!  “I guess we’ll find a place of our own.”  She felt suddenly overwhelmed with the enormity of the changes her life had undergone.

            “Oh!” cried Juliana, reaching over impulsively and hugging Piggy.  “A place of your own!  That sounds so romantic!”

            Piggy’s eyes grew wide.  A place of their own.  She tried to imagine it—tried to envision having a place that had her stuff and his, a place with a couch that was just right for both of them.  She had a sudden picture of towels—one pink, one green—nestled up against each other on a towel rack.  One said “His.”  The other said, “Hers.”  Her eyes went all dreamy.  Suddenly, all of her pique seemed silly.  What did she have to be annoyed about?  She was Piggy The Frog, happily wedded wife of Kermit The Frog, and that was certainly worth a little disruption of routine.

            Piggy looked around, suddenly wanting to see him, wanting to be reassured that this was not some dream, some fantasy segment that she had wandered into by mistake.  As chance would have it, she was looking for him at the split second that he turned to check on her.  Their eyes met, and Piggy felt that old, familiar pull on her heart.  His look was tentative, his expression sweet.  Piggy thought she might just die of happiness.

            “Yes,” she murmured distractedly.  “It sounds very romantic.”

            While she watched, Kermit fumbled his pen, dropping it not just once but twice before reclaimed it sheepishly, shaking his head at his folly.  Piggy felt her diva-ness come back with a forcible thump, and she preened a little.  It was nice to know that she could still discombobulate him, still knock him just a little off center.  She turned to Juliana briskly.

            “And when we’ve found a place and settled in, I’ll guess I’ll have to pick one of those scripts Marty keeps sending.”

            “Anything good?” asked Juliana politely.

            Once more, Piggy’s eyes strayed to the slim green figure giving last-minute instructions to the cast.  “Everything,” Piggy said simply.  “Everything’s good.”

Chapter 19: Pique of the DayEdit

            Piggy’s pique had not survived on the set, but when they returned to her apartment she found it returning.  She had rushed home and changed into something far more suited to an evening at home than what she had worn at work all day, but came out of the bedroom to find Kermit talking animatedly on the phone.  She smiled, bemused, and went into the kitchette to see what might be possible for dinner.

            In the end, Piggy’s imagination ran out and she decided they could order pasta.  Kermit was still on the phone, so she looked through the stack of delivery menus until she found one that seemed appropriate.  She turned to Kermit, who was now deep in conversation—and tying up her phone.  Piggy hesitated.  She didn’t want to interrupt, but she wanted to order the food.  The day had been long, and she was tired and hungry.  Oh!  She could use the pay phone in the hall!

            She was halfway across the living room area when she realized that she would have to get dressed again to go out into the hall.  She waited, but Kermit now had the phone cradled on his shoulder and was making notes on a piece of hotel stationary, alternately nodding and shaking his head.

            “No!” Kermit said firmly.  “No ducks!  I was very specific abou—what?”

            Someone on the other end obviously made a point.  Kermit shrugged.

            “Well, penguins would be okay, but—“

            More tinny noise from the phone.  Piggy looked at the menu, then at her lingerie.  Her hostess gown wasn’t flimsy, but it would never pass for street wear.  Still, how likely was it that someone was going to be out in her end of the hall in the space of time it would take her to run down and use the phone?  She looked at her husband again.  He seemed oblivious to her situation, laughing at something that had been said.

            “Yeah, right!” said Kermit.  “Well, you tell them I—what?  By Wednesday?  No—I don’t think—“

            He had turned around and spied her, and he smiled that sweet lop-sided smile that always made Piggy feel like melting.  His eyes took in her outfit, and the way she fit into it with approval.  Piggy was then certain that she could not go out in the hall dressed like this.

            Smiling, she held up the menu and tapped it lightly with one satin-gloved hand.  Kermit nodded and held up a finger in the universal wait-a-minute gesture.  Piggy waited, but not patiently.  After another three minutes of waiting, Piggy sailed past him into the kitchen.  Kermit watched her majestic exit from the living room with appreciation, but he also got the point.  The interminable telephone conversation was terminated, and he joined Piggy in the kitchen, where they perused the menu and ordered supper.

            The wait for the food to arrive was spend much like it had been the first evening in Kermit’s apartment—snuggled up in the kitchen and making the most of the first real moment of togetherness they’d had since they arrived on the set early, early that morning.  Piggy’s irk dissipated, and she sighed and put her arms around Kermit’s shoulders.

            “Kermie,” she asked.  “Where do you want to live?”

            “No further than six feet away from you,” he murmured, giving her a self-satisfied smooch.

            Piggy giggled, but was not deterred.  “I’m serious,” she said.  “When we go back home, what kind of—“

            The phone rang.  Piggy answered the kitchen phone with a cheery, “This is Moi,” but after a moment or two she made a face and put her hand down over the mouthpiece.  “It’s Gonzo,” she mouthed.  “Something about needing ducks for—“

            “I’m on it,” Kermit said, retreating back into the living room and snatching up the phone there.  “Hey, Gonzo—it’s me, Kermit.  No—no, that was me.  He already talked to me and I said no.  Look, I thought I was very clear that we were not going to—huh?  No—no, I don’t think…well, if we didn’t light them, I suppose we could….”

            Kermit wandered away, tethered by the phone cord, and Piggy sighed and put her pucker away.  So much for an evening at home.  She thought about redoing her nails while waiting for the food, but couldn’t get very enthusiastic about it.  She wandered into the bedroom and brushed her hair until it shone and fell in little soft wisps around her shoulders.  That made her feel better, and she put a surreptitious dab of French perfume in a couple of likely places.  The perfume made her think of Paris, which made her think of Kermit, and she went back into the living room again, hoping to find him waiting with open arms.  He was still on the phone.

            Piggy opened her mouth to object, but someone knocked on the door.

            “Italian Delights Delivery,” called a voice.  Piggy got her purse and went for the door.  Some of her irritation was salved by the awestruck and flabbergasted reaction of the just-post-adolescent delivery boy when she answered the door.  He’d obviously had no idea about the recipients of his delivery.  He took the money without looking at it, tried to stammer something.  Benevolently, Piggy sighed, then reached around to the little end table just inside the door for the convenient stack of autographed pictures she kept handy.  She scrawled a feminine script across the bottom, “Love Miss Piggy” and added a defiant “Kissy, kissy, kissy” because Kermit was still on the phone before thrusting it into the young man’s hands.  She still had to pry the carryout bag from his numb fingers.

            “Ub uhn wha?” the young man babbled.  Piggy took his arm and gently steered him back out into the hall, smiling at his befuddlement.  When she came back into the room, Kermit was off the phone and smiling at her.

            “You still got it,” he teased, and Piggy put the bag of comestibles on the floor and struck a sultry pose.

            “Well,” she said.  “Why don’t you come over here and show me what to do with it?”

            Kermit hastened to obey.

            They were happily lip-locked when the phone rang again.  Kermit half-turned toward the sound, but Piggy cupped his face in one soft hand with a no-nonsense grip and looked into his bulbous eyes. 

            “Forget the phone!” Piggy growled, and set her lips on heavy stun.

            For a period of several minutes there was little sound in the room but the hollow ringing of the phone, which went unheeded and unanswered.

            “What phone?” murmured Kermit after a pleasant interval.  It was doubtful he could have given his name if he’d answer the devise.

            Piggy was mollified, and snuggled up against him in a very satisfactory way.

            “You hungry?” she asked.

            Kermit nodded mutely, gazing into her eyes with a dreamy expression on his face.  Piggy reached for the bag, but Kermit’s arms tightened around her.

            “Maybe we could eat…later,” he suggested.  Piggy thought they could.

Chapter 20: He Said, She SaidEdit

            It had been a lovely, leisurely evening—eventually, but the franticness of the next day more than made up for it.  Piggy felt breathless long after they’d arrived on the set, and she felt like she was running through a succession of revolving doors as they tried to get everything ready for the final shoot. 

            Everyone was here today!  Practically everyone who had been in the movie was here for the final scenes.  Even Edgar and Cecile had come back and brought Beth, which was terrific.  And it was wonderful to be the center of so many congratulations and well-wishes and hugs and kisses and, oh, everything, but the attention was making Piggy flustered.  It was sometimes a delicate balance to get into character when the character that you played was merely a fictionalized version of yourself.  There were many times when Piggy had taken spectacular exception to the way she had been characterized, but she was a consummate professional after all, and she could do it for the director six different ways—before he finally did it her way!

            For reasons that Piggy had not been clear about, they had postponed the filming of the first part of “Manhattan Melodies” until this final day.  Never mind—she was ready, but when her thoughts strayed back to the filming of the second half of the show within the show, all she could remember was the look on Kermit’s face when he had dropped to one knee and proposed.  Dear, sweet, wonderful Kermit!  Kermit whom she loved!  And who was currently driving her crazy with last-minute adjustments.  He had been playing with the script a little, trying to punch of their dialogue in the backstage scene.  The original argument had seemed like tame stuff to Piggy, and while Kermit might have countered that she had hit him for less, she would have something to say about holding her tongue as well.

            Thinking about holding her tongue made Piggy remember a few other things about dear, sweet, wonderful Kermit that he might have preferred that she did not.  She remembered how he had teased her the day of the wedding—the whole stunt with the ring had been showmanship of the highest quality.  Surprising her with the arrival of her mother—although that had not quite gone according to plan!  Arguing with her about filming the scene again when she had been so…and then he had been so…

            Piggy found her emotions roller-coastering out of control, and fled to her dressing room.  This last scene was critical, for all of the story lines had resolved in that one backstage scene—all except the ultimate story line, which she was now living.  Piggy felt the prick of happy, exasperated tears in her eyes and dabbed frantically at her makeup.  How her life had changed in the past two weeks!  How amazing that the one thing she thought would make her completely happy HAD.  She was happy.  Completely happy.  Except when he was driving her crazy.  Like he was right now.

            She had come to her dressing room to get away from everything, but he had been by twice in the past five minutes, still tweaking the script.  Finally, Piggy had said, as sweetly as she was able, that he could say whatever it was he wanted to say out there and she was going to do her scene AS WRITTEN.  Kermit had smiled at her vehemence, sneaked under her guard for a quick smooch and run for his life.

            Good answer, thought Piggy.

            Finally, they were all there—all gathered and ready for the scene.  Kermit was looking at her with mischief in his eyes, but she remained composed.  Whatever he threw at her today, she planned to throw right back.

            “You ready?” he asked.  His eyes were suddenly serious.  Piggy nodded.

            “Ready,” she insisted.

            The film began to roll.

            “You are Kermit the Frog, and you love me,” Piggy said earnestly.  “You want to marry me.  You want to have children with me.”  The thought made Piggy blush, but her husband wasn’t blushing.

            “With you?” Kermit said, his face a perfect replica of comic disbelief.  “In love with a pig?  Hmm—wait till I tell the guys in marketing!”  He turned to Fozzie and Gonzo, laughing.  “Maybe you expect me to go hog wild?  Maybe—perhaps you could bring home the bacon!”  There was a warning light blinking furiously in Kermit’s brain, but he ignored it with supreme smugness and continued his ad-libbed rant.  “Ah—the sounds of love—suey! Oink oink!”

            “Cancel the show!” Piggy cried,

            Kermit braced himself, knowing what was coming, but the force of her swat did more than send him flying across the room.  It took the breath right out of his lungs and left him gasping.  With a little squeal of concern, Piggy ran to his side.

            “Ooh, Kermie—did I, did I hurt you?”

            Kermit couldn’t seem to get enough air into his lungs to both breathe and talk.  He nodded weakly, but at the little “oh” of distress from Piggy he tried to put a brave face on it.

            “I’m fine,” he wheezed.  “I just—I just got the wind knocked out of me.”  He smiled a little shakily.  “You pack a wallop, Mrs. The Frog.” 

            Piggy looked flustered.  “But—but the script says—“

            Kermit put a hand on her arm, getting his wind and his composure back in spurts.

            “It’s okay, Honey.  I’m fine.  You just—it just surprised me a little.  I’ll be ready for it next time.”

            “Next time?” Piggy asked, her expression baffled.

            “Yeah,” Kermit said, still rubbing his middle.  “You, um, messed up the shot when you ran in front of the camera.”

            Piggy’s mouth dropped open.  She looked to Scooter for confirmation.  “Really?” she asked, blue eyes wide.

            Scooter nodded morosely.  “We’ll have to do it again.  Places everybody.”

            Piggy put a solicitous hand under Kermit’s arm as they walked back toward their marks, but when the cameras began to roll, the look of concern in her eye was replaced with realistic wrath.  They ran the scripted lines and then Piggy said “Hi yah!” and sent him hurtling through space.  He hit the chair perfectly, but this time Piggy’s curls obscured the outer edge of the shot.  The third time, it was her impressive profile from neck to knees that blocked the shot. 

            In all the years that he had worked with Piggy, he had never known her to upstage anyone without trying.  He had a feeling that he had inadvertently made it onto her short list and was paying the price for some real or imagined hurt.

            “Um, Honey,” said Kermit. “Think we could get this one in the can soon?  I don’t think I can stand a whole lot more of this.”

            Piggy fidgeted, giving a fair imitation of distress, but there was something not quite right about the set of her jaw…oh!  OH!  Thunderstruck, Kermit saw Piggy’s quick dart of assessment—the same look she would give him to see if he’d been pleased with a scene.  He felt his face scrunch up in annoyance.

            “A moment please, Scooter,” Kermit said, then took Piggy firmly by the arm and led her away from the crowd.

            “Piggy,” Kermit muttered, when they were out of earshot.  “I know what you’re doing.  Stop it.”

            Piggy gave him a level look that he could read only too well, then her blue eyes grew wide and she batted her eyelashes at him.  Sheesh!  And the Oscar goes to--  “Why, Kermie—I don’t know what you could be referring to.”

            “Piggy, stop it!”  He rubbed his middle carefully.  “That last one really hurt.”

            Good,” Piggy muttered, but just low enough that he couldn’t call her on it.

            “Look—what’s this about?”  He thought he knew, but didn’t want to suggest anything she hadn’t thought of yet.  “Come on,” he said, trying to keep his voice teasing.  “What did I ever do to you?”

            Piggy’s back straightened just a little and those beautiful blue eyes narrowed.

            “Why don’t we start with what you’ve done to me lately!”

            “But—but Piggy—“

            But Piggy was not about to be deterred from her course.  In fact, she was just getting started.  “Let’s see—you tricked me into tricking you into a marriage that everyone but Moi knew about!”

            “Oh, that,” Kermit said uneasily.  “Well, yes, but it was—“

            “Yes—that!  You—you played with my feelings!  You knew how much I cared, but you teased me with the thought that you didn’t really love me, too.”

            “Oh, Piggy—you know I always—“

            “Do you have any idea how it felt—knowing that I might lose you forever?”

            Kermit was shocked to see actual tears in her eyes, and turned his body hastily to protect her from any curious onlookers.

            “Sweetheart,” he said gently.  “Honey, look, I didn’t—“

            “And then you—you said you did love me and you did want me to marry you, and it was…it was…wonderful!” she said accusingly.  Her tone made it clear she thought him a terrible amphibian.

            So much for understanding women, Kermit thought. 

            “What’s going on?”

            “Fight.”

            “Already?”

            “Sure,” said Scooter, grinning.  “You didn’t think paradise was going to last forever.”

            “Oh no!” moaned Fozzie.  “And Kermit seemed so happy.”

            Scooter hastened to reassure the distraught comedian.  “It’s okay,” he said.  “This is a kiss-and-make-up fight.”

            Rowlf looked at him with new respect.  “How can you tell?”

            Scooter elaborated.  “Well, if she was really mad, Kermit wouldn’t be able to put his arms around her.”

            “But he isn’t,” Fozzie objected.

            At just that moment, Kermit reached to embrace her.

            “Ha,” said Scooter.  “Told ya.”

           

            Kermit had no idea what to do next, but he was pretty certain putting his arms around her would be okay.  “Um, I think it’s wonderful, too,” he ventured, trying to embrace her, but his efforts were in vain.  As if aware of her vulnerability when he was holding her, Piggy wrenched away.

            Fozzie and Rowlf looked at Scooter triumphantly.  “Ha yourself,” said Rowlf.  “Yeah,” said Fozzie. “What he said.”

            Scooter was unruffled.  He shrugged.  “Second time’s the charm,’ he said.

            “Bet you,” offered Rowlf.  Scooter held his hand up and shook Rowlf’s paw without looking.  Fozzie hesitated, then said, “I’m in too.”  He added his own furry paw to the mix.

           

            “Of course you think everything’s wonderful!” Piggy snapped.  “All you had to do was say ‘I do’ and now the pig does everything you say!”

            What?”

            “Now Kermit looks mad,’ said Fozzie.

            “As a hatter,” said Floyd Pepper, joining the little throng of spectators.  “I mean, he married her highness.”

            “I don’t think he’s crazy,” said Scooter loyally.  “I think they’re just—“

            “What’s going on?” said Gonzo.  “Where’d Kermit go?”

            “Lover’s quarrel,” said Rowlf.

            “Oh,” said Gonzo, turning to watch.  “Anybody taping it?”

            “Gonzo!”

            “What?  Geez—make an artistic suggestion and everybody’s a critic.”

            “Pipe down,” said Floyd, “I can’t hear what they’re saying.”

            “I can read lips,” said Rizzo.  “Somebody give me a boost up—“

            “Um, guys,” said Scooter uncomfortably.  “I don’t really think we should be—“

            On the far side of the stage, the argument raged unabated.

            “You heard me!” Piggy was saying.  “Now that we’re married you think you can just snap your fingers and everything will be—“

            “Piggy, that’s ridiculous.   Now you sound like Gonzo!”

            “And what is that supposed to mean?” Piggy cried angrily.

            “It means I didn’t—“

            “And then you bragged to everyone about how you have me wrapped around your little webbed finger—“

            “But, Piggy, I didn’t mean, um, that you—oh, sheesh.“

            With a sudden, ringing clarity, Kermit knew.  He knew what he had done, and wondered what the piper would demand.

            “What’s the matter?” Piggy flung.  “I thought you had everything under control.”

            Yep.  The light went on in Kermit’s head at the same moment as the warning bell.  He swallowed and cleared his throat.

            “So you, um, you heard that, did you?.”

            “Yes,” Piggy admitted, and her eyes mirrored her hurt. 

            Kermit felt like a louse.  It was not usually in his nature to tell tales out of school, and he felt his cheeks grow warm.

            “Look, Piggy, that was—“

            “And I wasn’t eavesdropping, either!’ she said, still bristling.

            “No, no—of course not,” Kermit said.  He stepped forward and tried to put his arms around her again.  She let him, but just barely. 

            There was a murmur on the far side of the soundstage.  Everybody seemed to be watching.

            “Ah ha!” said Scooter. “Pay up.”

            Several people ponied up the dough.

            Kermit held Piggy and remembered the way she had clung to him in the taxi the other night, the way she had greeted him every evening with a kiss.  This was nothing like that, and it was all his fault.

            “Look—I’m, I’m sorry.  That was—what I said was uncalled for.  I just—I just can’t believe everything that’s happened these past two weeks.  It’s been such a roller coaster, such a high.  I guess—I guess I got a little cocky.”

            “Well, it hasn’t exactly been a picnic for me,” Piggy pouted.  “Everybody’s watching me now, wondering if I’m going to be different.”  She shot him an injured look.  “Now that we’re married, they’re always watching me.  Everybody wants to see if I’ll do what you say on the set.”

            Kermit knew he was already on thin ice, but he couldn’t help himself.  He let out a short bark of laughter, making Piggy look at him indignantly.  She tried to wrest herself away from his embrace, but Kermit hung on grimly.  The strength in those arms holding onto her surprised her.  The thought that he didn’t want to let her go made her expression soften.  He had never held on before, but this time he did.  Maybe this time wasn’t like all those other times.

            “Piggy, Honey,” Kermit said, smiling at her.  “Why should here be any different from home?”

            Piggy swallowed her sharp retort.  In spite of herself, her lips began to quirk up into a smile.  Kermit felt her relax in his embrace, and her arms slipped around his neck as she gazed into his eyes.

            “But—“

            “Look—I was your director long before I became your husband.  Just because we got hitched doesn’t mean I expect you to roll over and do everything I say.”

            “But you told Rowlf—“

            “Yes, I know I did.  And I was out of line.  I’m sorry.”

            “Really?”

            Those blue eyes were huge.  Geez, he wanted to kiss her.

            “Yeah, really.  Piggy, you should know by now that I respect you as an actress, and I expect you to do what you’ve always done—follow your best instincts.  If I don’t like it, as the director, I’ll say so.  And if you don’t like it, as an actress, you say so, too.  Got it?”

            Piggy nodded, then looked sheepish.  “Did I—did I really hurt you?”

            Kermit nodded, rubbing his tender middle.  “Yeah, actually.”

            For just a moment, Piggy’s eyes were fierce.  “Good!” she growled, but she leaned forward and kissed him on the jaw, letting her soft lips linger on his skin.  Kermit knew it was only a small down payment on a more convincing request for amnesty later, and he let her slide.

            Piggy disengaged from his arms.  “We should go,” she said gently, starting back for the soundstage.  “Everyone is waiting for us.”

            “Let ‘em wait,” Kermit said.  He caught Piggy’s arm, pulled her suddenly into his arms and kissed her while he dipped her down to the floor.  Behind them came a loud cacophony of whoops and catcalls, but Kermit ignored all of them.  When he set Piggy back on her shiny high heels, she was gasping for breath.

            “Is that a satisfactory expression of my sincere apology?”

            Piggy’s face was flushed.  “Um, yes,” she mumbled, heart still racing.

            “Think we can do this scene without sending me to the clinic?” Kermit asked pointedly.

            Piggy took an unsteady breath, then nodded and smiled.  “Yes, dear,” she said silkily.  “Whatever you say.”

            When they returned to the set, Scooter was pocketing a handful of five-dollar bills.  Kermit sighed, pretty certain he could guess the source of Scooter’s revenue.

Chapter 21: AmnestyEdit

            Kermit had been correct in his assumption that Piggy would make amends for her earlier hostility, and the evening found them comfortably wedged together on Kermit’s creaky couch.  Piggy had solved the discomfort factor by piling every available cushion in the apartment onto the spartan upholstery.  It wasn’t perfect, but it would do, and Piggy lay back into the corner of the couch with Kermit reclining into her welcoming embrace.  She leaned forward once every so often and pressed a kiss against the back of his neck, eager to offer comfort.  Feeling due a little tenderness—and very sore around the middle—Kermit accepted these offerings of affection as his just due.  They had ordered Indian food, and Kermit had eaten the spicy morsels off her fingers with great relish as she’d played hostess.  Kermit caught one of her bare hands and kissed the palm, thinking the satin of her gloves could never compare to the satin of her own soft skin.

            “Piggy?” he said softly.

            “Um hum?” she answered, swirling a finger over his smooth scalp.

            “You okay with what happened today?”  He had been adamant that he had gotten his just desserts, and refused to entertain even the idea of an apology.  Which was just as well.

            Kermit felt her hesitate.  At first he thought she might not have understood the question and was on the verge of repeating it when she made a small sound and let out a breath she’d obviously been holding.

            “Piggy?”

            “I—“

            Kermit turned over, wanting to see her expression so he could correctly gauge her response, and alter his own in kind.  “Tell me,” he said gently.

            Piggy smiled, but more out of nervousness than pleasure.  “This—this is hard,” she said finally.  Kermit waited for her to elaborate, but when she did not, he spoke again.

            “Since when has anything ever been easy with us?” he teased.  His voice was light, but his bulbous eyes were dark with emotion.

            “That’s just it!” Piggy burst out.  “Everything’s so—so complicated now!”

            “No,” Kermit insisted.  “Everything’s easier now.”

            That caught Piggy up short, and she reached out to touch his face, biting her lip a little in consternation or to keep her from bursting out with something else.  “Oh, Kermie….”

            “I mean, sure, this is going to take some getting used to, because now what happens there spills over into here.”

            Piggy nodded solemnly.

            “And what happens here sometimes spills over into there,” Kermit finished.  His eyes grew mischievous.  “Too bad we filmed the kiss-and-make-up scene already.”  Piggy gave him a look and thought of reminding him that they had not, in fact, kissed when they made up on screen, but she stifled the urge when he subsided, slipping his arms around her.  “But some things will never change,” he continued earnestly.  “You and me—that’s going to go on forever.”

            “Yes, Kermie…” said Piggy.  “But, sweetie, I—“

            “And I don’t want Piggy the actress to change, either.  You have an opinion, I expect you to express it.  Got it?”

            “Yes, Kermie.”

            “And stop saying ‘Yes Kermie’ to me.  I—I feel like I’m in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, you know?  Or The Stepford Pigs.  Just let your yes be yes and your no be no and we’ll fight about all the stuff in between, okay?”

            Piggy just looked at him, literally unable to respond.  It was impossible to agree with him—he had just forbidden it.  And impossible to argue with him—for he was right.  And she did not want to argue with him—not any more.  Having lost the option of speech, Piggy did the next best thing.  She leaned forward and pressed her lips to his, saying everything that truly mattered all at once.

            “Good,” said Kermit when he had recovered his voice.  “Then we’re square.”

            “Actually,” said Piggy dryly, “we’re horizontal.”  Kermit gave her a look and she started to giggle.

            “C’mere, you,” he said in fair imitation of Piggy’s sultry growl.  And, surprising them both not at all, Piggy did just what he said.

            This time.

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