A/N: Here it is! Chapter 4... the first lemon-free chapter. Don't worry, I make it up to you in Chapter 5. ;) As always, many thanks to those who continue to leave reviews. You have no idea how much it warms my heart to see all the positive comments you are all leaving. :D I would never put myself on par with Kitsune Heart though I'm flattered that such an impossibility was suggested. She has been a true inspiration to me in my writing and will forever be the queen of AF fanfiction writing, especially that of the M-rated variety.
Once again, the next chapter will go up once this one receives 10 reviews. Therefore, PLEASE REVIEW! k, thx.
Disclaimer: Eoin Colfer owns all rights to Artemis Fowl. No copyright infringement intended.
Artemis helped Holly out of the tub, and released the drain valve.
Not that there was much left to drain. Artemis pulled all the towels from the closet, and saving two for themselves, spread the other six on the floor, to join his soaked robe. Holly wrapped herself in a towel and headed into the bedroom while Artemis tried to dam the soapy tide.
Holly rummaged through her bag, finding the outfit she wanted to wear for the day. A white button-down blouse with short sleeves, and a knee-length denim skirt. Artemis disappeared into his closet. She dug deeper into the bag to find her white satin bra and panties. She hiked her panties up and clasped her bra into place. She looked back towards the closet to see if he was covertly watching her.
Artemis actually wasn't watching her dress. He was trying desperately to focus on the task of dressing himself without getting aroused again. He had managed to get on a pair of black boxers and had one of his many white Oxford shirts, already on but still unbuttoned. He heard Holly's exasperated sigh and he turned to look at her.
"Artemis, seriously... it's the weekend. Do you even own normal clothes?" she chastised him as she pulled up her tiny denim skirt. She zipped up the fly and fastened the button right below her navel. She put her hands on her hips and gave Artemis a glare.
Artemis was now looking dumbly at Holly, who had yet to put on her blouse. Without any pause, he shrugged his shirt back off. "Well, what would you have me wear?"
Holly brushed past him, pushing against his hip to move him out of the way. She rifled through his wardrobe, then his drawers. "Man, you sure have a limited selection... here. Wear this." She held up a navy blue Ralph Lauren Polo and a pair of khaki slacks. She shoved them at him and walked back over to pick up her blouse. She scowled at him while buttoning her shirt, making sure he wouldn't defy her.
Artemis just blinked in shocked. He looked down at the pile of clothes in his arms, and started to come out of his stupor. He threw the shirt on the bed while he pulled on the slacks. Holly was digging in her bag again, hunting down her tooth brush. As he pulled his shirt over his head, he heard Holly in the bathroom. She was dragging the chair across the damp floor, from the vanity over to the sink to brush her teeth. Artemis smiled. She was shorter than his 4 year old brothers.
Fully dressed now, Artemis appeared behind her in the mirror's reflection. She was actually at eye level with him while she stood on the chair, sawing away with the little brush. He placed his hands on either side of her head as he kissed her hair, softly.
"Holly, please wait here a minute. I'll bring breakfast up here. I'm sure my parents are still eating. What you like me to bring you, love?"
Holly flushed. She thought it was odd that'd she would blush at a simple term of endearment, especially after everything they'd just... and all the… well. It really was something small considering. "I don't know, maybe some fruit? And toast, or some kind of bread?"
"Sure. I'll be right back." He pecked her on the cheek and disappeared, closing the bedroom door behind him. Holly couldn't stop smiling like an idiot at the mirror.
Artemis ventured down stairs to the opulent kitchen. His entire family was there, in the adjoining breakfast room, including Butler. The twins chattered nonsense to one another under the table, but all three adults were eerily silent. He strolled to the marble counter, attempting nonchalance, and selected a few croissants when Butler spoke up.
"Nice outfit." he said, smirking.
"What? It's the weekend. I don't have to wear a suit everyday." Artemis said defensively. But, he realized he was still trying to convince himself too.
"No, of course not." Butler drifted from the room, smiling. He glanced at the Fowls and nodded.
Artemis knew this wasn't good. Butler was giving him 'space' with his family. Traitor! Immediately his heart rate galloped, and he could feel a look of panic seize his face.
"Artemis." His father started in a firm tone. "Please, sit with us."
Oh God, no... Artemis knew he was going to get 'the talk'. He forgot all about the croissants.
"The boys tell me you have a guest." Artemis Senior continued. It came out more like a question than a statement, like he was daring him to deny it. "A… female guest?"
"Y-Yes?" Artemis Junior replied nervously, his face still a panicked caricature.
"Well, aren't you going to introduce us?" his father queried.
Artemis head lolled towards his mother with a pleading look. But it was obvious there would be no mercy extended from her. Her expression was just as unreadable. He swallowed hard and could feel himself turn betraying colors.
"Well, it's… my friend, Holly." He glanced at his mother again for help. She knew Holly was an elf, although she'd never met her in person. However, his father had no idea. Certainly he had no knowledge of Artemis's dealings with The People. How on earth could he explain Holly to him without telling him everything?
"I think we'd both like to meet her, dear." Angeline said.
Artemis shifted uncomfortably under his parents' gaze. "Sure." he said hesitantly. "Mum, can you… carefully… explain some things, while I go get her?"
"Of course, dear." Angeline smiled. She turned to her husband and very factually stated, point blank "Holly is an elf."
Artemis watched, stunned in horror as his father looked at his wife quizzically then over to his son who appeared to be terror struck. "An elf?" he said incredulously. He was beginning to feel pride for his son's conquest, but this was not quite what he expected… My, what the kids are into these days, he thought.
Artemis managed to nod, his head loose on his rigid shoulders. He felt as if he might- no, now he was beginning to hyperventilate.
"Well, let's meet this elf woman." Artemis Senior laughed and motioned for his son to go and fetch her.
Artemis, dizzy with panic, practically ran out of the kitchen. He passed Butler in the foyer, who couldn't help but laugh quietly at Artemis's expense. Artemis glared back at him.
"Why couldn't you keep those half-pint heathens out of my room! You knew she was here!" he hissed at him.
"Oh, don't blame your brothers entirely, Artemis." He whispered between chuckles. "If you mean to be discreet, you might try to keep your voices down. Hers, at least! We could hear it all the way down in the dining room." His chuckles turned more into guffaws.
If it was possible, Artemis turned even redder. "Goddamn it." he cursed under his breath as he marched up the stairs to his room.
He did his best to compose himself before entering his bedroom. There wasn't any reason for Holly to be more nervous about meeting his parents. When he felt that his color had mostly returned to natural, he turned the knob to enter. Holly was sitting on his bed, reading one of his books, one of the books he wrote. She looked up and smiled at him. Peace, he thought.
"Your books are cheesy, you know." she laughed. "Still, I love reading them."
He smiled back. "I wrote that one when I was ten. I should hope that my more recent work won't be as 'cheesy'".
"Hey, where's breakfast?" She said, noticing he was empty-handed.
"Well, my parents… would like to meet you. I told them that I'd introduce you… properly." he explained, embarrassed.
"Really? I get to meet your mom and dad?" She was actually excited. It's not every day an elf can pretend they belong in the surface world, surrounded by humans.
"Yes. Would you please come with me?" He couldn't even look at her anymore. He knew the instant he did he would blush furiously.
"Hell yes!" She jumped off the bed, throwing her arm around his waist, and walked beside Artemis out to the hall and down the steps. They passed Butler in the front foyer.
"Morning, Holly." Butler said, with a warm smile.
"Good morning, Butler" she said with all sincerity... and ignorance.
Artemis looked over his shoulder at Butler. He mouthed to him without any volume "Please mop my bathroom." He knew Butler would understand. And he certainly did, because Butler threw his hand over his mouth to keep from busting out laughing.
Artemis paced what felt like a death march toward the kitchen, with Holly at his side. She searched his face, puzzled by his expression. Suddenly Holly began to worry. What on earth would they think of Artemis's involvement with a mythical creature? Angeline knew of course, but what of Artemis Senior? How would he react? He looked down at her and noticed her expression had turned from eager to anxious. He took her small hand, and clasped his other hand on top of it.
"Don't worry. They'll like you just fine. I'm the one that's in trouble." he tried his best to smile.
Still holding her hand, they walked into the vantage point of his parents. Artemis heart stopped beating as both of his parents, still seated, dropped their gaze down, in unison. Angeline's expression was a warm one. She had been dying to meet Holly in person. She knew this small woman was responsible for saving not only Artemis's life (on several occasions) but even her own. Her husband was in her debt as well, though he didn't know that. As she took in the sight of Holly holding Artemis's hand, she was simply beaming.
Artemis Senior… was a different story. His expression went from one of polite amusement to confusion. When Artemis walked in with the child sized girl, he initially thought his family was trying to pull something. Pulling a prank, on dear old dad! But then, he noticed this little girl was no little girl at all. Her slight figure was one of a fully developed woman, devoid of youthful paunch, an adult. She was handsome indeed. Then, all he could see was her sharp ears, peeking out from under her short red hair.
"An elf? Really?" He looked back and forth between his wife and son. They both just nodded. Holly's blush was faintly visible beneath her copper colored skin.
"Oh Holly dear, come here!" Angeline beckoned.
Surprised, Holly stumbled towards Angeline. She was even more stunned when Angeline bent down to hug her tightly. "Oh sweetie, it's so good to meet you officially." she sighed.
"Hello, um, Madam Fowl." Holly wasn't sure how she was supposed to address his parents.
"Oh please, call me Angeline." She released her and continued to beam her warm smile at Holly.
Holly's breath hitched. "Um, Thank you, Angeline." She forced a smile in return.
Artemis Senior watched his wife's overly enthusiastic exchange. He looked back towards his son. Artemis was wringing his hands together nervously. He knew if this was some joke, Artemis wouldn't be sweating bullets, even if it was an act.
"Wow." He finally said. "An elf. Well, son." he started smiling. "I always knew it was going to take a special girl for you but I never figured she'd be… that special."
Artemis could tell by his father's tone that he honestly accepted that Holly was, in fact, an elf. He also accepted their being… together. Though, that wasn't much of a surprise if what Butler said about the noise being true. Artemis flushed anew.
"Come here young lady. Let me have a look at you." Artemis Senior called to Holly.
Holly nervously obliged, walking over to Artemis Fowl the First to face him head on. He looked her up and down, amazed at what he was seeing. Her eyes, they're mismatched, just like… He re-focused and placed his index finger gently beneath her chin and angled her face to the side. He could see her ears were the genuine article. He smiled at her. He seemed satisfied with his inspection.
"Well, dear Holly. I hope Artemis is being a good host to you." he said, taking her hand.
"Yes, sir." Her voice was just above a whisper. What else was she suppose to say? She completely didn't know how to handle this situation.
"Good. Well, don't let him bully you just 'cause he's bigger than you." he jeered.
Holly smirked at the comment. "Don't worry, sir. I'm a police officer back in my hometown. I can handle myself."
Artemis Junior nodded over-enthusiastically in agreement from behind her line of sight. His father caught his gesture and laughed aloud.
"I'm sure you can. You look like a tough cookie." He patted her tiny hand approvingly. "Well, we're done eating so we'll be in the family room if you need us." At that, Artemis Senior and Angeline stood up and walked out of the kitchen towards the family room. His father passed by him on his way out and grabbed him on the shoulder.
"Son," he whispered into Artemis's burning ear "I shouldn't have to tell you this, but you're using something, right? Are we gonna have little half-elf babies running around here?"
Artemis blanched, flushed, and blanched again. He was starting to become nauseous from the stress and embarrassment that this entire situation was loading on him. "Father, I assure you that you needn't worry about that." he choked out.
"Good, good. Oh, and son, would you mind watching your volume while the boys are still up and about? They ask… questions."
God, please provide me a hole for me to crawl into so I can die now, Artemis thought. "Yes," is all he could manage to say.
"Very good" His father replied, now speaking at full volume. "You kids get something to eat. Holly, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
Holly ridiculously curtsied, not knowing what else to do. "Likewise." she replied. And though she wasn't exactly sure what his father had said to Artemis, she could tell it was making him physically ill…
She slipped over to Artemis and took his hand. She looked up at him with concern. "Everything okay?"
"Holly. If I could shimmer out of visibility, I would have already."
Once they had finished breakfast, Artemis rose to take their plates away. Butler wasn't around. He hoped he was upstairs, braving the depth in the bathroom. Thankfully, Holly had put away her clothing from last night, though Artemis had to get her shirt down for her.
Holly sat at the breakfast bar staring out the window. The day was grey and bleak. Holly sighed with disappointment. So much for doing something outside she thought.
Artemis snuck up behind her and snaked his arms around her waist. "Don't worry; it's supposed to clear up by evening. Tomorrow is going to be sunny."
Holly looked over her shoulder towards him. She gave him a small smile. "So what do we do in the meantime?"
Artemis shot her a wicked smile. "Well, we could- …no wait, we did that already."
Holly smacked his arm. He just laughed.
"Okay, in all seriousness. We could watch a movie if you'd like." Artemis suggested.
"What about games?" Holly asked.
"Games? Like what?"
"I don't know. Chess or something?"
Artemis gave Holly a patronizing glare. "I would annihilate you at chess."
Holly huffed, defeated. "Yeah, you're right." Holly pouted as she tried to think of something else.
"You said last night that you wanted to go riding. We might not be able to ride in this weather, but, would you like to go see the horses?"
Holly's eyes lit up. As a fairy, it was in her nature to care about animals and nature in general, but Holly was particularly an animal-lover. "Yes. I'd love to meet your horses."
"Okay. In this weather, you're going to want boots. Let me find Myles's for you." Artemis released his hold around her and darted from the kitchen. Holly smirked to herself. That was probably right... she would fit in a four-year-old's boots. Then she thought, if for whatever reason she could ride, a skirt wasn't the most practical wardrobe choice. She hopped down from the stool at the breakfast bar and headed back towards the bedroom. The family room was situated to the left of the main foyer on the lower-main level. As Holly was about to start up the stairs to Artemis's room, she heard her named being called in stereo.
"Holly! Holly!" Beckett and Myles came trotting out of the family room. "Holly, will you play with us too? How long do you get to stay here?" Both questions came in quick succession.
"Oh, um, sure, I'll play with you. What do you like to do? And as to the other question, I'm leaving tomorrow evening." She carefully examined each boy's beaming face to find a subtle difference. Artemis had explained the strongest difference was in their personalities. Beckett seemed to be very outgoing, whereas Myles preferred to sit back and observe. Beckett, she assumed, grabbed her hand and led her into to the family room.
"Ah, Holly dear. Was breakfast to your liking?" Artemis Senior asked, looking over his newspaper.
"Yes, thank you." Holly couldn't help feeling shy and uncomfortable around his parents.
Artemis Senior smiled back at her, and returned to his paper. Then one of the boys, presumably Beckett again, called her over to the child size activity table they had in the corner of the room. Four small chairs surrounded the little table. It was a comfortable size for her. She pulled out one of the chairs and sat with the boys who had notebooks in front of them and open textbooks piled around them.
"This is… playing?" She asked, confused. It looked like they were preparing to take the Bar exam. She smiled at her thought, thinking she wouldn't put it past a Fowl child.
"Well, actually..." started the more quiet of the two- Myles, maybe, "we have to finish our French lesson before school on Monday. Do you know French Holly?"
"Yes." Holly replied. She could tell that both parents were paying attention to everything she did and said though they tried to act distant. Their father 'read' the paper and Angeline had a novel open on her lap. The entire time Holly was in the room, she never heard either of them turn a page of their reading material.
"Oh good! You can help me with verb conjugation." Myles scooted his chair closer to her, showing her what he was working on. Even though Holly spoke fluent French, one of her innate elvish abilities, she was never 'taught' it. Still, she could tell this was an advanced level exercise for a preschooler.
She looked at Myles incredulously. "You have homework like this at- what are you, four? What kind of school do you go to?"
"We'll be five soon." Beckett said indignantly. "And this stuff isn't from school. All we do there is play with other kids and have stories read to us."
"Like we can't read!" Myles rolled his eyes. "No, this is work Arty assigns us."
Figures, he tortures his brothers, she thought. She looked at the exercise again. "Um, ok. So this sentence is talking about two men so the pronoun would be "Ils" and since it's an "er" verb, we'd change the ending to "ent". Does that make sense?" She looked at him curiously, his eyes were the exact same color as Artemis's eyes. Well, eye. And now, one of her eyes, too.
"Yes, thank you." Myles said, still looking at her. "Holly, can I ask you a question?"
"S-sure." she replied hesitantly. Children were dangerously unpredictable and overly curious. She was concerned about how she'd have to answer, their parents sitting only a few feet away.
"Why do you have two different colored eyes like Arty?"
Phew... okay not so dangerous. But then again, I don't want to lie. Damn...Holly tried to formulate as vague a response as possible, but thought she should just tell them the truth. "Well, the brown eye is the eye I was born with. Both my mom and my dad had the same color" And just about every other elf in the Lower Elements, she thought. "And the blue one is... well…" she started but couldn't finish. Suddenly, she sensed Artemis standing right behind her. He knelt down to put himself at eye level with brother, his eyes beside Holly's.
"The blue one is mine. Or, more correctly, was mine." Artemis said. Holly looked cautiously over towards Artemis Senior, who was now blatantly paying attention to their conversation, utter shock destroying his ruse.
"Really?" Beckett spoke up, very impressed. "How did you do that? That's pretty cool."
"Actually, Beckett, it was quite by accident. Still, I've grown to love the look of my hazel eye." He said as he put his hand on Holly's shoulder. "I'll tell you the details about it another time."
"I have another question for you, Holly!" Beckett began this time.
"Why do you sleep with no clothes on? Do you need some pajamas, because you can borrow mine-"
"No more questions, boys." Artemis stood abruptly and gave them a stern glare to inform them they had overstepped their boundaries. Holly swallowed loudly as she turned to gauge their parents' reaction. They were back to feigning disinterest in the discussion, acting as if they were still reading. Though, Artemis Senior's paper was now upside-down.
"Holly, are you ready? I left the boots by the back door." Artemis looked at her apologetically.
"Oh yeah, horses. Let me change into jeans. I'll be back in a minute." Artemis helped Holly rise and watched her scurry upstairs to change her clothes.
Once she had left the room, Artemis turned to chastising his brother. "Beckett, what have I told you about personal questions? You need to mind your own business more often."
"Oh, come now, Arty. You really should have locked your door." his father chuckled.
"First of all, I shouldn't have to lock my door because people should knock. Secondly, I did lock my door, since I know these two cretins have no respect for my privacy. I simply failed to take into consideration that they know how to pick a lock!" Artemis said, his voice grinding with his irritation.
Artemis Senior looked over at the boys, who both proudly nodded their heads regarding the lock-picking accusation.
"And who, Arty, taught the boys how to pick locks?" his father asked, as if he didn't already know the answer.
Artemis grumbled. "I had good intentions. They come from a wealthy family, and bear the risk of being held for ransom. I was trying to ensure their safety, not nullify my privacy!"
Just then Holly wafted down the stairs, wearing the dark colored jeans from the day before. Artemis started towards her but then quickly turned and spoke in a threatening whisper to the twins. "Don't make me put a dead-bolt on the outside of your door."
Artemis took Holly's hand as he walked up to her, frankly not caring if his family was watching. His irritation was still very evident to Holly, and she decided it was probably best not to ask about what was said. They reached the back door where Artemis had put the boots. Shining black riding boots, with buff leather tops. Sure enough, Myles boots fit her just fine. Artemis slid his own pair on, and they headed out to the back of the property where the carriage house was.
Even though it was damp and cold, Holly inhaled deeply. She could smell the horses, the grass, the rain, the salty water from the nearby shore- and of course the pollution, though she tried hard to ignore that part. She just loved being out in nature.
Artemis smiled down at her. By evidence of her huge grin, she was happy to be outside. Inside his heart of hearts though, Artemis felt pained. She (and the entire fairy race) was forced to live below the surface because of humans like him. It was horribly unfair. It was particularly sad because, although the fairy society wasn't a completely peaceful place (hence the need for the LEP), they still had more balance. There was no one starving down there through no fault of their own. There weren't people sick and dying simply because they couldn't afford medical treatment or it wasn't available to them where they lived. In reality, The People's social structure was working better than any human government. Artemis always figured this was because they were united under one government - The Council. Although he initially thought their society was more like a socialized country, he had to admit it worked for the most part. Like Switzerland. Artemis thought briefly that if he was in charge of things on the surface, things would be much different. He smiled to himself and jested, Yes, I'd be a good world ruler.
"What are you smiling about?"
"What?" Holly's voice had snapped him out of his mental banter. "Oh, I was just thinking about how much I enjoy your company."
She squeezed his hand tighter. She knew there was more to whatever it was going on in his head, but she didn't want to spend her entire weekend having a discussion that would just leave her with a headache.
They reached the stalls. It was so muddy, Holly was thankful for the boots. Artemis walked into the stall. He unlatched the door where his personal Arabian was. It was a 4 year old white stallion. A simply beautiful animal. Artemis led the horse over to an entranced Holly.
"Holly, this is Cosmo." he leaned towards her. "I didn't name him." shaking his head. He felt the name was utterly ridiculous. "He is a rescue."
The horse whinnied and swooshed its tail. Holly smiled. She turned to Artemis. "He thinks you're going to ride him."
Artemis's eyes widened. He was never going to get used to the whole 'talk-to-the-animals' thing.
The horse started to make a cacophony of noises, all which simply sounded like the horse 'neighing' to him, but Holly began to laugh in apparent understanding.
"He says you don't give him enough exercise- that you're getting lazy!"
"Is that so?" Artemis narrowed his eyes at the horse. "Fine," he spat.
Artemis headed over to where all the equipment was kept, and started saddling the horse and placed his reigns in. It was evident to Holly that he's been doing this for a long time.
"When did you start riding?" she asked.
"When I was about four. I was a small kid, smaller than the twins at that age. They started me on a Shetland. My parents forced me do something… physical," He rolled his eyes at the word "and this was the only thing moderately enjoyable to me at the time. The twins each have a Shetland of their own now, though they have no desire to come riding with me." Artemis tightened the saddle belt and gave the horse a pat on the side to let him know he was done. At that, the horse began to whinny again and Holly covered her mouth to muffle her laugh.
"God, what is he saying now?" Artemis looked at her, pained.
"Um... something along the lines of 'Less talky, more running'." she said.
"Well, who knew you were such a wise ass." He smirked at his horse. "Holly, would you like to ride with me?"
"Really? Riding, in this weather?" she asked, surprised.
"I'm certainly not going to be called lazy by a horse and let him get away with it!"
Holly smiled. "Sure. But I've never actually been on a horse." Not even a Unicorn... she thought. She had grown up in the city after all.
He smirked at her. "I won't go too fast. Wait here. I'll go get the step ladder."
"Why, do you think I need it?" she asked with mock insult. Artemis just nodded dumbly.
Holly turned toward the horse and made some noises that to Artemis sounded like a little kid trying to impersonate a horse for fun. He couldn't help but smile. His smile quickly melted into disbelief when the horse knelt down on its two front legs and Holly grabbed the small English saddle and swung herself on. The horse stood back up with Holly quite comfortable on its back.
Artemis looked dumbfounded. Holly just cocked an eyebrow at him. "You coming?"
"Unbelievable," she heard him mutter under his breath. He hooked his boot into the pointed stirrup and swung onto the horse behind Holly. He cracked the reigns, kicked his heels into the horse's side and they took off. They ran for less than two minutes before they were entirely soaked. He took the horse around the riding ring for several circuits at top speed. He saw Holly's knuckles whiten as she held on to the saddle. Artemis smirked. A little belated payback for turning him green on multiple occasions with her driving. He completed the circuit and slowed the horse to a trot, then a full stop.
"You okay?" he asked her, smiling.
"Peachy." she said, sarcastically. In reality, she was terrified. Mostly because she wasn't in control. She enjoyed driving, but not being a passenger. Still, she drove vehicles- machines. It was completely different being on an animal. Even though she had faith in Artemis as a rider, this animal still had a mind of its' own. It was also much larger than either her or Artemis. She felt the horse's massive muscles contracting and extending beneath her. This was a powerful being. She was frankly surprised Artemis could command it. Cosmo really likes him as his rider, she thought.
"Great. Oh, and Holly, you should hold on tightly." Artemis said as he backed up with the horse, aligning it with the fence around the riding ring. The horse started making excited noises but was very compliant to Artemis's commands. Holly heard Cosmo say something along the lines of 'Oh hell, yeah!' Holly swallowed her heart and gripped the saddle with all her strength.
"Hyah!" Artemis cracked the reigns and the horse shot off at top speed towards the fence. Holly was about to close her eyes when she felt the horse's strong body push itself up from under her as it leapt over the fence. A brief floating sensation, then the ground thudded under heavy hooves once again. Artemis pulled the reigns back to slow the horse, laughing like a child. Holly's eyes were bugged out, dazed by their unexpected flight. Artemis continued to laugh as he led the horse, at a much more responsible speed, into the woods surrounding the Fowl estate.
Artemis let the horse wander a little bit, to a berry patch it knew of. Artemis let the reigns hang slack and ran his hand over Holly's wet hair. He leaned down and kissed her temple. Holly smiled.
"What are you thinking right now?"
What Artemis was thinking he wasn't sure he knew how to say. I love you more than words. Never leave me again. I can't live without you. Yeah… probably too strong. "I was thinking that you're a lot of fun to be with."
"Oh." Earlier that morning, she had jokingly mentioned never leaving, and he replied "fine with me". Now Holly really tried to think of some way to stay longer. Within minutes, his family had accepted her for what she was. Not human. That alone was quite a lot to ask from a human family. If she stayed with him, she could live, quite comfortable, on the surface. She'd have to give up the LEP, or maybe she could convince the Council to let her be an on-call Recon field agent. Even if they stayed together, there was the issue of their life spans. Holly would have to give up her whole live in Haven for a few fleeting years with a mud-man, who would grow old and die before she even reached middle age. As Holly's emotions about losing Artemis gripped her, she felt her eyes tearing up. She was suddenly thankful for the rain, to camouflage her tears.
Artemis could feel her shudder against his body. "Holly?" he asked, concerned. He leaned over to her side to face her.
Holly turned away from him at first. But then she turned back, and holding his face, kissed him gently on the lips. Artemis started to deepen the kiss. He began to take her bottom lip when he felt Holly sob. He pulled back to look at her. Even though he couldn't tell if the droplets on her cheeks were tears or rain, it was obvious by her red rimmed eyes and quivering lip that she was crying.
"Holly? What is it?" He asked her, confused and becoming upset at the sight of her so sad. She began to let out heaving sobs and she cried into her hands. Artemis quickly wrapped his arms around her and although he didn't know why she was crying, it made him feel like he was going to cry. Holly was one of the strongest people he knew, strong in every way. He didn't hold anyone in the high esteem that he held her. It was heartbreaking to see her this way, vexed and torn.
"Artemis..." she choked out. "Let's go back. It's getting too cold for us to be out here, all wet."
Artemis grabbed the reigns and pulled the horse around towards the riding track so he wouldn't have to jump the fence again. He walked the horse back into the barn and Holly jumped off at the horse's full height. Although Artemis was impressed, he still eyed her cautiously to see if she'd stop crying. He dismounted the horse and looked at her. She had wrapped her arms around her body in a self embrace. Artemis made as quick work as he could of getting the horse and its' equipment put away. He walked back over to Holly and tried to move his wet hair off his face. He looked down at her, she was watching the ground. He put his hand on her shoulder and she finally looked at him.
"Holly, talk to me."
Holly gazed up at Artemis. He was just as sopping wet as she was, hair hanging down, his dark shirt clinging to his chest. She briefly smiled, and mused how sexy he looked, and how this was just the second time today she'd been soaking wet with him.
But then she remembered what put her in her depression. She couldn't believe how fast she had fallen in love with him. Or was it really that fast? It was approaching five years since they first met. What an odd start they had to their relationship. She briefly jested with herself about telling that story to the children. But then, her heart began to ache, because deep down she knew that was not a future she could have with Artemis. Holly dropped her hold around herself and threw her arms tightly around his waist. She sobbed bitterly into his stomach, as he ran his hands over her damp hair. He just stood there with her for a while until she stilled. She finally let go of him and took a step backwards from him. She wiped her swollen eyes with her fingers, took a deep breath then looked back up at him with a forced smile.
"Sorry. I just got a little… overwhelmed. A lot to take in… in a single day. I'm good now." she said, regaining control. "Let's go in and dry off."
"Okay." He said, gently. Artemis resigned that she was not going to talk about whatever was bothering her, for now at least. He wouldn't push her.
As Holly turned to walk out, Artemis noticed Holly's wet clothes. They stuck to her body and revealed every curve of her body. More than that, her white blouse had become completely translucent. He could very plainly see her white satin bra beneath. Artemis's eyes bugged out at the sight, and realized she would have to walk into the house looking like that. Artemis rushed to grab one of the blankets they kept in the barn and wrapped it around her. The cold was harsh now, and she took it gratefully.
They walked in the back door of the manor which connected to the kitchen. Butler was in the kitchen, relaxing with a coffee, perusing the most recent issue of "Guns & Ammo" magazine. He looked up at them, both dripping wet with muddy boots.
"I just cleaned this floor. You'd better take those boots off right there." he warned, like a nattering old woman.
Holly felt a half-smile creep up her face and she tore the boots off her feet. She walked into the kitchen, not dripping so badly, since she covered herself with the blanket, and it wasn't raining as hard during their walk back from the barn. Artemis was soaked through. Butler smiled at the two of them.
"Why did you go out in the rain?" he asked.
"Holly wanted to spend her weekend outside, in the 'fresh' air." He emphasized the word fresh, since he knew if anyone was aware of the pollutants in the air, it was her.
"Well, you should change before you catch cold." Butler smiled at Artemis and as Holly turned to walk towards the bedroom, he mouthed to Artemis "Your bathroom floor is dry again. Try to keep it that way." Artemis felt his cheeks blush slightly but still managed to mouth back to him "Thank you".
*****Police Plaza, moments prior*******
Commander Kelp strode into the Ops Booth Foaly was manning. "Foaly, where is Captain - I mean, Major Short this weekend?"
"Trouble, you… authorized her surface visa for the weekend." Is this some sort of test he thought? "She's… up there now."
Oh yeah... he thought, suddenly remembering. She had asked for only one day, and he couldn't get over how her face lit up when he told her he'd do her one better and get her the whole weekend. Trouble smiled fondly at the memory.
"Okay, so, she's off duty. But does she have her communicator? I just need to ask her a quick question about a case I'm trying to resolve. Purely business, you see."
"I don't think she took anything with her, to be honest." Foaly answered, becoming a bit uncomfortable. He wasn't the best liar.
"Well, where is she? You ought to know, Foaly. Don't you see all?" he said, smiling, trying to stroke the centaur's ego. In actuality, Trouble should know where she is. She was one of his officers and he had issued the visa. But he forgot to ask, since she uncharacteristically squealed with delight when he told her she could stay up there for the entire weekend. He knew under Holly's tough, take-no-shit attitude, she was still just a woman. But now he had to cover his ass.
"Well, I believe she mentioned stopping by to see Artemis Fowl." He inwardly kicked himself for letting that data leak. "I'm not sure where she's at now though." Foaly hoped that would be enough and then he could privately get a warning to Holly through Artemis's communicator.
"Fowl? What the hell for? Is he up to his old tricks? Pull up the satellite imaging system. Run a thermal scan on the estate, and isolate for a magical signature. Show me what you can find- if she's still there, we'll make contact through Fowl." Trouble commanded.
Oh shit... Holly, please be sitting down for a casual cup of tea right now. Foaly thought as he begrudgingly typed the commands to pull up the satellite feed. Foaly found her signature on the Fowl estate grounds, along with two other warm bodies. One obviously human, the other looked like a large mammal, a horse most likely. Okay, they're out riding. Phew, could have been way worse he thought as he entered the final command to pull the visual from the spy satellite as he pin-pointed the GPS coordinates of her position.
The image lit up the screen and both Foaly and Trouble's breath came in sharp, audible, gasps. The view was roughly from above, but clear enough. There, on the screen was Holly and Artemis, together, on horseback... kissing. Foaly shut his eyes, willing the image to disappear. Trouble was in utter shock. He couldn't believe what he was seeing... Holly, his Holly, being defiled by a Mud Man.
Trouble averted his gaze. "Shut it down." Closing his eyes, he pinched the bridge of his nose and took a few deep breaths. "Get in contact with that… Mud Man. I don't care how. Tell him to expect company."
"Commander?" Foaly asked, worried.
"I'm sending Retrieval One. Major Short's holiday has just been cut short."