Disclaimer: Arty Miss (or even the nickname of Arty Miss) does not belong to me. The term 'Arty Miss' is featured in Stardust Firebolts' Mary Sue parody Hail Desdemona!
Author's Note: Be careful while reading this chapter. I have multiple time jumps and I don't specify exactly where they are. But in the first sentence or paragraph of a jumped section I make a reference to how much time has past since the last section so look out for little things like 'she'd been Maggie for 4 months' and '6 weeks after …'.
Thanks: Firstly to the things which feature in this chapter - Lizzie J who always let us look at her bus pass for Show-and-Tell. And to the Robb Report which is truly the funniest magazine in existence (It's a really rich-buggers mag which has 'Christmas ideas' such as an US$80 mill private submarine, or a 154 carrot pink diamond. But the wording of the articles is what's really worth the subscription… Hours of laughter!)
And also lots of thanks to Skye Firebane, Alexis, Kelti, Skywise, Artemis Fowl the Second, Eleida, pinkgrapefruit, Big Friendly Walrus, Lady Game, luna_the_great, animefanatic07, The Seasyngr and Shadowed Outcast for reviewing the first chapter.
Juliet had been to see Artemis and her niece the week before (with one twin on each hip who were trying to hit each other over the barrier of her head) – only one week after her brother's funeral. She had thought it best if Margaret was to go back to school quickly before she began to feel lonely and odd. It was best to continue in the same pattern as before when it came to losses at a young age. The theory was to make sure that the child didn't feel insecure about the other aspects of their life or like anything much had changed. Artemis understood the theory. But it is amazing how something that was so common-scene needed to be written down in expensive journals before it would be practiced.
And that was the reason why Artemis waiting outside Margaret's door and listening to clanking sounds coming from within. Adele, Artemis' cook, had been helping her get dressed but apparently this help had been unwelcome and Margaret Butler was determined to do it for herself. It was an alternately frightening and amusing experience to be listening at the door; sometimes there was a loud clank as if of a hard object hitting tiles and occasionally there was a small, exasperated voice that rose above the other sounds.
Then finally the door opened and something, which could possibly resemble a child in bad lighting, stepped out.
Margaret's clothes were bunched up in strange places and her vest was misshaping her dress. Only one of the buckles on her shoes was fastened properly and the other was flapping loose and hitting her rumbled stockinged legs. But the hair was a masterpiece. Her mousy brown hair that reached the small of her back when out was pulled into a knotted mass that was lopsidedly twisted over her left shoulder. It was probably meant to be a braid but her young fingers hadn't been able to do a proper job of it and it was pulled to the side because she had obviously been trying to plait it while watching in the mirror.
Artemis almost laughed at the cute mess that she was, but Margaret's bottom lip was trembling in such a way that it was quite likely she would bite through it soon.
"How about you let Adele help you get dressed properly and them we can get you off to school?"
Adele, who Artemis knew had been watching from the bottom of staircase, yelled out "Can't do Mister Artemis. This stew is about to start boiling and I've got to watch it. You could get Maggie sorted."
"Could you, Mister Fowl?" Said Margaret - recently christened Maggie - holding out her arms.
"I guess." And he started twisting the material of her shirt sleeves around so it wasn't cutting in at odd places, "But you have to stop calling me Mister Fowl. My name's Artemis."
"Okay, Mister Arty-Miss."
Artemis shook his head and pulled the waistband of her dress down so it sat evenly. "Just Artemis."
"But Papa told me to respect people and I had to call them Mr and Mrs and..." she paused, sorting out the syllable "Mzzzzzz."
"Well... you can call me that if you want to." He unbunched the stockings and gave the dress one final yank. "There you go, Margaret."
"ThankyouMisterArtemis." She paused. "Could you plait my hair properly as well? I'm hopeless at them."
"I don't think I'd do much better. Maybe Adele--"
"You could give it a shot, sir! This stew is being difficult, I won't be able to leave it."
"I see…" mumbled Artemis.
But he reached out and undid the band holding the braided knot in place. He pulled the hair through his fingers to undo the other knots and roughly parted the hair into 3 lumps. He then attempted to plait them but by halfway down he'd lost track of which part was meant to go where and also the majority of the hair strands had slipped from his fingers. And then Margaret suddenly gave a squeal as he pulled too tight and he let the plait fall from his hands. He carefully ran his fingers through the hair to undo his plait, which had turned out even worse than the 6-year-old's.
"How about you just go to school with your hair out today?"
"Okay. Don't worry it only takes practice to get better at it. Papa was horrible when he first tried - even worse than you - but he got the hang of it after a few tries. Are we going now? I don't want to be late because we have show and tell on early and it's good even if Lizzie J only ever shows us her bus pass."
* * * * *
"Are you my friend, Mister Artemis?" asked Margaret 4 weeks later. She was sitting on the floor making something out of paper scraps while watching a cartoon on the television. Artemis was sitting on an armchair almost in the next room reading the current copy of Robb Report - an American magazine which said a lot about humans, especially those on the top of the social scale.
"Yes, sure I am, Margaret."
"Then why do you call me Mar-gar-ette all the time? All my friends call me Maggie, now." As if the current hour was all the now it was possible to get.
"You never were called Maggie when your fa--" He paused. "And why do you want to be called Maggie?"
"Because it's a much more fun name! And there's a girl called Margaret at my school and people kept mixing us up."
"Why didn't they call you Margaret B, and the other girl with her last initial?"
"What's an initial?"
"It's the first letter of a name. So your initials are M.B. for Margaret and Butler and mine are A.F. for Artemis and Fowl. See?"
"So call us Margaret B and Margaret W? Like there's Lizzie J and Lizzy C? And Stephanie S, Stephanie R and Stephanie Scronscy?"
"That's it." said Artemis moving from his chair onto the couch behind where Margaret - Maggie - had been playing.
"Well... we could have done that but double-U is too long to say. I'm Maggie now!"
"Hello Maggie," said Artemis sticking out his hand to grasp Maggie's. "I'm Artemis Fowl. It's very nice to meet you at last. I've heard so much about you."
She squiggled her hand out of his grip and stuck her tongue out. "You're just being silly, Mister Artemis."
"I'm not the one who's changing my name..."
"I'm not either! I'm still Margaret Butler but just people will call me Maggie because it's quicker to say."
"Okay, that's all right then." And he smiled at her.
* * * * *
"Arteeeemiiiiissssss…" called Maggie with a smile as she walked into his study and stood there watching him on the phone. She had been officially 'Maggie' for over 2 months now.
He finished the call and then fiddled around with things for a while longer without looking up, as if he hadn't noticed Maggie's presence. She got feed up first and strode up to his desk, reaching on tip-toe so that she could rest her arms and head on the desk.
"Artemis… Can you help me with my homework?"
"You're meant to be doing that with Adele in the kitchen. I've got a lot of work to catch up on since I was sick last week. And we're going to visit your Aunt Juliet tonight. That means you have to have all your work done and I have to have done all of mine as well."
"But Adele told me to come and ask you for help. She couldn't help me."
Artemis sighed and theatrically pushed his papers to one side, pushing out his chair slightly as he did so. Maggie took this as a hint and ran around behind the desk, jumping onto his lap with a muffled 'Owwf'. Artemis pushed the long hair out of his eyes and leaned over her shoulder to take a look at the brightly doodled homework that now cluttered his desk. "So… what do you have to do?"
"We have to write down our family tree. And so Adele told me to come to see you because she said that you know everything."
"Well, let's see. Here you would write your mother's name – Madeline Butler. And here you'd write Papa's name – Anthony Butler. And his father's name was Richard and his mother's Juliet – that's why your Aunt is called Juliet. And here you'd write your other Grandparents names, which was Ruth and … Benjamin, I think. Here… how about we both go to the Library and we'll find the family trees there? Come on. Up you get."
He hoisted Maggie up onto his hip and picked up her homework and a company file in the other. He held them out to her and she took them from him before he resettled her on his other side. They went down the stairs and along to another wing were the extensive manor library was located.
They found the old record books and Artemis found the right pages so that she could trace her family back to Lord Hugo de Foul's Butler who never had a first name as a sign of invincibility.
Artemis sat at a table and read through some more reports while Maggie worked peacefully on the floor a little way away. She was almost through to the 19th Century when she looked up and asked, "How did Papa actually die?"
Artemis looked at her and them diverted his eyes to a bare patch of carpet as if it was intriguing and unexpected. His lips opened and then closed without so much as a breath passing through them.
"Was it a heart attack? Stephanie Scroncy's Uncle had a heart attack. And Sabrina's Grandmum had cancer like my Mum did. But how did Papa die?"
Artemis looked at her from under his sunken eyebrows. If Maggie could have realised what it was she would have seen guilt all over his face – in his eyes, mouth and worry lines. "There was an … accident. Um… a building burnt down and the firemen weren't able to save him."
Although Maggie couldn't see guilt she could tell there was something wrong with what he said, but she could place it. So she took it as a lie as most people do when they can't comprehend.
"No he didn't! You're lying, Mister Artemis! You're a Liar! Why won't you tell me what happened? I'm almost 7!"
But she didn't wait for an answer; just sprinting out of the library and skidded into the marble hall.
And nobody was there to see Artemis, with his eyes glazed over and watering, staring further than the distance to the wall, tears making tracks down his face.
* * * * *
An hour later Adele softly knocked on Maggie's door and poked her head around it in order to look into the room. Maggie was sitting on her bed looking through her favourite picture book and stuttering along as she tried to read it. Her face and eyes were blotchy in an outward sign that she had been crying. Adele moved into the room silently and sat down on the bed beside her.
Maggie flopped her head down on the book and said, "Go away, Adele."
"Ah, but I can't. You have to get ready to go and see your cousins, Aunt and Uncle. They're waiting for you to turn up."
"No they're not."
"Yes. They are." She reached out to pull Maggie up to look at her. "Don't you want to see your family?"
"They… Why can't I live with them instead of having to stay with him?"
"Because your Aunt Juliet has a lot of work to do with James and Roy. Your cousins are right terrors."
"But I'm not. I'd be really, really good if I was with them."
"Do you really want to be away from Artemis that badly? And me?"
"No. I love you, Adele. But Mister Artemis is mean and he doesn't even like me. And so I don't like him!" And she rolled over so that her back was facing Adele.
"You have to get ready to go and visit your Aunt, Maggie."
"Maybe if you show Juliet how mature you are she'll let you live with her instead of living here. Okay?"
"So you'll go?"
"I'll go." She was still trying to sound reluctant, not letting the young hope show in her voice.
"Good. Chop chop. Get ready."
Maggie got of the bed and changed into a clean dress quickly, turning round to let Adele tie the bow at the back. Then she brushed her hair out its plait, which Artemis had done that morning and ran down the stairs with Adele coming after her.
She came flying down the stairs just as Artemis walked out of his study going towards the garage where the car was parked. He stopped when he saw Maggie, just a hint of pain in his eyes before he walked out the front door without acknowledging her – trying to go back to the life he had before Maggie became part of his responsibilities. For Maggie's part she stopped dead still and walked sedately down the rest of the stairs before leaving through the door behind Artemis. Adele just stood at the top of the stairs and shook her head in barely disguised pain.
The car trip was silent and Maggie was in such an obvious huff that Artemis didn't even try to talk to her. They had to stop at the petrol station and she didn't get out of the car, which was very unusual for her. But she undid her seatbelt and slouched lower so that only the tip of her head could be seen through the window.
Artemis got back in, half-looked at her out of the corner of his eye and sighed. And he restarted the car and continued driving. They were almost at Juliet's home when Artemis glanced over at Maggie once again and saw that she didn't have her seatbelt on. He swung the car over to the side of the road in an instant and turned to her.
"WHY ON EARTH DON'T YOU HAVE YOUR SEATBELT ON, YOUNG LADY?!"
Maggie pouted and glared at Artemis from under her jutting eyebrows but any onlooker would have been able to tell that she was scared.
Artemis calmed at the look on her face. "Maggie… It's for safety. You're a lot safer if we were to have an accident if you have a seatbelt on. The seatbelt would keep you in your seat and we wouldn't have flattened Maggie all over the road." He tried to smile at her. And failed.
But Maggie's bottom lip was trembling and her eyes were filling with tears. "You wouldn't care if I splattered all over the road! You just want to be angry with me."
"No I don't, Maggie. I'm sorry that I yelled at you but that's just because I was so scared. It's very, very dangerous to not wear your seatbelt."
"But why did you yell at me?"
"Because… Because… I'm sorry, Mag. Just… please don't do that again."
"I only yelled because you almost gave me a heart attack I was so scared. So you'll put on your seatbelt now?" Maggie nodded and pulled the belt across her chest, still looking at the man in the driver's seat with tear-filled terror in her eyes.
"I… I was so scared and angry because I care about what happens to you Maggie."
She just looked at him and nodded once more, before turning to look out her window.
Artemis sighed, shook his head and pulled the car back onto the road.
* * * END OF CHAPTER * * *