Disclaimer: I do not own this series or any characters but my own. The plot is mine, though.

Stop making great books, Eoin Colfer, you're making the rest of us look bad.

Also warning, I don't know how in character this is. I just got bored yesterday. Now it's this.


Let's get to it, then, shall we?

"Experimental time dilation magic," they told her.

"Great for detecting coups before they happen," they told her.

"Perfectly safe," they told her.

Bullshit, Holly Short seethes internally as she writhes in her chair. Thoughts distill into fragmented phrases, into monosyllabic mutters, into nothing but pain and light and -

Well, if she could artfully string together any actual words besides D'Arvit ad nauseam, the elf would most likely be colorfully stating her deepest regrets in agreeing to be a guinea pig for this particular LEPrecon invention. Their top scientists, along with the magical assistance of Qwan and N1, had recently created a synthetic compound to perfect the one avenue of disaster prevention the world below hadn't mastered: precognition. Now, knowing that two of her trusted friends had been spearheading the effort had been reassuring. Foaly had cleared the project himself, going over paper after paper of their findings and trials on organic materials before deeming them plausible. After the multitude of Opal related incidents she's endured over the years, having a glimpse into the future of LEPrecon threats would be a precious boon.

Holly had consented to being the first subject for their formula only because someone had to, and if something were to go terribly wrong, she's lived her life and has enough experience to take care of herself. She has averted numerous crisises to the People and come out the victor. It was her duty to ensure another apocalypse wouldn't loom over their heads for at least the next decade or so. Qwan needed a case study.

They may have told her the proposed side effects based on preliminary findings, but no one ever told her how much it would hurt. The sensations rattling her bones to their marrow, needles piercing every square inch of skin, the pounding, excruciating headache, and the noise - shouts escaping every breath she breathed, a cacophony of clatters and notes and -

Holly opens her mouth to scream, trying to claw at her own throat, but nothing escapes the hollow of her chest. Her hands remain strapped down at her sides, and really, the fact that she needed to be restrained should have been a glaring red flag, but here she was, an idiot, partaking in the most unbearable ordeal she's ever undergone, including literal death.

She screws her eyelids firmly shut, convinced it will muffle the overwhelming nature of the sterile evaluation room she's in.

Is this the end? It shouldn't be.

It's not, she knows it's not, because suddenly there is a voice. "Holly, I'm going to count to three. I need you to let go and count with me. Can you do that?"

N1, she recalls hazily, the part of her mind that remembers she loves him reluctantly drudging up recognition.

Holly can do this. She is the prodigy of Julius Root, the crazy girl captain, and she is going to live. She is going to make her department proud.

One, she grits her teeth, for it seems too damn challenging to speak the words aloud.

Two, she struggles towards, already starting to lose herself again.

"Three," she grunts softly, almost uncertain, and then her eyelids flutter open in a swift movement.

She sees everything.

The feelings the new light leaves her with aren't ones she can describe by name. There are too many to count, too many to weed from the rest, a glorious tangle of scrapped knees and laughter and unadulterated wrath and the gentlest, purest smiles that sew her undone. Holly never knew she could ever hold this much emotion in her body, could bottle up sorrow and smothered joy like fine vials of perfume and spritz them across a brain. Her life is laid before her; it is a jumbling maze of shapes and sounds and people, so many damn people, so many lives brushing hands with hers.

Suddenly, as if deciding for itself where the endless catalog of memories should take her first, the agent is dumped unceremoniously into her body, becoming quickly acquainted with the constraints of her flesh and blood.

It's definitely been a few years, she realizes abruptly. The Holly of now, the one so anxiously confined to a white walled room, settles into the back corner of her older self's brain, observing the memory spool out as a casual spectator. She's on a beach, god knows where - the sands are the smoothest she's ever felt, crinkling between her wriggling toes, and the ocean laps at them, licking her soles with an eager tongue. The sunshine is so terribly warm, replacing a perpetual chill, and it falls across her face in a way that sets her freckles aglow.

This is not her face. It's changed, become worn like an old coat used far too often. Her hair is slightly longer, just brushing the bottoms of her ear lobes, but just as rich a red as ever. There is a small scar bisecting her top lip, now, and new wrinkles around her mismatched eyes and curling mouth. Laugh lines, she notices abruptly, and she comes to the foregone conclusion that though this skin isn't hers, not quite, happiness must look good on her. She loves the way her cheekbones still hollow out, the slope of her nose a tad crooked. As for the rest of her body, much is still the same, but more desk work has surprisingly done her favors; she's finally filled out her curves, hips melting into something more alluring due to required down time. She's still lean, still well muscled, but it all seems softer.

"Holly," she hears a voice call out, and she finds herself swiveling her head to catch a glimpse of her companion, baby blue sundress billowing against her nut-brown limbs.

He's tall, she notes, and his hair is lovingly ruffled by the wind, tossed back and forth in an almost playful manner. He's in board shorts, of all things, and a plain black t-shirt, which ripples across a well defined frame cast by two shoulders. He's gorgeous, this man, for there's no trace of a lanky boy in him any longer. Not when she takes in his warm eyes, a perfect match to her own, and his throwaway grin, so uncharacteristically unguarded. No scruffy beard, not for him, but there's a prominent jawline, thick lashes, and quite nice lips. If she were to taste his smile for himself, run her mouth over his, he would let her. In fact, he would welcome it. She's not sure why she is so confident about this fact, but the pounding in her chest confirms any suspicions about the notion.

"Artemis," she replies warmly, a smile of her own creeping onto her delicate features, and the Holly who is witnessing this is in shock, confused. Arty is afraid to get dirt on his trousers. Arty is a calculating mastermind making strives to be more. Arty doesn't smile, doesn't join her on the surf for pleasure. Arty is just a friend, and far too young for any sort of foolish coupling.

And yet, this isn't really Arty, is it?

Arty was a child. Artemis is certainly not a child anymore.

"I told you you'd love the beach house," he tells her, something more smug sneaking into his tone, and ah, that's the Mud Boy she knows and loves. (Not loves. Not now. It would make no sense, loving him.

Can she? Does she?)

"I'm having a moderately alright time," she sniffs in response, not disguising her contentment in the slightest. Artemis, with his sinfully cut bone structure, eases his way onto the hot sands next to her, lacing their fingers.

"Please," he scoffs good naturedly, "Is that all I get? I've convinced the great Holly Short to take a month long vacation, Miss 'I Haven't Taken A Sick Day in Twenty Years'. I deserve more than 'moderately alright'." Older Holly hums, squeezes his graceful pianist fingers a little tighter, pretending to rethink things.

She's disgustingly bubbly, this one. It's a slap to the face, how full her chest is, like it's exuding energy.

Holly has never felt this before. She's never known it, never like this, never so hard and dizzyingly strong, never knew at a cellular level that someone was . . . well, that she could be . . .

It's impossible to wrap her thoughts around.

"It's been . . . elucidating," she finally amends, and his blue and brown irises light up, like holding him in her gaze is already enough to make the world brighter. Is enough to survive off of. "Very educational."

"I'm sure it could be more educational," her companion suggests, waggling an eyebrow, and it makes her snort.

(Has she ever snorted before? She sincerely can't remember.)

"Is that some sort of come-on, Mud Boy?" she taunts, voice filled with mirth. What Holly expects is a subtle, well crafted backpedal, perhaps some endearingly awkward stuttering or a laugh. She expects him to concede, maybe, or to shrug her off with a nudge.

Instead, this Artemis is braver than the one she has become so used to, and so he takes this opportunity to run the pad of his thumb over her cheek, tracing her bones with a familiarity born of repetition. His eyes round out, darker with something somber and serious, though not unkind. Far from it. No one has ever looked at her like that, with such undisguised and unabashed want, like they would carve out their heart and serve it to her on a silver platter if she so desired. Holly can't help but shudder, goosebumps crawling up her arms, and her counterpart does just that, leaning into that exploratory touch. It's too much, too intimate for her to watch in its entirety, but she can't look away. Can't look at anything but him.

"Sweetheart," he grounds out, seeming to stare into her very soul, "you'll never know the half of it."

When he kisses her, it's not a surprise, and yet it is, because never before has a kiss meant catching wildfire, moving into his lap and straddling his hips and beaming, imprinting the fluttering of her chest onto his face. She can't stop, and doesn't want to, as her tongue explores his mouth eagerly, rediscovering all the nooks and crannies she's already memorized. Her heart is splitting open, and she is hyper aware of the sea salt clinging to his skin, the gentle ocean spray on her ankles, the long digits gripping her waist and burning a hole through her clothes.

"Holly," he says into the air, more of a prayer than a name. He can't stop repeating it. "Holly, Holly, Holly," he whispers into the hollow of her throat, psalm like, dripping with more adoration than she ever imagined he could possess. Artemis is not a person who lends himself to love, but he loves her. This man, this new human with ebony locks and an alluring frame, is an Artemis head over heels.

"Oh," she gasps aloud, so very quiet, but in her mind, she murmurs to herself with reddening cheeks, Oh, oh.

(There are some things you just know.)

Somehow, some way, Holly Short becomes completely infatuated with Artemis Fowl.

Somehow, some way, Fowl becomes inextricably hers.

This is now the unavoidably trajectory of her future, laid out in roaming fingers and wayward lips. And to her, a kernel of some ridiculous inevitable love taking root inside her very being, it's a complete and utter mystery.

She yawns once, twice, three times over at the table she is slumped over, stretching her arms and cramping back. Vaguely, she registers the mild ache in her feet, the touch of makeup lining her eyelids and cheeks, the silky feel of clothing against her sweaty skin. Holly reaches down to rub a foot and the Holly observing this sees that she's wearing a far too expensive cream colored romper, lined with intricate gold embroidery hand stitched into autumn leaves. Though she can't remember the last time she's worn heels, now they press in against her toes, golden and strappy, so much more feminine than she's used to.

She feels . . . pretty. Holly Short has never been overly concerned with 'pretty', and in her job, it's hard to pursue the female figure and still wrangle authority back into your underlings. She shaved her head and sacrificed so that the next generation of recruits could point and say, "See? Girls can be LEP." But now, things have clearly changed. It's not uncomfortable, this look, but it is disconcerting, suddenly finding yourself in another's life, free to do things you never thought you'd do.

Either way, Holly has never been one for frivolous work engagements. She hates making nonsense agreements, hates the whole ordeal of shaking hands and smiling too wide and pretending to have a good evening when you're not allowed to drink the spiked punch. It makes the affair dreadfully boring. At least her opinion on non-recreational parties has stayed resolute over the years.

On the wall of the main LEP thoroughfare, the destination of this completely forgettable party, lies a new placard commemorating the recon division for their efforts thwarting terrorist action over the last few years. Memory Holly isn't particularly interested in it; she's probably listened to several speeches about the bravery of the operatives involved, if she didn't directly live through those saves. The Holly sitting passively in her mind is now at rapt attention, memorizing as much as she can from the sign from the glance she's privy to.

There's going to be a bombing at the Ireland shuttle station, a rampaging troll armada in a private residential district, she repeats to herself, filing all the information safely away. Chemical mishaps at a university campus on the west side of Haven, a big pixie plague that might have been the work of a new criminal with a biology background. It's not much, but it's something, and it's the reason why she's here. To learn, to prevent, to salvage lives that could be spared.

"Short," Trouble says warmly, coming to her side and giving her a pat on the shoulder. A smile blooms on her face, momentarily curing her chronic boredom.

"Hey, Trouble. I thought you'd be off mingling with a certain operative," she smirks, and he turns beetroot ever so easily. "C'mon, when are you going to crack?"

"Frond is a trusted colleague," he coughs, scratching the back of his neck. "I wouldn't want to risk that." The Holly who's missed this office flirtation is currently roaring with laughter. Lilli Frond and Trouble Kelp? Since when?

Well, perhaps the 'when' doesn't matter so much here, but it's still hilarious, how gone the bullheaded Commander Kelp is on Frond of all people. He blushes like a schoolgirl.

Now, Holly's never put much stock in idle office gossip, but she's willing to give it a chance.

"Frond would be lucky to score you," Holly waves him off, bowed sleeves of her romper bobbing up and down in coordination. "Put everyone out of their misery, please. We can only restart the betting pool so many times."

"And why aren't you off mingling, captain?" he shoots back, pointed ears still crimson. "I'd think the repeated savior of Haven would have better things to do than sit in the corner at a well catered gala."

At this, she sighs. "All the caprese sticks are gone, and if I hear about how LEPrecon policies are updating for the thousandth time, I am going to rip out my hairs one by one."

"Alright, then where has your charming plus one wandered off to?" Trouble teases, and suddenly Holly is the one readjusting her legs, placing her head languidly into her palms in any effort to cool the color rapidly rising to the surface.

"He's been swept away by the tech division. He's probably talking about the simplicity of integrated circuits or wildlife conservation in construction with some faculty nerds," the elf responds, too nonchalant. "I'm sure he's fine."

"You ought to keep a tighter leash on your date, if he's stolen so easily."

Her lids flutter closed. "Not my date, you know that."

"He definitely wants to be," Trouble snorts, taking a sip of sim wine from a dainty glass flute. "I'm surprised you haven't at least entertained the idea."

"Trust me, all that would happen there is a lot of frustration," the redhead replies, shaking her head. "This is for the best."

"If you say so," her fellow officer shrugs. "Do I still look okay?" She leans over, straightening his tie and patting down his locks.

"Rakish as ever," she smiles winningly. "Now go get her."

"Well, when you put it like that," he groans, downing the rest of his glass. "Have a nice night, Holly. You've earned some happiness."

"I sure hope so," the elf answers with, relaxing back into her chair. The minutes crawl by as she's left alone, unencumbered by any of the pompous bureaucrats or her friendlier colleagues. She checks the clock again, and then again, wondering why she's still here and not at home, in pajamas.

"In need of assistance, Ms. Short?" she hears, jolting her out of her stupor, and here must be her plus one.

It's Artemis, because of course it's Artemis, and she can't decide whether she loves or hates the way her toes curl at the sound of his voice. It's deeper, now, more masculine around the edges, but just as cock-sure and clever as ever. He's dressed in a characteristically polished navy suit jacket and a white button up paired with form fitting black slacks. With an unfairly styled coif and eyes dancing with mischief, her heart skips a beat.

For Artemis freaking Fowl, her heart apparently skips beats.

Luckily, her future self remembers how to keep her cool. "Please, rescue me, oh baby, oh baby," she deadpans, rolling her eyes. "You certainly took your time getting back. I thought I'd be arranging a funeral."

"Foaly did almost talk me to death," he confirms, settling in the chair next to hers, scooching all the closer. "Fortunately I threatened your wrath and they let me go."

"How very humanitarian."

"Quite. I attempted diplomacy first before raw intimidation. I'm a changed man," he grins up at her, teeth in a pearly straight line, and Holly sorely wants to grab his collar and lean over this tiny table, smashing her mouth onto his. It's an urge this body sings for often.

What happened? Holly doesn't fall often, or this completely. The vision she saw last time portrayed a version of herself so repulsively in love, she could hardly breathe. She knows herself, knows that she is too thick-skulled and stubborn to even consider leaving something so powerful at the wayside. And Artemis, despite his many machinations in the past, is ruthlessly committed to the ones he loves. Once he's sunk his claws into someone, he considers them his forever. He has seen her at her worst and her most brilliant, has stitched her back to life, has stolen one of her eyes and replaced it with his own. He's now a part of her. Artemis would never just give up on Holly, she knows it.

Then why are they here, desperate to touch yet so conscientious of an invisible line?

It hasn't happened, she recognizes suddenly, not yet. But it's unavoidable, them, because she can see it in his eyes, so carefully hidden, the way he wants to slot his arms around her, the way his gaze flickers subconsciously to her lips. Even now, the great Artemis Fowl knows what he wants.

You are a bumbling idiot, Holly Short, if you don't think he's yours for the taking, she wishes she could scream to herself. Either that or you're blind.

Who is she to judge, though? If she hadn't seen the irrefutable evidence for herself, she might think the whole thing impossible, or at the very least improbable.

The Holly of now is oblivious, though, as she smiles behind the glass he hands to her, delighting in the sparks that arise when their fingers brush. She's worn this as a way of garnering his attention, learning how to better style her locks and apply cosmetics in an attempt to snag his irises on hers. It would be pathetic, if it wasn't so obviously working. His pupils dilate, his body caving towards hers.

"Care to dance, Holly?" he asks, so very cautious and hopeful, no calculation in his tone.

"I'd love to," the operative replies, and for the first time that night, she rises from the table and allows herself to be swept up, relishing hands on hips and palms pressed flush.

In her arms is a child, possibly only hours old. She's writhing, this quiet bundle, all squirming hooves and rosy skin.

"I told you she'd love you," Caballine grins, her hair soaked in sweat, limbs drooping exhaustedly in her hospital gown, but her face glowing with pride.

"Hello, little one," Holly whispers, a tear streaking down her face. She's older, even more so than before, and she's holding her goddaughter, so brand new and fragile. "I'm your Aunt Holly, and I'm going to spoil you rotten." The feather haired infant doesn't seem to care. She's too busy taking in the sterile room, the many faces surrounding her, the texture of her swaddling blankets and the cold rush of air.

"Delilah looks just like her mom," Foaly sniffles in the background, clutching his wife's hand. "Isn't she the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?" The only things Holly has ever heard Foaly call 'beautiful' have been his machines and Caballine, so she knows he must mean it more than words can reveal.

"Beautiful," Holly agrees, taking in her button nose and chubby digits again. Then she turns to the man at her side, his warmth a welcome presence. "Do you want to hold her?" Artemis Fowl is not particularly great with children. He's better at making them cry than he is at just about anything else. But he nods, swallowing all the while, eyes glued to the centaur infant.

He holds her so gently, like she might break beneath his fingers at any second, and his features melt into something altogether different. It's love, so much overwhelming love, so different from the kind he has for her, but wonder struck regardless. "Holly," he murmurs brokenly, "she's so small."

The elf nods, biting her lip, so consumed with a special sort of joy. Yes, she understands. So very small, she knows.

On his wrist, just visible over top the edge of his sleeve, there is an intricate tattoo, rich black ink swirled with azure marring the pale canvas of flesh. Upon further observation, she finds another on her bare arm, a perfect match for his, and notes the identical silver bands rounding out their fingers.

Are they -

Could they possibly -

She hardly gets time to worry about it, though, because in an instant she is hurtling towards the next moment in her lifespan, transcending time and space altogether, branding Delilah's tiny face into her cranium forever.

His breath lazes over her bare shoulder blade, his body so carefully wrapped around hers. She's never been enveloped by another person before, elf or otherwise, never been clung to like an anchor in a dying world. But here he is, limbs mingling with her own, heat flaring through every corner of the bed they share. His hands reside over her stomach, pressed around her hip, making escape impossible.

Holly despises being trapped, but she cozies into this caged embrace anyhow, soaking in the sensation of skin on skin with rapt attention. Without waking him, she slowly turns over, facing Artemis in the crook of his arms, tracing the divets in his face with light fingertips. When she reaches his lips, running a thumb over the lax cupid's bow, she gives into temptation and presses a kiss to his mouth, a ghost of a thing. It wakes him up, all the same, and soon those matching eyes open and smile at her unabashedly.

"G'morning," he says, kissing her lips, her forehead, her neck, dropping throwaway motions everywhere.

"Morning," she responds, gasping when he nips her nut brown skin just right. "Breakfast?" she tries to ask, but as Artemis' mouth dips all the lower, everything shifts to the back-burner.

"I've got a few ideas," he mutters into the shell of her ear, a grin coming to life on his face, almost boyish for a second. But there's nothing boyish about his clever hands, starting to stray from neutral territory.

Artemis and I are . . . she starts to tell herself, but the words don't process correctly. Even though she's an observer, she is rapidly getting lost in the dips and curves of this moment, the slide of certain anatomical parts against eachother, the noises he makes when she slips them into a new angle.

"Gorgeous," he says. "Incredible," he says. "Love you," he says.

D'arvit, she thinks for multiple reasons. D'arvit, d'arvit, d'arvit.

Holly is beyond screwed.

After the last scene she's witnessed, being thrust into a fresh memory is incredibly jarring. Holly is still coming down from a foreign high, tingling all over, and her body is now drinking with Mulch, whose hand is curled around Doodah Day's. Of course, out of the millions of creatures in the world, Mulch would have fallen for him.

But then, she's apparently destined to fall for Artemis, so she supposes there's no room for her to speak even if she wanted to.

"Cheers to Holly," Mulch hiccups, almost giggly after what must have been his sixth sim beer, "for her victory against Maple Beelzebub!" Doodah laughs, clinking his glass to both of theirs. No longer a criminal, it seems. Did he seriously give up crime for Mulch, ex cat burglar extraordinaire?

Maple Beelzebub, she etches into her brain, LEPrecon threat.

"Cheers," Holly finds herself repeating, laughing with the happy couple. "I'm so sick of wackjobs. Haven can't stay safe for two minutes, I swear."

"Luckily, we have you to stop them," Mulch snorts, ruffling her short hair.

"Here, here," Doodah agrees, for some ungodly reason, and it strikes her that these are probably two of her best friends. It's a curious sort of realization, but there is is. In a dimly lit fae pub with shoddy characters and slightly sticky seats, she is completely at home with two jailbirds and some low quality sim drinks.

Figures, really.

"How's the gallery?" Holly nudges, sipping her drink. Mulch, an artist? she questions to the cosmos, out of the loop on some fantastic joke. The man didn't have an artistic bone in his body.

"The new photographs are going to be on display next week," Doodah grins, and Mulch puffs up, a picture of pride. "I took a look at the gritter aspects of Haven, lots of silhouetted images of repurposed smokestacks and drugs. It's definitely edgier than the previous openings."

"I don't understand a damn thing, but they're pretty," his boyfriend affirms. Well, that makes a lot more sense.

Doodah being a productive member of society is apparently normal, now. That bit turns the head of her inner cop, but Holly knows that the her of now is completely comfortable. So she will place her trust in him, too.

They discuss Haven politics, the local art scene, and the details of her latest cases. She's glad that after all this time, she's still able to go out for drinks, still able to see friends. It's nice, is all.

Very nice, indeed.

Now, she is laughing. Her sides are cramping terribly, possessed by giggles, the pressure nearly unbearable.

Apparently there's been a joke cracked that has absolutely killed her, judging by the sheer enthusiasm she's feeling, the bubbles in her chest.

Artemis is laughing, too, though he's trying to stifle it, attempting to hide his face behind the fae book he's been reading. His features draw up into thick lines, evidence of many smiles and frowns long since past. He's so human, it hurts, but she stares anyways, eyes roaming the planes and facets of him that the her who watches has become so damn fond of.

"I think," she wheezes, toned legs spread across their couch (theirs) and head resting in his lap, "I'm really dying."

"Never," he tells her. "You're never allowed to die."

She laughs again, the very sound entirely reckless, and she musters the motivation to tag his nose with a finger. Everything is funny, everything is sunshine, and he's not cackling nearly as hard as he should be. "C'mon, Mud Boy, smile wide for me."

"If it's for you," the dark haired man murmurs, setting aside his novel and managing a youthful sort of grin, rolling his eyes. "I thought you were a professional. Rough and tumble LEP operative and all that."

"I can still boss you around," she smirks wickedly, finally sitting up and moving into his lap, legs curving around his narrow waist. "Just you wait, Fowl, I can have you crawling again."

"Oh, I have no doubt," he replies breezily, swallowing the last of her laughter by tugging her closer, pulling her chest to rest atop his, her chin onto his shoulder.

"Mmmm," she hums absentmindedly, mind blissfully blank. Holly curls in the periphery of her own mind; she has long since accepted that, by some freak of nature, she and Artemis are now this. There is no more fighting it, no more surprise and awe. She is determined to treat this development like a dossier of information, and to make it a subject of clinical and not chemical interest beyond this point.

Yes, she can't close her eyes without reviving the sense-memory of his hand knitted tightly with hers, an act she's never once committed in her present that seems as instinctual as a sigh here. Yes, she cannot remember feeling as light as she can here, wrapped up in the smell and sensation of him, everything akimbo. Yes, the weight of his lips on hers is intoxicating, evoking a longing she's never known before. But those are the byproducts of fickle emotions, and Holly Short doesn't currently have these things. Currently, she is strapped to a chair, participating in some ungodly formula trial out of the goody goodness of her heart. She came here for one reason and one reason only, and it wasn't Artemis.

Past Holly doesn't understand how she got here. Past Holly is getting too invested in a future fantasy that hasn't even occurred yet, entertaining the notion that there's room in her life for someone to kiss her and take care of her and watch her devolve into hysterics on their sofa. She needs to wake up before disappointment sets in.

Who's to say this even happens? What if she fucks it up somehow, throws a wrench in the works before she and Artemis even get to become this? It would shake her to her very foundations, knowing that this could have been her trajectory for the next century or so, then getting it snatched from her outstretched fingers.

Enough is enough. She watches for comprehension only, starting this instant.

And then, as he is wont to do with all of her best laid plans, Artemis throws her efforts all out the metaphorical window. "Holly?"


"You should marry me," he states abruptly, and the redhead suddenly pulls her head back, looking him in the eyes.


"Sorry, let me rephrase that," he clears his throat, entirely serious. "Marry me."

"Um," Holly says dumbly, short circuiting. She doesn't know how to say, what to feel, what to do with this idiotic thing invading her lungs. She's so stupid with it, this woman. So overwhelmed with this smothering sentiment she doesn't care to name.

"Well, I think we both know that this has been going very well," he prompts, as if starting an organized power point presentation as opposed to a proposal. "I have no intentions of going anywhere, and I don't think you do either. I plan to spend the next several years with you, so it makes sense."

"Artemis," she warns aloud, not wanting to hope. "You can't just do that."

"What, propose?" he frowns, confused. "Why not?"

"It's more than just a piece of paper, you know. It's not just a thing you do." You can't tempt us like this, Holly thinks quietly. You can't dangle it out there, expect me not to bite. I know, you're you, but even you can't just halt a wildfire, lay it at my feet. You can't just hand me the stars like it's nothing, like it costs you not a cent.

It would hurt too much, if you thought those things were nothing. To me, they've always meant too damn much.

"Holly," he tries to say, and her name on his lips is too heavy, too weighted down with a thousand different meanings, its own special language. Her name has never crammed so much into itself.

"Yes?" she questions, crossing her arms, so very afraid as she puts on an imperious mask.

"I love that you wear socks to bed," he says.

"What," she responds flatly after too long a pause. He cracks a smile, the barest hint of what he'd worn for her mere minutes ago, and he continues.

"I love that you give Miles and Beckett rides on your back, despite the fact that they're getting too big." A flush starts to form, she notes, spreading down his collarbone. "I love that you can run, so much faster and better than me, but that you slow yourself down to jog at my side." His nose crinkles. "Jogging," he repeats distastefully. "I love that you're the only person in the world that can make me almost enjoy physical exertion." She scoffs, softening, and he takes it as encouragement. "I love that you lick the rims of yogurt cups when you're done with them, and that you only do laundry on weekends. I love that my clothes now smell like you, exactly like you, and at the end of the day, if you're not with me, I can pretend you are whenever I close my eyes."

"Oh," she mutters, stricken.

"I love that you are intimidating, and domineering, and the best damn LEPrecon officer of your generation. I love that you push me every day to be a better man than I was previously. I love that when I wake up next to you, I'm so fucking grateful to be alive, and I love that I'm the only one who gets to see you like that, a drowsy wreck." He laughs nervously, suddenly so sheepish, and she can tell he's the most scared he's ever been. "I want to have the rest of you, because I'm selfish, and if I could have your next hundred years or more, watching you fall to pieces over absolutely nothing on the couch, then that will make a century of never being kept from you, of making you mine in all the ways that count, of being at your side however you'll take me. And it will almost be enough." His eyes search hers, pleading for some sort of reaction, some sign of anything but shock.

She promised herself she wouldn't get sucked in too deep. It's a possibility, a glimpse into the fabric of time, not hers to keep. Not now.

But the Holly he's talking to is affected, overcome with it all, and she clumsily crushes her mouth to his, tears streaking down her dark cheeks. She can sense every rise and fall of his chest, feel the hammering of his heartbeat through his shirt, and it's perfect, as perfect as she ever thought things would be.

"D'arvit," she swears to herself, words caught in the gap between lips. "You complete bastard."

"Is that a yes?" he implores, teasing again, but his irises give away the truth. Artemis is waiting.

"Fine, alright, yes," she grumbles, wiping her face with the back of her hand, trying desperately not to sniffle. "You're so -"


"Impossible," she groans, but she's so happy, so lousy with love (and it is love, the real kind, the kind she's never seen anywhere but here, wrapped up in the enigma that is him).

"Mother is going to be thrilled," he thinks aloud. "She gave up hope for me a long time ago, she's been hedging her bets on the twins."

"Don't talk about Angeline when I'm debauching you," she grumbles, kissing him harder.

An eyebrow raises. "Oh, is that what this is?"

"It will be, if you stop bringing up your parents," the elf promises, and Artemis is nothing if not intelligent. Thus, he shuts up quickly, save for one more sentence.

"I love you," he smiles, threading fingers through her auburn locks, and she can't help but respond in kind.

When he's in a spaceship hurtling off to different planets, thousands of miles away, he isn't yet hers, isn't yet the Artemis that she's now seen lazily pouring coffee in her kitchen or showing her around the manor. Artemis is still simply Artemis, her idiot-genius human friend with a head too big for his own good, exploring a terrain entirely his for the taking.

It hurts, so much worse than it should. She doesn't understand why, only that she's bleeding, and somehow he sliced her when she wasn't looking. He isn't allowed to leave her behind. All of their best adventures happened together, after all.

When he comes back just a few months later, not gone for the projected years he said he'd be taking, Artemis grins a crooked grin and says, "It's no use being clever when there's no one around to see it." That's not the why, not even close, but when Miles and Beckett and Mr. and Mrs. Fowl and Holly herself, eyes stinging with relief, fold him into their arms, she can guess the true reasons after all. She soaks it in like she hasn't seen him in centuries, like her eyes can't stop drinking in the sight of him, taller and broader and stronger.

When she feels the length of him, lean body surrounding her small one, she thinks she can pinpoint the exact moment she starts to realize it.

"I've missed you," Artemis whispers into her hair.

Oh, the casual observer within her says again, finally beginning to understand. Oh, okay then.

His arms feel like coming home.

Somewhere between the cake cutting and the dancing, Holly becomes despondent.

To Trouble and Lilli's wedding, she'd brought a fine bottle of wine from the above world, an errant Artemis Fowl, and herself, reluctantly clad in a pink (pink, d'arvit) dress that was just an inch away from scandalous and precariously thin stilettos. Apparently there was a color scheme to be obeyed, and the powder pink number, an old hand me down from her mother, was the only article of clothing she owned that fit the bill of 'spring into love', a venue decorated in pink and purple hues and strewn with cherry blossoms.

Frankly, it looked like the warm color spectrum gagged and threw up an array of Valentine's Day flowers, much to Lilli's delight and Trouble's complete disinterest. The only thing the poor elf was concerned about was marrying Frond, and thus he turned a blind eye to the rather hideous decor.

The event starts fine enough, with Holly and Artemis lightheartedly ribbing eachother and participating in - dare she assume it - flirting as the happy couple join together and perform Haven's traditional marriage ceremony, consisting of the couple binding their lifespans and magic together with a third party sanctifying the union. Marriage was a big deal to the People - tying your very existence to someone else's is a monumental show of strength and solidarity, and it's not for the faint of heart. The very process of mixing magics is said to be overwhelming and is often compared to drowning. She watches Trouble all but growl, legs buckling, and Lilli double over, gasping for breath. After several tense seconds, though, they both stand resolute and embrace, the coupling successful.

Now the party, consisting of food, drinks, and revelry, could truly start. Just a few speeches they'd have to endure, a few meet and greet 'we're so glad you could come' segments, and Holly would be free to join the crowd. The only recitations she really cared about would be the ones from Trouble and Lilli, so hopefully it would all move quickly.

(It turns out she was wrong, and the next hour was painfully boring save for the fact that Artemis kept rattling off witticisms. Anyways, she'd rather not relive any of it. Instead, she decides to focus on Trouble, the man of the hour.)

"Lilli, you're the most incredible woman in the world," Trouble says, toasting to his wife. "You've been by my side these past few years through good times and bad, my best and my worst. You've decided to love me when you could have had your pick of any man. You've given me so much of yourself, and I have no clue how to thank you for all the occasions in which you've made me smile, or cry, or brought me to my knees. I am so damn grateful to call you my wife today, and for forever after." He stares into the bottom of his champagne glass, a private grin taking shape. "There are some things you just know. You're one thing I'm sure about."

Holly didn't mean to start crying as she raised her glass towards the happy couple. She can count on one hand the amount of times she's cried in her adult life, and she's ashamed that this is somehow the fourth. She's been kidnapped, beaten within an inch of her life, dragged through time and space, and knocked unconscious on a truly impressive frequency. She's been able to shrug off everything else because she's told herself that she is Holly Short, LEP. She is in control. She is going to make the world a better place.

But something gets her, the way Kelp said those words. 'There are some things you just know.' For once, she wonders how much of her life she's really sure of.

She's always going to be an officer, and probably a top recruit one day, but that's just her job. Her parents are dead, not that she'd been particularly close to either near the end. She has Foaly and Mulch, but they're both hitched now, and Caballine has been discussing the looming prospect of children. They have lives, such great domestic lives. She has a single bedroom apartment and an assortment of guns. Her biggest hobby is probably going to the shooting range.

See, it's ever so funny, because it's not like she hasn't wanted a family - she's dreamed of just the thing when she was young, a big fancy wedding with gardenias and chocolate frosted confections. Her mother had been so pleased that Holly had planned it, for it meant that her daughter was a normal adolescent, interested in dresses and desserts and innocent girlish dreams. But really, a wedding equated to not being alone, to having someone's hand to hold.

Holly hadn't met a normal boy, though. She'd met Arty, a boy far too young and human for any self respecting elf to think twice about. Things have changed, though; now he's a grown man in his mid twenties, one who has evolved into a body far more suited for his ingenious mind. Artemis knows her better than anyone; he's been one of her best friends for years, has turned back from the expanding cosmos of space, has had her back through a thousand disasters. He's become older and wiser both with her and for her, and somehow it's evolved into this tension, this not-quite courtship she's romanticized for too long. Of all the men to develop a soft spot for, she picked the one who's mortal and confusing and hasn't made a move in two years.

No, she's not sure of anything. She doesn't know what blind faith is supposed to look like.

Not-this-Holly watches, feeling every ounce of this prickly numbness, off center. She wants wants to hold herself, gently tell this poor girl, He loves you, and I promise you, your life becomes anything but empty. It all gets so much better, and so much richer, than you would ever think to imagine.

However, Holly isn't supposed to know any of this yet, isn't supposed to see her goddaughter, isn't supposed to accept a proposal, isn't supposed to leisurely sit by the waves. Those moments are rewards hard earned through pivotal points like these, where giving up on idealism seems most sensible. She's cheated by spectating, has gotten to avoid the consequences of choosing something and someone over and over again by cutting to the finish line.

Holly can't shake herself silly and reveal all she's learned, but she can anonymously cheer this version of her onward, hoping she can seize the opportunity to witness a future worth living in her own time.

Ah, yes, Memory Holly is crying, and she hates crying, despises the action with every bit of her being. She is crying, and she no longer wants to dance or eat cake, not at this exemplary monument to someone else's luck in love. She feels even more shit for crying, honestly, because today isn't about her, it's about supporting her friends through one of the biggest chapters of their lives, it's about witnessing a part of someone's story and being able to look back on tonight, say you were there. It's all more than a party or a marriage licence. It's all more than that, and she's bawling like a toddler.

"Holly," Artemis nudges her, "are you alright?" And he glances her over with concern, those mismatched irises teeming with it, and she knows he has to love her. Artemis Fowl is a man who has come a long way from the emotionally stagnated teen she met so long ago, and it has taken years for him to grow comfortable letting his guard down around those he cares about. He isn't a good enough actor to fake it, not to her.

But then, love can be many different things, and the facets of feeling she holds are altogether different from their old platonic standard. The way she's begun to feel about him is desperate worry, the worry born from seeing someone strapped inside a space shuttle and thinking you may never see them again. It's laughter, knowing he's the only one who will make you grin when you need it most. It's compassion, the sort of kindness that stretches out of her when she witnesses all the goodness he's working to put back into the world. It's desire, too, and it's so strange to want someone that way when you've only ever seen them as a friend, but he's more than that now, isn't he?

She doesn't know if Artemis is capable of reflecting all those parts of himself back to her. She doesn't want to ask, in case she's disappointed.

"Holly," he repeats, insistent, and a stubborn flinty piece of herself melts. Holly has always wanted someone to notice, to ask how she was without being told to, and little things like this make it harder to remember why Artemis is such a bad idea. "You're not okay."

"No, no," she insists, managing a smile and willing her tears away, "really, I'm fine, I'm just . . . everyone gets emotional at weddings."

"You're a terrible liar," the dark haired man says firmly, producing a handkerchief from somewhere within his tailored suit. "It's clean, woven with nanofibers. It should do the trick."

"You just carry around a bunch of nanofiber handkerchiefs with you, now?" she questions, wiping the snot away. It's a very Artemis thing, never wanting to be dirty.

"Well, someone usually ends up bleeding by the end of the day. It makes for a great tourniquet," her companion admits, and it draws the remnants of a real smile to her lips. "Now really, why are you upset? I didn't think you were capable of crying, honestly."

"I just . . ." she pauses, searching for a suitable response, but Artemis is too clever for that. He won't push, she knows he won't, but the genius will frown, and that's almost worse. Holly likes him best when he's grinning, eyes aflame. "You know what? Fuck it." She stands up, gets in his personal space, and places her borrowed scrap of fabric on their procured dining table. "I'm crying because for the longest time, it's just been me and a few straggler friends, and now everyone's gone. It's me and you, Artemis, just us left. And soon you're going to leave too, and I don't know how I'm going to deal with it. You're the one person that I've let in far enough to fall for, and I'm not stupid enough to lose my best friend just because I might -" she stops, cheeks flaming. "Well, that I might -"

"D'arvit, of course," Artemis scowls. "Stupid, stupid, stupid, so damn stupid."

"You can be a real ass, you know that?" she scowls right back, and yes, perhaps rage feels better than emptiness and self pity.

"No, not you, never you," he tries, and, well. She's had an exhausting enough day as it is without this added complication. "I just . . ."


"I thought I was misreading," Artemis sighs, looking as embarrassed as she feels. "Things, you and I. Because every time you looked my way, I'd remember 'your elf kissing days are over', and I didn't think you could - I mean, I'm not exactly Prince Charming, Holly."

"Prince Charming?" she echoes, and he shakes his head.

"Unimportant. The point is, you're a hero. You're a top division recon soldier with a myriad of saves under your belt. You convince me to do foolish, foolish things, like using my talents for good instead of evil or something of the sort. And, you know, you're clever and gorgeous and probably think I'm too . . . juvenile." He winces at the word, scratches at his neck.

Holly can't move, can't think, can't feel anything but the soar of relief, of the prospect of something more throwing opening its doors. Fuck it, fuck every other instance in which she told herself she wasn't built for love, didn't have the room for it, couldn't make someone else happy. She is Holly Short, and dammit, she deserves this memory, deserves the chance to kiss this oblivious Mud Boy senseless, deserves to be spontaneous for once in her life and simply go for the thing she wants, even if it ends in horrific disaster.

"You are the most brilliant man I've ever met," she tells him slowly, laying it out in comprehensible terms. "But you're so dense. Arty, when I told you you wouldn't be kissing any more elves, you were a child, and one still learning the fundamentals of selflessness at that. I'd like to think we've both come a long way since then. We've become better people, kinder ones, people who now crave more out of the relationship we have. You're an adult now, not the boy I knew."

"So where does that leave us?" he asks, though the way his gaze settles on her lips tells all.

"However far you want to take this," Holly grins, all the more confident, and when he kisses her - really kisses her, for the very first time - she's dripping gold, insides reduced to metallic rust.

"Do you have your sunscreen?" Artemis fusses, slightly manic. He's checked and re-checked his bags on five separate occasions, switching out shoes often.

Holly attempts to ignore his panic as she unhurriedly pulls on a pair of slacks and a clean white blouse, opting for somewhat of a business casual vibe.

It is the Fowls, after all. One must always assume they'll need to dress to impress.

"I'm wearing sunscreen, Artemis, but we'll be indoors," she reminds, zipping up her overnight bag and slinging it over her shoulder. "I've met them before, you know."

"Not as my better half," the dark haired man insists, patting down his pockets again. "Did I leave anything here? Do I need anything?"

"We'll be away from the apartment for a grand two days," she states bluntly. "I'm sure you'll survive without whatever it is you're searching for."

"You don't know that," he mutters, finally relenting and abandoning the dramatics. "Alright. But if we're without something important, like -"

"Sunscreen?" she smirks, and he releases a heavy sigh.

"Yes, sunscreen. You burn easier."

"Then I guess I'll burn," the elf shrugs. "I'll live."

"Your fate is in your own hands," he says, warning.

"Mmmm, okay," she consents. "Just so you know, if we don't start walking to the shuttles now, we're going to miss our ride to the surface. Your mom is going to be dreadfully disappointed."

"Don't even joke." As he gathers the rest of their bags, she sneaks a glimpse of him, laden in carry ons and so very worried about impressing his parents. Holly will do her very best to show them she's good for their son, because he is so unexpectedly good for her.

Between all that she is shown, snapshots and torn pages of a life that is not yet hers to experience, Holly-who-watches cannot help but find a favorite amidst the thrall.

Artemis has just finished up his new UN pitch, has just sold another ecosystem revitalizing planting initiative designed to shake the continent and rake in a pretty penny. She's proud of him, because how could she not be? He has chosen to be so much more than another spoiled rich boy, has chosen to make the world so minutely more livable. It's as noble a cause as any.

"It was an advantageous round of negotiation, and between the thorough schematics and my own added diatribe, I really think I've cracked the last representative needed," he eagerly reports, collapsing next to her on this hotel couch, not a garish canary yellow anomaly made plump and comfy like the one they've grown so fond of at home.

Home, Holly files away, you finally have a place to call home. It is no surprise anymore.

"That's great, Artemis," she smiles, lacing her tiny fingers between his larger ones. Still pianist digits, but so uniquely Artemis, like the three freckles dotting his face and the scrape on his knee from three summers ago. These are the parts of him she strives to immortalize, hold inside her forever.

"Progress is progress," he states modestly, "and there's still work to do, but I shan't be dissuaded. We're close, I can sense it."

"I believe it." He relaxes, slinks into the couch, for once letting his suit wrinkle as he leans his head atop her own.



"Good afternoon," Artemis says, although he's already told her that today. He the greeting slips unbidden off his tongue, like it means something else.

"Good afternoon to you too," she replies, and though she can't see his drowsy smile, she can feel the warmth of it, a torch against the night. Holly understands loud and clear what he's revealing, as sure as if he'd shouted it from the rooftops.

In the dying light of a setting sun, the hotel floor is bathed in scarlet reflections. Artemis, despite the brightness around the veil of his eyelids, merely hums to himself, slinking off to sleep. It's a peaceful thing, this memory. Everything is calm and still, a golden bubble.

There are some things you just know.

Holly hurtles back into her own body, quaking to her very foundations. Her legs tremble and ache, as if she's run a marathon. Her arms flop against their constraints, almost involuntarily.

"Fascinating," the doctors say. "Physical exertion occurs when strain is put upon the cranial cortex." They make notes, start to draft charts, but they have no idea just what she's gone through, how much she's endured. Holly Short has had her heart broken and resewn, her friends become more and less than what they are to her now. All universal constants are on standby. It's so much worse than physical exertion, and they don't know the half of it.

(There are some things you just. Know.)

Qwan checks her vitals over and over as she stabilizes, ascertaining that their experimental compound has worked, trying to account for any differences between her side effects and the impact of the trial formula on objects. Holly can't bring herself to care, not when she's felt all that, has changed in some fundamental way.

"What did you see?" N1 prods lightly, eyes curious and eager at the prospect of her tale.

"Maple Beelzebub. Residential area troll attack. Leaked pixie plague. Shuttle station bombing," she rattles off, and there are many more to name, too many for her liking. But this was her job, and she's done it to the best of her ability. They can ask no more from her.

And then, unexpectedly, N1 says, "Yes, you've delivered all of the promised information for LEPrecon dossiers. But what did you see?"

"Everything," she admits, all of it pouring out, a maelstrom of love and disappointment and insecurity and joy, an abundance of joy, dancing just beyond the barest edges of her fingertips.

"Sounds like the start of another great adventure," the warlock responds, wondrous, and as she staggers fully to her feet, she allows herself the luxury of wrapping the memories around herself like a winter coat, taking in their sweetness as if it's a coveted secret. For now, perhaps the broad strokes of it will be.

"You know, that's exactly what it is," she says, and Holly Short is sure it will be. A quest to find her home again.

I'm coming, she promises the versions of her future-past, all the crystalline facets of herself she's waiting to become. This time, I will be ready for you.

It is a promise she is going to keep.

So here, have this.

It was written in the space of twenty four hours for practice, so I don't know how quality or in character it is, but I figure there needs to be more Artemis/Holly fics out there irregardless. I tried. Also I just reread the books and I gotta say, I truly adore this series. It's just well written and fun, a lot of fun to read.

Have a nice day!