"Who am I to need you now,
To ask you why, to tell you no,
To deserve your love and sympathy?
You were never meant to belong to me…
And you may go, but I know you won't leave;
Too many years built into memories."
-Smashing Pumpkins, "Crestfallen"
The Fowl Estate
The faint light of dawn told Artemis what his mind had been delayed at informing him. The nightmare was officially over. He was home. Thecraft glided with ease over Ireland's lush greenery, hardly making so much as a ripple in the grass.
Mulch had layered on quite an impressive amount of sun block, smelling much worse than a bus full of beach goers. Artemis stood and lifted Holly into his arms, watching as the scenery whipping by began to slow and Fowl Estate came into view.
The massive vessel came to a stop without so much as a lurch, riding even more smoothly then the family's Bentley. Mulch turned to smile at Artemis. "Hey, Mud Boy, if I get any free time after signing autographs for my heroic deeds, I may come up here and see you two," he teased.
Artemis managed a small smile, but to be quite honest, his mind was a bit preoccupied. Holly's weight was gradually becoming too much for his feeble arms, especially after his night of wielding a heavy katana. "Please do. We will have all of the bugs sautéed in spring water you could wish for."
Mulch laughed and patted his shoulder. "Send the fairies out here so I can take 'em on home. They'll be receiving a hero's welcome, too, I gather. Too bad you couldn't stay below a little longer, see the celebrations, help with the restoration…"
Artemis only shook his head. "No, Mulch… I belong here. Goodbye, old friend."
Mulch nodded his goodbye. "Tell the giant I said hello."
"What will we do with all of the people?" Butler asked, seeming worried but too exhausted to move. "They've all been healed, but news of trolls will certain leek out somewhere…"
"Don't worry, sir," Acacia smiled cheerfully. "We've done a partial mind wipe. Nothing quite so extensive as the ones preformed on you and your friends a few years back, mind you. They won't remember any of last night, but their minds will be very impressionable, if you understand my meaning."
Butler did. He smiled slightly. "I see… so I can simply say they drank a bit too much for Artemis' birthday party and they need to leave… and soon. Artemis' parents should be back shortly," he murmured, eyebrows furrowing.
Not for the first time, he was worried about his teenaged charge. He was off in the underground somewhere, saving lives and fighting for good… what a strange concept.
The front door opened and Artemis, dirt covered and worse for wear, stumbled in. Holly Short lay in his arms, herhead lolling gently to the side and her mocha skin gleaming in the morning sunlight that streamed in through antique windows.
"Artemis!" Butler exclaimed.
"Oh, Artemis! And Holly!" Acacia squealed, eyes bright.
Nida looked up from where he had been leaning against the wall. He stood silent but nodded a greeting to Artemis. Artemis returned the gesture. "Mulch Diggums is waiting for you both outside… to take you home."
Acacia pouted, her bottom lip jutting out. "I don't want to go just yet-"
"Come on," Nida murmured, grabbing her shoulder. Before leaving, though, he turned to Butler. "Thank you, Butler, for showing us hospitality and working along side us. It has been a pleasure to fight with you. And Master Fowl…" he glanced down a Holly, furrowing his eyebrows. Artemis could tell he sensed the change in her, the loss of her powers. "You are a wise youth. May your destiny be less adventurous as it has so far. And take care of Holly."
Artemis nodded, unable to find his voice.
Nida said a final farewell to them all, pulling an openly weeping Acacia out of the door.
"Artemis," Butler began softly, "You should go clean up. Your parents will be home within two hours."
Artemis nodded, looking vaguely confused. "Right… but Holly-"
"I'll put her one of the spare rooms," Butler interrupted, taking the tiny woman from Artemis. "Go get cleaned up and then we'll work on an alibi."
Artemis nodded again. "Yes… yes, an alibi."
Holly awoke with a pounding headache. She was on something of such luxurious comfort that her first thought was that she had drank too much and been taken home by some disgusting, rich gremlin. Slowly memories began to return… Natila, swear toads, Artemis…
"Artemis!" Holly yelled, sitting bolt upright. She was laying on a feather-down bed framed in dark blue velvets and silks. A bit too elegant for her tastes, yet it was all so comfortable. Everything was plush and nice on the eyes, soft and delicate.
It was, most obviously, the work of Angelina Fowl.
Holly surveyed her surroundings first, and then finally her own body. She seemed to have been redressed –she blushed at the thought- and now wore a pair of overly large drawstring pants and a tank top that acted more as a skirt then a top.
The door opened and a lovely young woman entered, grinning. "Miss Holly Short, it's good to be reacquainted again," she said with a smile. A long braid curved over the girl's slender shoulder like a pet snake, anda jade lie nestled within the hair. "Dom and Artemis reminded me of the past your fairy friends erased from my head."
"Juliet," Holly sighed with a soft smile, getting to her feet. "You've grown."
"So have you," Juliet added sneakily. "In fact, to be quite honest, I think you've added on about six inches over the span of one night."
Holly furrowed her eyebrows. "What are you talking a-"
But Juliet was right, Holly realized. She had grown. Holly turned shocked eyes onto the Irish woman, who was suddenly looking rather sad. "Artemis… he didn't mean to do it to you."
"What are you talking about, Juliet?" Holly asked carefully.
"He wasn't thinking, believe it or not."
"The alcohol you bought for him, Holly," Juliet murmured sadly. "You shared spirits with a mud man… you broke a golden rule and you were…"
"I was cast out," Holly murmured, finally realizing. She was human. She was a human, of all things. Her feet slid out from under her and she found herself back on the bed. "Oh Frond," she whispered softly.
"You have a choice, Holly," Juliet murmured. "Artemis' mum and dad are downstairs. He hasn't told them about you. You can go down and be introduced or you can walk out right now. I won't stop you and neither will Dom."
Holly closed her eyes. She felt tears stinging her eyes. She couldn't leave Artemis after all he had done for her, but could she really stay here, like this? What was she supposed to be, Artemis' girlfriend?"
Something within her clenched at the thought. She and Artemis… they might have a chance now. They might be able to-
But no, another side of her brain argued. You know Fowl. He doesn't want you in that way. You are a friend. A friend and nothing more.
"I…" Holly took a deep breath. "Do you have any clothes I can wear? Maybe something that doesn't make me look so…" she glanced down at her legs. "So short."
Juliet smiled. "No, but I do have a nice, long shirt that can double as a dress for you."
Holly nodded. "That will work."
"Arty, who were all of those people?" Angelina Fowl asked, looking bemused as the last car drove away.
"Some of my old associates and Butler's old friends," Artemis answered truthfully. "I invited them over for a small birthday party."
Artemis Fowl, Sr. lifted an empty wine bottle that Artemis and Holly had been responsible for drinking. "A little party, hmmm?" he asked. There was a small sound of disbelief and humor in his voice.
"Artemis?" a soft voice asked from behind him.
All three turned to see Juliet and Butler standing there, a short female between them. She wore a green, spaghetti strapped dress (which Artemis knew was one of Juliet's shirts) with small white abstract designs. Her short auburn hair was slightly mussed and her large hazel eyes looked nervous yet pleased at the same time.
Angelina's eyes were wide. "Well, hello there. Artemis, do introduce us to your charming friend."
"Mother," he began, walking over to Holly, eyes never once leaving hers. He hesitantly reached out, taking her small hand in his, pulling her further into the room. She smiled up at him, her eyes a swimming pool of uncertainty yet her smile so sweet and truthful. "Father… this is Holly Short. Holly… my parents."
"Pleased to meet you both finally," she said, tilting her head slightly to the side. "Artemis has told me so much about you both."
"Has he?" Angelina asked, a sneaky smile on her face that told Artemis what her words did not: she was glad to see her son had finally brought a girl home.
His father, though, was looking at Holly intently. "You remind me of someone… a dream I had, I think," he murmured softly, eyebrows furrowed. "While in the Artic, there was someone with eyes just like yours… an angel, I had thought…"
Artemis smiled, glancing down at Holly. "Not an angel, father… but maybe a fairy."
Holly laughed softly. "Oh, I'm not a fairy… just a regular human being." She twitched her nose at him and he smiled, truly smiled, and couldn't help but give into the urge to kiss her.
And much to his pleasure, the little human kissed him back.
It has been a long, hard road but finally I can now say that this story is complete! Perhaps there will be more AF fanfictions from me, perhaps not... I am overloaded with working, school, and my two other fanfictions (as well as an original!). So, who really knows?
Thank you to my wonderful beta and to my amazing readers. Without any of you, this fanfiction would have never been finished.
With some love love and a kiss kiss,
Eternity's Angel of Mercy