Disclaimer: All characters, settings, etc. belong to Eoin Colfer…

Chapter One: Confessions and Confusion

The girl had auburn hair and hazel eyes. She visited Artemis in his dreams pretty much every day. Artemis knew her. She went by the name of Holly. How Artemis knew this, he couldn't say. He had never seen her before…at least he thought so. He wasn't really sure. The only thing he was sure of was that he liked this girl. And yet…how could you have a crush on a dream girl?

Holly's house

Holly woke up in a sweat—again. She sighed. Why do I always have to dream about…him? she thought. And why does his going always make me so agitated? The answer to these questions was in her head, of course, but she ignored it. She didn't want to accept it. On the occasion that that small nagging voice in her head did break into one of her thoughts, she immediately denied everything. This happened now, while she was changing into her jumpsuit. Why? (Maybe because you like him), taunted the voice. Oh, be quiet! (No, why should I?) Because you're lying! (You know you like him. You know you do!) Go away! She marched out of her room, as though to get rid of these thoughts, but they continued. (You like him, you just don't want to admit it! Come on, say you do, 'cause you know it's true!) Aaargh! (Hey, I'm a poet, and I know it!) Cool. Now scram. Shoo! O-U-T out!(Fine, but I'll be back!) it sang cheerfully. Ugh. I'm going insane, she thought to herself. And I'm only 132. She checked the time. Oh, shoot, I'm late for work again! She ran out the door.

LEP Headquarters

"Captain Short! You're late again!" said Commander Root. "That's three days in a row!"

"Yes, sir. I know, sir. Sorry, sir."

Root blinked. "What did you say?"

"I said 'yes, sir. I know, sir. Sorry, sir.'"

"But you never just submit to me like that. What's going on with you, Captain?"

Immediately, the small voice in her head began teasing again. (You like Artemis. That's what's going on.) Oh, be quiet, snapped Holly. (No. I'm here to make it clear.) Stop it! (Nyah nyah, you like Artemis Fowl!) "Go AWAY!" She suddenly realized that she had said that out loud.

"EXCUSE ME!" shouted an outraged Commander Root.

"Um, not you, sir. I mean, I was talking to…"

"Who? Your invisible friend?"

"No, er…" She couldn't see any way out except the truth. "I was talking to myself, sir. Sorry, sir."

"Yourself?" He seemed quite astonished, and peered at her worriedly. "And exactly what was…ah…yourself saying that made you tell it to go away?"

"It was, um…er…well…I…don't really want to tell you."

"Too bad."

"I, um, really don't think…"

"THAT'S AN ORDER, CAPTAIN SHORT!" He was back to his old self now.

"Well, sir," she began, trying to think up a five-second lie and wondering why she never did take that course in high school. It would have been so useful, 'Five-Second Lies and How To Use Them.' "Well, sir, I…er…well, you see…I was…sort of…um… Ungh," she groaned. "This isn't working, is it?"

"No, Captain, it certainly isn't. Now I know that whatever you tell me will be a lie."

Suddenly inspired, she continued. "I, um…it was telling me that I…er…" her face flushed, "that I liked Fowl."

He stared. "That you WHAT!"

"Er, that I liked Fowl, sir."

"I…well, that's certainly not what I expected. Gotta tell Foaly."

"What?" she said, panicked. "I thought you said you thought whatever I told you would be a lie."

"I'm sorry, that's just too abstract to be anything but the truth. Besides, you would never say that unless it was true, because you'd consider it the worst thing that could happen and would therefore not use it to cover up anything worse. And besides that, you gave it away permanently by what you just said."

Holly moaned. "This is the worst day of my life."

"That's nice," said Commander Root, too busy fiddling with his com-screen to notice what she'd said. "Foaly—WHERE IS THAT UPPITY CENTAUR WHEN I NEED HIM!"

Just then Foaly barged into the room.

Sir—sir! I really think you ought to see this!"

"Speak of the devil," muttered Root. Then he suddenly realized that Foaly had called him "sir," not "Julius." His eyes grew wide.

"What is it, Foaly?"

"I found something, sir. It's really weird. It's a prophecy."

"What's so weird about a prophecy?"

"Here, let me read it to you. It's about The Destroyer. According to this, this "Destroyer" person is supposed to come really soon. And the only way they can be conquered is…well, listen to this:" He cleared his throat.

"When The Destroyer comes,

He will wreak havoc,

Living up to his name,

Destroying everything in his path.

Even the most safe Haven will fall,

But for one thing.

When human and fairy admit love

For one another,

Then, and only then, will the Destroyer stop destroying,

Then will the spell be broken,

And few will remember what has transpired."

There was total silence for a moment. Then Root looked at Holly.

"Stop looking at me!" she told him. He looked away, but kept sneaking glances at her when he thought she wasn't watching. At last, she lost it.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH! STOP LOOKING AT ME!" she screamed and ran out of the room.

"What was that all about?" said Foaly, bewildered. So Root told him what had happened earlier. Foaly chuckled.

"Well," he said, grinning. "Somehow, I thought so."

Fowl Manor

Artemis sighed. He had just had another dream about that girl. And he was extremely confused, which was unusual for him. After all, he was a genius.

LEP Headquarters, cafeteria

Holly was sitting in the cafeteria, eating a scrappy LEP lunch, consisting of an apple, a cardboard container of juice, and a "meatball" sandwich with bread that was hard as a rock and unidentifiable glop inside. She wondered why she didn't just go over to Fern's Place. At least they had decent sandwiches.

"Meatballs my foot," she muttered. Then she groaned as she saw Foaly headed toward her. He sat down next to her.

"Well," he said, grinning. "How's your little sweetheart?"

He got no answer and tried again.

"Come on, Holly. Answer me. How is he?"

Still no answer.

"Or have you not told him you like him yet?"

Some people were starting to stare, and Holly lost it. She punched Foaly.

"Ouch!" he said, rubbing his arm. "What was that for?"

"Guess," she said sarcastically.

"Oh, come on, Holly. I was just teasing."

"Well, maybe I don't want to be teased about that!" she yelled, forgetting that there were any other people in the cafeteria. "Did you ever think about that? Huh?" Her voice was getting louder as she kept shouting. "MAYBE I DON'T WANT TO HAVE YOU BUGGING ME ABOUT THAT! SO WHAT IF I DO HAVE A CRUSH ON FOWL…"

She stopped abruptly as she realized the whole cafeteria had gone silent and was staring at her.

"Oops," she muttered. "Oh, no. Now, Foaly, I'll thank you to go away. You've done enough damage already." She tried to push him off the bench. He didn't budge. She picked up her lunch and stalked angrily out of the cafeteria, ignoring the whispers and giggles. Then she went to her office to finish eating, muttering something along the way that sounded very much like, "That darned, blasted, doofus, idiot, dummy, double-crossing centaur! Aaaargh!"