A/N: My first Artemis Fowl fic. Be gentle...please?
Summary: Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose
Disclaimer: I own not Artemis Fowl. Though perhaps I should try e-Bay...
A Xenocide Production
He sat in his favorite armchair by the fire.
It was a cold winter's night, a record breaker most weathermen reckoned.
He was burrowed under layers of quilts and various blankets, determined to ward off the cold. An ice cold cup of green tea, a spoon drowned in its depths, sat forlornly on the small stand next to the chair. A book lay haphazardly in his lap, detailing poetry by some unnamed historian of the past, open to a random page of alien thoughts, passions, and feelings known only to the writer.
He gazed a gazeless stare into the inviting flames of the hearth, obviously in another time and place unbeknownst to an onlooker, and absentmindedly tried to wring some warmth into his hands.
A glint of gold refracted off the dim light and caught his eye. He looked at his gnarled, shaking hand and admired once again the small ring that graced his left pinky finger. A small sun blazed from the center, adorned with fiery rubies that did well to complement the gold that is was set in.
A gift for services rendered, so very long ago.
A wry grin graced his once youthful face, now lined with old age and burdened with memory, as he recalled his last great adventure.
Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.
"I once thought it was quite clever of me to evade your memory wipes." He uttered softly to the crackling flames, still admiring the ring. "Of course, a Fowl should never admit to being prideful of his abilities. Pleased, yes. But prideful? Pride goeth before a fall, as the old, clichéd saying goes."
His hand fell listlessly to the book in his lap and he idly began to trace the words and illustrations with trembling fingers.
"As the years wore on, however, I began to see just how badly I had miscalculated."
Still the fingers traced, and the flames listened intently.
"A memory is a curse, one far more potent than even I could ever have conceived of."
Eyes looked inwards to the past.
Juliet married happily to her husband and teaching her children all the important submission moves.
Father and Mother sharing their last dance at their 50th anniversary.
His brothers grown with children of their own, proudly parading his nieces and nephews all across Fowl Manor.
Butler paradoxically dying of old age in his bed surrounded by friends, his lifetime employer and, truth be told, his son in spirit, if not age.
The look in her eyes as she slipped the ring onto his finger.
"I never truly understood, until much later, why it was so important for the People and Mankind to remain separate, hidden from each other." He was still talking conversationally, as if his old friend Butler still occupied his habitual place of honor in the second armchair across from his own. "It was quite simple really, and as much as it pains me to admit it, I overlooked that small, but plain detail."
She laughed lightly, skin glowing softly in the moonlight as she traced fiery trails across his chest and down his abdomen.
"No man is immortal, strive as they might, and though the People cannot live forever, they might as well be, compared to a mortal's lifespan."
He grasped her gently from behind, enfolding her in his embrace and bent down to whisper something in her ear, entranced by the sweet, unearthly scent her hair gave off.
"I did not want to forget."
Her fingertips sadly traced his face, her eyes full of pain as he ranted and railed, decrying her and her damned People and their godsdamned Book.
"You were too important to forget." His fingers had stopped their idle tracings, which had unconsciously imitated a much more intimate pattern drawn across moonlit skin ages ago. "When you left, and I, as usual, found a way around the impossibly airtight sorcery of your mind wipes, it was only then that I realized that you weren't trying to punish me for taking my memories of you." He sighed softly, and the flames seemed to lean in even closer, if only to hear his next whispered words.
"It was because you loved me."
The fire exhaled, crackling somberly, as if a great sigh had been expelled from the old man's admission.
"It would be easier to forget, to continue on as if I had never known you. And who knows?" He chuckled mirthlessly. "Perhaps I would have."
"But in my pride, I had already decided what was best for me. I would keep my memories, if only as one last dig at you."
His eyes closed for a moment, basking in the warmth radiating from the hearth.
He found himself growing sleepy almost alarmingly fast, but it was not uncommon for him, as he grew wearier with each passing day.
"O'ly fur a 'oment..." he muttered groggily.
Deep, steady breathing filled the room.
As he slept, a small darting shadow of soft luminescence slipped quietly through the unlocked window.
It could only stay for a few heartbeats' time, for without an explicit invitation, it was expressedly forbidden to enter his abode. But it was more than enough.
The shadow looked down upon the slumbering mortal, and reached down to smooth away a few wisps of white hair back to normalcy. In his sleep, the old man leaned desperately into the touch, mumbling incoherently, and she indulged him, and herself.
Feeling the beginnings of the old magic grip her, she gave his cheek one last caress and then she slipped back out into the moonlight, a ghost lost in the pale landscape. The only sign of her passing was a gust of cold air and a muffled sob from the sleeping man.
"Oi, Arty! Where are you, brother dear?"
A deep voice reverberated throughout the lonesome rooms.
A tousled head of hair peeked through the doorway into his older brother's study, and shook his head exasperatedly to see him lying asleep in his armchair, the dying embers of last night's fire vainly trying to keep a grip on life.
"I swear, Arty, if Butler were here, he'd tear you a new one." The younger Fowl grumbled as he stalked into the room. "An armchair is no place to sleep, especially with how your back's been acting nowadays. I'll never-"
He froze in midstep as he saw that his brother's chest wasn't moving. After a few minutes of staring, he started slowly towards the elder Fowl. He stopped in front of his brother and took a moment to study him.
He looked so small and fragile in the swathing blankets, so unlike the tower of strength and reliability he was in his youth.
He gently reached down and took the open book from his hand, glancing at the last poem his brother read.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.
He grinned. Just like Arty to die with a strangely appropriate and nostalgic poem at hand. A Fowl to the very end.
He laid the book aside and reached into his coat pocket for his cellphone.
"Hello... Romulus? Yes, I'm fine thank you...the kids are well, I trust?"
"That's good to hear. Listen, I've got a bit of bad news. It seems that Arty passed away last night. In his armchair no less..."
The funeral for Artemis Fowl the Second was a small and private affair.
There was no great outpouring of grief, for Artemis would not have wanted his death to be a thing full of tears and sadness. Instead, he wished to be remembered with dignity and respect, as all Fowls before him had been, and all Fowls after him would be.
The last rites were said, his coffin lowered into the earth, and the small gathering slowly drifted away.
But not all had paid their respects.
Out of the morning mist, a small, figure, no larger than an adolescent child, approached somberly in a shimmering dress of black that glided smoothly with her as she moved.
She approached the grave and looked down into the dank, dark hole that they had lowered him into.
"I'm sorry that I was the only one who showed up. The others wanted to, but the Council refused our request." She grinned. "I thought Foaly was going to have a stroke when he learned he wouldn't be allowed to attend. I had to stop him from marching over to the Chambers and making them allow him to come. Mulch was of the same opinion of Foaly. As a matter of fact, he left them a little gift in their beds, courtesy of the dwarven digestive system."
She clasped her hands together.
"I managed to slip out without too much fuss, but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be welcomed with open arms when I go back."
She walked around the grave to the headstone, coming to a stop in front of his name.
With a shaking hand, she reached up to trace the letters inscribed in stone. Dearest Brother. And of course, the Family Motto. Aurum potestas est.
For a long while, she just stood there, tracing his name over and over again.
For a long while, she just stood there, tracing his name over and over again.
Finally, with the morning mist long since dissipated, she withdrew from the headstone and once again looked down into the hole.
One lone teardrop splashed across the fine mahogany coffin.
And then she told him what she had dared not say to anyone else, not even to her friends in her beloved Haven.
"I'm glad you remembered me."
Then she turned, and without a backwards glance, faded into the afternoon sunlight, as substantial as a thought.
You'll forget me someday, Artemis.
What an absurd thing to say, Holly. I don't forget those I love.
So, you love me then, Mud Boy?
Do I really have to say it, Captain?
Or a memory.