All characters © Toboso Yana and Eoin Colfer
NOTE: the final chapter! I hope you all enjoyed this.
Ars Gratia Artis
"Wait, so it was not human?" Ciel paced the floors of his suite. They had run another scan of the gallery following breakfast, after Sebastian had broken some rather interesting news to his master. "How come I did not see anything?"
"I believe I already mentioned this, Bocchan, but she was using some sort of power to conceal herself."
"So that device must have belonged to this creature, if it had the ability to do such things," Ciel concluded. "And she was with the other two downstairs, which means…"
"Master Fowl must be the culprit?" Sebastian suggested.
With a victorious glitter in his single eye, Ciel came to a stop in the middle of the room. "Sebastian. When was the Starry Night Over the Rhone reported missing?"
"Two days ago," was the butler's answer.
"But it could have been stolen before then. And how long did Master Fowl say he and his bodyguard had been in Paris?"
Sebastian grinned. "Three days, Bocchan."
"And they have an unidentifiable creature with them, obviously not human, which makes almost anything probable." Ciel raised a fist to his lips, the pieces almost fitting together. "Now all we need to figure out is where they are keeping the painting."
"Bocchan," Sebastian couldn't help but add, "I believe she was a fairy, since her ears were pointed."
A snort escaped Ciel. "Fairy? As in a pot o' gold leprechaun?" He paused, contemplating. "Fowl's accent was Irish, if I recall…"
"For someone who has interacted with demons, angels, and reapers, you are quite skeptical," Sebastian observed.
"But fairies, Sebastian? You didn't even know about them."
"The only thing left to do," Ciel thought aloud, "is to search their room for the artwork. Trespassing would be a very lowly thing to do, so let us confront them directly."
After they had gotten Artemis's room number from the desk manager downstairs Sebastian and Ciel had walked carefully up to the Fowl's suite, now standing behind the door. Ciel rapped his fingers against the oak wood firmly.
Only silence greeted his knock. Well, almost. A strange…swishing noise, for lack of a better description, was coming from within the room. Ciel looked down and saw particles of debris dancing around his feet from the crack under the door. Something was happening inside.
"Sebastian." The butler nodded, reached over, and crushed the pewter doorknob in his hand like he was kneading dough. Without a handle, the door swung open easily.
Ciel walked in just in time to see Master Fowl and his bodyguard disappear into thin air.
There had also been a thing floating at their side—a creature with pointed ears, Ciel observed vaguely. The air seemed to settle, the breeze dissipating as quickly as it had come. They had left nothing in their wake.
Ciel's fists clenched at his sides. "Damn it. Damn it all."
"I guess Bocchan lost this one," Sebastian mused. Ciel whipped his head around, glaring balefully at his servant.
"So what if I did, Sebastian?" he snapped. "I will simply be prepared for the next time we meet. Then I will crush him and show them all exactly who the Phantomhives are." With that being said Ciel straightened the knot of his eye patch firmly and breezed out of the room.
Sebastian chuckled once he had left. Although he didn't sympathize with human psychology, he understood it well. It wasn't just about winning and losing in this case. Ciel and that boy were too similar, right down to the heterochromia. Ciel saw it as a battle with himself; only with an older, more intelligent doppelganger.
It was only a feeling, but Sebastian thought that his young master wouldn't be seeing those two again.
"Dear Lord Phantomhive,
I surmise that by the time you read this we will be long gone. Please do not think poorly of us, and do not be disappointed. Although you implied that you were on the Queen's business, I do not believe you are with the Yard. Do not fear; I deal with a different kind of underworld than you do, my one-eyed friend. I am slightly older than I look—no demon, though.
I was born in 1989, but then lost three years to the time tunnel that you may or may not have witnessed. Although I should be nineteen, I am merely a sixteen-year-old Irish boy with a fairy eye and a slightly larger than average cranium…"
Ciel finished the letter and put it down with disgust. "Can you believe this, Sebastian?" he asked, gesturing to the parchment.
"I can," Sebastian answered truthfully. "You saw the earpiece. And remember Grell Sutcliffe's deathscythe? It was way ahead of our time."
"No, no, I have no trouble believing in time travel," Ciel sighed. "I am just disgusted, even though it says here why he did it."
"That he outsmarted you?" Sebastian asked, with his usual candor.
"He even provided me with an explanation to give to the Queen as to why the painting is no longer in existence!"
Sebastian closed Ciel's suitcase, indicating that it was time to leave. "Then I suggest we use it don't we, Bocchan?"
"…even though this may not be my place to say, I will give you a spot of advice, seeing as our paths will never cross again.
Lord Phantomhive. You are young and talented, as I once was. Your eyes tell me that you have suffered ineffable hardship, yet they also hold the cruelty of one with unfinished business. Redemption, revenge, power, it is all the same. If you follow that road, you will fail. A demon by your side will give you power and the means to carry out your revenge, but you must not let it corrupt you. I only hope that it is not too late.
Invest your talents in other things, and you will be happy. Trust me, I know.
Artemis Fowl II
Mulch scooped the remains of what had almost resembled a sandwich into his oversized mouth. "I missed your cooking, Arty," he mumbled between the food.
He and Holly sat in one of the many rooms of the Section Eight Headquarters. Foaly was on his computer in the far end of the room, as he always was. A blown-up web cam of Artemis filled the screen. It had been little more than a week since the Paris debacle.
"I'm surprised you saved that to eat until now," Artemis smirked, looking at Mulch amusedly through his fairy communicator.
"Better now than never." The dwarf suddenly broke into a two-foot long grin. "I still can't believe you all got trapped in Paris for three days!"
Holly sucker-punched his shoulder. "Hey, watch it," she warned, half-joking.
"Because N°1 decided to stop for crepes and got lost!" Mulch hooted.
Holly balled her fists. "Yeah, and if he wasn't so powerful I would have handed him a can of whup-ass."
"A can of what?"
"It's an expression, Artemis."
"The kid's still new to Earth, let alone a big city," Foaly chimed in. "What did you expect? Next time we'll have someone with him to guard the time stream post.
"By the way Fowl, your locator says you are in London."
"Ah, Butler and I decided to take the scenic route after delivering the painting to the Musée d'Orsay," Artemis answered.
"Tell the big guy I say hi, will you?"
"Will do, Foaly," Artemis said as he disconnected.
It was rare that he had leisure time these days, and Artemis wanted to make use of it while it lasted. "Butler, I'm going to make a quick stop," he told his bodyguard, gesturing toward a bookshop on the crowded streets of London. Butler, giving his size, would hardly be able to squeeze into the cramped isles bookshops were known to have. He gave a single nod, and Artemis disappeared into the musty, dimly lit shop.
There were only a few select shelves containing material Artemis had not read, but he hid his disappointment. A store of books was next to the most wonderful thing in the world. Well, except for magic, maybe.
"I am aware that there are things in this world that cannot be explained," Artemis said suddenly, "but I daresay I've never seen anyone like you before."
The man across the isle smiled. "It's been awhile, Master Fowl."
It was quite the coincident meeting, but Artemis had seen stranger in his sixteen years. He gave a little bow, placing his hand to his chest. "Not for me, demon Sebastian. I saw you only a week ago."
"When did you find out that I was a demon, may I ask?" Sebastian inquired, a playful light dancing in his eyes.
With an idle hand, Artemis flipped through a random book. "From the moment I saw you," he answered truthfully. "One would have only had to look at the hue of your irises, if they were unfamiliar with the Theban letters imprinted on your gloves. Your counterpart would have had to have those letters printed somewhere on his body as well, hence the eye patch."
Sebastian chuckled, shrugging. "You certainly are an educated human. And yes, I still serve the Phantomhives," he said, before smoothly changing subjects. "Tell me, back then. Was that a fairy by your side?"
"It was," Artemis said. "You live so close to one another, yet your worlds never interact. It's fascinating.
"By the way," Artemis turned, changing the subject, "how did he turn out?"
The butler was about to reply, when—
Artemis smiled at the teenager peeking around the corner. "There you are, Sebastian! I thought I'd lost you. And who's this?"
Sebastian held out a gloved hand to Artemis. "Just an acquaintance, from a long time ago," he said humbly. The youth looked at Sebastian quizzically. Her brown hair was pulled back in a horsetail, and her eyes were china blue.
"Artemis Fowl," Artemis nodded. She smiled, but didn't give her name.
"Come, Sebastian," the girl said. "We should be getting back." Sebastian gave a final bow, turned to leave, but paused as he remembered an unanswered question.
"Let's just say he was beyond help from the moment he met me."
Artemis's shoulders slumped in polite disappointment. "A pity," he said. "He could have been great."
Sebastian smiled lightly. "Oh no, Master Fowl," he shook his head in disagreement. "He was."
As they were leaving, Artemis spotted an odd tattoo on the girl's ankle, as she was wearing a sundress and her legs were bare. It could easily be mistaken for a teenager's fashion statement these days.
He smiled to himself, putting the book he had taken back on the shelf. Some things never got old.