Author's Note: It's been ages since I've uploaded anything. Readers of my Harry Potter fic, please don't hate me for starting a new fic before finishing my old ones. This will be a relatively short fic (for me.) Enjoy! (PS, if you're going to get alerts for the story it would be appreciated if you left a comment in return. It makes the trade a bit fairer, right? My story for your review :) )
"Three weeks?" Holly had whispered. She stared sightlessly at Commander Kelp, tears streaming down her angry Elfen features as she took it in. She didn't try to brush away the tears, and her sobs escaped her parted lips as she spoke. "How can you do this, after all we've been through? After all he's done. Tell me how, Trouble. Tell me!"
"We have to, Holly. I'm sorry. I know that he means a lot to you, but we can't let this go unpunished. We're being lenient here by giving him three weeks. You should be thanking me." Trouble sighed. He knew that it would be like this, and he hated to be the one to tell Holly.
"Do something, Trouble, save him! We can't punish humans, the book -"
"Artemis is practically fairy now, Holly. Even you can't deny that." Trouble shifted through his papers, tidying the stack and tried to stop himself from biting his lip. He too, was upset, but he'd learned quite quickly that he had be tough around his Captains. An emotional Commander just didn't do. He stood up, and the papers slid through his shaking fingers, a messy pile on his desk once more. "There's nothing that I can do, Holly. The council have given him three weeks to live life how he likes. At least he'll be able to say goodbye to everyone." He left the office quietly, giving Holly some space to grieve.
Sixteen year old Artemis Fowl sat in the empty stone cell listening carefully as the guards changed shifts. This, however, was just out of habit, because for once he had no intention of escaping. Having spent the majority of the last seventeen months Underground, Artemis knew that even if he could escape the improved Fairy prison that the chances of him getting above ground unaided was more than unlikely – it was impossible. And perhaps there was something else that stopped Artemis from plotting a devious escape. His guilt had nearly completely devoured him during the first few days of his imprisonment.
A key clicking into the lock outside made him jump, and as the heavy door swung open Artemis was blinded by a light that he hadn't seen in days. His eyes watered as they adjusted and tried to focus on the silhouette of a Fairy.
"Artemis," the Fairy spoke, and Artemis identified the voice immediately as belonging to Commander Trouble Kelp. He sounded weary and older than Artemis remembered him, and sighed deeply as Artemis got to his feet.
"Commander," Artemis acknowledged. He cleared his throat. He hadn't spoken in a while. "I suppose the council has reached a verdict." It wasn't a question – there would be no other reason for someone to be here. His food was delivered via a small, voice activated machine to the left of the cell, and he wasn't allowed visitors. The fact that Trouble himself was bringing the news meant that it was bad news, but Artemis had already accepted this and was ready to face the consequences no matter how bad they may be.
Trouble took a deep breath before speaking. "I wish I was here to deliver good news, Fowl, but you must understand that had anyone else did what you've done they would have been executed on the spot. We're fond of you, Artemis. The council likes you. They've been as lenient as they can be."
"I understand," said Artemis, and he did.
"We can, at least, go somewhere nicer for our discussion. If you'll follow me."
Discussion? Artemis wondered. He had been under the impression that he would be given his verdict and that would be that. What could they possible have to discuss? The second he left the cell his hands had been bound with old style, metal cuffs. The prison had been too afraid of using anything electronic on Artemis. They were worried that he could beat even Foaly's upgraded time activated, DNA-sensitive cuffs with nothing but his brain. This was ridiculous, Artemis knew, and would have made a complaint about the prison manager's intelligence had the situation been different.
Trouble lead Artemis through the prison in silence, and didn't say a word until they were seated in a room that was empty but for a white table and two chairs. He coughed loudly, before asking Artemis if he'd like a drink.
Artemis smiled and held up his wrists. "Perhaps we could be rid of these cuffs so that I could enjoy it?" But they both knew that wasn't happening.
"Artemis, I don't know how to tell you this, and if it were up to me I would have found a different way. But I'm afraid that it's not up to me, it's up to the council." Trouble couldn't look Artemis in the eye, and kept twitching his left shoulder as though he wanted to scratch it. "There wasn't much I could do for you. You know what you did. No matter how many times you've helped us in the past, nothing can make up for that."
Artemis nodded, and his reply was as calm and collected as he could make it. Trouble would have described it as empty, apathetic. "I'm being executed," Artemis concluded. He'd known for weeks, and he thought that he had come to terms with it and accepted it. He really thought that he had readied himself emotionally, but now he realized that he wasn't ready at all, and that the thought of dying terrified him. His chest constricted painfully, and the realization that he would never see Butler, Holly, Foaly, Minerva, Mulch.... his family, ever again hit him harder then than it had in the darkness of the cell.
I don't want to die, he thought. But I deserve to.
Trouble looked at him then, and his face was full of sorrow. "You already deduced," he said knowingly, and then smiled weakly. "Maybe I'll be able to give you a little good news after all."
Artemis was sent to a different cell after what had indeed been a discussion with Commander Kelp. He had been given two choices – immediate execution or an execution in three weeks time. During those weeks he would be allowed to leave the prison, and even go above ground. A capsule would be injected into his veins that would release a deadly poison after twenty one days. It could also be detonated sooner if need be. However, during those three weeks he would be allowed to do whatever he liked, within reason. He'd have a tracker on his arm and a LEP fairy with him all the time (Kelp had kindly recommended Holly) and be under heavy surveillance. But he'd be free.
It was a very kind offer on the council's half, so Artemis' choice, Trouble had thought, would be obvious. Of course Artemis would want to spend some last days with his friends and family, wouldn't he? Naturally, he had been thoroughly taken aback when Artemis had asked for some time to think about it, and had obliged with a little suspicion. However, his suspicion was unneeded, because Artemis genuinely wasn't sure what to do.
Artemis paced the large, white cell, ignoring the two guards watching him. The cuffs were gone, and he was wringing his fingers in frustration. Emotions were clouding his thought and he was finding it difficult to concentrate. Would it be selfish to choose to die now? he wondered, his heart hammering faster in beneath his ribcage. I wouldn't have to face anyone. It'll be harder leaving them in three weeks than it would be leaving them now. But on the other hand, he knew that he'd regret leaving them without saying goodbye. He was sure that Holly knew that he had a choice, and would hate him if he didn't choose to live out those few weeks. But the thought of seeing her again hurt. He remembered the last time that he'd seen her. She had smiled at him and told him not to give up, that everything would turn out okay. He wanted that happy, positive Holly to be the one that he remembered. He could only imagine what she'd be like the next time he saw her.
He took a deep breath and stopped pacing. The guards had been whispering amongst themselves, and they stopped now and turned to watch him through beady eyes. Artemis brushed away a tear and turned to them.
"I've reached a decision," he said.