Disclaimer- All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
So… I don't know how this happened, but… :P Ahkay, yeah, fine, no. And no one's ever written a one-shot like this…
Artemis Fowl watched as the English scenery whipped passed them.
Artemis' thoughts were all over the place. Usually they were neatly organized and he was in control of everything; not only his thoughts, but his ideas, emotions and memories. He never had that feeling that most people got when they know they've forgotten something. At least, not until now.
At home at the manor, Artemis' thoughts jumped all over the place and he couldn't get that nagging voice out of his head. It whispered teasingly to him that he'd forgotten something. Someone. He'd be walking up the stairs to his room, and all of a sudden he'd be at the basement door. Why did he keep thinking there was someone down there he should check on? There was no one there. Artemis had checked anyway, but there was no one there.
Artemis spent more time in the security room as well. He went in many times a day and scanned the manor grounds, as if waiting for someone to come flying in over the hedges. Of course, no one did. No one flies.
Artemis knew that Butler thought he was growing paranoid. But the boy genius knew it wasn't paranoia he was feeling – it was curiousity. It was unrelenting, tenacious curiousity. That insufferable whispering at the back of his head continued to torment him.
At night, Artemis dreamed. Artemis usually remembered his dreams, too. Usually, there was nothing that escaped his mind. These nights, he woke up, trying desperately to hold onto the hazy tendrils of what he'd witnessed when he'd been dead to the world.
She had auburn hair, he knew. It was dark brown in the darkness of his mind, but the crimson shades came clear as she stepped out of the shadows and the moonlight played across her hair. She emanated power and strength… Yet he always suspected that if he got too close, she'd turn and disappear into the darkness. Why was it always night in his dreams?
Her name danced along the furthest corners of his mind. He knew it – Artemis knew that he knew it. But her name was just like her. Every time he got close to it, it escaped him.
Numerous times, Artemis wondered at how utterly ridiculous he should feel. Why was he fixating on a recurring dream about a girl who did not exist? He told himself that he was just having odd dreams. No one had yet to fully figure out dreams as a matter. Research was inconclusive and information was doubtable.
But it was undisputable that dreams meant something. His dreams always meant something; so what did this girl mean?
He told himself he just needed to get away from home for a while.
Artemis watched as the English scenery whipped passed them, trying to calm himself down by focusing on the emerald foliage. Deciduous and coniferous trees surrounded the dirt road they were on in a dense little forest. He couldn't take his eyes off the trees. They made him think of her name. Was it a tree's name? A plant's name? His head pounded painfully and the limo was suddenly stuffy. "Pull over."
Butler started, but slowed the limo down a little. The bodyguard frowned even as he edged the car to the side of the road and finally stopped.
Artemis pushed the door open and started to get out. "Stay here, Butler. I'm just going for a walk."
Butler hesitated for a second. "Sir?" he finally blurted.
Artemis turned to the front of the vehicle and raised an eyebrow. "Yes, Butler?"
Butler was obviously unsure about what he was about to say. Artemis' family was safe, but the young man had grown as cold and distant as he was in the old days after his father had gone missing and his mother had fallen ill. "Are you…" he trailed off, wondering how the question about Artemis' well-being would be met by his boss.
"Anytime this year, Butler," Artemis said, a slight scowl starting to appear at the corner of his lips.
Butler frowned. "Never mind, sir."
Artemis nodded once and got out before firmly swinging the door shut. He stepped into the embrace of the forest, taking some satisfaction in the shadows that fell over him under the canopies. In the cool, silent darkness, he started to wander, once again feeling himself becoming lost in his thoughts. He tried to keep himself busy by trying to identify the trees. But there was something else he'd forgotten. What was it?
'The name of these trees,' Artemis told himself firmly, running his eyes up another tall, bluish green evergreen. 'That's all I can't remember. The name of these trees.'
Suddenly, Artemis was snapped out of his thoughts by a sharp, cracking sound off to his right. Already having identified the sound and knowing that someone had broken a branch, he whipped around, his blue eyes scanning the area for a source. Artemis' heart stopped for a half a second.
In that half a second that he'd first rested his eyes on her, he was back in his dream. A dark, silent place, inhabited only by her and himself. In the midst of all the white and brown barks and the green leaves, there was a flash of red hair.
However, Artemis was back on earth a second later, snapped out of his thoughts when the figure turned and made to run off. She always waited until he got too close to run off into the darkness. "Stop!" Artemis suddenly heard himself order. Surprisingly, the girl in the distance stopped, freezing to a halt, and Artemis suddenly wondered why he never asked the girl in his dreams not to disappear. Feeling himself becoming lost in his own mind again, Artemis snapped out of it and focused on the girl – the real girl – before him. "Wait." His voice was still commanding, but gentler this time. He sounded older than his fourteen years. "Wait." He started walking toward her.
When Artemis was a few meters away from her, the girl started moving again. Up until now, she'd stood still. She didn't turn and run however – she just moved closer to a nearby tree, as if planning on hiding behind it.
Close enough to see her more clearly, Artemis saw that she was smaller than him, probably a few years younger. She had long red hair that came halfway down her back, dark brown eyes and pale skin that almost matched his own. She was wearing a simple, green summer dress and had something of a black shawl wrapped about her shoulders. Save for her hair, Artemis thought critically, her colouring was entirely off. And her hair itself was too long. The similarity between her and the girl he dreamed of didn't strike him until she suddenly looked up into his eyes with a look of both fear and challenging determination.
"What?" the girl asked, her brows furrowing. Her voice was quiet, but strong. It was obvious from her stance that she was in fight or flight mode.
Artemis stared at her. He was never really blunt. He was never really honest, either. But he answered with both. "You look like someone," he said.
The girl looked at him, clearly surprised. But then a mixture of suspicion and fear washed over her young face. "Who are you?"
Artemis straightened and frowned. "I beg your pardon," he muttered. "I am Artemis Fowl the Second."
The girl stared at him, seemingly thinking about this. "Artemis. Fowl. The Second," she said, slowly, a look of concentration coming over her. A second later, she seemed satisfied. "Fine," she murmured. She suddenly fixed him with a calculative look. "You look like someone I used to know, too," she said.
Artemis raised an eyebrow. "Who?" he asked, honestly wanting to know.
The girl looked at him for a second before abruptly shrugging and turning away a little. "I can't tell you."
Artemis frowned. "Why not?" he asked, curiously.
The girl didn't answer for a second. She turned to the trunk of the tree she was standing beside. "He's not… He's…" She gingerly touched the bark. "He's not with us anymore."
Artemis also had a tendency of not thinking ahead of how a few of his cruder statements would affect others. "I remind you of a dead boy," he inferred, drily. When the girl's face scrunched up a bit, he thought she'd burst into tears and stiffened. He relaxed when she only frowned and placed her open palm against the tree. "What was his name?"
The girl didn't answer and her frown deepened. A long moment later, she suddenly leaned forward to hold her forehead against the tree. "I don't know," she sighed.
Her answer threw Artemis. Here, he'd been thinking that he was the only one fixating on a nameless being who wasn't alive. "Who are you?" he asked her, now more intrigued than ever.
The girl straightened and looked at him for a second. And she gave him a small, rather cold smile. "Ginny."
Wrong letters, the voice at the back of Artemis' head whispered. He frowned at the assessment, but then thought again. The right number of syllables. The right number of letters, as well, but the letters themselves were wrong. Except maybe the last one. Artemis frowned, scorching blood rushing to his head as he mentally tried to grasp at the name that was treading so close to his conscience. It was right at his fingertips; he was so close –
Artemis was snapped out of his thoughts. The name was gone, as if it'd been a mirage in a desert. He looked to Ginny with a frown. "Yes?" he asked.
"Where are you from?" Ginny asked, looking genuinely curious.
"Oh, my accent," Artemis muttered. "Ireland."
"I thought as much," Ginny shrugged, looking unimpressed. Her eyebrows rode up. "Why are you here?"
Artemis sighed a little when he couldn't think of a good answer to that. He rubbed at his temple. "Do you really want to know?"
"I wouldn't have asked otherwise," Ginny answered. She turned and started to slowly walk.
Artemis started following without really thinking about it. "This is going to sound utterly ridiculous," he warned.
Ginny laughed shortly, but didn't turn around. "Ask me why I'm here," she dared.
Artemis smirked. He liked this girl. She was calm, a little blunt; not like usual girls his age. Why not tell her? "I like to think I'm an extremely smart person who always has his thoughts organized. But now…" He frowned and licked his lips. "I've started dreaming… About a girl."
Ginny suddenly turned to smirk at him for half a second. "Romeo," came the expected response.
Artemis scowled a little. "I know how that must have sounded. But rest assured, my dreams are far from romantic. Quite far."
"What are they like?"
"It's always dark, and I can only catch glimpses of her. But I feel as if I've known her and… Forgotten her." Artemis would have hurt himself. "I sound like a lovesick amnesiac."
"No, you don't," Ginny suddenly said. "You sound confused." She stopped beneath a tree and stared up into its branches. "But that doesn't explain why you're here."
"I'm slowly losing my mind," Artemis said, stopping a few feet away from her. He still wasn't comfortable getting too close. "For some reason…" he faltered here a little. "For some reason, I keep going to the manor's basement. Like she's down there and I'd…" He looked up to see that Ginny was watching him with an unreadable expression.
"Like she's down there and you'd…?" the redhead prodded.
Artemis shrugged. "I know I'm missing something." He took a step closer. "In any case, it was driving me insane. I thought I should get away for awhile."
Ginny didn't answer. She only picked up two rocks off the ground before turning back to stare at the branches. Suddenly, she whipped a stone into the leaves. Before Artemis could react, a swing fell from the tree, hanging on one of the upper branches. It was simple, with a wooden seat and two white cords. A slight smile on her face, Ginny played the second stone over her fingers before shooting it into the branches as well.
"You put those up there?" Artemis asked, when the second swing fell.
"My dad put them up when my older brothers were born," Ginny shrugged. She grasped a swing and settled into the seat. "I use them now." She nodded toward the swing beside her, indicating that he should sit down, before gently kicking off from the ground.
Artemis eyed the swing critically for a second. He couldn't ever remember being on one in his entire life. He turned to Ginny to tell her that he'd rather stand, but found her staring up at the tops of the trees as she moved. Her hair fluttered behind her like a fiery halo. Despite the dark red tones of her hair and the brown of her eyes, there was something cold and dark about her appearance. She had an aura that made you feel the need to keep at a distance and watch your step. He suddenly thought of a black widow spider, and wondered why he'd think of a random spider at this time. Her hair was too long. Her beauty was wrong and right all at once.
"Does your dream girl have a name?"
Artemis was snapped out of his thoughts. He frowned at the question. "I don't know," he said. The words tasted horrible as they came out.
Ginny looked at him, quizzically. "You don't know?"
"It's just like her. I feel like I know it, but I just… Can't." Artemis frowned.
"How does she look like me?" Ginny suddenly asked.
Artemis smirked wryly. How to go about answering that? "How did your friend look like me?" he returned.
The corner of Ginny's lips quirked, but the half smile didn't reach her eyes. "He wouldn't have used the swing either," she said, matter-of-factly.
Artemis eyed her, pondering her words. The resemblance between Ginny and the girl of his dreams hadn't struck him until she looked at him. Maybe it was his demeanor that reminded Ginny of her dead friend? Fighting a sudden shiver, Artemis walked around to the swing and sat down so that he was facing the opposite direction Ginny was. "When did he die?"
Ginny didn't answer right away. "About a month ago," she finally responded.
"I'm very sorry to hear that," Artemis said, automatically.
Ginny smiled, wryly. "No, you're not," she said, matter-of-factly.
Artemis raised an eyebrow. He had not been expecting such a response. "Now why would you accuse me of lying?" He waited a few seconds for Ginny to respond, but she only stared ahead, into the trees. A second later, he smirked. "Did your friend lie to you?"
Ginny smirked, twistedly. "He came clean in the end," she said. She turned to Artemis and raised her eyebrows. "It makes me careful about trusting people. I don't even know who you are. You never knew him. So why would you be sorry he died?"
"Apparently, he's a lot like me," Artemis responded, readily. "I'd be sorry to see myself go." Fountain of Youth. Artemis stopped short and inwardly frowned. What?
Ginny's voice once again snapped Artemis out of his thoughts. "How close were you?" Artemis heard himself ask.
Ginny didn't answer for a second. Finally, she shrugged. "He was my best friend."
Artemis noted that her words were oddly controlled. "You should talk to someone," he said, flippantly. "It seems like you're repressing things about him."
Ginny momentarily laughed at his words, but Artemis saw her grip tighten around the cords of her swing. "He was the one I talked to. About everything."
"And now he's gone," Artemis muttered with a frown. "What about parents? Teachers?"
"They don't like him very much," Ginny interrupted. "The whole world sees him in a different light than the one I used to see him in. And that's the way I can't help but think of him - even now." She glanced away. "He hurt me before he..." She trailed off and sighed. "I can't talk to anyone. They all think I'm perfectly fine."
"You still can't repress your feelings. It's unhealthy," Artemis recited, almost monotonously. This was why he couldn't consider a career in psychology - he just couldn't deal with other peoples' issues.
"I can't talk to anyone about him," Ginny repeated, sternly.
"Get a diary then." Artemis off-handed suggestion was met with a reaction so cold, it drew Artemis' attention back to the redhead beside him. She had stiffened, and her expression was unreadable, but there was no doubt that he'd unintentionally touched a nerve. "Ginny?"
"I doubt that would help," Ginny replied, her lips twisting into an indiscernible smile as she stared into the woods. A second later, the smile faded and she turned to him quizzically. "Once again," she said. "You don't seem the type to dream about girls." She cocked her head a little and frowned. "What happens in your dreams?"
Artemis hesitated, but decided to tell her. Why not tell her? He couldn't tell anyone else. "It's usually dark. Usually, we're in woods." He nodded toward the trees. "Just like this one." He pursed his lips for a second, frowning as he thought. "Or we're somewhere else dark, but I can't tell where we are."
Artemis thought for a second. Finally, he shrugged. "It's odd," he sighed. "I know it's only a dream, but… Have you ever felt like you just know someone?" He shook his head, and then realized that Ginny was still waiting for an answer. "I can't get too close to her," he finally said.
"She always disappears," Artemis explained, rather tersely. It was easy to hear the frustration in his voice. "If I get too close, she disappears."
"Does she ever say anything?" Ginny pressed.
Artemis was taken off guard. "No," he answered.
Ginny suddenly let out a noise that was half a sob and half a laugh. "Would you listen to her?"
Artemis looked at the girl in surprise, and his curiosity flared. "Yes," he stated. He turned away, suddenly angry, and glared at the ground. "I should try what I did with you. Just order her to stop."
Ginny suddenly came to a halt, barely kicking up dust as the swing froze. She scowled a little. "You can't order her around," she said, icily.
Artemis looked up at the girl through half-hooded eyes, and decided to see how far he could push her. "Did your friend order you around, too?"
Ginny stared off into the trees. "I shouldn't be here," she suddenly said, her voice suddenly hushed.
"Why not?" Artemis asked, his voice soft and even.
"I probably shouldn't be alone with you." Ginny turned to Artemis and raised her eyebrows. "Should I?"
Artemis looked at her for a second, and the slow smile he gave her would have scared even the vampires. "Probably not."
Ginny bristled and faced forward again, frowning. "Who are you?!"
"Who are you?" Artemis returned, also frowning.
"I asked you first."
Unable to think of a response, Ginny gave up the battle. She gulped before glancing at him. "After what happened with… My friend… I don't divulge information easily."
Artemis frowned. "You say that the rest of the world saw him in a different light than you saw him in." He raised an eyebrow. "I suppose you found out too late and too painfully."
"Stop." Ginny's voice was hushed, but rather commanding. It sent another jolt of déjà vu rushing through Artemis' head.
Artemis savoured the feeling like a starved man savoured food. Ginny's tone was familiar. Her quick temper was even more familiar. More to invoke her ire than to pointedly show her that he didn't take orders, Artemis smirked. "Did he hurt you?" He didn't wait for a response. "How?" She didn't answer, and Artemis decided to push her further. "Being with me is like being with him," he continued, inferring the information from her reactions. "Even though he hurt you, you miss him, which is why you're still putting up with me."
"I should leave." Ginny started to get up, but Artemis spoke again.
"That was rather unexpected."
Ginny stopped, and Artemis could tell that she was curious, despite herself. "What was?" she asked, anger clear in her voice.
"You didn't… Snap at me," Artemis noted, looking a bit disappointed. Ginny turned to him, with a questioning look on her face. Artemis sighed. "You remind me of her with your temper," he finally said. "I first noticed when you looked at me before. After I told you to stop. She's looked at me like before." A moment passed in silence, each of them pondering this. Finally, Artemis inhaled. "I am a certified genius," he began. "All my teachers have mixed feelings toward me; I believe that most of them are afraid of me."
"What are you doing?" Ginny suddenly asked, her eyebrows furrowing.
"I'm telling you about myself," Artemis said, off-handedly. "I'm already…" He stopped and smirked. "Working, you could say."
"What do you do?" Ginny asked, suddenly sounding wary.
"I am a criminal mastermind." Artemis took a second to glance up into Ginny's face and noted her inability to decide how to react. "There's no other way to put it."
"Crime?" Ginny echoed, feebly.
"All my businesses are illegal," Artemis clarified.
Ginny was silent for a second. "What do you do, exactly?"
Kidnapping. The word ran through Artemis mind, followed by a sudden vision of seeing the mysterious redhead of his dreams lying unconscious on the metal examining table in the basement. Had he done that to her? The vision was so vivid and clear, Artemis' breath caught in his throat. He could make out her pointed ears, her distinct features… Another word materialized on his lips, and he heard himself before he thought it. "Fairies."
Ginny looked at Artemis sharply. "Fairies?"
Artemis' grip tightened around the cords. Whoever she was, she was a fairy. It was like he was having an out of body experience – he saw his own mind refuse to give him room for doubt. She was a fairy. He did know her. And more interestingly, he didn't find this information absurd. It seemed perfectly normal. "Fairies," he nodded, confidently. He didn't look up to the girl beside him. "You know what those are, right?"
"Yes," Ginny replied, watching him carefully.
Artemis finally looked at her, at hearing her voice. Something about her had changed; her demeanor was different. "What's wrong?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
"What about fairies?" Ginny pressed. "And what do they have to do with you?" She paused for a second, before adding: "And your… Work."
Artemis frowned a little, thinking back of his dreams. She didn't have wings. He concentrated, trying to see past the locks of her crimson hair to her ears. Were they pointed? A jolt shot through Artemis' brain. Weren't they pointed? "I've just been obsessed with a painting… The Fairy Thief. It's…" Artemis looked up to see that Ginny was watching him curiously. "It's a long story," he finally sighed.
Ginny turned forward, leaned back a little and kicked off from the ground again. Artemis watched her ascent with fascination, familiarity ringing through his mind as she flew into the sky. Did the girl in his dreams disappear into the darkness or fly away into the night?
Ginny momentarily stopped in the air before her descent. "I have time."
Artemis smirked a little as Ginny shot passed him, the very tips of her long hair lightly caressing his cheek. "Lucky you." He halfheartedly kicked at the ground, moving the swing a little, his thoughts far away in the dark corners of his mind where his dreams were hiding. The only real honesty he was capable of was self-serving. Was the girl a fairy? He suddenly remembered her, silhouetted against the full moon. He remembered waiting for someone to come for him at home, flying over the hedges. Could she fly?
"Is she a fairy?"
Artemis looked up in time to see Ginny move by him again, rising into the air. He realized that he didn't know the answer to her question. He had doubts of their nonexistence – there was something so impossible about the utter nonexistence of creatures that existed in, some form or another, all over the world. "Why… Why would you ask me that?" he asked.
"You're obsessing," Ginny shrugged. "About a girl and a painting. Why wouldn't the painting be of the girl?"
Artemis frowned. "That's faulty logic."
Ginny smiled, slightly and shrewdly. "Some things have a way of getting under your skin; of affecting the way you work."
Artemis inclined his head a little, accepting this. "Then maybe it's best that I don't go looking for her," he mused. Even though his chest suddenly lurched at the idea, his rational mind considered this – had his dreams been affecting his work?
"I didn't mean it in a bad way," Ginny said. "Some things – some people – can be inspiring."
Artemis smiled, but it was short. She wouldn't inspire crime. There was something about the way she looked at him, a note of disapproval behind her fiery glare. Out of the corner of his eye, he noted that Ginny had come to a halt beside him and was staring curiously at him. "Yes?" he asked, meeting her dark brown eyes.
"Did you come out here, looking for her?" Ginny asked.
"I came out here, trying to get away from my memories of her," Artemis answered, his tone growing frustrated again.
Ginny stared off into the trees. "Can you get away from your memories by leaving the place you made them in?"
Artemis studied the side of her face, hearing a note of hope in her place. Then he glanced around and an unnatural sense of calmness suddenly passed through him, and ironically, his recognition that he was too calm was what made him stiffen nervously. "Did he die around here?" he asked, slowly.
Ginny shook her head, the corner of her mouth twitching momentarily to form a sad smile. "No."
"Where did he die?" Artemis asked, watching her carefully.
"At school," Ginny sighed. She gently kicked at the ground again, moving a little on the swing. "It was far away from here."
A heavy silence hung in the air around them, and Artemis broke it with a tired, defeated tone. "It was far away from here. Yet you haven't escaped your memories of him. That means I…"
"… Can't run from her, either," Ginny finished. She looked up at him and gave him a gentle smile. "You left Ireland to try to leave her. Here, you've…"
Artemis smiled, a little bitterly. "I don't even know who I'm running from." He briefly closed his eyes and let her image materialize, teasingly vague, in his mind. When he opened them, his eyes met those of the girl beside him. They looked so much alike. He stared at the redhead, contemplating the awesome chances. What did this mean? "Here, I've found you, Ginny." He wasn't sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing; all he could think was that her name sounded awkward on his tongue. Maybe it was wrong; maybe hers wasn't the name he was supposed to utter in such a tone.
Ginny didn't react for a second, but then she smiled a little. "Do I help at all?"
Artemis didn't reply for a second. His tone was wary when he did. "You help me forget her as much I'm probably helping you forget your friend."
Ginny laughed a little, but it was a dry, empty sound. She raised her eyes to the treetops, and mused, "Salt and sugar look alike. But they taste different."
Artemis had to smile, and it was the first real smile he had given anyone in weeks. "Nice analogy," he remarked. But then, he cocked his head, his smile fading. "So do I taste like your friend?"
Ginny had to think about this for a second, before she shrugged. She smiled then, obviously finding at least some amusement in her metaphor. "There's fine ground salt and course ground salt."
Artemis had to chuckle at her reply. "Salt… Why not sugar?"
Ginny shrugged, kicking off from the ground again. "Does it matter?" Her mouth had lost its smile, and she slipped into a more sober mood. "At the end of the day, it's all bad for you."
Artemis watched her move, finding too much pleasure in watching her ascend and the distant whirring at the dark corners of his mind that was caused by the sight. He gulped. "What's the difference between course ground salt and fine ground salt?"
Ginny came to a stop so that she could study him, her eyes narrowing as they moved over his face. "I don't know," she finally admitted. "But you…" She met his eyes and held them, an unreadable look in the back of her eyes.
Artemis couldn't look away. The indecipherable look in Ginny's eyes were familiar – he'd carried the same emotion in the depths of his blue eyes for the last few weeks. That feeling of knowing he has lost something and having no way to regain it; of not wanting it because of the torment it causes him and needing it because he doesn't want to live without it. Wanting to forget and remember at the same time. But seeing it mirrored in the eyes of someone who was mourning her own memories made him realize – the girl who haunted him was as ghostly, as nonexistent, as the dead boy who haunted Ginny… The closest beings they could find to replace their losses were just that… Mere replacements. Less than perfect replacements.
The redheaded, short-tempered, kind-hearted, less-than-perfect girl before Artemis confirmed his thoughts. Ginny's voice was hushed when she finally spoke again. "You're different than him."
Artemis' voice was toneless. "And you're not her." He closed his eyes again, thinking about her dark red hair, the flecks of green in her eyes, her tanned skin, the picture of her clearer than it had ever been. "Whoever she is." He opened his eyes in time to see Ginny get up from her swing, turn around and start walking away. He knew what she what she was running from, and the thought made him realize something else.
Artemis was out of the swing and, in less than two strides, reached the girl. He grabbed her wrist and held on when she tried to jerk it away. "Stop running. We've already established that running away from our memories does nothing." He watched her shoulders stiffen, and once again thought that she was crying. But Ginny only brushed a few strands of her hair behind an ear before turning to face him with clear, yet blank and vulnerable eyes. "Maybe you and I…" His head pounded painfully. "You and I have been looking at this wrong."
Ginny turned to face him, stepping closer even though her wrist was still caught in his hand. "What are you saying?" she asked, her voice quiet.
"We run… We try to escape," Artemis said, choosing his words carefully. There was a sudden burning at the bottom of his chest, very unlike the usual feeling he got when he figured something out. "We try to escape like our thoughts and memories hold us trapped. But, it's the other way around." He gulped a little, but his throat was dry. "We hold them… We need to let them go." I need to let her go. The burning rose to capture his heart, momentarily suffocating him.
Ginny's eyes had dropped to his fingers around her wrist. Artemis followed her gaze and let her go, but her hand didn't drop. Ginny curled her fingers and moved it to her side. "Do you think you can?" Her voice was barely above a whisper.
Artemis didn't know what to say. He didn't know the answer; he didn't even know how to lie to her. How could he lie when he didn't even know the truth? He stared at Ginny's hand. "I…" He paused to clear his throat. "I think I need to go home."
"So do I…" Ginny's breath hitched for a second, and the flare of bravery that Artemis had recognized in her before made itself known again. She stepped forward and closed the distance between them, wrapping her arms around his neck in a tight hug.
Artemis froze, not knowing how to react. He had never been hugged by anyone other than his parents before, and this embrace was different. It seemed to knock something out of him, seemed to relieve him of a pain he hadn't quite acknowledged. The fiery burning around his heart lessened; it was still there, but it was lessened. Finally, Artemis took a deep breath, taking in the light, flowery scent of Ginny's hair before he wrapped his arms around her waist, vaguely wondering if he had the same effect on her as she had on him.
A long moment passed before they separated a little, still holding each other. Ginny sighed, and Artemis felt her breath at the base of his throat. "I'm never going to see you again, am I?" she asked.
Artemis looked at her for a second, and the answer was blindingly obvious. "No," he said, feeling the slightest twinge of disappointment. "You won't. Because we can't stop remembering if we keep reminding each other of what we've lost…" He stopped talking when she nodded, already having understood.
Ginny gulped. "So I guess this is good-bye." Artemis nodded, and she glanced away for a second before smiling up at him. "Goodbye, Artemis." She leaned up and pressed her lips against his cheek for a second.
Artemis was caught off-guard once again, but he couldn't stop his lips from turning up into a small smile of pleasure. They let go of each other at the same time, and Ginny stepped away from him, smiling slightly, but looking a little flushed nevertheless.
"Goodbye," Ginny repeated. "And thank you."
Ginny turned and started jogging through the forest on her way home, Artemis watched her go without feeling the slightest need to stop her and call her back to him. "Goodbye, Ginny," he murmured into the silence.
Artemis turned around and started walking back to the road. The forest had grown darker in the late summer afternoon.
When Artemis stepped out from under the canopies of the trees, he saw that the sun was setting. Butler said nothing as he opened the door for Artemis to get in the car, but even if he had, the genius probably would not have heard him anyway. Artemis' blue eyes were fixed on the coniferous trees that he had been trying to identify earlier. He saw blue berries on them that he hadn't noticed before.
'Juniper,' Artemis realized. Even as he smiled at this slight triumph, he suddenly thought that he couldn't wait to get home, and that he couldn't wait for the upcoming autumn and winter when the evergreen shrubbery around Fowl Manor would be adorned with berries of bright red holly.
- Fin -
This fic took forever to write… I'm still not sure how well it turned out, but I'm satisfied with it…
This story was based on the song 'The Haunting' by Kamelot feat. Simone Simons. The Haunting is just one song in a series that tells a story. The main character, Ariel, after losing the love of his life, Helena, meets a girl, Marguerite, who reminds him of his dead lover. I thought of this fic while listening to the song, and I wasn't sure if I should do it… But then I went to watch the music video, and Simone had long red hair (she's usually blonde) in it. I took it as a sign…
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