This is a pretty long one (11 pages on word), so forgive me for that. It's something I wrote ages ago, just after TTP was released, so it may be a bit strange and OOC. Sorry about that. Anyway, mesmerised Holly and A/H fluff. It's not great, but I'd still appreciate reviews.
Skullduck: She didn't have me when she wrote this, so that's why it's bad.
Me: Thank you for that. Anyway, enjoy!
Artemis opened the door, squinting at his visitors.
"You do realise, Holly, that it is three in the morning?"
"But apparently you're up anyway" she replied, pushing past him into the manor. With her was Commander Trouble Kelp. Artemis allowed them both to enter, and then closed the door, resting his forehead against it. If Holly insisted on turning up at unholy hours of the morning, he was going to retract her invitation to enter. Then he recalled that fairies didn't need an invitation any more. If he tried to stop her, she'd just break in anyway. He swore softly and pushed back off the door. Holly and Trouble were lingering by the door to the living room. He gestured for them to enter and followed them in. They settled themselves on a low settee and he sat opposite them, kneading his temples in an attempt to wake himself up.
"What is it?"
"No need to be rude, Fowl" admonished Trouble. "We're here to do you a favour."
"A favour would be to let me sleep" the boy muttered. His parents had taken the twins to America the previous night, to see Disneyland. Their plane left at one in the morning, and the twins had decided that, since they were up, Artemis should be too. He'd had maybe two hours of sleep in the last thirty-six hours.
Holly ignored his ill-tempered muttering and reached into a pocket, pulling out two small vials and handing them to Artemis.
"A gift from Foaly. Inspired by you, actually. Mirrored contacts."
Artemis raised one eyebrow at her.
"Why? Not that I particularly relish being mesmerised, but I assume you have a reason for giving these to me."
"A convict escaped" Trouble answered through clenched teeth. "He was muttering about you before he did, so we're providing you with protection and a bodyguard."
"Bodyguard? I have Butler."
"Then why did you answer the door and not him?"
"Because he, like most normal people at three am, is asleep. You woke me when you rang, and I didn't see the need to deprive anyone else of sleep."
Holly had phoned as they were parking the shuttle in the stables. Artemis had sounded even more grumpy then than he did now.
"I don't need a bodyguard, but thank you."
"There is only one set of lenses, Artemis. Prototype. Even if the escapee can't mesmerise you, he could get Butler. That's why I'm babysitting you."
She didn't sound happy about it, and Artemis guessed that she hadn't volunteered. Trouble sighed and stood also, putting them all at about the same height.
"I'm sorry you're missing your spa weekend, but this is an emergency, and I thought you'd be the best elf for the job."
Artemis looked at her.
Holly rolled her eyes.
"Yes, Fowl, spa. You have no idea how hard it is to get into the Seraph spa – not to mention the price."
"Enough, Captain" Trouble said, putting an end to the banter before it could get started. "I'll check out the rest of the house, ensure that he's not in already. You two, play nice."
He left, activating his wings on the way. Holly removed her helmet and sat down again, massaging the tips of her ears. Artemis walked over to the nearest mirror and slotted the contacts in.
"Why the lenses, Holly? If this convict dislikes me, why are you concerned about the Mesmer?"
"He was locked up for mesmerising a group of humans into blindness. He did it for fun, and he's good at it too. Hence the worry."
Artemis sat back down, trying and failing to stifle a yawn. Holly rolled her eyes and surrendered the settee.
"If you're going to fall asleep on me, lie down. I don't want you complaining about a crick in your neck in the morning."
Artemis glared at her.
"I don't complain, Captain."
"Nooo, of course not."
She rolled her eyes again and stalked over to the doorway, looking left and right outside. Trouble wasn't back yet, but then again the manor was stupidly large. Why did one family need so many rooms? There was no sight of anyone. She pulled back in, but a shimmer to her left caught her eye. A shielded fairy. Trouble wouldn't have bothered, so Holly immediately assumed that it was their convict. A reasonable assumption, as it turned out. She sprinted back to the settee and grabbed her helmet, calling both Foaly and Trouble whilst simultaneously pulling her Neutrino from its holster.
"Holly, we meet again."
She whirled and pointed her gun at the fairy in the doorway, discarding the helmet. If wasted time putting it back on, the elf could get to Artemis. Once he realised he couldn't mesmerise the boy, she wasn't sure what he'd do, and she didn't want to find out.
The helmet transmitted all the sounds in the room to both Foaly and the Commander. Trouble heard and immediately began to race back to the living room. He wasn't going to be in time. Foaly whinnied and thumbed the call button, sending a signal to every member of Retrieval Two. Retrieval One were in Germany at the moment, on the trail of Opal Koboi, so Holly and Trouble would have to settle for the back-up team.
The elf in the doorway chuckled and unshielded. Holly stalked to stand in front of Artemis. There wasn't a hope of her slim frame hiding his from view, but it made her point. If the elf wanted the boy, he'd have to go through her first.
"Don't point that at me, Holly."
He was too far away for eye contact, yet Holly still found herself falling for the voice. Bass and alto layers, mesmeric. The Mesmer was a two-pronged attack; it shouldn't work without eye contact. What was going on? Her brain made this observation whilst her body betrayed her, lowering the gun to point at the floor. The elf chuckled again.
"Good girl. It still works, I see. Move aside."
Holly swayed, but managed to stay put. Artemis put one hand on her shoulder, anchoring her.
"What have you done?" he asked, attempting to distract the elf in the doorway. The convict glared at him.
"I'm re-establishing our link. It's always useful, having a source in the LEP. What, did you think I was here for you? You were bait, human, and little Holly fell for it."
Holly had stopped swaying by this point, but her eyes were shut loosely. The elf chuckled again.
"Looks like I got her."
There was a sound from behind the elf. Trouble, flying to the rescue. The elf frowned and pointed a finger at Artemis.
"I'll be back, human."
He shimmered out of the visible spectrum and (presumably) left the manor. Artemis didn't much care right then. Holly was his priority. He shook her shoulder gently, turning her to face him.
"Holly? Snap out of it."
She blinked slowly, and her eyes regained focus.
She didn't sound sure. Trouble alighted in the doorway and hurried to her side.
"Holly. Are you alright?"
She nodded, blinking to wake herself up.
"I think so."
Trouble bit his lip.
"You know him?"
"I don't think so, Commander."
"He has some sort of mesmeric influence over her" Artemis supplied. The elves looked at him.
"Well done, Sherlock" Trouble said sarcastically. "We need to remove it."
"How?" Holly asked, sounding somewhat nervous. Trouble shook his head at something Foaly said in his helmet.
"No, can't be done. Not unless Fowl can do it."
"What?" Artemis and Holly asked at the same time. Trouble shook his head again.
"I don't like this, Foaly. And nor will Captain Short, I can guarantee it."
"What won't I like?" she demanded. Trouble sighed.
"Foaly says that the only way to remove a mesmeric hold is via the Mesmer. It has to all be done on a subconscious level apparently."
Holly shook her head.
"No way. For starters, it's illegal."
"Not if a human does it" Trouble said, echoing Foaly in his earpiece. Artemis's eyes went wide.
"You want me to do it?"
"You're the only chance, apparently. Can you do it?"
"Well, yes" he said. He had some training in hypnotherapy, and couldn't see why it wouldn't work on fairies as well as humans. Holly was not best pleased at the turn the conversation had taken.
"I won't do it!" she said, eyes dark and dangerous. Trouble sighed.
"Don't make me order you, Captain. I don't like this any more than you do, but it's the only way, apparently. Do you want a repeat of this?"
Holly glared at him, then sighed, turning to Artemis.
"If you mess around with my head, Fowl, I swear..."
"Shall we go to the study?" Artemis interrupted, not wishing to hear the rest of her threat. It wouldn't be pleasant. "It's quieter, and that's essential."
Holly sighed again and nodded.
"Fine. Commander, we won't be long. Will we?"
"That depends on how long you take."
Holly rolled her eyes.
"Talk about stating the obvious" she muttered, stalking out of the room and up the stairs. Artemis followed her, detouring to his bedroom to dress properly and grab a few items he'd need.
Holly sat in the armchair Artemis motioned her to. It dwarfed her, so she curled up in it rather than sit like a child with her feet sticking off the end of the seat.
"Comfortable?" Artemis asked. Holly looked at him.
"I'm sitting here, about to hand over all semblance of control to a human who's lied to me so many times I don't have the fingers to count them, and you want to know if I'm comfortable." She laughed bitterly. "Physically, yeah, I'm comfortable. It's the notion of what I'm about to do that's disturbing me."
She caught the look in the boy's eyes, and sighed.
"I trust you, Artemis, more than anyone. I'm just really uneasy about this whole situation."
"You don't have to do this if you don't want to."
Holly closed her eyes, breathing deeply.
"No. I have to do this. We can't risk another incident like the one earlier." Her eyes snapped open. "Besides, I'm here now. Just do it."
Artemis nodded briefly, pulling a pocket watch from his trouser pocket. It had a long chain, and looked old. Holly caught sight of it and burst out laughing.
"My, you are going for tradition, aren't you?" she managed to blurt out in between chuckles. He sighed and lowered his hand.
"Do you want to do this, or not?"
She nodded, trying to stop laughing. He raised his arm again, so the body of the watch dangled just above her eyes.
"Just watch it, Holly. It's to help you focus."
She finally got her giggles under control, and settled her eyes on the watch.
"You know, the Mesmer would be much faster."
Artemis swung the watch gently, sighing.
"I know, but as I have no magic, it can't be done. So this is what we're stuck with. Please Holly, just relax and look at the watch."
She obediently sat back and let her eyes track the watch as it swung back and forth. Artemis wasn't sure how she'd react if he started talking to her, so he stayed silent. If nothing happened, then he'd speak.
Holly found herself becoming slowly more focussed on the watch. It was gold and caught the light on every swing, making it gleam. It really was very pretty.
Artemis watched Holly, not the watch. He didn't want to put himself under. He saw the slight softening of her expression that said it was starting to work. He spoke softly, not wanting to disturb her.
"As you look at the watch, you feel yourself relaxing. Your eyelids feel heavy, and you feel sleepy."
He winced as he said that, and half expected Holly to start giggling again, but she stayed silent. She blinked several times rapidly. He moved the watch a little closer, hoping to speed the process up.
"Relax, let yourself go. Your eyes are closing, you're so tired."
She blinked again, but this time her eyes didn't reopen all the way. He lowered the watch so that she could still see it through half-closed lids. He swung it a little more forcefully; he'd been looking at Holly, and had let the movement die off. Her eyes tracked the motion, but they were barely flickering from side to side now. She was going.
"You feel so sleepy; you can't keep your eyes open."
Her lids drooped even more and her head nodded. She was a good subject; she was succumbing faster than he had expected. That was probably why that elf had few problems controlling her earlier.
Just as her eyes were about to shut altogether, they flickered, as if she had decided to fight it at the last second. Artemis spoke softly into her ear.
"I'm here, you're safe. Sleep, Holly."
Her eyes closed and her head lolled onto her shoulder. Artemis returned the watch to his pocket. It had worked! He studied Holly's hypnotized form. She was right. The Mesmer would have been faster and more efficient, but he wasn't about to tell her that.
"Nod if you can hear me."
Her head moved minutely. She could hear him. He knelt next to the chair, so his face her hers were level.
"The elf from before will have no power over you when you wake. He can't control you anymore. Your will is entirely your own."
Her eyes moved behind their lids, but she didn't wake. Artemis touched her cheek gently with the tips of his fingers. She twitched towards the movement, and his heart leapt. This gave him the courage to ask a question that had been bothering him for a while.
"Do you remember when we were in the past, at the zoo?"
She mumbled something that could have been a yes.
"Why did you kiss me?"
"I was glad you were alive" came the drowsy sounding answer. His hopes fell. It had been friendship, nothing more. Holly continued.
"I don't know what I'd do without you."
What did that mean? Did she like him, or what? He didn't have the courage to ask her, at least not in this state. She was vulnerable like this, and she'd never forgive him for taking advantage. He moved his hand away from her face and told her to wake up. It took a couple of minutes, but her eyes flickered open. She sat upright and looked at him.
"Is it done?"
She didn't remember. He nodded.
"It's done. I don't know if it will work, but I tried."
"Thank you, Arty."
She stood and bent to kiss his cheek. He turned his head at the last second, and she caught his lips instead. She backed away, eyes guarded now.
He sighed and stood up.
"Sorry. I just..."
Her expression softened.
"We can't, Artemis. We're different species, it wouldn't work."
So she did like him? His heart wasn't sure whether or not to celebrate. She was rejecting him, but not for personal reasons. And, really, did he have any right to want her?
"Can't we at least try?"
"Artemis, no. Stop it" she snapped. He backed away.
"I didn't mean to..."
She cut him off with a sigh, running her fingers through her hair.
"I know. Just...we can't, Artemis. I can't."
"We can find a way around it."
"How? Not even you can change fairy laws that have been set in stone for millennia."
"Do you trust me?"
The question caught her off guard. She nodded.
"Of course I do. Would I have let you do that to me if I didn't?"
She waved a hand at the chair. Artemis stepped closer to her.
"Then close your eyes."
"Please, Holly. Close your eyes."
She did so, sighing. She thought she knew what was coming, and decided to just move away if he tried to kiss her. She felt him move to stand in front of her, and rest his hands lightly on her shoulders. His breath fell on her cheek. He had bowed his head in order to murmur into her ear.
"Stop thinking with your head for a second, Holly, and listen to your heart."
She shook her head a little, but didn't open her eyes. He recalled suddenly the words she'd spoken to him as they were being rescued from the Temple of Artemis.
"Just do what you feel is right."
He whispered to her, and she recognised her own words. She sighed. How could she tell what was right when her head and her heart were pulling her in different directions?
Artemis saw her indecision scrawled across her features. He lowered his head a little more and brushed her lips with his. She stiffened under his touch and opened her eyes. He pulled back a few millimetres in order to see her face.
"I can't" she muttered. They were still stood very close together. A sharp breath would have made their lips meet. "I'm sorry."
She made no move to leave, though. Artemis realised that, at some point, she'd put her hands on his chest, though whether to push him away to just to touch him he wasn't sure. She wasn't removing them, so maybe...
He knew he sounded pathetic, but at that moment he didn't care. It had taken him so long to come to terms with his feelings, and now she was going to turn away from hers!
She read his thoughts in his eyes, and closed her own.
"What do you want me to do? Turn my back on the People, on my friends?"
"I want you to kiss me."
For the longest time, neither of them moved. Artemis wasn't even sure that Holly was breathing. Then she sighed and opened her eyes.
He held his breath. For quite possibly the first time in his life, he had absolutely no idea how the situation would turn out.
Holly sighed, curled her fingers into a fist, effectively grabbing the material of his shirt, and touched her lips to his. All thought flew out the window. He moved his hands down her shoulders and sides, bringing them to rest on her waist. His tongue swiped across her lower lip. She moaned into his mouth and pulled him closer. For someone who'd been so reluctant just seconds ago, she was certainly taking an active part in the proceedings.
Eventually, the need to breathe forced them apart. Holly let go of his shirt, but couldn't stop herself from smiling. He matched her grin with one of his own, moving one hand to her lower back and letting the other trail back up her side. She shuddered as his fingertips caressed her ribs, then seemed to realise her reaction and moved away. He let her go. He knew how she felt, and so did she. That was enough, for the time being. Besides, he'd gotten what he'd asked for.
She drew in a breath, but seemed unsure what to say. She'd confused herself in the last few minutes, never mind Artemis. She was saved the trouble of having to say anything by the door flying open, and the elf from earlier bursting in on them. He grinned when he saw Holly.
"Ah, there you are. Come to me, Holly."
His voice had a Mesmeric ring to it. Artemis looked at her, hoping that his suggestion had worked. Her eyes fluttered, and she swayed where she stood, but she didn't move. The elf frowned and pushed harder, injecting a little more of the Mesmer into his tone.
"Come to me, Holly."
Artemis reasoned that his suggestion hadn't been powerful enough to completely override the longstanding one, but had merely lessened it. That wasn't going to be enough, he could see her falling. She was going under. But maybe he could redirect her attention. He took two quick steps to her side and whispered into her ear, his tone calming.
"Holly, it's Artemis. Listen to me; I'm trying to help you. I need you to trust me, and to do as I say."
Holly's eyes closed and she stood still. Only her chest moved, rising and falling as she breathed. One of them had gotten to her, but which one? The elf in the doorway scowled at Artemis. Safe behind his mirrored contact lenses, Artemis stared right back, moving in front of Holly to block her from view. He raised his voice and yelled for the Commander, although he was certain that Trouble was already on his way to see what could possibly be taking so long. The elf frowned harder and called out to Holly. She didn't stir. Artemis turned and spoke to her softly.
"Say my name, Holly."
"Artemis" she murmured. Artemis grinned and span back around to face the elf in the doorway.
"You can't control her any longer."
The elf growled in frustration and launched himself at the boy. He made it halfway across the room before Trouble appeared in the corridor outside and stunned him with a shot from the Neutrino. The Commander stuck his head around the door and eyed Holly concernedly.
"Is she alright?"
Artemis nodded and muttered into her ear. She blinked and came to.
Trouble kicked the elf on the floor and smiled at her.
"It's all been taken care of. Right, Fowl?"
Trouble cuffed the unconscious elf and called on his communicator for reinforcements. The Retrieval team Foaly sent should be here by now. Captain Vein stuck his head around the door.
Trouble jumped and glared at the unfortunate Captain.
"Help me get him out of here."
Vein gestured behind him, and four elves entered with a stretcher. They rolled the convict onto it and hefted it out to the shuttle, swearing under their breaths at the weight. Trouble watched them go. There was a loud smashing noise from the hallway, and Artemis winced. Holly raised an eyebrow.
"That didn't sound good."
"No" agreed Trouble, heading out to see what had happened. Artemis and Holly heard him bellowing at one of the Corporals, and couldn't restrain a chuckle.
"He sounds like Julius" Artemis noted. Holly nodded.
"I think it's Commandership that does it. Apparently, Root was the calmest elf you'd ever seen before he took the job."
Artemis turned back to her. She smiled at him and kissed his cheek.
"Thank you, Artemis."
"Anytime" he quipped. Holly rolled her eyes and punched him in the shoulder.
"If you think I'm letting you do that to me again, you've got another thing coming."
Artemis grinned. Trouble stuck his head around the door and yelled at Holly to 'get her ass into the shuttle now'. She rolled her eyes again.
"Duty calls. I'll see you soon, Arty."
He leant down and kissed her gently on the lips. Luckily, Trouble had already withdrawn. She smiled, kissed him back, then pulled away and ran out of the door. Artemis touched his lips with his fingertips.