We cannot love and be limited. – Alfred Adler
The first thing that broke upon Holly's awareness was birdcalls. She had not spent enough time on the surface to be able to readily identify them, but the gift of tongues allowed her a sense of what they were saying. Quite a few were pronouncements by males of their availability. Typical.
She glanced over to where Artemis lay and her chest tightened. It was the first time she'd seen him asleep. She'd seen him unconscious before, but never sleeping like this, peacefully. When his mind was silent, veiled by a world of dreaming, the lines of his face relaxed and he looked almost like a normal man.
A sheet was draped about his waist and legs, but the rest of him lay in a pool of sunlight, which did little at all for his complexion. He might as well have been a marble figure for all his paleness – save of course for the now pronounced five o'clock shadow on his chin. She resisted the urge to run her fingers though his thoroughly mussed hair. Lying in that tangle of sheets, he looked so far from his usual, well-manicured self, so gloriously un-made. Even Artemis was, after all, only human.
The sunlight glinted off the gold medallion on his chest and Holly smiled.
Stretching, she drew in a deep breath and released it slowly, taking stock. Her body was sore and a bit stiff, much like the day after a particularly intense game of crunchball, though this soreness was of a rather more satisfying sort. Thinking on it, she couldn't keep a grin from breaking onto her features. Gods, she'd really done it now! Yet she could not find it in herself to wish things any other way.
As she let her eyes linger on him again, Holly's breath caught. Artemis. Her erstwhile enemy, her dearest friend... her lover. Their lives had become so intertwined; sometimes when they were together she could hardly tell where he began and she ended. She was not the same Holly Short she'd been six – or nine – years ago and he was very much changed himself – for the better, thank the gods. He had blown on that spark of decency and turned it into... well, perhaps not a blazing inferno, but a crackling hearth fire at least.
The image of a vampire had sometimes suggested itself to her thanks to his paleness and that certain predatory smile of his, but she was quite happy to confirm that Artemis was very much alive and had very good blood flow to all the right places. Even if he'd been nervous. So very very nervous. Which had delighted her. There had been something wonderful about seeing him for once so disarmed, something beautiful in his inexpert fumbling, his uncertainty. Artemis Fowl, uncertain. When else would she ever get to see that? His uncertainty had been endearing and had made it easier for her to be brave.
He stirred. "Are you awake?" she whispered.
"Mmm. I'm concerned, though, that if I open my eyes you might fly away like Amor."
"Considering my wings are in my Shimmer Suit and my Shimmer Suit is somewhere on the floor, I don't think that's likely."
He opened his eyes then and she smiled to meet that mismatched stare. "Good morning, Holly."
She nestled into the crook of his arm just to feel the warmth of him and the joy of his skin against hers again. He pressed a kiss to the top of her head and squeezed her. "Holly," he began and she stiffened at the tone of his voice. "Do you intend to inform anyone about our relationship?"
Relationship. It sounded strange somehow. Certainly very little about this "relationship" was normal; their day-to-day existence was worlds apart. But she would do whatever she had to to make sure they remained a part of each other's lives nonetheless.
"If you mean the council then no, absolutely not. My personal life is none of their business. I might need to tell Foaly, though."
"Do you think he's noticed the lack of readings from your suit?"
Holly rolled her eyes. "I just hope he didn't check my helmet's camera feed at the wrong moment." Artemis winced.
Pressed close against him, she could feel the tension that rippled through his body as he spoke again. "Holly, I will only ask you this once. Are you sure this is what you want? If it's not, it would be a simple matter to–"
She put a hand to his lips. "Stop trying to be such a gentleman. It doesn't suit you, Artemis."
"I wanted to be clear on the matter."
"We wouldn't be the first pair to get carried away on a Beltain moon..." she said, shaking her head. "But I'm not about to make excuses. I'd rather deal with the fallout than give you up."
His arms tightened around her. "You always do manage to make things interesting."
For a while they remained that way but finally Holly took a deep breath and steeled herself. "I'll have to go soon... before they start to think you've taken me hostage again."
A smile cracked his features, and then, after a moment, "How long?"
She cast a glance at the digital clock on his bedside table. "My next shift starts in about six hours. I'll need at least two to get back."
"Then stay for breakfast. I would feel remiss as a host if I sent you home on an empty stomach."
"What about Butler?"
"He likely knows already. I'm sure he'll have noticed that you never actually left last night."
She felt herself flush at this information, but finally they untangled themselves and went about the business of making themselves presentable. Holly's heart was hammering against her rib cage when they made their way down to the kitchen.
Butler glanced up from his newspaper. "It about time the two of your were up and about," he said. And then he rose to get them breakfast.
Holly had long since grown quite fond of the mountain-like Mud Man, but today, as she waited with Butler for Artemis to join them outside the manor, she was a little uneasy.
"So about Artemis's migraines..." Butler ventured, breaking the silence that had fallen over them.
"Oh. Yes." She'd nearly forgotten about the very problem that had started it all. "He should be all right from now on."
"That's good news then." And then, deadpan, "Do all fairy remedies involve deflowering young men?"
Holly felt as if every drop of blood in her body were rushing into her face. "No. Not most. This was a special case." She laughed in spite of herself. "Should I be worried about my kneecaps?"
"That's the mob," Butler corrected. "And no. I'll admit there was a time when I hoped Artemis would take an interest in Minerva. She's a nice girl. I thought it might be good for him to settle down, have a normal life."
Holly smiled wanly. "Love isn't always convenient."
"In my experience it never is. But don't worry, you're family. And it'll be nice not to have Artemis moping anymore."
"Moping?" Holly repeated with a raised eyebrow.
"As good as moping anyway – that research he's been carrying on with for ages now. You wouldn't believe some of the stuff I've had to listen to."
"And here I thought you'd developed an appreciation for the classics, old friend," Artemis said as he approached them. When he reached them he handed Holly a disc. "There's a full report of Clean-Hex's operations and their environmental impact as well as my projections of the impact of the new ownership," he explained. "After reading through it, the fairy council will likely be more supportive of Cernunnos's activities."
Holly crossed her arms and gave him her best scowl. "Should we expect to see more of him?"
"Well I'll let you two lovebirds say goodbye in peace," Butler announced.
Artemis grimaced. "Lovebirds?"
Holly activated her wings and flew up to Butler's eye level. "It was good to see you," she said and kissed him on the cheek. "Take care of yourself."
"And you," he returned.
"Lovebirds?" Artemis repeated as the bodyguard headed back towards the manor.
Holly smiled and punched him in the shoulder. "Get used to it. I think Butler's enjoying himself." She moved to hover before Artemis and their gazes met and locked. "I'll call you," she said. "After my shift."
"I look forward to it."
For a long moment they regarded each other in silence. Finally, Holly shook her head. "Mad as it may be, I really do love you, Artemis."
He cocked an eyebrow. "Against your will?"
"No, just against my better judgement."
They shared a lingering kiss and it took all of her resolve to finally draw away from him. She had to get home. If she was any later than she already was the manure would hit the air vents. But already she was calculating when she could next take leave for a surface visit.
"Goodbye, Artemis. Try to stay out of trouble," she said, embracing him quickly and then hovering out of reach.
He didn't reply and the smug smile on his face was an answer right there.
She turned in the direction of Tara and was about to pull on her helmet, shield, and get on her way when she remembered something. "That story earlier? Cupid and Psyche?"
"That's not how it really happened."
Artemis's brow creased. "What do you mean? It's a millennia-old myth, Holly."
A smiled quirked her lips. "Didn't you know? Cupid was my great-grandfather." And then Holly was shielded and off into the sky before he could say another word.
Artemis was never certain whether or not she was in earnest.
A/N: In the very first description we ever get of Holly, we're told that Cupid is her great-grandfather. I'm never certain how seriously to take that. I mean chronologically it makes no sense... Colfer is always throwing out random details and contradicting himself from one book to another; it drives me sort of crazy.
Anyway, thank you to those who've taken the time to let me know what they thought of this story, and to those who will in future as well. I hope it was amusing.