Disclaimer: Artemis Fowl and anything related to it belongs to the wonderful Eoin Colfer. I am just borrowing his characters for my own perverse amusement.
A.N. Sorry that this took such a ridiculously long time for me to write. University is hectic. Thanks to the people who reviewed- especially those who don't have accounts or didn't log in since I haven't been able to thank you all personally! Reviews make my day! And I promise that this will have a happy ending! Enjoy!
Chapter Three: Bargaining
Acquiring time off work was easier than she expected. She had pulled a ridiculous amount of overtime in the past few weeks. Trouble had signed the application himself with a smile, a wave and an order to enjoy herself. The lunar pass had been pretty easy to get too. With Foaly at one end and No1 at the other, the bureaucrats who controlled who received one and who didn't were quickly worn down until they were begging Holly to take the pass off them.
And so, exactly one year since the day that Artemis Fowl the Second had died, Holly Short forewent visiting the grave that was still in place for him, feeling only slightly guilty at the lack of respect and reverence she was showing to her fallen friend, and visited the moon instead.
Holly had been to Atlantis too many times to be particularly fazed by the dome that protected her and every other creature that required oxygen to survive on the moon's surface. In fact, if she had to choose between one dome or the other shattering whilst she was inside it, she would pick the Lunar Dome any day of the week. Perhaps it was a residual effect of her now latent claustrophobia, but the thought of dying whilst floating through a never-ending sea of space and stars was far more comforting than being crushed under the pressure of gallons and gallons of water.
Still, she wouldn't particularly want to live here.
No.1 on the other hand, did not seem to simply exist in this place. He had thrived here. Holly had scarcely had time to take in the view of the shuttle port as she arrived before she had been engulfed in a hug from the small demon. As the two clung to each other in a happy reunion, Holly, for the first time in so long, felt the weight of Artemis's death begin to slide off her shoulders. No.1, happy, (mostly) innocent No1, was truly glad to see her. Here, there would be no hidden resentment or pity, there was only pure, honest friendship and all it entailed, because No1 was simply too pure to give anything less.
And for a few days, Holly felt more whole than she had since the sad and sorry incident had occurred. Gone was the ghost that had followed her, relentlessly haunting her for the past year, lost in the vast space above them. She let No.1 drag her to all the tourist hot spots, show her every gritty detail of the work he was so enthusiastic for, berate her for not taking care of herself and give her a magic top-up that left her feeling heavenly for hours. For a few days, life felt almost perfect again.
Perhaps if she had come here with no other agenda than to see her friend, she would have been content. But Holly knew and would freely admit that she did not possess the same unpolluted soul that No.1 did.
Alas, she did not. And so, on the last of her five days leave, she finally brought up the subject of her ulterior motive. Not that they hadn't spoken of Artemis before that day- no, No.1 would not let it lie, nor would he tactfully avoid such a discussion if he had felt it was necessary. And he had. Repeatedly.
He knew her well.
Before now, she had only repeated the bare facts of the situation. That Artemis was alive, once again, and well. That he remembered everything. Everything except Holly. But she had successfully avoided talking about her feelings on the subject. Only now, as she tried to ask No.1 for something that very well may have been beyond his abilities, did she show her despair.
"No.1," Holly finally breached the subject over coffee as they waited for her shuttle back to Earth. "Why do you think Artemis doesn't remember me when he remembers everything we went through together so clearly? Why is it just me?"
The smile that had constantly resided on No.1's face for the past five days faded into a serious line and he chewed nervously on his lower lip. His answer was careful and well constructed. He had obviously been anticipating this question every time he brought up the subject of their human friend. "I have two theories, but I can't guarantee either of them are right, Holly," he began. "The magic used to create the Gate is beyond me right now- I don't know if I'll ever be able to manage something that powerful. And the stories conveniently skip over how it was constructed, though I guess if they didn't the stories would have been lost years ago because they were so boring..." He caught Holly's wry glare and tried to get back to the matter at hand. "Okay, so my first theory is that Artemis's memories of you are connected to his eye."
Holly seemed to deflate before his eyes, "You mean my eye that killed him?"
"Oh!" No.1 started in the sudden realisation that this was at least half the reason Holly hadn't quite managed to let go of the events of a year ago. "No! I mean that eye," he reached across the table and tapped Holly's temple, just beside the blue eye that had once belonged to Artemis, "his eye!" At Holly's look, a mixture of confusion and agonising hope, he continued, "For Artemis's soul to return to his body, you needed a living body with his unique DNA. But there's a part of living tissue from his body right there," he pointed at her eye, Artemis's eye, again. "Maybe a little bit of his soul got lost on its way to his clone's body," he shrugged awkwardly. "And because that eye is now yours, everything to do with you got caught in it." No.1 scratched his head, not able to meet Holly's eyes, knowing from light in them what she was going to ask next.
"If that's it," her words were rushed, filled with anticipation, "if that's why Artemis can't remember me, is there something you can do to stop it? To release his soul?" But No.1 was shaking his head and she continued, frustratingly aware that she was now pleading, "Please, No.1! Travelling without warping your body is your speciality! Could you please just take a look?"
Bowing his head in defeat, No.1 reached up and brushed one thick digit over his friend's eyelid. Slowly, he probed, searching through the layers of her very being to try and find the essence of something that didn't belong. But the entire eye didn't belong and it cried out to him to be fixed, to be restored, just as it always had done. He couldn't hope to find anything beyond that. Drawing away, he shook his head at Holly.
She sighed, shoulders slumping. "You said you had two theories?"
No.1 watched her, his hopelessness at the situation seeped out to meet the despair that leaked from her, hoping that, if he didn't manage to patch up the leak, that it wouldn't be as deadly to Holly as a crack in the dome above them.
"Artemis loves you," Holly's head snapped up the moment the words had left his mouth. "And you love him. The two of you tried to trick each other into not sacrificing yourselves so that Opal couldn't destroy the world. Artemis could have just let you sacrifice yourself. The plan would still have worked the same way- and he could have snagged a bit of your DNA and created a clone and brought you back to life." Holly was staring at him now with her wide, mismatched eyes. "But he didn't. He was determined that you wouldn't be harmed. He double-bluffed you. Because he cares for you. You changed him in a way even his parents couldn't. You've been there, shaping the person he became. And that person would not see you hurt."
He watched as Holly swallowed thickly. She knew the words were true. She felt the same way for Artemis- they'd been through too much together for it to be any other way between them. But hearing it, out loud rather than just an echo in her mind, brought home just how close they honestly had been.
"It's a defence mechanism, isn't it?" No.1 continued, voice soothing. "When something traumatic happens, you can forget it completely. The thought of you, hurting, and stopping you from getting yourself killed could have been the last thing Artemis was thinking before he died. But it was too disturbing for him to handle, so he forgot."
"Even Argon doesn't know a certain method of bringing back memories like that," Holly breathed, more to herself than to No.1. Whilst the clone of Artemis had been developing, Holly had spent the majority of her off-duty hours researching brain damage and amnesia just in case this very thing happened.
"And magic won't help, no matter how powerful it is," No.1 commented sadly.
Holly nodded and the two sat in silence, each with their own harrowing thoughts until Holly's shuttle was ready to depart. They said farewell with a tight hug and No.1 watched as his closest friend left, feeling guilty, right to his core.
Frankly, out of his two theories as to why Artemis suddenly couldn't remember the woman who had changed his life, he would have put all the gold he had on the first one. He had merely mentioned the possibility of the second option to take Holly's mind off the first.
Because, if a part of Artemis's soul was trapped in Holly's eye, then there was something he could do to free it. But if he wasn't right, and he couldn't be completely sure he was, then the cost would be too great. Even if he was one hundred percent sure that it would work, he didn't think he could do it. Because Holly could survive without Artemis. Yes, it would take time for her to recover, but she would, eventually. But if he was to attempt the other option, she could lose everything she had worked for at the LEP. It would cripple her entirely.
No.1 just couldn't do that to his best friend. If he had to, he would follow Artemis's example and do all he could to protect her from herself.
A.N. Okay, over half way through this story now! I realise the ending is a bit confusing, but all will be revealed in the next couple of chapters! I promise! Please let me know what you think!