Though Artemis Fowl knew what he wanted (of course - he always did), for once he did not know how to achieve it.
Since his soul had been joined his clone body, his memories had been steadily returning, largely thanks to his friends recounting the tales of their adventures together to him. Both Butler and Holly had refused to leave his side for more than a week, short of answering the call of nature. After Holly had finished telling Artemis about their first meeting (though she still thought of it as a cough*kidnapping*cough), Butler had interrupted, because Artemis now remembered the existence of fairies, but it would help if Artemis knew about the first twelve years of his life, wouldn’t it? So Butler, in his deep voice had narrated the beginning of Artemis’s short life, and at some points, he would have stopped and hesitated and asked with his silence for Artemis’s permission to speak of such things in front of Holly, but Artemis didn’t remember, so Butler told him anyway. Sometimes Holly would sit quietly next to Artemis, respecting the truly difficult times of Artemis’s childhood, such as when Angeline had been ill after her husband’s disappearance, but other times she snorted at Artemis’s deviancy.
Similarly, when Holly continued the story after Butler finally finished, and she picked up where she had left off, there were moments when she actually did hesitate, because she did not know what Artemis may have told her, and there had been times when she had not even told Artemis what she had been thinking or feeling in a situation. When she reached their adventure back in time, she threw a quick glance at Butler, then told herself to get over her embarrassment – Artemis had just been dead – there were obviously things that were more important – but her ears were flaming as she rushed through the story of the kiss. She noticed that Artemis’s cheeks got a bit of color in them – he was normally so pale – but he did not comment. Neither did Butler, though Holly was 97% sure that she had seen the bodyguard give the slightest of smirks.
It was strange, telling Artemis these things. Telling him the story from their perspective. In some ways, Holly thought, it was like sharing minds with him in the time tunnel from Limbo. He was able to see her emotions so clearly, since Holly could not help but wear her heart on her sleeve, but this was different. She was telling him how she had felt and what she had thought in each insane situation they had somehow ended up in, and she was only able to tell him what her perception of his thoughts in those situations. Retelling him was working though; though he sat, eyes closed, in lotus position on his bed, Holly sitting straight-backed next to him, and Butler in the desk chair a few feet away, Artemis would occasionally look up, and Holly could see that familiar light in his eyes.
On Artemis’s part, it was not the easiest of experiences. This was the second time that he had had to regain lost memories, not to mention the fact that this was a completely new body that had only existed for the past six months. But things progressively fell into place in his mind, leaving him an Artemis version of stunned and emotional (though not Atlantis Complex emotional). He also noticed – how could he not, she was not trying to hide it, she was too happy and emotional – the look that Holly frequently gave him, of awe, of disbelief, of grief and heartbreak, of joy. As soon as she had begun telling him about their meeting, he had begun to remember their connection, their almost-history, and specifically, his feelings for her. Artemis knew that they would have to discuss this, but given what she had said, that they should leave the past in the past, he did not want to break the rule.
But since when had Artemis ever been one for rules? For that matter, since when had Holly been one for rules?
Now it had been precisely nine days – nine days of learning how to live again – and since he was a genius, Artemis knew that the time was approaching. While Holly was stubbornly ignoring suggestions from Commander Kelp that she return to Haven and actually do her job, and that she refused to on the grounds that Artemis was bound to get himself killed again if she did not watch over him and that when the fairy world was still recovering from the explosion of half of its technology, it would be better to keep the human genius alive and safe because he would be an intellectual asset, at some point, both she and Artemis knew, Trouble would give her an ultimatum and she would have to return.
Artemis pulled himself up, having been sitting at his desk, and his body was still getting used to moving and then holding a position for a long period of time. Not that he had been terribly well-coordinated before either. He found Holly in the library, Myles pulling her in one direction to look at a collection of evaluations on Einstein’s contributions to the field of physics, and Beckett yanking her to another shelf to look at books about worms.
Of course, they had told the rest of his family about fairies. Angeline had already known, and Myles and Beckett accepted it extremely willingly, and while Artemis Senior was skeptical, it was hard to deny the proof that his eldest son had been dead but was now alive. Not to mention, Holly and Foaly had been there, and between Holly’s pointed ears and Foaly’s centaur body, it did not take long to convince Artemis’s father of the truth of what they were telling him. As Artemis watched Holly with his brothers, he was initially surprised again by her height. Foaly, before all hell broke loose, had been working on a temporary formula to make fairies human height, so that they could blend in if they had to, since they had been somewhat revealed during the Great Techno-Crash. Holly had been outraged when she discovered that he had proceeded to finish it during the final months of the growth of Artemis’s clone – “You were supposed to be watching the clone!” – but had grudgingly agreed to use it in case some visitor decided to come to Fowl Manor while she was there.
“Artemis!” Holly grinned, as she had been whenever she Artemis now. He knew that would wear off – they were too polar for Holly to not get angry at him – but for now she was just glad that she could turn around now to see him and not be forced to remember that he was dead.
The twins ran to hug him, getting their sticky hands all over him – they were going to get dirt all over his clothes – but he wasn’t dead and they were his cute little brothers, so he could not help but ruffle their hair. “Hello, Holly.” He smiled.
“Hey, boys,” Holly said to his brothers, “why don’t you get Butler and Juliet to go play capture the flag with you?”
“But we want to hang out with you,” complained Beckett.
“You should go,” Artemis recommended to them. “It is supposed to rain later today, so you will have missed your opportunity otherwise. And Holly will be here when you return.”
So Artemis found himself alone with Holly. She was looking at the shelves and shelves of books. “Have you read all of these?”
“A large number of them, but not all,” he told her, falling into a walk beside her. The lighting was bright in here, highlighting the red in her hair and glint of her blue eye. His eye.
“You are clearly falling down on the job. You call yourself a genius?”
Artemis chuckled softly. “For someone who’s saying I’m not a genius, you need my help precisely for my genius quite often.”
“I don’t recall ever calling you a genius,” Holly said snarkily.
“I seem to remember you saying in Iceland, that you needed me, not Orion.”
Holly scoffed. “That is because all Orion could do was recite romantic poetry. Of course you were more useful than him.” Her lips twisted as she realized how much she had missed this banter, the quick wit and back-and-forth between them. She saw that Artemis was smiling. Maybe he had missed it, too, in some way, in whatever form he had been in.
Holly’s stomach curled in on itself, clenching horribly. Artemis had been dead. They had always known that was a possibility – one of them dying – but she had never imagined it would be him. Never him. Artemis Fowl II was indefatigable, undefeatable, indestructible. Nothing could stop him – not fairies, not space, not time. Certainly not death. And yet it had. And those six months without him – knowing that he did not even exist anymore – had left her feeling strangled and tired and numb. She had not realized the full impact that he had had on her life until he was not in it anymore. Holly never felt so alive as when she was with him, defying death and destruction. She could not forget that again, not when he was with her again.
Holly realized that they had stopped walking, and that his smile, too, had faded. “Artemis…” she whispered.
“Holly,” Artemis began. He stopped, swallowed. He took a step closer to her. They were standing next to a bookcase, and her back was almost against it. Holly was only a couple inches shorter than him right now. “I do not think we should leave everything in the past. The past is too significant-”
“You are making this a lecture?” Holly demanded. “Typical Artemis Fowl. You left me your gold, Artemis. Your gold. I didn’t want your money when you died. Why is everything about wealth with you?”
Artemis frowned, an immense display of emotion for him. “I had to,” he said quietly. “I had to do the last thing I could to make up for everything. And the only other thing that I would have wanted you to have, I wanted to be buried with.”
He pulled the golden medallion out from around his neck. He had had it removed from the grave a few days after he had come back to life. “Holly, you gave this to me to remind me of that spark of light I have within me. Without you, I would not be this person. I would not have died that night. That gold -” He smiled wryly. “Monetarily, it means nothing to me. I mean, it does, it’s gold” (Holly rolled her eyes up to heaven) “but it is how I met you, and that is why it was important to me and is why I left it to you.” Artemis stepped even closer. “I meant what I said, Holly. You fixed me. You made – make me whole.”
Holly didn’t say anything at first. She just looked at him. She knew what he was trying to say – at least she thought she did.
“The past is important, Holly. We should not leave what is important behind us.” He was so close now, Holly was sure that she could see each deep blue fleck in his eyes. The same as her own eye.
She knew what he was asking permission before.
With an irritable huff – she had been wanting this for longer than she cared to admit, and had decided there was no point in fighting it anymore – Artemis always got his way – Holly pulled his head down and found his lips with hers. It was not magical and there were no sparks flying as they had been last time. This was better. For once, there was no danger – as much as she loved it – and she did not have to worry about being killed in the immediate future. She was able to focus on this, and he was, as well. Artemis was able to focus well – he was a genius.
When she finally pulled back, Artemis murmured, “For old time’s sake – the past, if you will – do you want to get into some trouble?”
Holly punched him.