It seemed like an age before she could register anything outside the vertigo and swirl of random thoughts, but even then, her surroundings still felt somehow distant and dim. Even with the voices she heard, her clouded brain did not fully grasp any meaning at first.
“...buried the captain,” a deep guttural voice was saying. “She was moaning quite loudly. Arty this and Arty that, with a few Mothers thrown in.”
Had she been in her right mind, she probably would have been rather irritated with the dwarf for sharing this bit of information.
She heard the guttural voice still speaking and felt something like a coat of a powdery substance fall on her. Her senses were unable to place what the substance was exactly without further sensory stimuli, and so images of an endless white snowfield and snowflakes drifting softly down, and laying in the sun on a sandy beach flickered dully in her still only semi-conscious mind.
She vaguely felt a pair of hands on her shoulders, shaking her softly, and the sound of someone speaking drifted down to her, as though from a long distance away. Not the dwarf voice like gravel of before, but a human voice, almost gentle, with a tone of something like concern. A familiar voice.
“Holly, can you hear me?”
The words seemed to invigorate her, and she finally had the strength to force her eyes open, despite how heavy her eyelids felt. For a moment, everything was blurred and out of focus, and she couldn't make sense of her surroundings.
Then the image seemed to clear and the dark shape she saw leaning over her resolved itself into Artemis's face. There was the same concern there she'd detected in his voice, though as with all Artemis's expressions of emotion, it would have appeared understated and mild on anyone else.
Somehow, just seeing him helped calm her somewhat, to soothe the indistinct feelings of anxiety that had been consuming her subconscious while she'd been out.
“Artemis,” she began, feeling more awake but still slightly disoriented. “I...”
For whatever reason, whether the drug finished wearing off or she just happened to come to her senses, Holly's brain suddenly snapped back into full awareness and the flood of memories her subconscious had been mulling over in the form of fragmented snapshots suddenly returned to her, this time in more perspective. She felt a massive headache coming on.
Now, Holly had never been drunk before. In fact, she had never even tasted alcohol as the stuff tended to poison fairy magic. However, she imagined now that a night of revelry and getting completely plastered, only to wake up the next morning to a terrific hangover had to feel something like this.
Not because of the drug in Butler's dart. No, more accurately, this was like waking to a hangover after a night of partying and realizing that you had done something really stupid while you were drunk - something stupid like, say, kissing someone who was until a few years ago your worst enemy.
“Oh gods,” she muttered. She anticipated her headache would not be going away any time soon.
“It's okay,” Artemis reassured her in a brisk, official tone that did not seem quite appropriate under the circumstances. This was soon explained as he continued, “I don't have the lemur...” He corrected himself. “Well, actually, I do. The other me, but don't worry, I know where I'm going.” That was Artemis, mind always on the mission.
“I mean, Oh gods, I think I kissed you,” she clarified in a grim tone, pulling at her cheeks with her fingers and pushing so hard she left momentary indents in the skin.
Artemis said nothing in reply, but he did shift slightly so that he was staring directly into her eyes.
From the first time they had met, Holly had been struck by how piercing Artemis Fowl's gaze was, and she found she could not look away. He stared with eyes half obscured by sheaves of long black hair, looking as though he could stare right through her.
He can tell, she thought, a little desperately. He can tell what I'm thinking, right at this moment.
The same could not be said of her and Artemis's thoughts. As she stared back into his eyes, for a moment almost transfixed by them, she saw a face unreadable as always. Her magic was so depleted not even her fairy empathy could help her. However, she could still feel enough to sense that he was not hostile. Perhaps even... open?
Another thought rose unbidden in her mind. Perhaps he is contemplating how he can use this to his advantage in future.
But the moment the thought came, she was immediately disgusted with herself. How could she think that about her own friend? Artemis was a changed individual, he showed it more all the time.
So she didn't look away, and found she couldn't look away, didn't want to. It was so warm and comfortable here, like this. We've come through so many things together, she thought, dazed, seeing his hazel eye and the ghost trail of dried blood running from the corner. Would it be so wrong...?
A sharp voice in the back of her mind, her calm, professional side, cut in vehemently, Wrong? Of course it's wrong, for about a million reasons. Even if he wasn't a human, think of everything he's done. To you, to the People. He always has an ulterior motive for all he does, you can never take any part of him at face value.
He's changed, Holly answered vaguely, thoughts clouded as her senses were for a moment overpowered by the memory of the taste of blood mixed with salty tears on her lips...
You're not thinking, said the voice, but now as though from a distance, as it was drowned out by the strength of the emotions churning inside her. It continued to whisper, You may look like an adolescent, but you're not. You're LEP, you're a professional.
The voice was reasonable, sensible. Cautious, focused, as one should be as an LEP captain. But she found she was having trouble concentrating on the voice. She could not bring herself to pay attention to it, in this moment.
Before it faded entirely, the voice had one last reminder, one last piece of advice, the words as soft as a breath of wind. You know you can't trust him.
But Holly was beyond listening to her own advice, even if she had believed it. It was good to be cynical at times, but surely that didn't apply to one's friends.
Holly wouldn't have minded if the moment had continued to go on. She wouldn't have minded continuing to bask in the warmth of those threads of emotion she felt with her muted fairy empathy, that connection between them.
But then Artemis suddenly blinked and looked away, breaking the moment. She felt immediately a distance building itself up between them again. Artemis was upset, troubled – or so the vague sense she got from her magical empathy told her so.
A little let down, she looked away as well. Perhaps she had done too much, crossed some line. Perhaps it bothered him that she was evidently so distracted when his mother was gravely ill.
Holly felt a block of ice drop into her stomach as another thought struck her.
Or perhaps he remembered who it was who may end up being responsible for his mother's death.
He had told her it wasn't her fault, that he didn't hate her. And maybe he really felt that way; but still, it couldn't not bother him. It would always be lurking in the back of his mind, a wrenching truth that may never go away.
Holly's head spun, she felt suddenly sick. But then, to her surprise, a hand lightly touched her elbow and she felt Artemis at her side, gently helping her to her feet.
The close proximity slightly heightened her empathy and she felt again his underlying tension and anxiety. However, she sensed vaguely mixed in with those a sort of tenderness as well. Whether it was a feeling like she was feeling right now, or that he pitied her, she couldn't say. But it wasn't complete animosity at least. Perhaps not even Artemis knew what to feel.
Renewed vigor flowed through her, along with a new determination that chased away the rest of her doubt.
She had been waffling up to now, uncertain of how wise attempting this mission was, uncertain if success was even possible. But there was no backing out now. If they didn't get the lemur, Angeline and possibly many others would die, and Holly may have been the cause. And now Artemis may die as well, thanks to her healing. But that wouldn't happen. Not if Holly had anything to say about it. She would do everything she could to give this mission every chance of success, and she could feel forming in her mind the beginnings of a plan.
“Reborn,” said Holly, as she stepped out of the grave Mulch had made for her. She doubted even Artemis could know just how appropriate that word was.
Last edited by Rocket Axxonu
on Wed May 18, 2011 8:17 am, edited 3 times in total.