The boy sat and stared at the door for a minute after his bodyguard left, contemplating what he had said. It was true that the captain hated him, even more so now than before when he initially kidnapped her. And he probably should leave her alone, but he still hadn’t got to apologize, and he knew his mind wouldn’t let him rest until he did.
Even if I did apologize, the boy thought, ‘sorry’ isn’t going to make it better this time. I mortally injured her, gave her scars that will last her the rest of her extended life. And ‘sorry’ wasn’t going to make those go away, nor erase the memories of that. Not to mention the emotional damage he had probably done in that short time.
Speaking of Captain Short… he wondered if Juliet had stitched her up yet.
The thought brought another pang of guilt on; she had done that to herself trying to get away from him because she was scared. Scared of him, because of what he had done…
Stop it! he scolded himself internally. That’s not helping. But then he sighed. Forget it, he thought. Forget it all. I don’t care what they are doing to try and protect her, I’m going to find a way to get to her, so I can finally apologize, before this newfound guilt eats me alive.
He jumped up and bolted out the door, an idea overtaking him. He knew there was a reason he was drawn to give that room to Holly, and he just remembered why.
That room had a tunnel leading up to the closet in it. It was one of the old servant’s corridors. They were no longer used, as they no longer had any servants like the ones that those corridors were made for, but he had learned at a young age how to use and navigate them. All he had to do was find the tunnel entrance again, which he was pretty sure was in the pantry…
He ran all the way to the pantry, tripping several times on the way. There were several tunnel entrances from here, now he just had to remember the correct one. He closed his eyes and thought hard for a minute. Then he suddenly realized: the cupboard! It’s under the cupboard!
He dropped down to his hands and knees, disgusted and worried about his suit, but still crawling down into the cabinet and pulling the door shut behind him. He pushed a few old cans of food out of the way and felt around for the tunnel entrance. It was covered with an old slab of stone, he remembered. Which was a good thing, because he was navigating from memory alone under here with no light.
It took him a minute to find, but eventually his fingers brushed against the cold rock and he knew he had found the entrance. He pushed the rock out of the way and clambered into the tunnel.
Once inside, he could stand again, which was good,because his back was starting to hurt from the cramped cupboard. Now he just had to follow the correct hallways, which should be easy, and it would only take him a matter of minutes to get into Holly’s room.
He went on for about ten minutes. Walking here, crawling there, and following about fifty twists and turns in different directions, he finally came to a short slope that he knew would take him to the end of his journey.
He climbed up slowly, coming to a complete stop when he reached the closet door. If he burst into the room with a bunch of people in there, he was going to be in trouble with the Butlers and the tunnel would end up sealed, leaving him no way to get back in. He had to proceed with caution from here.
He pressed his ear to the door. There was no sounds coming through it, not even the distinctive sounds of breathing that could usually be heard, so he guessed it was safe.
He pushed opened the door and slipped out, shutting it silently behind him. Looking around, he realized he was completely alone. The room was empty except for him. He knew that Butler and Juliet hadn’t let Holly out yet, and there was only one other place she could be then…
It was at that moment the door to the adjoining bathroom creaked open, and Holly stepped out, clad in a soft looking blue colored bathrobe. Her hair was plastered down to the sides of her face, still dripping wet. She walked over to the bed and laid down, closing her eyes and letting out a low groan.
She didn’t seem to notice the mattress moving when he sat down on the end of the bed, but she did about jump out of her skin when he reached out a lightly touched her ankle. “Holly.”
The elf jumped, her eyes flying open and shooting bolt upright in the bed. She took one look at him and started to get out of bed, but he reached over and grabbed her arms, pulling her back down. “No, Holly,” he said firmly.
She fell back onto the bed, landing on her back a few inches away from him. Then she scrambled up and curled into a ball at the front of the bed. He slowly started to go over to her, but a whimper from her stopped him. He raised his hands, and she flinched.
“Holly, I’m not going to hurt you. I just came to talk.”
“Artemis, how did you even get in?”
He cocked his head. “I’ll tell you what. You come back down here and hear me out, and I’ll tell you.”
She hesitated, then nodded. “Fine. But keep your hands to yourself, or I won’t hesitate to scream again.”
“Of course. And you have every right to be afraid of me. That’s what I’m here about, in fact. The-”
“I’m not afraid of you,” she interrupted. He rolled his eyes and gave her a look, and she cringed. “Okay, okay! Maybe a little… or a lot.” Her voice was a whisper as she finished.
“I know. Again, that’s what I came here to talk to you about, and that’s also why I came earlier. Unfortunately my earlier attempt to apologize didn’t go exactly as I hoped.”
“You came to… apologize?” Holly asked, confused.
“Yes. It sounds bizarre, but that is what I came for. I let myself get caught up in my anger the other night, Holly, and you paid dearly for it. I am truly sorry for hurting you so badly. I am fully aware that my apology can in no way erase the fact that I did, but I have hopes that at the very least hearing this will make you feel a little better.”
She stared at him for a minute in silence after he finished. “You’re… sorry?” she said slowly. He nodded. “You know, that actually does make me feel a little better. At least I know you don’t hate me so much now.”
“I don’t hate you, Holly, I never did, either. You just frustrate me a lot, and there’s only so much before I reach my limit and bust on you, which is kind of what happened before. And all of the frustration wasn’t even because of you. I’ve just had a lot since this whole thing started, and it finally became too much then, so I took it out on you. It was nothing personal, really.”
“I think you need anger management classes,” she murmured. “Or a therapist or something.”
The boy laughed softly. “I’ve tried both. Usually, I meditate, and that helps, but I just haven’t gotten around to it lately.”
“Oh.” she said quietly. “How does that work?”
He smiled. “I could teach you, if you’d like.”
“Maybe some other time.”
“Alright,” he agreed. Then he stood up. “I should go, before I get caught.”
“Will you come back?” she asked.
“Maybe later,” he allowed. “But I make no promises on if or when.”
She sighed, but nodded. “Okay.”
He thought he heard a tinge of disappointment in her voice, but he couldn’t be sure. He decided it would probably be best not to question her on it.
He turned and walked back into the closet, closing the door behind him and heading back into the tunnels.