Silver, read this. It has you in! Hope you don’t mind what I did to you in this fic… Any personal life similarities are purely coincidental. I have NOOO idea what Silv is like in real life.
Meeting Miss Song
The broken half of Dublin reached out its graffiti-ridden streets as Artemis pressed into the gentle evening fog. He had been moved into the local Dublin comprehensive school in the filthiest part of town, St Bernard’s, as soon as he had returned from Limbo, and it was like nothing he had ever experienced before. Students wore their uniforms casually, something Artemis was still slaving to do. The boys were constantly obsessed with football, the girls wore stolen lipstick and said “whatever!” a lot, and it was becoming more than he could bear.
And then there were the bullying incidents.
Nothing prejudiced like this had ever happened at St Bartleby’s, at least, nothing public. If anything had ever happened, it was to do with money, heritage; who got left into Daddy’s will, et cetra et cetra. At St Bernard’s, people were teased for being too rich. Artemis had not been subject to this behaviour yet, but there was a bleak part of him that acknowledged it was only a matter of time.
A distant, muffled scuffling sound caught his attention. Curiosity got the better of him, turning him towards the sound. He knew what it was, and could hazard an educated guess at who the victim would be.
As he turned yet another bleak street corner his suspicions were confirmed. Street fight, he thought to himself, more smugly than not, and the unlucky contestant is…
As soon as he caught sight of her, he nodded. He had been right.
She was a girl in Artemis’s art class, infamous for her hot temper and sarcastic, snide comments. She was tall for her age, and slim, lightweight. An easy target for bullies, despite her skill at fighting. She had never socialised, bar a few of her longbow class friends, preferring to sit and sketch or play melancholy tunes on her panpipes. She never made too much effort with her clothes, preferring to throw on jeans, ripped t-shirts and a battered aviator’s jacket, and she never wore makeup or dyed her black, pixie-cut hair.
Silver had always fought like a demon, and as soon as she had beaten up a boy in year 8 for saying she had raggedy jeans on, people had stopped trying to help her with any anger issues she had.
Artemis had never seen her fight before – he knew her back story from nothing more than legends. He saw Silver drive the three attackers back, wielding a long black scythe that she wore in her belt. Three muscled, brawny boys twice her height, age and weight, against one slim, friendless girl.
The boys never had a chance.
Abandoning her weapon in favour of her fists, Silver beat against the three pursuers. She hurt each one of them only as much as she had to. Artemis didn’t think that he would have as much restraint as her. One she kneed in the stomach, sending him sprawling on the cold grey floor. Another she dispatched with a spinning kick, catching him in the chest and helping him do a very colourful dance through the air to the other side of the street. The last, the largest, she quickly dealt a Bunshin Genjutsu Ju, or, as many of us know it, a whack on the head. He went down, clutching his cranium.
Artemis could tell. He did have several well- based psychological research sites that he surfed in his spare time, and he could figure out pretty much all of this cowardly bully’s plan. Silver, however, had already wiped her sweaty hands on her trousers and was walking away.
Grab her. Pull out a knife. Kill her for harming the rest of his group. Nobody would hear her final screams of fear and agony. Except Artemis.
There was a split second to react. Do or die.
Artemis ran towards the oblivious Silver, yanking her down onto the cold ground as the attacker sliced a knife over her head, a split- second after her throat had been there. Artemis half expected the attacker to kill them both, but, to his utter amazement, he turned and legged it in the other direction. Perhaps he had decided that two would be harder to beat on his own, or that Silver was too much of a threat.
Artemis’s breathing stuttered. As he had often said, the physical was not his forte. He turned to the girl next to him, still on her hands and knees, shaking with anger. Artemis helped her to her feet. As she saw him, recognition sparked in her eyes as she put a name to a face.
‘Oh my God. It’s you! Artemis…Fowl, right? The new boy?’ Her voice had a slight, beautiful twang of an Australian accent. Artemis nodded uncertainly.
Silver looked horrified. ‘The wimpy kid in my year? Oh my God! You cannot be serious! You just…you just saved my life! How the hell do I live that one down? Oh my God…’
‘You keep saying that.’
‘Right. Sorry. I suppose I should say thank you. That guy could have killed me,’ she broke into a rare grin, but it was awkward. It was obvious that she had never been in this scenario before.
‘It was nothing,’ Artemis said, recovering his breath. He glanced at her hands. They were pure crimson with blood.
‘Oh, Silver, I’m so sorry! I shouldn’t have pushed you down like that. Look at your hands!’ his eyes widened. Silver looked at him as if he was stupid.
‘Of course you should have done. You saved me. Anyway, it doesn’t hurt.’
‘Nonsense. I’m taking you home.’ For some reason he felt strangely protective of this girl. They started walking. ‘Do you have a car nearby or…?’ Silver held up a hand to silence him. Maybe it was just him, or was she embarrassed? He couldn’t see why, until the car came around the corner.
Or perhaps car was a bit of an understatement. It was a jet-black Ferrari with tinted windows, and one of those bright silver hood ornaments bonnet, fashioned in the shape of an “S”.
One of the front doors opened, revealing a tall, thick-set looking man in a uniform. So, Silver had a car come to pick her up, and even her own chauffer to drive her from point A to point B. Clearly there was a side of this girl that he had never seen before.
The man in the uniform looked at Artemis disdainfully. ‘Miss Song, are we ready to proceed?’
Silver’s blush deepened ‘Yes, Reynolds. Please escort me to the h-house.’ It was quite obvious that she was embarrassed about this treatment, but Artemis thought nothing of it. Before his father had gone missing in the Arctic, and they had let go of all the staff except Butler, Artemis had had this sort of behaviour from the servants, and more. It was to be expected.
The chauffer was still talking to Silver, but had not, evidently, deigned to speak to Artemis yet. ‘And will the young man be diving with us?’ he asked his companion. Artemis tried not to bristle at the man’s rudeness, but concentrated on Silver’s answer.
Silver, however, turned to him. ‘Do you need a ride? I mean, if you don’t, I could…’
Artemis’s heart interrupted before his head could come in and scold him.
‘I’d love to. Anyway, you owe me one’
Silver smiled tentatively before sliding onto one of the black leather backseats, Artemis following. The man in uniform shut the door, got into the driving seat and set off.
Artemis’s foot hit something solid. Silver hissed as she heard the contact, diving under the seat. ‘When she re-emerged, in her hands was a small blue sketchbook.
‘Be careful with that!’ she glowered at him as she checked for damage. Inside were pages and pages of detailed drawings, all of wolves, or trees, or moonlit scenes. Each one was lovingly drawn, carefully shaped, so real it seemed as if they would jump off the page at any moment.
Silver looked sheepish. ‘You’re the…first to see these pictures, Artemis. I don’t like to…make a public display of it, you know?’
Artemis flicked over the page. ‘I’m privileged. Silver, they’re amazing! Where did you learn to draw like that?’
‘Oh, I just, draw, you know?’
‘Actually I don’t.’
‘I…look at nature. I feel at one with it. When I do that, it doesn’t feel like I’m drawing something else. It feels like I’m drawing myself.’ Somehow, Artemis felt that she was hiding something.
‘Well, you should tell somebody other than me. You don’t think enough of yourself.’
Silver shook her head. ‘No. Too much, I think too much of myself.’ She smiled sadly.
The car pulled into a driveway, which in turn led to a generously proportioned house. Silver, instead of waiting for the driver, opened the door herself and got out.
Artemis hesitated. ‘Well, I suppose I should go…’ he said reluctantly.
Silver grinned wolfishly. ‘Shut up. Come with me.’ She grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the house.
There were sounds coming from the living room. Silver groaned. ‘Mother. I didn’t realise it was her drinking party today. We could…too late.’
A large woman, dressed in a floor-length, salmon pink evening gown came round the corner. Artemis could smell the alcohol on her breath and see the fillings in her teeth.
Silver stiffened. ‘Good evening, Mother,’ she said formally. Artemis recognised that tone. It was a tone he had used only too frequently with his own mother. The tone of alienation.
‘Silver, darling!’ the woman crooned at her daughter, embracing her. ‘Where have you been? All these years you’ve been gone…’
‘Mother, you saw me yesterday. Don’t you remember?’ Silver sounded close to tears. Artemis felt like an intruder to Silver’s grief, an unwanted spectator as Silver’s mother slowly drowned herself in wine. ‘Try to remember, please!’
‘Yesterday? Yes, dear, that’s what I said. Now run along. Mummy has very important matters to discuss.’
Yeah, with a wine glass, Artemis thought to himself. Silver nodded slowly. ‘Of course, mother. Whatever you say.’
As her mother staggered away, Silver sighed sadly. Artemis felt awkward.
‘Don’t say you’re sorry, Artemis. I’m sorry. You’re sorry. Everybody who sees her is sorry. I have to live with this, every day. I can’t ever have a normal life.’ She brushed her hand against her eye, banishing- a tear? That surprised Artemis. He had thought Silver was above such things.
‘I wish you hadn’t had to see that.’ Unconsciously, she leant against Artemis. ‘I wish I hadn’t had to see that.’
Silver looked up suddenly as they were about to go up the stairs. ‘Oh hell. She’s home. Quick, under here!’ They dived into the cupboard under the staircase.
‘Stay very still, hold your breath and don’t make a sound!’ she whispered to him, her hands wrapped around him.
‘There’s blood all over your hands, Silver.’
‘Oops’ in the midst of everything, she had almost forgotten her spat with her attackers. Blood still covered her palms, which were currently wrapped around Artemis’s waist. ‘Sorry, Artemis!’ she tried to withdraw her hands, but Artemis held them there.
‘It is irrelevant. Just tell me who you’re hiding from.’
Silver opened her mouth to reply, but the creaking of a door cut her off.
‘Me!’ came a soprano, female voice from the other side.
A young girl, perhaps six or seven, with bright, fluffy blonde hair and violet eyes, stood in the doorway to the little cupboard. And from the way Silver swore at her, they were familiar with each other.
‘You should mind your language, dearest big sister, when you have a dashing young man in the house. Aren’t you going to introduce us, Silver?’
‘Shift, Robbie. He’s. Not. My. Boyfriend. So get your filthy paws off the doorframe and let us out, before I take you to archery practice’ Silver made the phrase sound sinister. ‘You know how my friends have been dying to meet you!’ Artemis caught on – this was sister code for Scram, or I’ll shoot you!
Robbie fluttered her eyelashes. ‘One. My name is Robyn, as you well know. I am not a boy, my name is not Robbie. Two. Don’t threaten me, or you might just find a picture of you two kissing in a cupboard has slipped onto the internet,’ from out of her pocket she brought a digital camera. ‘Which brings us to three. Why bother denying your love life when it’s so obvious that you’re together? Or do you regularly haul your friends into cupboards?’
‘Shut up, Robbie. Artemis is actually helping me with something, which is more than you ever did. I like the hair, by the way.’
‘Thank you. Hold on, was that sarcasm?’
‘Nope. Genuine emotion.’
Robyn hugged her sister round the waist, which was awkward because she hadn’t yet disentangled herself from Artemis, before skipping away.
Silver shrugged. ‘Mood swings, what can I say? You can let go of me now, by the way.’
‘I know. I just choose not to.’
Silver twisted her body round, forcing him to release her as painlessly as possible. ‘I need to wash this blood off. Coming?’
Artemis stared at her blankly
‘To my room, if you get me,’ she clarified.
‘Oh right.’ He paused. ‘Nope. Sorry, still lost.’ For all his brains, they seemed worthless when he was with this girl.
Silver rolled her eyes. ‘Are all men morons, or is it just the few I happen to have met? Come on,’ she led the way up a deep mahogany, pure white carpeted staircase to her room
The décor of the room was as plush as the rest of the house, or it would have been if it wasn’t Silver’s room. Or perhaps rooms, s she also had a walk-in wardrobe and an en suite bathroom leading off the bedroom. The pastel pink walls -Silver had obviously had no say in that- were almost completely covered in posters of various indie bands that Artemis had never heard of, or artist’s interpretations of the fantasy world. A wall throw hung above the bed, showing a crimson dragon in flight. Silver slipped into the bathroom to clean up, leaving Artemis alone in her room. A shelf of music and books covered nearly all of one wall, filled with the same indie bands from the posters. A few fantasy books, only a few of which Artemis recognised, were stacked haphazardly with a few sheets of what looked like panpipe music. The bedspread was covered in pillows, which obscured most of the quilt, but what was visible was a moonlit scene, the kind she obviously loved, with a family of wolves howling at the moon. An empty box of chocolates and another battered paperback –The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke- lay on the bed.
Artemis was about to pick it up when a small, furry creature leapt onto the bed and attempted to take a chunk out of him.
‘Careful, he bites,’ a voice said from behind him. Silver crossed the room quick steps, gathering the creature in her arms. ‘Hey, Click! No biting Silver’s new friend, it’s rude!’ she whispered to what appeared to be a marten, except he had horns. ‘Click is mine, Twiggy is Robyn’s. And before you ask, I don’t know why they have horns. They just do, and I think it’s cool.’
‘No, I do too. I mean, the biting wasn’t fun, but…’
‘Hmm, yeah, sorry about that. He’s just being friendly,’ she set the marten down, where it rubbed against her ankle before killing a fly that buzzed too near him.
‘See? Friendly.’ She shrugged. ‘So what do you think?’
For the second time in so many minutes, Artemis stared at her blankly. ‘About what?’
Silver punched him on the arm with blood-free hands. ‘About my room, you moron! Do you like it?’
Artemis looked around. ‘Yes, I find it…comforting. I like it. I saw your…erm…’ he wondered if he should bring it up. ‘Your…panpipe music.’
Silver didn’t look awkward that he had brought it up. Instead, she glowed. ‘Do you like that sort of music?’
Artemis smiled. ‘Of course. I love the traditional songs,’ he lied.
Silver grabbed a set from the top of the bookshelf. ‘Oh, I can do much more than that!’ she laughed, shoving Artemis onto the bed and jumping on after him, putting the instrument to her lips. The first few bars of Evacuate the dancefloor rang through the room, but halfway through the chorus she threw them down in frustration.
‘If. She. Eavesdrops on my conversations. One more time. I am going to MURDER her!’ Silver said through her teeth. She stormed towards the door, yanking it open and screaming at the person on the other side.
‘Robyn, I swear I won’t tell you again…’
‘Fine. Fine, I’m leaving you in peace now. Just go and, you know, mope by myself, or something.’
‘Shut up, Robbie. He’s not my boyfriend; he’s not even my best friend yet.’
‘Shutting. Why don’t you like him, then?’ she whispered.
‘Well, for a start, he doesn’t like panpipe music, and…’ she lowered her voice even further, so Artemis could not hear. Robyn giggled at an unknown joke as she pushed past Silver into the room, taking in Artemis, still sprawled on the duvet, and Silver’s blushing expression.
Robyn bit her lip, smiling, lost for words. Artemis, however, was lost also- at sea, the unfamiliar sea of femininity. Robyn was about to say something, but a fit of hysterical laughter overcame her and she was forced out of the room by a glowering Silver Song.
As soon as her sister had been evicted, Silver flopped onto the bed next to Artemis. She sighed.
‘Brilliant day I’m having. Attacked by a team of thugs, confronted by my mother, stalked by Robbie, met you- the worst bit of the whole day, undoubtedly…’
Artemis laughed, mock gasping. ‘Oh, is that right?’ and he did something he would never attempt in his right mind- he grabbed a pillow from the end of the bed and chucked it at Silver.
It hit her full in the face, and her expression was so dang shocked it sent Artemis into fits of laughter. Silver frowned at him.
‘Oh, if that’s the way you want it to be,’ she said seriously, taking another two pillows and throwing them at Artemis. One hit him in the face, the other on the chest. Soon the fight blew into a full blown battle, not caring if anyone saw, not caring if anyone heard.
But they must have been making more noise than they intended because, halfway through their fight, a dark-suited man entered the room.
There was only one way to describe this man- grey. Grey hair, grey suit, grey shoes, grey soul, grey life. Artemis would hazard a guess that this man was Silver’s father.
The man looked at Silver, then at Artemis, and back to Silver again. His mouth fell open and his eyes widened with fear. Silver’s laughter ceased almost immediately. Back and forth, back and forth the man’s eyes darted until Silver broke the ominous silence.
‘I think you should go now, Artemis.’
Artemis stared at his feet. ‘Silver, I’m sorry if I…’
Silver looked at him meaningfully, begging any and all deities that he would get the point. ‘In fact,’ she said, ‘I’ll even see you to the door.’ She brushed past the man who was her father without a word.
Artemis took the hint and followed suit.
Once outside the gates, Silver turned back to him. ‘I’m sorry. Father doesn’t…approve of me having boys in my room.’ Artemis couldn’t help but notice how she didn’t meet his eyes when she said that.
‘It’s fine, I understand.-’ he started, but Silver interrupted him.
‘It’s not fine Artemis, and you know it.’ She looked directly into his eyes and delivered that fatal line- the line that Artemis had been dreading.
‘You have to stay away from me, Artemis.’
Artemis’s heart fell. ‘Why? I mean, if this is about your father, if we’re just friends, he won’t mind, will he? We could find a way to, I don’t know, meet in secret or something…’
Silver shook her head, sighing, staring at the horizon. ‘It’s not that, it’s just…my persona is rough, tough. It repels people. But the real me is even worse- actually dangerous. You should stay away from me, for your own safety. It’s not that I don’t want to be your friend; it’s just that- I can’t be. I’m sorry, Artemis.’
If thoughts could be manifested, a large crowd would now be screaming “Rejected! Rejected!” loudly at Artemis. Seeing the pain in his eyes, Silver stood on tiptoes to kiss him fleetingly on the lips.
‘I’m sorry, Artemis. Truly I am. I really do like you, but believe me, this is for the best.’
‘The best,’ Artemis repeated. ‘is not always the right way to go.’
‘I’m sorry,’ Silver said again, before turning round and leaving him on the cold gravel drive.