Warning: This has hints of Butler/Holly. Yes, it’s weird. Except I don’t think that it’s that weird, really. They’re an awful lot alike…
Butler flips through the pages of the yellowing copy of his book as he sits in his armchair, the doting grandfather of this little scene.
Artemis and Holly rest on the couch, their heads bent together in talk. They laugh hysterically. Or, Holly does. Artemis chuckles and smiles, his eyes warmer than Butler has ever seen them. Still, the prodigy sits up straight and is careful not to wrinkle his Armani suit. Artemis is not one to let go, but he is freer than usual. It seems that lately he is acting this way, and Butler thinks that it suits the young genius.
Butler runs his fingers over the cover lovingly. It is ripped and yellowing, though the book itself is not that old. He has just read it and reread it so many times that the pages have begun to crackle and the spine has weakened.
Butler had scoffed when Minerva had first brought the book to his house.
A romance, how absurd, he had no use for that. As a bodyguard Butler had never been one for books unless they contained some sort of useful information, or a bomb. To read for pleasure seemed as odd to him as other foolish recreations, such as television and bull fighting. What was the point?
“It’s a classic,” the young genius had said, so haughtily that Butler was immediately reminded of Artemis. He consented on those grounds and those grounds alone. He had not expected to like the book.
Pride and Prejudice, the title itself was snotty and foreboding. Butler liked neither Pride nor Prejudice, and saw no need to devote an entire novel to either subject.
The first chapter was as bad as he had expected. It was a dull conversation between dull people about dull affairs. He found it slightly revolting, they would sell their daughter off for the benefit of the money. Butler had been ready to put it down.
And then he met Elizabeth Bennet.
He thought it quite silly that she took his breath away. She was but paper and ink, and still she held him, enraptured, as if she were a being of flesh and blood.
Elizabeth was fiery. Butler liked that. He was fascinated by how she thought, and marvelled at her vastly intelligent mind.
Elizabeth didn’t think like others in her society. She didn’t think of only money and reputation. She didn’t think herself inferior to men.
She was admirable, kind, strong and sweet.
Butler turned the pages with wonder, absorbed entirely by the book.
When it had ended Butler had looked up, surprised to see that four hours had gone by.
He had sighed with regret.
He was no Darcy. He was not cultured, rich, or well-bred. He was not intelligent or sly.
He was not one to defy social norms for love. He had conformed nicely into the little bodyguard cookie cutter shape that had been planned. He had never had so much as a blip to indicate that he might choose otherwise.
No, he was not a Darcy, that was for certain.
So, Butler had thought, he’d never get an Elizabeth.
Now he still reads it with a slight smile. What a temper, he grins. He thinks that she judges too quickly, but admires her capacity for forgiveness. She is familiar to him now, and he feels as if he can converse with her silently.
He glances briefly up to keep himself assured and redirects his eyes instantly. He is uncomfortable with the close proximity between his principal and the elf.
Bullocks to Lady Catherine, he thinks, trying to distract himself. She can’t stop them from loving each other. He feels silly, not being a romantic, and yet he protests still. Maybe it is because he cares so deeply about the characters that he can afford to invest interest in their relationship.
Butler looks up again to be confronted with a curious Holly standing in front of him. Artemis, he presumes, has left to fetch refreshments, not wanting to disturb Butler.
The bodyguard feels pride swell in him. Even these little things prove how much Artemis has grown. Just two years ago he would have called a servant.
“Pride and Prejudice,” Holly says, “that’s one of my favourites.”
Butler is surprised, to say the least, “But it’s a mud man book.”
“I took Human Studies 101 in college. And we do use a lot of your media and culture as part of our own. Root used to love the Wizard of Oz.” She smiles, “I never thought I’d see a man reading it, it’s refreshing.”
Butler, Gods help him, blushes slightly. “It’s… my favourite too. Minerva got me reading them when you were gone.”
“She has good taste,” Holly says, “I don’t think that there is a girl alive who doesn’t want her Mr. Darcy.”
Butler smiles forcibly. “No, I suppose not,” he responds.
Artemis walks back in, two mugs of Cocoa in hand. He looks a little put off that Holly’s attention is not fully focused on himself. But surely enough they are quickly engaged in light banter, again.
Butler is left feeling slightly ashamed and very lightheaded.
He returns to his book and is startled to find that he cannot, for the life of him, remember what colour Elizabeth’s hair is.
For now he pictures her with auburn locks, though he doesn’t think that this was always so. Wasn’t she a blond before? Or maybe a brunette…
Though, it isn’t the physical that matters, is it?
He tries to dive back in, but finds that he can’t. His mind is layered, and it is not always Elizabeth that he is thinking about. Butler shifts his position, uncomfortable. He doesn’t like his thoughts, not at all, but he can’t seem to banish them.
He wonders where they came from. He feels embarrassed, almost as if he is afraid that others could see in his head and read his thoughts, or somehow guess what he is thinking.
That’s silly, of course. He knows it. But Butler is disturbed by the change in his Elizabeth.
He shuts the book emphatically. There is a soft thump, but the two young people in the room are too occupied with each other to notice.
They are discussing fairy politics, a subject that Butler finds quite dull. Both of them are animated, gesturing with their hands and leaning in towards each other.
He cannot bear to look at them. He sneaks quietly out of the room.
Neither of them notice.
As he goes he stares back at them. He is happy for Artemis, so happy. Butler has been, he realizes, Artemis’ father for a long time. Even now that Artemis Sr. Is back in the picture, it is hard for the father and son to make up for lost time. Bonds had been broken, and Artemis II is never quite sure whether he can trust Artemis I, no matter how much they love each other. Butler, however, was always there. And the bodyguard knows that his relationship with his principle crossed the line somewhere. Artemis is almost a son to Butler. So he looks at the couple and smiles a true smile, knowing that, if anyone could overcome the adversities, it would be them.
Butler is not a Darcy. Butler is not even a Bingley.
Butler is a Butler, and he thinks that it is time for him to accept that.
Though tonight he might read Pride and Prejudice one more time, just so he can pretend.
Author’s Note: Meo, thanks for trying to save this story. 😀 You’re a lovely beta-er. I’m just not a great beta-ee. 😀 I don’t own Pride and Prejudice. Though, I think that you must have gathered that from the fact that… well, from the fact that you’re not dumb.
Reviews and crit is always appreciated. It’s a weird ship, I know. It could’ve been better. I really don’t like the middle part… Eh, nevermind. Reviewers get virtual non-alcoholic Champagne to start the New Year with. 😀 Concrit is my favourite thing and would make a great late Christmas present. 🙂