Some swearing and reference to rape. Not for under-13-year-olds.
“Why did you join the LEP?” Artemis asked.
They were sitting in his bedroom. Mr. and Mrs. Fowl were out with the twins for a week, and the young genius had taken advantage of the situation immediately.
Holly blanched. “It was…. eh…. spontanious.”
“You are a baaaaad liar.”
“Peer pressure.” Holly sounded warning.
“Of course. Because what other people think matters sooooo much to you.”
“Root convinced me.” She sounded desperate now.
“That’s been your best lie so far, but Root opposed you.”
“Okay, fine,” Holly said angrily. “You just earned yourself the story with your big fat brain.”
Artemis was silenced by the ferocity of her mood. “If you don’t want to tell me–”
“No! You should know.” She took a deep breath, and sat down on the bed. “When I was 15, I was part of the group of girls in Haven that set the fashion rules, and wore them day and night. This was our thing–finding clothes that looked good on everyone, and showing them off. The latest little tidbit was faded lipstick–you put a light layer of pink on, then a little bit darker up above, and so on, until your mouth looks like it’s bigger than it really is, light in the middle and dark on the edges. I was the youngest in the clique, and I had finally managed this on my own–I was so proud of myself. I had to walk all over town to show people that I was ‘in’.” Holly squeezed her eyes tightly shut. “That was my first mistake. I stayed out till dark, then headed home. Second mistake. And the third–well, that was a collection.
“As I walked home, a boy, about 10 years older than me, approached me on the plaza. It was quite dark, and no one else could see us. He chatted with me. I was off guard. Then, he said, ‘do you like flying?’
I had only flown once before, on a school trip. He–he told me he had borrowed a set of wings from his dad and stashed it away. He said I could use it. He sounded so…. so kind….”
Artemis glanced up from where he had settled on the floor and realized that Holly was crying. Before he could ask if there was anything he could do for her, she continued, shakily and with much gasping.
“He led me to a ditch…..of the side of an unused road…..and shoved me inside…..he dragged me down a tunnel….I screamed….we went into a big, round room….there were other guys his age, and a bunch of girls chained to the wall. They were naked….. I recognized faces from the ‘lost’ section of the paper… but the terror in their eyes was unimaginable. The boy…. forced me onto the floor……. the other guys held my arms….I struggled, but I was too weak to do anything….. he ripped my clothes off…. and he……….he……….”
“Raped you,” Artemis whispered.
Holly nodded, sniffing and wiping away tears. “He was rough. All the guys took a turn. Once I realized there was no getting out of it, I…. well, I responded, bucking, helping them into oblivion. Once I had them all drooling and half-asleep, I jumped up, grabbed my clothes, stole the keys off of one of them, and ran out… I heard them coming after me, running…. I made it out and got home…. I knew, as I threw open the door and into my mother’s arms, that I wanted to stop being this girl I was, and become a boy of sorts, and I wanted to join the police, and make sure that this never, ever, ever happened to any other girl. And I called the number on the ‘lost’ section of the paper… and they found those girls, their mothers got them back, and they all thanked me… they caught all the guys except the one that reeled me in…”
“It must be awful,” Artemis whispered, “Knowing that he’s out there somewhere and not knowing who he is…” he trailed off.
“Oh.” Holly laughed bitterly. “I know who he is.”
Artemis saw something in the elf’s face. “No!” he said. “You can’t possibly date him! Holly! He….” Artemis lowered his voice. “Trouble raped you! You….”
“But it was my fault, Artemis.” the captain was shaking her head as speaking as though to a four-year-old who didn’t understand the concept of two plus two. “I made myself a target by wearing those clothes, acting that way. How could he have–”
“How could he have resisted? Holly, listen to yourself! He abused you and hurt you, and you’re blaming it on yourself! What are you saying?” Artemis shook her by the shoulders, babbling now, awash in emotion. “Goddamn it Holly, I’ll–” and he took her in his arms and kissed her.
Several seconds later, Artemis pulled away, scarlet but still determined to make a point. “That was from my heart, Holly,” he said, looking her in the eye. “That was feeling. Those bastards only wanted to use you for pleasure.” He hugged her gently. “I love you.” Those last words came out strangled.
“Well, this is coming on very fast.”
“Sorry. I kind of just realized it.”
Holly leaned in again. “M mmmm mmm mmm,” said the elf against his lips. But he knew exactly what she meant.