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Come Into The Water

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During his time living with the Fowl’s, Artemis only went to the coast on one occasion. The couple who he had learned to call his parents had stopped bothering to make the drive once they had acquired a five year old child and whenever Artemis would ask, they would look at each other with an odd expression that he decided that he didn’t like at all. On the one trip to the coast that Artemis took, his only company was butler and Juliet. It was the summer after his father went missing and a week after the first time his mother didn’t recognize him. The three of them had packed up the car, made sure that the rest of the staff knew how to take care of Mrs. Fowl, and drove off in silence.

 The Fowl vacation home that the group drove to had not housed people in almost seven years. Despite much of the House looking untouched, a caretaker dropped by once a month to dust and chase out all the spiders. The property was built a short walk away from a small, private beach and the smell of seawater had seeped into the walls and mixed with the musty smell of old wood. Artemis had only been to this house once, and despite remembering the layout perfectly, was thrown off by how small everything seemed to be.the last time he had been there, he couldn’t see over the counters. The house only had three bedrooms and Artemis automatically moved into The one set at the highest point. The bedroom was the only space on what was technically the attic and could be reached with a very thin and very steep staircase. There was a round window in the far wall that Artemis remembers not being able to see out of. He could do so easily now and the window was just high enough to see the water over the trees. Artemis felt some of the tension that had been present for over a month loosen. He took a deep breath and held it for a second, like he was trying to remind his lungs to work.

 The perfection of the escape house, because this vacation had quickly turned into an escape, did not last long. The night terrors that had occasionally plagued Artemis at the manor became a nightly occurrence. The dreams were vague and confusing, but he remembers darkness and the sensation of being pulled roughly through water, without knowing whether he is being pulled towards the surface, or down into the inky blackness. He wakes up breathless, with the roar of waves still echoing in his head. He stops trying to sleep, staying up as late as possible with whatever mindless task he can find. Despite his exhaustion, he can never seem to get more than a few hours of sleep at a time.

 When Artemis is being honest with himself, he admits that these dreams scare him. He would never say this out loud, but in the early hours before dawn when he can’t tear his eyes away from the sliver of ocean he sees from his window, he thinks it.

 Many sleepless nights have been spent staring at the distant shore, hoping that the water doesn’t come closer. He felt that if he turned his head, he would look back the see the waves breaking against his window. During one of these long staring contests, artemis fell asleep where he was sitting. He opened his eyes to his usual dream, but something had shifted. He was no longer being forcibly dragged through the water. Instead, everything was still. He was just floating, staring up at the surface as the tide caressed his face. He woke in the early morning, with his cheeks still damp. He walked to the shore the next night, after the moon rose to its highest and the rest of the house was long asleep. The ocean was calm tonight, rocking gently against the beach, calming his nerves. He stepped forward and let the water wash over his feet. In the distance, he saw seals dancing in the waves.

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It only took two night trips to the water’s edge for butler to find out. He didn’t say a word in the light of day, but he would be waiting by the front door when Artemis came wandering back. He barely raised an eyebrow at the coat that artemis had brought from the manor. Nights were cold, especially by the water. Butler never asked any questions, and for that, Artemis would be eternally grateful. Despite this, Artemis knew that butler worried. That worry was buried under a thick layer of trust that Artemis would return at dawn, but it was still there.
Butler was right to be worried. He almost didn’t return on the first night he had thought to bring his coat. He had been dead tired, and the coat on his shoulders had been a comforting weight. In that moment the sea looked as inviting as a warm quilt, but he looked back to the house and saw butler’s figure standing in the distance. He had to go back to the house. After that, butler was there every night, keeping watch from the doorway. Artemis almost wondered if Butler knew what he had been thinking that night, but he pushed that fleeting thought down. Butler had been standing steadily by his side since he had arrived at Fowl Manor, why should now be any different.
Artemis knew that if anyone but butler had been standing there, he might not have gone back. He didn’t think that he could handle his mother’s constant worrying or her tendency to hover. His father’s silent disappointment would have been just as daunting. Butler, however, was as steady as the sea cliffs across the coast. He would be there when the waves rolled out and he would be there when the tide inevitably came back in. besides, the past was in the past, and Artemis was growing intimate with the fear that his family was lost to him. At least until he knew how to move forward, there would be a rock in his life for him to crash against when he needed to. He knew he would need someone like that, especially in the next coming months. Especially when he started to act on his plan.

Despite Artemis’ best attempts to be stealthy, butler knew everything that went on inside, or outside, the house. For the first few night time walks to the ocean, Butler had elected to simply watch. That was his role after all. When Artemis had the foresight to grab his coat, however, things changed. Before that, Artemis’ walks had been spontaneous and temporary. Butler knew he would return because he had left with nothing. A coat, however, was more permanent; a coat meant a plan. Butler always got an uneasy feeling when he ended up caught between artemis and a plan.
If artemis was really planning on running, then Butler was confident in his ability to catch him before he left the property. Even still, it was better to keep an eye on him. If artemis decided to leave for good, then nothing in the world could stop him. So Butler did what he did best, and Artemis did turn back towards the house.when dawn broke and Artemis made the last few steps to the front door, Butler didn’t say a word. He simply lead Artemis inside and started on breakfast. For the remainder of the summer, Artemis would continue to bring his coat with him to the beach, and Butler would continue to wait silently for his return. Later, when he looked back at the month he spent being silent, Butler would wish that he had said something, especially when Artemis told him the plan.