Alright, I want to apologize for taking so long with this chapter. The past 9 months have been crazy what with moving from college to living with my dad for the first time in over 8 years, three visits from my brother with whom I had to be social with, my dad having two nasty breakups with his girlfriend resulting in the last one being a permanent breakage, classes, homework, trips to places lacking internet (and in my mom's case, lacking proper electricity), and the notorious job hunt everyone else is having problems with (unless you already had a job before the economy sunk in which case, feel lucky).
This doesn't seem like much, but there are three major problems I faced with my writing these past 9 months and the first one is a block for writing: my muse left me. I had no idea where I was going in either story. That's all sorted out now and shouldn't happen again for a while. The other problems are a lot more serious.
Back in the beginning of May, my dad and I had to take our dog, Alex, who we have had for over 12 years, to the emergency vets. The next day we found that her heart murmur had gotten worse and had broken part of the wall of her heart and that they could extend her life for another 2-3 months, but that she wouldn't act the same. She would not be active. So we came to the hard decision to have her put down. My dad, his ex-girlfriends oldest daughter who lives with us, and I were there as they did it.
The really rough bump(read crater) in this road we call life that my dad and I hit was my grandfather who, to our knowledge, was perfectly healthy except for high cholesterol, passed away due to a massive heart attack. It was completely unexpected as we have all been expecting one of my great grandparents to pass on or my grandmother but the one who was the most active was the first to go.
So, that's what's been going on in my life. What really makes me feel bad with this late update is I've been sitting on this chapter probably since New Year's at the latest, maybe even before then. Sorry. Things should be smoother and I have two more chapters written with some stuff for a far distant chapter. I have also decided there will be a sequel and Innocent Hunters will probably not go past 25 chapters at the most. Hope you enjoy!
Half an hour later Minerva was fully informed of the situation as Artemis knew it, the twins were watching a movie with Juliet, and the other two were waiting for Holly to come shortly before Harry and his friend were arriving.
At 7:35, Artemis' fairy communication rang. "Holly?"
"Artemis. I'm at the gate. Are you in the sitting room?"
"Yes. You are welcome to come in." And Artemis hung up.
"Some people might find your just hanging up rude," Butler commented absently.
"Well, I obviously don't do it with everyone. Only those I'm close to. Like Minerva, Holly, you, Juliet..." Artemis trailed off, trying to think of more friends.
"Do you realize you just named all of your friends," Holly said, coming in at the end of the conversation, "and that, besides Butler, we're all girls."
"That just occurred to me as well. Hello Holly," Artemis greeted. "Maybe Harry will stay a friend. I imagine the sneaky fellow will stay around for a while."
"Why would you think that?" Holly asked, puzzled.
"He's been talking with Di and Dan since last year. Something about his manner reminds me of someone..." Minerva commented.
"Chances are you met him somewhere and don't remember. Wizards can mind wipe as well and it's not as precise as ours. Hey, Artemis. What have those Wizarding Folk told you about the situation?" Holly asked.
"His school years as they know them, his home life as they knew it which, if that's how they allow their savior to be treated, the Wizarding World has issues..."
"His home life? Foaly could barely find anything. Only school records until he was ten which were above average by the way, then he completely disappears everywhere. No medical file, extra-curricular things, police reports, nothing," Holly stated.
"That would be because there was nothing. Harry would definitely qualify as an abuse case with emotional, mental, and physical abuse. As I was saying, they spoke of what they could about Voldemort's defeat and the cases, or lack there of, for Sirius Black and Severus Snape-Potter," Artemis finished.
Holly was thought for a moment before something occurred to her. "I wonder...Artemis, if Wizarding couples are like Fairy ones...if..." Holly trailed off, curious.
"If what?" Minerva and Butler asked as Artemis' eyes widened.
"If so, that would explain the timing...it would need to be two months for him to be sure..."
"Can you explain what you are talking about? Preferably now and not in two hours after talking around the situation," Minerva stated.
Artemis shook his heard to clear his thoughts. "What time is it?" he asked, ignoring the question and causing Minerva to huff in annoyance.
"7:55," Butler answered, knowing Artemis would let them know his thoughts when he sorted them out himself.
"I won't need to explain, you'll find out yourself...is that a new message?" Artemis asked himself out loud, looking at his computer. There was a new message window up.
greeneyedbolt: Would you mind if I popped right into your house? My friend is throwing a fit, claiming I shouldn't be walking much.
Artemis blinked. "Holly, what does he mean by 'popping right into the house'?"
"Apparation. It's a Wizarding form of travel. Very quick. Just beware of the popping sound that will be accompanying it."
hiddengenius: Pop on in. Thank you for the warning.
greeneyedbolt: I'd rather not take my chances against two trained people with guns.
Artemis was given no warning before hearing a loud 'pop'. Standing in the middle of the sitting were two figures. One was a creature around Holly's height with huge green eyes and bat-like ears. The other was shorter then Minerva (who was about 5'8'') with black hair, green eyes, a cast around his right arm and...a slight bulge at his stomach.
"Good evening," he greeted. "As you all probably can guess, I am Harry Potter-Snape or, as the non-magics know me, Evan Prince. This is Dobby. He is what is termed a 'house-elf'. May I guess at your names?" Receiving nods from everyone, he looked from face to face. "Commander Holly Short, Minerva Paradizo, Domovoi Butler, and Artemis Fowl the Second. And Juliet is with Di and Dan watching Treasure Planet, correct?"
"That would be correct. Do you know how this is all going to play out then?" Artemis asked, wondering about Harry's seer abilities.
Harry shook his head. "I only get feelings and sometimes dreams. Every so often I get a vision while I'm awake, but they are rare. And no prophecies. I am not a prophet. Do you mind if I sit?"
"Oh, go ahead. You may as well, Dobby. May I ask a question of a personal nature, Mr Potter-Snape?" Artemis asked, watching as Harry lowered himself into an armchair.
"Harry, please. And, go ahead. I imagine I'll be answering many questions," he answered with a smile and eyes twinkling.
"How far along are you?" Artemis and Holly asked.
"What?!" Minerva exclaimed. Butler's eyes widened slightly, the only sign of shock evident on his features.
Harry's smile widened and he looked at Minerva. "Neither explained? Though, I imagine with everything happening happening so fast, it probably just came to mind. Magic allows soulmates of the same gender to reproduce naturally. And I'm six months along."
Minerva was slightly in shock, but Holly gave an uncharacteristic squeal. "Girl or boy?"
"Girl. Which, as someone probably guessed, explains my timing. If the Ministry found out before the trial, I would have been thrown in with Sev without a trial since only those of like base character can be soulmates," Harry said, his smile turning grim. "Then my child would have been killed, aborted, or taken from me at birth. I refused to allow the thought of a child of mine not being raised by me. With my pregnancy, it would have shown that I had found my soulmate and bonded with them. The Ministry would then start to keep tabs on me while searching the records since the 'Savior of the Wizarding World' can not keep anything to himself. They still found out about the bonding, but they can't find me."
"And is Dobby...bound to serve you?" Holly asked hesitantly, unsure of whether or not she wanted the answer.
Harry sighed. "As Hermione probably mentioned, I've been investigating magical theory and ancient magics which is how I found out about your people. Imagine my surprise when I found the origins of the Wizarding World's house-elves. Investigating the spell, I found out that a house-elf not bound to a wizard or witch would be stripped of their power and dies within at least fifteen years, depending on the strength of the elf."
"So, he is bound to you," Minerva answered.
Harry sighed. "Yes. But, I freed him from the abusive household he had been in previously and most days, he orders me around."
Dobby chose that time to speak up. "And it's time for Master Potter-Snape to have snack," and snapped his fingers, causing a tray of fruits and vegetables to pop in front of Harry. "Must keep up strength for both Master and Mistress Snape."
Harry rolled his eyes and took the carrots from the plate. "Hogwarts prospers as a wonderful school because all free house-elves go there to bind with the school. She takes care of all of her children."
"She? You speak as if she's sentient," Butler commented.
"She is. A bodyguard and intruder's nightmare. She likes to fool students and staff alike by shifting things around."
"We are getting off topic. Now, we know why you left when you did. How long do we have before the case begins?" Artemis asked.
"I would prefer the trials to end within two months as that would place me at eight months. My friends neglected to tell you but considering that today is June 13 (2003), we have twelve days before the trials begin on the 25th," Harry informed.
"So, we have to prove the innocence of a dead man, your soulmate, and do all of the investigating in less then two weeks?!" Minerva exclaimed.
Artemis looked at her, eyebrow raised. "We?"
Minerva turned a glare on him. "Yes, we. Did you think I would just leave you after hearing all of this? If you did, you're even more foolish than I thought, even though you are a genius."
Harry and Holly snickered at the look on Artemis' face. "Well, to make things easier, I have done some work on both cases. Since I am the one most affected by both men, only I could call a case since the Wizarding World is weird like that. So I started to compile lists of witnesses, facts, questions, and put my own memories into a pensieve," Harry explained. "I was going to bring it to a lawyer, but then discovered my pregnancy."
"Pensieve?" the other four asked.
"It stores memories. Would have made you escaping the mind-wipe a lot easier, no?"
Artemis put on an innocent look while Holly glared at him. "Mind-wipe? That's the second time that's been mentioned. Am I missing something here?" Minerva asked.
"I'll explain later, Minerva," Butler answered.
Harry looked at Holly. "Is your friend Foaly watching this?"
"No. He's too busy calming his irate cousin, Bane. Seems that a lot of centaurs respect you, but Bane hates you and he's been pitching a fit since your ultimatum," Holly answered.
Harry sighed, shaking his head. "He'll never let go of the one time Firenze allowed me to ride on his back. Conveniently forgetting that I rescued many centaurs when they refused to join Voldemort."
"Mmm...and some of the centaurs label Foaly as an outcast because he lives underground and not above with the stars."
"I can't imagine Foaly enjoying living in the great outdoors...pitching a tent and sitting around a campfire," Artemis commented. "No technology."
"And no tent," Holly corrected.
"So, who do you have for witnesses?" Butler asked, getting them back on track.
"I decided there shouldn't be character witnesses. Most people who knew Padfoot would have their opinions tainted by his false imprisonment."
"And I assume, from what your friends said, that Severus was not the nicest person," Butler responded.
"No, he's not. Life was too hard on him, shoving the fates of many onto his shoulders," Harry answered sadly. "But, he's very honorable and very dependable."
"And lovable, I would assume," Artemis concluded, looking at Harry's abdomen pointedly.
Harry blushed. "Yes, he is that. He had to keep most of his emotions under lock and key for many years. After all, the life of a spy is very lonely and the person can't have any weaknesses to exploit."
"I understand," Butler answered, the others nodding.
"What else had you decided?" Artemis asked. "And, do I need to actually do anything?"
"You need to do the questioning no matter the curveballs. Don't allow any of the Wizengamont to question the witnesses as they have a biased way of looking at everything. The Wizarding World is quick to convict and condemn, but they make it hard to prove, or even get the chance to prove, innocence. You also need to question and prepare the witnesses to be on the stand.
"I had decided which witnesses would be best for the cases. The five people you've met, Hagrid, who you heard about from the stories of my school years, our previous incompetent Minister who somehow survived the war, Poppy Pomfrey, the school healer, and a couple others would be ideal. Oh, and Remus Lupin. Bring him back with you when you see him so he can see me. Otherwise, he's going to be too far into depression to be of any help. That happens when a werewolf loses it's mate or it's cub."
"And Severus?" Artemis asked.
"Of course. When you talk to him, tell him 'Emerald' picked you to help and to tell the truth about third and sixth year. Also, tell him I love him."
"Before I get to asking about third and sixth year, will you be taking the stand?" Artemis asked.
Harry paused, thinking. After a moment, he sighed and nodded. "I will have no choice. You will demand the use of Veritaserum on Sev and Draco but Quirion Parkinson will declare both immune after their testimonies because Sev is a Potions Master and Draco is one test away from his Mastery. The morons in charge believe that some test to become a Master allows for the immunity of venoms and while that's true, only Basilisk venom allows for an immunity. The only people who experiment with Basilisk parts are those who develop dark potions. So the only other person besides myself who could get him off is Albus and he's dead."
"Now, explain about third and sixth year. Short version for now."
"He refused to listen to Remus and Sirius third year, thinking about what he could get for turning Siri in. Sixth year there were a lot of hidden actions and things that he would rather not share," Harry explained quickly.
"Ok, now explain how Hermione phoned me, but you picked me."
Harry snorted. "I 'accidentally' left a copy of my notes about you and some of your 'highlight' adventures. I also left descriptions of your character that came from Di and Dan. And, I left you phone number, which I saw Hermione dialing anyway. Fate wanted us to meet."
"Did you talk to Di and Dan only for your plan?" Artemis accused, a tad defensive.
"No. I had been working at the Elementary School last year around the time the problems started. When the event happened, my empathy went out of control because of the amount of sorrow I felt. I started talking to them, getting them to try and open themselves up again instead of blocking everything around them. It was starting to work very well when you decided to bring them back home to have tutors. So I gave them my name on instant messenger and gave them instructions on how to use a webcam. We've kept the talking sessions since, and they've helped me deal with the past few months without Sev."
Reassured, Artemis continued, "All right. Any tips on strategy?"
"Minerva should question Hermione. She's a bookworm who needs another female able to keep up an intellectual conversation. She will probably be questioning the other three Malfoy's since 'Mi lives with them."
"See Artemis? You do need her," Holly said smugly.
"Why didn't she say that?" Artemis asked. Harry smiled and gestured to Artemis' left shoulder. Looking at the shoulder, he realized there had been a weight on his shoulder for a while and saw Minerva's sleeping face, blonde curls falling in her face.
"I think it's late enough. We should retire to other rooms to sleep for the night and talk more in the morning," Butler commented dryly, amused at Artemis' uncomfortable face.
No sooner had he said that, Dobby popped up from where he had been organizing Harry's study. "Master Harry Potter-Snape! Yous should be sleeping. It's eleven o'clock!" he scolded, moving towards Harry to pop him away, glaring at the others in the room for keeping his master awake when he needed all the sleep he could get.
Before they left, Artemis stopped him. "Wait. I have rooms prepared here if you would like to stay the night. It's not a problem and there's plenty of room."
Harry smiled and nodded at Dobby. "Dobby, can you please get the things I'll need?" Dobby nodded, popped away, and thirty seconds later, two medium sized bags popped up.
Harry sighed. "He never gives me an opportunity to say 'thank you' anymore...thank you, Artemis, for allowing me to stay the night."
"Not a problem. Holly, you may stay as well. I promise a more comfortable room then last time."
Holly snorted. "Wouldn't take much."
Artemis nudged Minerva. She just mumbled in her sleep and snuggled closer. "Butler, a little help?"
Butler looked at Holly with an uncommon mischievous glint in his eyes. He walked over and, grabbing both young adults, brought them bother Artemis' rooms and shut the door before Artemis recovered from shock.
Returning to the sitting room Butler found both Harry and Holly laughing. "If you follow me, I can lead you to your rooms," he said, gesturing towards the door like nothing had happened.
Harry and Holly stood and followed Butler. Between two large doors he stopped and gestured to the right. "This is Harry's room and to my left is Holly's. Your rooms are connected by a bathroom. In front of Harry's room is the door to the twins' room and Holly's is across from the playroom. Artemis' room is the door two down from Holly's and mine is next to Harry's. Good night. If you have problems, see me."
"Good night," Holly and Harry replied and left for their rooms for a good night's rest.