Hermione frowned as she looked over her homework for Professor Fowl, her thoughts wandering. Without other things to occupy her attention, like the panic of Ron's dad, her mind was again drifting towards the small inconsistencies she had noticed surrounding the professor. She set aside the homework for a moment and pulled out a separate list of notes. It was something she had resolved to do this year, since You-Know-Who had returned and their track record of DADA teachers wasn't very good. She wasn't going to do anything with it unless she found absolute proof that the man was a Death Eater or something like that, but it was nice to have the record and it made her feel more like she was doing something important. She tapped the feather of her quill on her chin as she thought. Most of the things on the list were rather inconsequential. Things like the age of their teacher, his daily schedule, whether or not he had missed a meal, things like that. However, there was one line on the list that had been circled several times because it had puzzled her.
He can heal himself without a wand.
It had been about a month ago when Professor Fowl cut himself on some papers during a test. He shook his hand and a couple of blue sparks appeared around the cut, healing it instantly. The ease with which he did it seemed to imply that he did it often or easily. She hadn't been able to find any explanation for it in the Hogwarts library, but perhaps since she was at Grimmauld Place, there would be a book here!
Setting aside her homework for a moment, as she could finish it later, she wandered over to the bookshelves. Then, she hesitated. A lot of these were dark books; some might curse her if she grabbed them since she was a muggle-born. Sirius had said that if she wanted any books from the library, she was supposed to get him to check them first. She sighed and backed away from the shelves. Sirius was in an Order meeting right now, so she couldn't get him, and the Weasleys were all distraught and at the hospital still. Perhaps Harry? No, he might have the same problem since he was a half-blood; besides, he was at the hospital right now as well. Hermione was only at Grimmauld Place because she had been allowed to floo straight here after classes had finished up for break. She was the only one here who wasn't in the Order meeting and who wasn't a Weasley. Should she just go for it? Perhaps she could use detection spells or search spells? She conjured up a pair of gloves and put them on before waving her wand once more.
"Indago Verbum: blue sparks," Hermione said, waving her wand. A couple books in the library began to gently glow, showing that they contained that word in them. Hermione walked around the library, there were only 3 of them. Quickly memorizing where they were but not touching them, she approached the first one and canceled the spell. She then began casting various detection charms, trying to figure out whether or not it would curse her. It turned out that it would, and with a nasty flesh eating curse. She moved on to the second which was bound by a large belt and was growling at her, rather like the Monster Book of Monsters. She avoided that one too. Finally, though, the third one didn't seem to be cursed. Closing her eyes and hoping she wouldn't die, she grabbed it off the shelf. After a minute of nothing happening, she let out a sigh of relief.
Hermione opened the book, only for a pillar of flame to come shooting out at her. She screamed and ducked, the flame went over her head and fizzled out. She looked at the open book cautiously, but it didn't seem like it was going to attack her again. She set it on the table she had been using and ducked as she flipped the page. Nothing happened. Breathing out a sigh of relief, she began flipping through the pages and scanning for where the mention of 'blue sparks' was. She frowned as she noticed that the book was detailing the uses of various parts of ancient creatures for spells and potions. Ugh. Just as she was looking at a section about fairies, however, she found it.
Dwarf Faeries, called thusly because of their startling height, the large size of which can lead a wizard to mistake one for a dwarf, and because of their inability to fly, are among the least magical of fae species, though they seem gifted with a few rare abilities. They are able to heal nearly any wound with simple healing magic, which takes on the appearance of blue sparks, and can hypnotize others as well as fade from sight. The goblins are by far the most successful at managing to obtain Dwarf Faery parts which are most useful in various healing potions and, for an unknown reason, in potions increasing a person's speed. The right ear, for example, can...
Hermione stopped reading there. She frowned and closed her eyes. There was no way Professor Fowl was a fairy; he was definitely a wizard, but perhaps he had fairy ancestry? No, powers and abilities of specific magical creatures were lost to half breeds, leaving only physical appearance affected. Fleur could not turn into a fire-breathing bird monster like Veelas; all she got from her Veela ancestry was her beauty. Hermione had asked once. So, if it wasn't ancestry, how did Professor Fowl get the same powers as a fairy?
"Indago Verbum: Dwarf Fairy," Hermione said, waving her wand once more. Seven books began glowing.
Holly stared straight ahead and down the road, frowning. On one side, there was a train with several children on it in weird robes. On the other was the town, again with a few people walking around in the same weird clothes, but otherwise it looked relatively normal. Option A or Option B. Holly wished she had a coin to toss. However, her decision was made when the train let out a high pitched whistle.
"Last call!" A voice cried out. Holly scowled, but started running towards the train. That was definitely an open invitation to get on, and she wasn't sure how many invitations inside she could get around the town. Plus, she was more likely to blend in if she was with kids than with adults; she could only hope that they would have the kind of information she needed and she did need a ride to a larger town where she could find a way back to Haven. She could 'borrow' a cell phone to call Foaly with. Holly vibrated from view as she climbed on to the train and ducked into the first compartment she found open. Spotting a luggage rack, she smirked to herself and climbed up onto it, stopping her shielding and making sure she was out of view. Down below, three different girls wearing old fashioned robes were talking.
"Wow, did you see Professor Snape yesterday? He looked really angry!" Girl 1 said.
"I know! I bet it was because Potter wasn't there for him to pick on," Girl 2 said, giggling.
"You think there is something going on between them?" Girl 3 asked.
"No way! That would be way too creepy!" Girl 2 said, shuddering.
"I dunno, they've definitely got something more than teacher and student there," Girl 1 said, thinking to herself.
"Oh, whatever, there is nothing there!" Girl 2 protested.
"You're just saying that because you have a crush on Professor Snape!" Girl 3 argued.
"I do not!" Girl 2 said.
"Oh my god, speaking of crushes, I saw the cutest boy in the hallway yesterday!" Girl 1 squealed. Holly sighed, her eyes already on the door. These were clearly students, probably on their way home from boarding school, but she could already tell that it was all she was going to get from this conversation. She wanted out before she started feeling sick.
"-He had the most gorgeous soft brown hair, a flawless face, and a body that looked like it belonged to a god!"
Too late. Holly wanted to throw up. Scowling to herself, she realized that the robes were probably the school uniform. She would need to get a set if she wanted to blend in. After a few minutes, finally, the door slid open. Holly shielded, jumped down, and ran out.
"Hey, sorry I'm late -" The newcomer's voice was cut off as the door slid closed. Holly let out a sigh of relief, looking down the hall. Hm, should she try to get a set of robes? Would these students even be worth questioning? Or should she try to figure out a safe way to get off the train? It was already moving, so she didn't have much chance of getting off safely without her wings. Well, she would have to get a robe and a cell phone from some students. Luckily, there was a rather small girl in the hallway trying to find a room to enter.
"Hey!" Holly called out. The girl started and nervously looked over at her. Her eyes widened as they took in Holly's futuristic soldier-like appearance. Holly grinned.
"Give me your school robes and cell phone," She said, layering her voice with the mesmer. The nervous girl blinked almost sleepily before she began to take off her robe. Holly didn't feel too guilty about taking it; the girl still had the rest of her uniform on. Holly made a face at the yellow trim and the badger on the front, yellow looked terrible on her. She took off her helmet, clicked a button on it to fold it in on itself a bit, and stuffed it into the surprisingly deep pockets of the robe, then flattened her hair over her ears as much as she could (which, really, wasn't much because Holly kept her hair really short). The girl then blinked as Holly held out her hand for a cell phone.
"I don't have a cell phone," The girl explained, "They don't work at Hogwarts, so no one brings them," Holly gaped. A boarding school that blocked cell signals? With a quick order to forget she had seen Holly, the girl was left still trying to find a compartment to sit in. Holly walked down a car or two to make sure she didn't run into the girl again before she opened a compartment door. Inside, a blond girl sat alone, reading a magazine upside down. Holly wasn't too sure this would be the most reliable source of information, but no one would believe the girl if she confessed to seeing something strange.
"Oh, hello. Are you a first year?" The girl asked, "My name is Luna Lovegood. What's yours?" Holly paused, but decided to go for it. She closed the door behind her and sat on the seat opposite Luna. Perhaps this was good, no one would see anything if Holly needed to mesmerize her for some reason.
"My name is Holly Short, and yes, I'm a first year student," Holly said, drawing the robes around her as she sat in order to make sure her LEP uniform stayed hidden.
"Hm, did you know that you have a lot of Pinnumkins flying about your head? I almost mistook you for a fairy because of them," Holly blinked. Um, what?
"So, what teachers do you have?" Holly asked, trying to play student.
"The same ones as you, I expect," Luna said, blinking. Holly nearly growled.
"Do you know Artemis?" She asked, getting straight to the point.
"I know a few Artemis'. I'm afraid you'll have to be a bit more specific," Luna said.
"Well, no, I can't really say I know him," Holly nearly ground her teeth.
"You just said you had him as a Professor!"
"No I didn't."
"Yes you did!"
"I asked if Artemis Fowl was Professor Fowl."
"So you don't have Artemis as a teacher?"
"No, I do," Luna said, looking in confusion at Holly's glaring face.
"But you said you don't know him!"
"I don't. I do know of him though, and I do have him as a teacher. Are you alright? You're starting to attract wrackspurts," Luna asked, concerned. Holly was fuming. Nothing was going right today, nothing at all. First, she had lost her wings and communication. Then, she had been attacked by giant spiders! When she thought she finally found her goal, she couldn't even get into the castle, and now she was stuck on a train with dozens of children leaving the area! All well, at least she had managed to figure out that Artemis was a Professor at this odd school that blocked signals. Holly let out a deep breath.
"Yes, I'm fine," She said. Luna shrugged.
"If you're sure," she said, going back to her magazine. Holly looked out the window absently. Artemis was a schoolteacher. He was not up to anything - not scheming, not trying to take over the world, just teaching. In a school that blocked technology. It was strange, as he was very attached to his electronics. Sometimes, Holly thought he would marry his computer if he could. Plus, if it was such a harmless job, why go to all the effort to hide his movements? There was something else going on, and Holly had to figure out what it was. Relatively comfortable with her current company, Holly hunkered down to wait out the train ride, hoping it would take her someplace near an entrance to Haven.
Ragnok looked across the table at the Gremlin with narrowing eyes.
"Absolutely; it was right there on Foaly's computer," The Gremlin replied. The house elves of Haven, Gremlins had eyes and ears everywhere. Far more useful than the Goblins' underground green-skinned cousins. Ragnok growled. A thousand years of work, wasted! All because some LEP recon soldier decided to follow an owl. Doubtless, she had discovered Hogwarts by now. Ragnok hit his fist against the table in frustration. How were they going to fix this?!
No, he had to stay calm. Why had the soldier followed the owl in the first place? And she had to be following with a purpose, else she would have been turned away by the more subtle wards before she was close enough to lose connection with Haven. That was the key. Why was she concerned about the owl?
"Try to find out what Foaly and that girl are doing. I want to know why they are investigating that particular area, what their interest in that owl was, and any possible meetings being set up in regards to the information they may have obtained. We may have to do some damage control." Ragnok had to figure this out right away. The Goblins couldn't afford to lose control of the interactions between Haven and the Wizarding World!
This was nowhere near an entrance to Haven. Holly wanted to scream. After getting off the train where Luna had started talking crazy (broom flying and magic schools, along with humpdingers and thestrals, which didn't exist!), she had stomped into the busy city of downtown London. Keeping the robe closed around her, she grumbled as she made her way through the crowds. Anyone who saw her at this point would probably think she was a kid playing dress up, so she didn't put any effort into hiding herself. It was a few blocks from the station that she began to hear a faint buzzing sound. Frowning, Holly reached into her pocket to pull out the folded helmet. It was buzzing. She flicked a switch on the outside and the ear covers popped out of the middle as it expanded back into a useable shape. She slid the helmet on.
"lly? Are...there? Hel...ck...on,"
"Foaly?" Holly asked. The signal was clearing up. It was strange though, that wasn't quite how signal jammers worked. This was more like it was slowly being cleared out than the suddenness of being out of the range of a signal jammer.
"Holly, can you hear me?"
"Yeah, it's about time. Your helmet sucks,"
"It does not! It's a very sophisticated piece of technology, you probably broke it!"
"I did not; the humans had a signal jammer that managed to block it off," Holly protested.
"Impossible! There's no way humans managed to jam my frequencies!"
"Then you explain why the helmet stopped working earlier, and why it's working again now!"
"That's what I thought."
"The only thing I can think of would be if there was a high enough concentration of magic in a specific area, it could theoretically, theoretically, mind you, affect the technology by changing the very flow of energy, shorting out the power on any device. However, no such spot has ever been found," Holly opened her mouth to respond, but found the words died in her mouth. Luna had said that the school was a magic school. No way. Was she telling the truth? Holly had thought she was crazy, but maybe...
"Anyway, that's not what I was calling you about. Well, it's a part of it; I'll need to check on your helmet when you get back to make sure nothing was damaged; but my point is that Artemis was caught on camera entering a taxi in Belfast. I've sent you the coordinates, if you could fly over there, we may be able to figure out exactly where he's gone...oh, and another thing -"
"Foaly, I've lost my wings,"
"-he was acting a bit – what?!"
"I had to take them off when they stopped working; they were too heavy for me to carry around in an unknown territory when I didn't know if they would work again,"
"Holly, that was our last Wind Runner!"
"Well maybe you can apply for an increase in budget to get us some half-decent wings instead of those clunkers."
"It doesn't work that way and you know it! Ugh, you're going to be stuck with a Sky Walker now."
"You're kidding, right Foaly?"
"I'll see what I can do."
"Great. Anyway, you were saying?"
"Artemis used a taxi."
"Does he ever use a taxi?"
"No, but we know Butler wasn't here to drive him; he's still in China somewhere."
"Right, but why didn't Juliet drive him then? Or someone else? Butler would never let Artemis simply walk around in public without any protection whatsoever," Foaly explained.
"So, Artemis is acting without Butler's knowledge?" Holly asked. Something was up.
"There was something else, too. When Artemis stood outside waiting for the taxi, despite only having to wait a minute for the taxi to pull over, he was tapping his foot."
"Artemis-I'm-so-perfectly-classy-Fowl was tapping his foot?"
"Oh, I sent Mulch to meet up with you; he's got a set of Sky Walkers to help you fly over to Belfast. He'll be getting there on his own."
"Well, don't I feel loved," A voice cut in to Foaly and Holly's bantering. Holly jumped and spun around, finding herself face to face with said dwarf. He held up a pair of dull looking gray wings.
"Is he there already?"
"Yes, he is," She said, taking the wings from Mulch and slipping them over her shoulders, buckling them in place.
"That was fast. Okay, since I caught Artemis entering the taxi, I was able to catch its license plate. Knowing Artemis though, he probably did not go straight to his destination, so wherever that taxi went, is not where you want to go,"
"Great, thanks, that eliminates...what, two streets of the city?"
"This isn't the time, Holly. Artemis doesn't have Butler and is moving without his knowledge; that means he doesn't trust Butler. He's being paranoid. He was tapping his foot, a nervous habit, something that he never does. Holly, he borrowed your magic a while back."
"You think Artemis..."
"Might have developed an Atlantis Complex? I think it's something that definitely needs to be checked."
"D'Arvit," Holly swore, "Can't that boy stay out of trouble?" She said, as she slowly flew into the air. Mulch had already disappeared into a hole in the ground, likely leaving to meet her there. All previous thoughts on the possible absurd magic school were temporarily forgotten in her worry about Artemis.
Artemis watched as Holly's little beeping dot moved across the computer screen. She was looking for him, he knew. She and Foaly had been talking for a while, Artemis had been able to discern that much from his hacking of the centaur's systems, but he couldn't get in far enough to actually hear what they were saying because the computer here in the warehouse wasn't powerful enough and didn't have as much fairy technology integrated into its mainframe as he would need. However, he knew what they were talking about. It was him. Holly was moving in tight circles around the Winking Sphinx, the bar he had come out of in Belfast. She was searching for clues to his location.
Why? Why were they searching for him? He'd thought he'd been successful in transplanting the tracker to Butler; perhaps they figured it out? In which case, it would only be natural that they would search for him. What would they do once they found him? They probably thought he was up to no good, so they might try to erase his memory again to avoid involving the People. Well, Artemis wouldn't let them catch him. He had one month until the new term in Hogwarts began again, when he could truly begin figuring out who had placed the ruinous curse on him that caused him to be obsessessed with numbers. And, now that he'd had more time to think about the startling hospital incident, he wanted to make sure a number obsession was all that had been done to him.
Orion. Madam Pomfrey had accused him of having an extra personality, a spare mind that he could not recall. Well, according to many psychological journals, now that he knew about the other personality, if he began working to integrate it, he would begin to remember more and more of Orion's actions. However, that was only applicable if Orion was actually a generated figment of Artemis' mind, and he was not convinced that was true. It was more likely that Madam Pomfrey, unaware of whatever curse had befallen Artemis, had given him some potion or spell which reacted negatively with the curse and which caused hallucinations. Artemis wouldn't remember. However, maybe if she was in on it, perhaps she had induced the hallucinations in order to make him appear crazy? Or perhaps he had been correct with his initial assumption that Dumbledore had brought him there in order to steal his research and perhaps force his cooperation via blackmail and bribery.
Artemis frowned. He knew he had been more paranoid than normal recently. He'd suspected it had to do with whatever curse was placed on him, but he hadn't worried about it as much. After all, what was a little healthy paranoia? It's not like being overly paranoid had led to anyone's death. And besides, perhaps it was less paranoia and more Artemis finally opening his eyes to the truth around him.
Holly's dot moved across the screen, tracing the path of the taxi. Artemis' eyes traced her path as she moved. He wasn't sure if they would be able to follow the different methods he switched between to get here, but he didn't want to risk it. It was time to leave.
Butler stood outside the Leaky Cauldron, waiting for his employer. Artemis was supposed to be there that morning, but Butler hadn't seen hide nor hair of him. He was trying to keep calm; perhaps Artemis was sidetracked somehow. Maybe something came up at the school, or perhaps he made another stop at the bookstore before coming to meet with him. However, Artemis had never been late like this before. If something came up, he always let Butler know. Butler had suggested they use the Belfast entrance to the magical world, seeing as it was closer to home, but just a few days ago he'd received a letter from Artemis saying to come here. Naturally, he'd quickly sent a letter back with the usual updates on his investments and a little prodding for the reason behind Artemis' actions, but no response.
Butler glanced at his watch. It was nearly midnight now, and no word from Artemis. Something was up, something big, and Butler was a part of it. He may not have been as intelligent as Artemis, but even Butler knew when he was being duped. Artemis wasn't coming home this way, which meant Artemis had outright lied to him. He'd never done that before. Sure, he kept information to himself, but he never outright lied to Butler. He didn't need to. Butler's eyes narrowed. He knew he wouldn't find Artemis if he didn't want to be found, not without help. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone with great reluctance, dialing a number that he had forced Artemis to put on the phone for emergencies.
"Hello, Foaly? It's Butler."
Merry Christmas! Thanks again to my grammar nazi beta who's awesome, karatemaster101. Review please!