The classes were a great success. They learned more in one day than they had from Lockhart in that week (except for the fact that setting Cornish pixies loose in a room is a very unwise decision) combined with what they had learned from Quirrell in all of the last year.
Professor Snape, as predicted, had been quite pleased to oversee their self-education. He even provided a few helpful tips when they were dueling.
"Try to anticipate your opponents' attacks, but when dodging attacks, it is advisable to only move out of the way at the last minute. That is also why knowing a variety of spells is handy – it makes you less predictable, and you will always have a backup. Also, do not waste all of your trump cards and most powerful spells in the beginning unless you are sure you can defeat your opponent quickly. Against an unknown opponent, you should reserve your energy - defend against his attacks first, to see what he can do, and when he is tired and his movements have become predictable, move in to strike."
Artemis, being quite skilled at reading people, had picked this up quite quickly and soon was able to quite accurately predict the actions of his fellow classmates. Then again, as second years, they didn't exactly have a wide variety of spells to choose from.
"It's fine," Professor Snape had reassured them, after Artemis emerged, undefeated, from their four-way duel, yet again. "This is why you have this class."
Actually, it had been Draco Malfoy's idea to learn how to create their own spells. "There has to be some way for a spell to come into being, right? Obviously, someone would have to experiment until the right word produces the right effect."
"That is correct, Mr. Malfoy. But it is a tedious task, and requires much use of vocabulary."
"Have you ever made up your own spells, sir?" Artemis asked, curious.
Professor Snape stared at him, and then smiled, as though proud by this statement. "Oh, yes, Mr. Fowl. Several. And I was around your age, too, so I do not think that it would be impossible for someone like you."
Artemis, pleased, made a note to himself to research the art of spell-making later. There had to be some sort of strategy or pattern, as most of the spells he had seen so far were Latin or Greek based.
Their next grueling session of Defense Against Lockhart, however, put him out of his happy state.
After the disastrous incident with the Cornish pixies, Lockhart had abandoned all attempts at any hands-on demonstrations. He had instead chosen to limit himself to role-playing, to prevent any more wounds to his pride. (Although, in Artemis' opinion, he really couldn't sink any lower.) Even then, his "role-playing" lessons were atrocious and just as inaccurate and useless as setting the pixies loose. At least the pixies had helped the boys develop their reflexes somewhat.
The man had attempted to lecture them on how to "destroy" a werewolf – through demonstration. And he had picked Artemis to play the werewolf. Lockhart still hadn't forgiven him and his friends for their…shall we say, amusing responses to his quiz on the very first day of class.
"I want you to growl, Artemis. It shouldn't be that hard."
Shooting a piercing glare at anyone who dared giggle, he said, stoically, "Roar." (At this point, Draco and Blaise tumbled out of their seats, laughing, while Theodore shrugged at him apologetically. If Artemis had been in their position, he would have been so much more mature, at least. They would definitely be getting it later.)
"No, no, my boy, that's not how it's done! Come now, bring out the artist inside of you! There must be more behind such a lackluster performance! Act, like it's your soul!"
Firstly, I'm not 'your' boy, secondly, not everyone is an attention-seeking moron like you are, and thirdly, that didn't even make sense. And so, in response, Artemis asked (because that's the logical thing to do when things don't make sense - you ask about it) "How am I supposed to act like it is my 'soul'? You, sir, are making absolutely no sense."
Lockhart threw his head back and laughed. "That is because you do not understand the true beauty of drama, my boy! Now, act as though you were actually a werewolf!"
Was this man insane?
"Oh, all right. Fine."
So, Artemis acted as though he was a werewolf. Now, what would he say, had he been a werewolf? Artemis thought very carefully. Honestly. He did try very hard.
Maybe a little too hard.
What would I do, if I had been a werewolf?
Artemis finally decided to say, "I'm actually not a werewolf, because no werewolf in his right mind would admit that he was a werewolf, least of all in a school, lest he suffer the wrath of angry, worried parents and the Ministry coming to arrest him and label him as a dangerous level XXXXX magical creature. Therefore, I am a werewolf by saying I am not a werewolf. However, since I am openly admitting that I am a werewolf, it means that I really am not a werewolf. Those statements, however, contradict."
When Artemis finished his little speech, the entire class, except for Lockhart, began laughing.
See…I do have a sense of humor…just a very morbid, obscure one that many are too dull to understand.
Lockhart sighed. Yes! He was finally getting somewhere past the arrogant berk. "Artemis, please. You know what I mean. Act like a monster, so I can actually show the class how to defend themselves."
"What, using a Homorphus Charm against a werewolf? They would probably die trying to attempt that in a real situation."
"You simply don't understand, you silly boy," Lockhart said arrogantly.
Could this man get any more frustrating? First, he was preaching a bunch of completely incorrect, nonsensical tactics on defense, and then, when corrected, actually told him that he was a silly little boy who didn't understand what he was talking about. As if he – Artemis Fowl the Second – was a silly little boy! It was utterly ridiculous!
"That is correct, Professor Lockhart," Artemis retorted. "I simply don't understand. In other words, I simply don't understand how a fool like you could have become a teacher." Lockhart grew red in the face.
Artemis gleefully took this down as a rare moment in history – Gilderoy Lockhart was actually embarrassed!
"Mr. Fowl!" he said angrily. "Become a werewolf this instant or it will be detention with me tonight!"
"But I am a werewolf, Professor! It's not my fault that it's not the full moon!" Artemis snapped.
The laughter of the rest of the Slytherins drowned out the rest of Lockhart's vain protests.
On their way back to the dungeons, Artemis glared daggers through the innocent-looking picture of Lockhart on the back of another one of his books. (The first Lockhart still hadn't managed to get rid of the hives, by the way.) The photograph was currently preening and combing his hair. Artemis silenced the photograph by cursing it with an exceptionally nasty case of acne.
"That, my friend, was brilliant," Blaise laughed.
"I wish there was a curse to ruin his hideously styled hair," Artemis muttered sourly. "Then, I could really put Lockhart off."
"Oh, yeah, I know one! That's easy!" Blaise said cheerfully, brandishing his wand at his book. "I condemn you to a lifetime of permanently long, straight, black, and completely 100% conservative hair! Snapify!"
Everyone laughed, but then, there was a flash of orange light and the picture of Lockhart shrieked pitifully, clawing at his head. His spoiled, curly golden hairstyle was now a perfect replica of their Potions Master.
"Wow…" Blaise breathed. "I just created a spell to make someone look like Professor Snape! See, I'm a genius just like you, Artemis!"
"I don't know if I should be amused or offended by that, Mr. Zabini," Professor Snape said from behind them.
"Krup," Blaise muttered.
"By the way," Draco said cheerily one day. "I forgot to tell you guys."
"Tell us what?" Blaise asked.
"It's actually a big secret – a sort of surprise," he teased. "I don't know…"
"Out with it already, Malfoy, I don't have time for this," Blaise said impatiently.
After more wheedling and false humility on Draco's part, the boy finally pronounced, "I'm the new Seeker for the Slytherin Quidditch team!"
"Wow, are you serious?" Theodore asked. "Great job!"
"How?" Blaise asked, looking a bit jealous.
"Eh, I tried out. And then my Father decided to donate some new brooms – Nimbus 2001's," he said, truthfully.
"Huh. Well, that figures. Potter's still pretty good, though, so you'll have work pretty hard to win," Theodore said truthfully.
"Yeah, well, practice is now. Do you guys want to watch?" Draco asked. "Then you can compare all you want."
"I might as well," Artemis said. "I want to see if I can tone up the Chasers' strategies a bit."
"Then let's go!"
Arriving on the field, however, they were confronted with a different dilemma. Marcus Flint, who was the captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team, was loudly arguing with the Gryffindor captain, Oliver Wood. Or rather, the Gryffindor captain, Oliver Wood, was loudly arguing and yelling in Marcus Flint's face in the typically boisterous Gryffindor manner, while Marcus Flint stood by and smirked superiorly in the typical Slytherin manner.
"No way! I reserved the field today for Gryffindor weeks in advance!" Wood was yelling.
"Well, I have a special note from Professor Snape today that gives Slytherin permission to practice," Flint retorted. "We have to train our new Seeker."
"You've got a new Seeker?" Potter asked.
"Right here," Flint proudly gestured to him.
"Malfoy?" the others asked incredulously. "You're the new Seeker?"
"Jealous, Potter?" Draco couldn't help saying.
"Mr. Malfoy made a generous donation of new Nimbus 2001 brooms for our entire team," Flint said proudly.
"Well, at least no one on the Gryffindor team had to buy their way in," Granger appeared out of nowhere at Potter's defense. "They got in on pure talent."
Draco was shocked. How dare she insinuate that he did not have talent! In his anger (and, as he later thought guiltily, a result of habit from twelve years of upbringing at the hands of his supremacist father), he spat, "No one asked you, filthy Mudblood!"
The words were tumbling out of his mouth before he could stop himself.
The world seemed to start turning in slow motion. The stunned silence, the shocked faces of the Gryffindor team slowly morphing and giving way to anger.
Oh, troll dung.
This wasn't good.
And then the silence broke, and everyone fully comprehended what had just occured.
The effect was immediate.
The Gryffindor Quidditch team leapt at him in fury and if the Slytherin team's reflexes hadn't been just as top-notch, Draco knew that he would have been flattened within seconds, especially since the other Weasleys (the twins) were already carrying their beater clubs.
Luckily for him, the Slytherin Quidditch team (it was common knowledge, and even Draco, as a Slytherin, had to admit it) had long relied on foul play and just plain brute force to winning games, and as it was, Draco, being only a second year and the Seeker, was the only member of the Slytherin team who wasn't the size of a broom cupboard. It was all too easy for the rest of his teammates to surround him like walls around a fortress while the Weasley twins attempted to bombard their way through with the clubs.
Weasley (the youngest one this time), on the other hand, was still standing off to the side, and pulled out his wand, yelling, "You'll pay for that one, Malfoy!" He yelled a curse, and before Draco could draw his own wand to defend himself, there was already a flash of light bursting from the end of Weasley's wand.
Draco flinched. Nothing happened. Cautiously, he opened one eye, then the other.
Weasley was kneeling on the ground, clutching his stomach uncomfortably. Suddenly, his mouth opened, and a large slug the size of a banana flew out and landed on the ground a few feet in front of him. He spewed a few more slugs, and one flew far enough that it nearly touched Draco's boot. He backed away, and suddenly felt like throwing up himself.
Artemis and the gang were running from the stands down to the field.
"What was that?" Theodore asked, panting. "Is he okay?"
"He'll be fine, eventually," Artemis stated drily (his normal tone). "It won't kill him. That would just be a simple Slug-Vomiting Charm."
"Yeah, I can see that, Captain Obvious," Oliver Wood snapped curtly, still slightly more miffed about the field being stolen from the Gryffindors than about the fact that a fellow House member was vomiting slugs, courtesy of his own spell backfiring due to his broken wand. "Is there any way we can fix it? A countercurse, or something?"
Artemis raised an eyebrow, fixing his classic "Are you kidding me?" stare on his face. Draco would have laughed if the situation hadn't been so serious. "As its name implies, tt's a charm, not a curse," his friend explained slowly and patronizingly, like Oliver Wood was a first-year. "There is no countercurse for a charm. It just so happens that one cannot reverse this particular charm, probably because no one ever bothered to try for such an insignificant spell – I suppose he'll have to wait it out."
Weasley looked quite depressed at this statement. Granger was scolding, "Ronald, that's why you never attack someone with a broken wand!" She and Potter picked him up and dragged him away, slugs still pouring from his mouth. Draco watched them go, guiltily, wondering if he should run after them and apologize.
"Well, now that your Seeker's gone, can we have the field?" Flint asked.
At the Halloween Feast
"You called her a Mudblood?" Theodore asked incredulously.
"Yes, I did, okay? I got angry at her comment about me buying my way into the Quidditch team, overreacted, and let the words tumble out before I could stop myself," Draco muttered. "I didn't really mean it. I don't know what came over me. I just wasn't thinking."
He did have a right be angry, in Artemis' opinion. Watching him today, Artemis judged that he was a fairly decent player who probably could have made the team even if his father hadn't donated the new brooms, although he couldn't exactly compare him to Potter when the other wasn't even around. Anyway, he had been more focused on teaching Flint and his Chasers new strategies that actually involved something other than beating the members of the opposing team to a pulp and then catching up on the score when everyone was too tired to make any more penalty goals.
It still was no excuse to lose his temper and lash out in such a way, though. "You should apologize to them."
"Speaking of those three, where are they?" Theodore asked. "They're gone, again."
It was true. The three were nowhere to be seen at the Halloween feast. They truly were missing out on a lot. "We'll go find them," he reassured Draco. "That way, if they try to beat you up, we can run away on you."
"Ha-ha. Very funny, Artemis."
They left the feast a little bit early and went to find Granger – hopefully those three hadn't already gone back to the Gryffindor dormitories. The group had rounded the corner when a deep, raspy voice sounded:
Come to me…let me rip you…let me tear you…time to kill…
"Stop it, Blaise," Artemis said.
"What? I didn't do anything!" Blaise protested. Artemis looked at him. Blaise's eyes showed that he was completely confused. Okay, so he wasn't lying.
"Well, someone was saying something!" Artemis said. He glared at Draco. Draco stared back, also confused – he was being truthful in his confusion, too.
"What are you talking about? I don't hear anything."
"Me neither," Theodore seconded.
Time to kill…time to kill…
"How can you not hear that?" Artemis was beginning to grow worried. Was his mind playing tricks on him? No…it couldn't be the voice inside of his head again. He thought he was over that. The voice only showed up when he was stressed. And besides, this voice sounded more like a raspy hissing, not the semi-coherent speech that his brain pelted at him when he was being attacked by moving chess pieces or crazy Russians.
That's because it's not.
Artemis didn't know what to think. On one hand, it was reassuring because that meant that he didn't have a bloodthirsty subconscious bent on murder. On the other…well, one, there was really a dangerous presence inside the school that only he could detect, or two, he was going mad.
Trust me…you're not mad…you're just more…powerful…than everyone else…
"Hear what?" Blaise asked, annoyed.
"Quiet – just listen," Artemis pleaded. The others were perplexed, but complied.
Come to me…I smell blood…
"Don't you hear that voice?" Artemis asked. He may have been a calm, controlled genius, but really, even he knew that it was time to be worried when he began hearing murderous voices inside his head. Voices that no one else could hear.
Use that power well…
"It's saying 'I smell blood'!" Artemis nearly screamed in his frustration. "How can you not hear that?"
Because you have strength that they do not…listen to me…listen to me…
SHUT UP! Artemis yelled inside his head. He was already stressed enough from a voice outside of his head without a second voice within his own brain creeping him out. Maybe he really was going insane from all of this magic and developing an alter ego as a result. He really did wish the voice would be quiet. If he was going to give himself "advice" he wanted it to be useful. Not a regurgitation of the speech that his father already gave him. Those phrases must have gotten locked inside his subconscious somehow.
(Artemis tried to ignore the fact that memories of what the Sorting Hat had told him were also surfacing now.)
"Listen! It sounds like a raspy old man…it's really quiet…can't you hear it?"
But none of them understood what he was talking about, even though they strained their ears trying to find the source of Artemis' distress. The voice, the low, hissing sound, echoed around the corridor, yet it felt as if it was coming from the walls of the castle itself. Artemis broke into a run, following the deathly whisper down the corridors, turning around corners – he didn't care if he was leaving his friends behind, as they yelled at him to stop, he could hear the voice more clearly now and he wasn't going to let it go!
Time to kill…I smell blood…I SMELL BLOOD!
They skidded to a stop at the end of a deserted corridor. Potter, Weasley, and Granger were all standing there.
"Well, that's nice, we found them," Blaise said. "But did you really have to go through all of those theatrics, Artemis?"
Artemis shook his head. He was not listening to Blaise, but following the gaze of the three Gryffindors up the wall.
Miss Norris, the caretaker's cat, was hanging from a torch holder. On the wall, in dripping letters, painted as red as blood, were the words:
THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED
ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE
A/N: By the way, I know that this timeline is slightly out of order, and that the entire name-calling incident didn't happen all on Halloween. But I had to change things around in order to make my plotline fit.
Oh, and for the thing about Artemis acting like a werewolf…that's what I would have done in Harry's situation when Lockhart forced him to role-play in his demonstrations. Besides, we need a bit of comic relief from Artemis himself once in a while.
P.S. "Snapify" is something I came up with while high on sugar. Since the boys are Slytherins and actually like Professor Snape, Blaise is trying to change Lockhart's hair to look like Snape because it would be an improvement (in my opinion, anyway). If they had been Gryffindors, it would probably be an insult to Professor Snape, but I like to think of the Slytherin boys as "honoring" their Head of House.