Commander Root circled around Fowl Manor, scanning for heat signatures inside. He found four all throughout the house, three on the same floor and one in the very top o the house, in what he assumed to be an attic.
He briefly wondered if perhaps the one in the attic could be Captain Short, then dismissed the thought. He wouldn't have risked moving her, he reasoned.
In one last desperate attempt, he scanned the basement for heat signatures. It came up stone cold, and he sighed, starting his descent towards the front double doors of the manor.
Julius landed hard, frowning as he stared at the door and front of him, then paused. Here goes nothing, he thought, pressing the doorbell.
Inside the manor, a few minutes before, Artemis and Holly were still finishing up eating, and Butler had began the dishes. Suddenly, Holly put down her fork and asked, "Artemis?"
"Can I go to the gym after this?"
The boy paused, chewing slowly as he thought of an answer. Finally, swallowing, he stood up and shook his head. "I don't think that's such a good idea, Holly." He walked over and dropped his plate in the right side of the double sink.
"Oh, come on! I won't try to hurt myself again, I swear! You can even come watch me if you want!" Holly said, desperately trying to change his mind. "Pleeeeaaaaase?"
Butler chuckled, and Artemis threw him a look. The manservant just shrugged, immune to his mood swings after so long.
"Fine," Artemis relented quietly. "But I'm coming with you. And I will be watching you the whole time, so don't even think that you'll succeed in trying to hurt yourself again. You won't blink without me seeing it. Understand?"
"Yes," Holly sighed, rolling her eyes, but she couldn't fight the smile tugging at her lips. She stood. "Can we go now?"
The boy gestured absentmindedly with his hand. "Yes, yes. I'm right behind you. Go." She ran out the door.
Butler chuckled again. Artemis ignored him as he followed Holly out the door.
Artemis was just catching up with the speedy elf when the doorbell rang. He paused mid stride, turning back the other direction, towards the front door.
"Don't answer that, Artemis," Butler called for the kitchen. "You have no idea who it could be. I'll get it in a minute."
The human rolled his eyes. "It's fine, Butler."
"No, it's not. For all you know, there's an assassin out there."
"Hardly. I don't think any assassin would have bothered to ring the doorbell," he argued.
By now, he had reached the door, and had his hand on the handle. He spared a glance at Holly to say, "go on ahead. Just don't take any weapons out until I get there." Holly nodded and disappeared around the corner, and Artemis closed his eyes and mouthed a silent prayer that she actually wasn't suicidal anymore before throwing open the door.
He blinked a few times, looking around for a moment and then down towards the ground at a sound like a throat clearing. But all that was there was empty air... Or so it seemed.
"Fairy. I know you're there. Unshield or face the consequences."
Instantly, there was a little man that appeared before him, his face rapidly turning red. "Was that a threat, Fowl?" the commander demanded.
Artemis raised an eyebrow. "Commander. I didn't expect to see you again, especially so soon. What can I help you with?"
He sounds so calm, and acts like we're just old friends or something, Julius thought. Like he didn't murder one of my best officers in cold blood barely a year ago.
"I want my officer's body, Fowl," Root growled.
"Really? And you couldn't even ask nicely for it?" He sighed. "I'm afraid I can't do that, Commander, even if you had asked in a way that suggested you had some manners."
Artemis's mind whirled as he searched for a logical excuse. "She has already been buried, and returned to the Earth. I saw no reason to leave her body to rot in the basement," he said.
"So I'll dig her up. I have time before I need to return to Haven," the commander argued. "Tell me where she's at."
Artemis scowled. "If I wanted to tell you that, then I would have," he said. "Now, if that is all, I have some things to attend to, so-"
"No, that is not all. I want my Captain's body, and I'm not leaving until then. And believe me, Fowl, staying here one day won't b-"
Then suddenly Holly's voice came drifting around the corner. "Artemis? What's taking so long? I thought-" Then her heard poked around the corner, and she blanched as she took one look around the room. Her footsteps echoed as she started to back away again, but Artemis knew it was a lost cause. Root had already seen her.
"Freeze, Holly," Artemis said. The elf froze, as ordered, her footsteps abruptly cutting off. "Get back here."
Slowly, Holly back up around the corner to face them, taking baby steps down towards the human. "Yeah?"
He didn't answer, just wagged a finger at her.
Root was still staring at her in shock, one thought running through his head continuously. She's alive!
"Holly, you're alive!" the commander blurted. "How...?"
Holly opened her mouth to answer, but didn't get to. She was close enough now that Artemis could reach her, and instantly his one hand was over her mouth and the other was around her neck in a choke grip, pressing down on her windpipe.
"How she is alive, as of this moment, at least, doesn't matter. What matters is that nobody else finds out about this," Artemis interrupted.
"But nothing! If a single living soul finds of about this, then there will be one less living soul in the world, because I will kill her," Artemis warned. The pressure on her windpipe, tightened. "Don't make me hurt her, Commander, just give me your word."
"That I won't tell anybody else that she's actually alive? Why not?"
"Because I happen to know some people in the Lower Elements cannot keep they're mouths shut, and if the word of this gets out than the Fowl family won't be taken seriously anymore."
"Foaly wouldn't tell anybody," Holly gasped. They all looked at her.
"Yes, that centaur is precisely the person I am talking about, one of them, anyhow, and he wouldn't be able to. You know it. Now be silent!"
Holly and Root locked eyes. Just give him your word, she mouthed.
Root exhaled deeply. "Fine. I agree— I mean, I give you my word I will not tell anyone. Now stop depriving her of air!"
Artemis nodded and dropped Holly, who fell to her knees, breathing in deeply and clutching her throat. The instant she had enough air in her lungs, she was up on her feet, practically throwing herself out the door against her ex-commander. Her feet stayed firmly planted inside the threshold, but her body was leaned out of it as she embraced him tightly.
Before, the very thought of being that close to her commander would have repulsed her, especially in an embrace, but the shock and happiness of finally seeing one of her own people again overtook her briefly and she couldn't stop herself.
The commander stood there for a moment before patting her back awkwardly. Then Artemis growled, "get back in the manor, Holly."
Quickly, the elf complied by the orders and her magic, but she still kept staring at Root. The human pushed her back another three feet quickly, then said, "okay, now I suppose you now the actual reason why you cannot have her body. But you will tell the people in Haven what I told you before, not a squeak more. And I will find out if you do, so be careful, unless you want Holly to get it."
He drew a line against her throat with his pointer finger, and Holly's eyes widened. She didn't dare move though, other than to force herself to swallow with her suddenly dry throat. Her eyes stayed locked on Julius.
"Fine," the male elf said, raising his hands in a surrendering gesture. "Not a soul. Don't harm her, though. She hasn't done anything. I'm leaving now, before this gets out of hand." He spared one last sad glance at Holly. "Take care, Captain." She flinched at the use of her former title, but other than that didn't react. Then the commander turned and flew away, feeling extremely relieved, yet at the same time, very worried.
Artemis closed the door after The Commader, exhaling deeply. Then, at the same time, Holly and his eyes flicked to each other's faces, and they locked eyes briefly.
"Holly," Artemis began softly, in a soothing tone, but she shook her head, backing up, away from him, her chest heaving in panic and the huge breaths she was taking as she fought to control herself. Then she turned and took off full speed down the hallway.
She didn't stop running until she reached her room, where she ran in and locked the door and didn't come out for the rest of the night.