Holly woke up soon. She didn’t know if she was the only one awake yet, but she also didn’t want to find out.
Anyway, she couldn’t if she wanted to.
Fowl had told her to stay put…stupid magic rule. This was all his fault, everything. He ruined her life. Now the question was: would he kill her?
If he wanted to kill her, he wouldn’t have given her the drink, right? Only then that brought up another question: what did he want with her? That cold heartless maniac only wanted the ransom, and he wasn’t getting it.
Before she could contemplate the matter further, the door to her cell opened and Artemis stepped in, a dead look on his face.
“Well, your stupid plan worked, Fowl.”
“That ‘stupid plan’ is the only reason you’re still alive.”
“Rather be dead,” she muttered, looking at the concrete floor.
“That can be arranged,” he growled.
Holly’s head snapped up, her breath quickening. She knew she shouldn’t test him, but it was either a prisoner or dead. And the People already thought she was the latter. But before she could say anything that would boil his temper, he cleared his throat.
“As you are here, and still alive at the moment, you will be able to go about the manor as you please. But you will not leave the manor, nor will you go near the doors or windows. You will not try to contact the People, and most importantly you will not destroy anything or harm anyone. Understood?”
Holly nodded. She could feel her magic getting the orders down in her head.
“Good. And so you are aware, if you do find a way to get through your magic and break any of those rules, I will kill you. Or Butler will, for that matter.”
Holly nodded, wondering why he was giving her any freedom. Little freedom, but freedom nonetheless.
But before she could think of anything else, Artemis left the cell, slamming the door behind him.
“Hey!” Holly exclaimed, jumping up, pounding her hand on the door fruitlessly.
Artemis was beyond hearing her, he was already up the stairs, heading straight to the kitchen, where he knew Butler was.
“Mother.” he stated, once he got there.
The bodyguard looked up at the boy and then at the food he was preparing, “Yes, this is for your mother.”
Artemis shook his head. “No, that’s not what I meant. She can heal mother.”
Butler looked up again. “You think so?”
Artemis scowled at the grammatical errors of that sentence, but continued nonetheless, “yes, it’s a psychological wound. If Captain Short can use her magic to heal mother, she would be fine the next minute.”
“I doubt that Captain Short is going to willingly use her magic, and you cannot force her to use it.”
Artemis brought his attention to something then. “She won’t, most likely, but I can be…persuasive at times.”
Butler turned around to see what Artemis was looking at and dropped his jaw. He then got in the middle of Artemis and what the young boy was looking at so contently. The knife block on the counter.
“No, Artemis. I was okay with you you kidnaping her, holding her for ransom, and giving her the choice to live or not. But you WILL NOT torture that elf.”
Artemis narrowed his eyes. “And why not? Why shouldn’t I? Mother could be back within the hour.”
“No, Artemis. Why don’t you try to get her to trust you?”
“And why would she have reason to trust me?”
“You did save her life.”
“That’s not going to count in her mind.”
“Then she doesn’t, yet. But why don’t you you try being nice to her for once?”
“And why not?”
“Because earning her trust like that could take months!”
“Well, then you better get started, shouldn’t you, now go!”
Artemis looked up again, opening his mouth to argue, but then Butler caught his eye and he thought better of it, cause when a Butler got that glint in their eye, then you knew better than to argue.
Artemis, grumbling incoherently, did as he was told. He made his way back down to the basement reluctantly, fuming the whole way.
When he got to the door, he stopped for a minute and did his best to pull his temper back into check. Maybe if I can just get through one (mostly) nice conversation, Butler will get off my back, he thought.
But any rein he had over his temper was gone when he opened the cell door again.
The little elf was nowhere in sight.
“Captain Short,” he growled, his temper heating up again, “hiding from me is not going to do you any good. Get over here, now.”
“I’m not hiding,” she whispered. “And I’m right here.”
He looked down. She was sitting right beside the door, by his feet, curled up in a ball. Her arms were wrapped around her knees, and her face was buried in them.
Seeing her like that, so small and scared looking, made his icy composure crack a little bit.
He scowled a little, fighting the unwelcome sympathy for the elf before him as he asked, “are you alright down there?”
“I’m fine,” she said stubbornly. “Why don’t you just leave me alone?”
“Coming down here and harassing me every fifteen minutes is going to get boring, you know.”
She never lifted her head to look at him once while she was speaking, and it was starting to bother him. “Look at me, Holly.”
She didn’t move.
“I don’t want to.”
“I don’t care.”
She made a low sound, almost like a growl, and raised her head to look at him. “There, are you happy now?”
He said nothing, studying her face in silence for a moment. Her eyes were slightly red-rimmed, as if she’d been crying, and her shoulders were rolled forward. She didn’t even really look like the officer he’d met that first night in the field any longer, aside from the uniform. She still had the attitude though, and that was going to be the problem.
“Come with me,” he said finally, turning and walking out the door. He left it open behind him for her.
“Do you want to stay in the cell?” he demanded, turning back to face her. She had stopped in the doorway, looking at him hesitantly. She bit her lip and shook her head. “Then come on, before I change my mind.”
She still hesitated slightly, but eventually nodded and followed him out, as he knew she would. Not that she really had a choice in the matter anyways.
He led her up a few staircases, and down too many hallways for her to count before finally stopping in front of one door. He opened it silently and gestured for her to go in.
She stepped forward hesitantly, looking in for a moment before stepping forward over the threshold.
Artemis rolled his eyes; this was taking to long for his liking. He put his hand on the small of her back and pushed her completely into the room.
“Go on,” he muttered. “Nothing in there is going to jump out and bite you.”
She nodded, but on the inside she was thinking, well, that’s not what I’m worried about anyways, so I don’t really care. But she didn’t say that out loud.
“Why did you bring me up here?”
He snorted. “Isn’t it obvious? Since you’re probably going to be staying here permanently, and I figure you don’t want to stay in the basement forever, I brought you up here. I’m sure its more comfortable.”
“I’d almost rather be uncomfortable than have to accept any of your hospitality,” she muttered, realizing a second too late that she probably shouldn’t have voiced those thoughts aloud.
Artemis’s eyes narrowed, and he fixed her with one of his signature glares that had Holly thinking how true the phrase ‘if looks could kill’ was.
“Fine, then,” he spat. “You can go back to the basement right now and hide down there until you rot for all I care. If I had my way, you probably would be barely alive right now, if at all. Lucky for you, Butler is going soft as he gets older.”
“Yeah, lucky me,” the elf muttered numbly.
“You know, he won’t keep defending you forever,” he hissed at her. “And I certainly won’t keep restraining from hurting you for much longer if you keep it up, you little ingrate. God, I don’t even know why I bothered now.” He shook his head once, throwing one last glance at her. Then he stomped from the room, his body shaking with barely contained anger.
Artemis was still shaking when he arrived back at the kitchen. Butler was standing at the stove, cooking dinner.
He looked up when Artemis entered. He took in the boy’s shaking form and asked, “what happened?”
“Nothing,” he growled.
“Really? It doesn’t seem like nothing.” When he didn’t answer, Butler continued. “What did she say? What did you say?”
“Well, first I went down there and she tried to hide from me,” Artemis said. His anger was still clearly evident in his voice, though it had subsided a little now that he was no longer in the elf’s presence. “Then she had the nerve to contradict me and disobey me several times.”
Butler nodded. “Anything else?”
“Yes. Then the little ingrate told me she’d rather be uncomfortable than have to accept any of my hospitality. God, all I did was try to get her out of the basement! What is her problem?” He growled again, frustrated, and smacked his fist down on the table.
“Artemis, you should know that she’s not just going to automatically trust you and listen to you without complaint. You have to take her side into account too.” When Artemis opened his mouth, Butler held up a hand. “Now, hold on a minute. Finish first. What did you say when she said that?”
Artemis didn’t answer at first, his jaw clenched tightly. After a moment he finally spoke, “I called her a little ingrate, as she is, and told her that she could go back to the basement and stay there until she rots for all I care.”
“No,” the boy lied smoothly. “Nothing of importance, anyways. Why?”
“I’m going to go talk to her. Perhaps somebody with a cool head can get her to come around. Watch the food for me, will you? When it starts to boil give it five minutes and then turn it off.”