As soon as Holly passed out, Butler started working on the shackles around her wrists and feet. Without even pausing to think about it, he grips it as tightly as he can, and tugs it apart.
The shackles break easily under the force of his strong grip, and he gently takes Holly from Artemis’s arms and slings her up over his shoulder.
“Come on,” he says to Artemis. “Let’s get out of here.”
“But what about him?” He pointed to the now unconscious cloaked man on the ground.
Butler frowns deeply and walked over to where the man is laying. He picks him up by the collar and drags him over to the nearest set of empty shackles (there were dozens of them, some even having a few bodies still attached) and slapped a set of them on the man. “There,” he says, sounding satisfied. “That should hold him until the LEP come for him.”
Artemis nods. “I suppose. Now, lets get her out of here.”
In the car, Artemis lays Holly down in the backseat and sits beside her, pulling her up so that her head rests in his lap. He pulls a blanket from the trunk and covers her up. Even though she is clothed (though barely), it still makes him uncomfortable to see her like this.
Unable to resist the urge, he reaches out and gently strokes her hair. Sitting here with her, looking at her face, brings back memories. He closes his eyes as he relives the memory of when he found out she was missing.
“Artemis?” Butler rounded the corner to his master’s study hurriedly, breathing hard from running all the way there. “Sir? Foaly’s on the phone. There’s been an emergency.”
“Tell him to call my computer,” he replied steadily.
Butler nodded and relayed the message. In seconds, the computer was beeping, telling Artemis he was receiving a video call request. It was labeled urgent.
“Foaly,” Artemis said formally, smiling slightly. “To what to I owe this conversation?”
“Holly!” the centaur gasped. “She’s gone!”
The smile dropped. “What do you mean, she’s gone. She couldn’t have just up and-”
“Disappeared!” Foaly finished. “I mean, gone, untraceable, vanished without a trace, however you want me to put it. None of my systems can trace her, nothing! We can’t find her anywhere, no matter what. We’ve tried everything!”
“Not everything,” Artemis said, standing up, a sinking feeling at the pit of his stomach. “I’m on my way.”
The flight down had been terrible, and the meeting with the centaur was no better. None of it got better. Everyone was distraught and sick with worry, and it was impossible to blame them.
By the time a lead came along, all hope was practically lost. Even Artemis and Foaly were beginning to think that they would never find her.
Three and a half months later, they finally got a lead. They jumped on the chance, thankfully, and now here they are. Holly is here, and she was safe now, though she doesn’t look to be in too good of a condition. She basically looks like skin pulled over bones, stretched extremely tight. She is paler than Artemis, and now that he thinks about it, she’s also burning up.
“Butler,” he calls, leaning forward. “Do you have any Tylenol?”
“Not on me,” the man replies. “Just a few more minutes, we’re almost to the manor.
Artemis nods. “Fine. But she’s burning up.”
Butler nods, his jaw clenching as he presses the accelerator a little harder.
They arrived at the manor in a few more short minutes, and Butler takes Holly up to her usual room while Artemis goes to get some medication.
He comes back in a few minutes later and injects the medicine in her arm. Standing over her, he fully takes in her small form for the first time. “Do you think we should hook her up to a drip feed?” he asks softly.
Butler doesn’t even pause. “Yes. And a monitor too, if possible.”
“Right. I think there’s one around here somewhere. If not, there’s a store uptown you can buy them. See to it.” Butler nods and starts to turn around. “Oh, and Butler?” He turns. “Send Juliet up, will you? Holly needs to be wiped down, and I’m not sure that’s something that either of us are comfortable with me doing.”
“Of course,” he replies. Then he exits the room, leaving Artemis alone with Holly.
Artemis slowly turns back to face the elf. “Oh, Holly,” the boy sighs. “What have we gotten ourselves into this time?” He shakes his head once, then reaches out to lightly stroke her hair again.
He sighs again. He doesn’t want to leave her side, yet he needs to go call Foaly and tell everyone the news. He frowns, but decides to go do it now. After all, they have been waiting for this moment for three and a half months…