As Butler unlocked the front door and stepped over the threshold, he heard something that set his heart pounding. Laughter. Nobody laughed in the Fowl household - except Juliet, and that was certainly not his sister's voice. Something was wrong.
In one stealthy movement, Butler laid the shopping bags on the carpet and darted towards the source of the noise - the living room. In the five seconds before he reached it, his mind ran through all the possibilities. Mrs Fowl? No, since her husband's disappearance six months ago she'd not laughed once. Artemis? No, Artemis hadn't laughed since he was three, except for that time when Juliet had--
Butler burst into the room, saw something entirely expected and stopped dead in his tracks. A grinning Artemis was slouching on the sofa, clutching a bottle of suspicious green liquid in one hand. "Ah, Butler! Look at what's on the television!"
Instead Butler could hardly tear his eyes from Artemis. "What are you wearing?"
Artemis inspected himself. "Oh, yes, those leather trousers Mother bought me a while ago... I can't think why I never wore them before. They're quite comfortable."
For a moment, Butler had no idea what was going on. Then his eyes lighted again upon the bottle in Artemis' hand. He groaned inwardly. Not that. "Juliet!" he roared. "Get in here!"
His little sister bounded into the room. "Yes, bro?"
Butler was trying hard to keep his voice level. "Juliet, didn't I tell you never to make that stuff again? Don't you remember what happened before?"
"Yes, I know - but Artemis has been so down lately. I thought he needed some cheering up!" The smile she gave him wasn't entirely innocent.
This confirmed Butler's fears. "Oh no," he said, clutching his head in his hands. "Tell me that's not..."
"Perky juice!" exclaimed Juliet, practically bouncing on the spot.
"Indeed," said Artemis. "An amazing concoction. May I inquire as to its ingredients?" Butler was glad to notice that even if Artemis had lost his sanity, he had somehow retained his vocabulary.
"The recipe says to mix up sugar, ice cream, toffee, Red Bull and nougat," began Juliet, "but I also slipped in some chocolate. That's the real secret. Not just any chocolate - I prefer Lindt, but you can also--
Butler cast Juliet a look so dark she froze instantaneously. Artemis didn't notice because he was now investigating the sofa cushions. "How long exactly will it take to wear off?" asked the manservant.
Artemis suddenly waved his hands at his employees. "Look at this incredible piece of lint I found!"
Juliet smiled at this outburst, but withered under her brother's gaze. "He's drunk a lot, but he'll be okay in an hour," she mumbled.
Butler rubbed his temples. "I don't think I can stand an hour of this." He noticed Artemis about to take another swig from the bottle and quickly snatched it away. Butler turned to Juliet. "What did I do to deserve you as a sister?"
She grinned apologetically.