The Unseen Factor

Seven Bells

Carefully she eased herself next to the person without alerting attention to her presence. Making a move for the wallet she smiled when she grabbed and still no reaction; she was almost home free and –


Enola leaned her head on the mannequin's shoulder as she dropped the wallet back into the pocket.

"You're getting there." Amelia assured her. Over the past two months since the Lehrers took in Enola her health improved greatly; she gained some color back into her face and even her hair had a healthier shine to it. The only thing that bothered Amelia was the girl's smile; it was too mechanical, too forced; almost as if a smile was merely a necessary tool to be polite and nothing to do with being happy. It was like Enola had little practice with a real smile not having many reasons to do so.

"It doesn't seem like it from my point of view." Enola remarked as she took a step away.

Amelia had recently begun teaching Enola the art of pickpocketing and today she was using the traditional seven bells technique. She neither confirmed nor denied the existence of the supposed South American school but the technique she could appreciate; basically a mannequin would be fully dressed with various object about its person and those objects had to be taken off the mannequin without disturbing any of the seven bells hidden.

Over the past two hours Enola was able to get one object without ringing the bells, which was not bad for a fist time jab at it. Enola was able to get an object with little problem, but it was the removing that Enola was having the most trouble. Amelia had to smile because that was how she and Wilhelm found Enola. Small miracles.

"This is your first attempt!" Amelia smiled. "Don't expect to be perfect the first time you do anything. You just need to practice a bit more."

"How did you become a thief?" Elle asked as she made another attempt at the mannequin.

"I was young and bored." Amelia said carefully watching Enola as she moved; looking for what Enola needed to work on and to figure out what techniques would best suit her. "When I was about fourteen when I started; small things at first but by the time I was eighteen I was already stealing beautiful artwork, paintings especially. That's actually how I met Wilhelm, when I was stealing a painting."

"Was he trying to steal the same painting?" Enola asked. Another bell dinged and she sighed.

"No, he caught me." Amelia laughed a little at the memory. "Wilhelm, being the son of a respectable business man, was going about life in the honest way. I was trying to steal something from his father's collection but he caught me and left me no escape route. He's the only person to have ever done that."

"What did he do after he caught you?" Enola asked fiddling with a watch she had gotten off the mannequin's wrist without a sound.

"He offered me a job." Amelia patted the seat next to her for Enola to sit down; the mannequin could wait as they talked. Enola sat down and listen intently to Amelia's story. "He needed something to be stolen back from the person who stole it in the first place. He said that his knowledge in thievery was limited and he needed an expert. So he offered not to call the police if I helped him.

"I countered that he didn't know that I would just leave right after he let me go or that I wouldn't just run off with the goods after I got them." Amelia took the watch to glance at the time. Wilhelm should be back soon from his meeting. "He simply told me I was too intrigued not to help him."

"Were you?" Enola smiled a little, this time it was a little less forced.

"Yes," Amelia laughed. "Wilhelm has always been very good at reading people. And I had a blast; we were stealing back a family heirloom that belonged to someone he knew. It was shortly after that he told me I should go to college and get a degree in Fine Arts. I surprised myself and I did go. It was during that time that we started dating, or courting as he likes to say. We married when I finished my Bachelors of Arts and he was with the FBI as an analyst." Amelia could not help but smile at the fond memories that her story drew up in her.

"How did Wilhelm go from being with the FBI to teaching philosophy?" Enola asked. Her question was really a ploy to hid her surprise at what she had noted in Amelia's description of her relationship with Wilhelm; as far as she could recall her parents had no such fondness between them.

"That, my dear is a story for another time." Amelia patted Enola's hands then handed her a small thin rectangular case from her pocket. Enola opened and discovered it was lock picking tools. "There's a bunch of locks in my studio you can practice on."

"Alright," Enola hopped up from the couch and headed to the studio; as she left Wilhelm came in with a distracted look on his face.

"When you get that face you're either plotting a heist or you're contemplating the secrets and or nature of the universe." Amelia remarked as she walked over to her husband and gave him a peck on the cheek. "Which is it?"

"The latter," Wilhelm handed her the folder he had already looked over for what felt like a thousand times. The meeting with his contacts was an interesting and informative one; it was certainly one that he would not forget so easily. "I need a drink. Would you like one?"

He head to his study where he kept a well stocked wet-bar for moments such as these. Amelia quickly glanced through the folder before following Wilhelm to his study.

"This doesn't make sense." She declared closing the study door behind her. Wilhelm was already pouring whiskey into two glasses.

"I know," He sighed. Taking the two glasses he sat at his desk placing each glass on either side of desk. "The following documents make it more interesting."

"They do, don't they." Amelia sat in front of the desk and took a swig from her glass. "The extent of the psychological examinations are unusual for a seven year old girl, and the conclusions seem like they just wrote the first thing that fit all the visible facts."

"Taking the easy answer as oppose to actually finding it. I honestly don't think anyone has every tried to understand her." Wilhelm sipped his whiskey. "I wonder why her parents had such an exam on her?"

"Her parents?" Amelia looked at Wilhelm in disbelief. "I can understand if parents are trying to find out if their kid has ADD or autism, but this kind of exam is mostly done for adults. This test doesn't take into account the still developing mind of a child. To examine a child with this test allows for false results. It's … cruel."

"Her parents did not understand her." Wilhelm remarked. "That probably contributed to her being so introverted."

"Do you really think we can help her?" Amelia crossed her arms after she placed the folder on the desk. "I mean, do you think we're doing the right thing here?"

"You've seen how she reacts at the mention of 'going home' or 'family'." Wilhelm leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. "She needs to heal from whatever forced her to leave her home. She's a misfit, much like you I might add."

His last remarked earned him a wry smile from Amelia.

"Besides, I believe that teaching her thievery will give her a new perspective on the world and thus be able to interact with it better." Wilhelm continued. "We can also homeschool her and get her through college if she likes."

"Give her a well rounded education." Amelia smiled at the idea. It was a good one.

"Exactly," Wilhelm nodded, opening his eyes, but keeping his head back. "You and I both know that it's hard to stay in this game. It's best that we give her as many options as we can."

"Are you going to keep digging?" She asked glancing at the folder.

"I will keep looking for her family and try to reunite her to them." Wilhelm said softly. "A family shouldn't be broken apart. Though if my first impressions of her family are somewhat correct, I will not force her to go back."

"Elle," Amelia said suddenly.

"Come again?" Wilhelm lifted his head to look at Amelia.

"Elle." She said again. "I think we should call her 'Elle'. When I asked her to spell her name I noticed it was 'alone' backwards; essentially she is called 'alone'. We shouldn't call her alone since she now has us to take care of her."

Amelia's natural mothering instincts appeared to be already talking over and Wilhelm could not help but smile. He had already noted in himself the fatherly instinct of protection towards Enola.

"Elle," Wilhelm tried the name. "Yes, I think that does suit her quite well."

"Yes!" They heard Enola cry out. Wilhelm and Amelia looked to the study door than back at each other before racing to see what Enola had done to elicit such a joyous outcry.

When they open the door they found Enola by the mannequin holding all the hidden objects looking at them with a mixture of surprise and accomplishment.

"You did it? Wilhelm asked with a smile. Enola turned around to them and held out the objects.

"I got everything without ringing any bells." Enola announced. She looked at them; both Wilhelm and Amelia could tell she was waiting on what they would say.

"Good job," Amelia smiled broadly. Enola looked both surprised and pleased at Amelia's words; part of her could not believe she just heard them and another part was ecstatic. No one had every deemed anything she had done before worth such words. The compliment was so simple, but to Enola it was the most generous thing anyone had said to her.

Mycroft watched at a distance as his brother poured over the police reports of their sister's disappearance. Sherlock did that about every three months but the results were the same – nothing.

If anyone could disappear from Sherlock or himself it would be Enola.

They had stopped talking about Enola about six months before; it only led to arguing and blaming. Blame was abundant when it came to Enola. He had always found it difficult to relate to his sister due to the decade and half between them in age, but he did try. It was understandable that Sherlock was a bit closer to Enola than he, aided by less of an age gap and the fact he was home more often than Mycroft.

Mycroft wondered if he should tell Sherlock about the papers he had Violet sign.

After a moment or two, Mycroft decided against it; it would just be another wedge in their ever distancing and cooling relationship. Sherlock had always been more favorable towards Mummy; he would let his brother have the illusion of a caring mother.

It was the least he could do for him.

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