In the back of his genius-level brain, Artemis Fowl knew that kidnapping his longtime friend former-LEP Captain Holly Short again was probably not the best way to go about getting what he desired.  It had worked once, when he was twelve and he had been so desperate that he had risked death to restore his family’s fortunes.  Now, though, he was doing it solely for his own selfish desires.

He had always been greedy, selfish, alone.  Abstractly, Artemis knew that these were considered flaws to the human race, but he couldn’t care.  Not since he had discovered this about himself.  It further sought to isolate him, more than his wealth and his mastermind genius could—and failure was not something he was going to accept.

“Let me get this straight,” Holly said slowly through the camera.  Artemis had managed to strip her of her magic, again, and had locked her up in an impenetrable cell that only had CCTV coverage so that they could communicate without risking anything.  “In exchange for my freedom, you want me to reveal to you your twin flame—your soul mate.”

Artemis nodded harshly.  It sounded ridiculous, but if he just knew his identity, he would be able to do recon, and then go to wherever he existed on the planet and woo him.  It was an archaic notion, but one he was willing to attempt before claiming the boy who was meant to be his and only his.

She sighed on the other side of the camera.  “This could go wrong.”

“How?”  Artemis had no need to mince words.  He wanted facts, answers, as quickly as possible.  He would be seventeen in January and nothing would stand in his way.  Whatever his IQ level, he was still a healthy young man—and he knew he was worthy of no one but his soul mate.  He wouldn’t lower himself like so many others did in his situation, buying affection from whores and social pariahs.  That, he knew, would only bring more loneliness. 

His long fingers lingered on a reproduction of the Book of the People that he had had commissioned, sending small pieces to different production centres across the world so no one could gain the fairy secrets apart from himself, and then reassembled it himself. 

Several months earlier, he had become obsessed with the idea when he read a passing reference to ‘the twin flame’ and the unearthly joys one could be granted if the flames burnt together.  It had taken weeks of research to realize that the book spoke of the human myth of soul mates that, he now knew, could exist if granted by one of the fairy folk.

“She could be older than you, married, have children.  She might not even be born yet,” Holly Short elaborated, pacing in her small cell.

Artemis paused.  “Does it necessarily have to be one of the opposite gender?” he questioned.

Holly paused in her pacing and stared openly at the screen.  “Just great,” she said in exasperation, her hands waving about.

Artemis regarded her coolly.  He had once thought her pretty, when he was much younger, but now he felt nothing.  The fairy’s skin was a nut-brown, her ears pointed, and her auburn hair cut off near her chin.  Now he dreamt of solid planes instead of soft curves, of short hair in his fingers, the creamy flesh of a mortal who could somehow understand the life he lived, so intrinsically wrapped up in the other, the fairy world.  He desperately craved companionship, the smallest hints of affection, and he was determined to get it.

He set his jaw firmly.

“You didn’t answer the question.”

“Artemis, just give it up,” she begged, but Artemis only turned his head to the side briefly.  “You haven’t sent out a ransom note this time, have you?”

He could hear her weariness and saw realization set on her face.  Without a ransom note, no one would suspect him given their friendship, and it would be days if not weeks before anyone of the Lower Elements Police knew she was missing, if she was out on a long-term mission.

“Damn you,” she hissed. 

He’d just won the argument.

She sat down wearily across from the screen in her cell, her shoulders pressed against the wall.  “Your soul mate.”

“My twin flame,” he responded.  “I need fairy dust willingly given for my dreams.”  He glanced down at the translation he had worked out himself.  Yes, that and her fairy knowledge to lead him to the other part of his soul. 

That was just left unsaid.

She huffed.  “I would recommend requirements, otherwise your twin flame might have already died.”

“You make it sound as if there is more than one,” he continued, no hint of passion in his voice.

Holly banged her head up against the wall.  “A mortal wouldn’t understand.  There are infinite possibilities, a handful of individuals on this earth.  Fairies and humans are constantly in flux, so, to narrow it down, I need requirements, otherwise I might help you find your flame for when you’re eighty if you haven’t previously soul-bonded with anyone.”

“I see.”

Artemis carefully took a seat and gazed impassively at the screen in front of him.  “A boy.  Someone who needs to be loved, perhaps who has never known it before—“

“So that he’s dependent on you, got it,” she responded with obvious sarcasm.

Artemis let it slide.  She was his prisoner, after all.

“He must be capable of loving, of understanding the otherworldly, intelligent, physically pleasing.”

He saw Holly roll her eyes and he smiled at her, a look that was foreign to his face and which he knew reminded many grown men of what they thought a vampire would look like.

Sadly, it no longer frightened Holly.

“Age?  Do you want him to speak English?”

He considered briefly.  “No younger than fourteen or older than nineteen, and, yes.  That would be preferable.”

“So, let me get this straight, a boy in his teenage years, he needs to be able to love you and vice versa, intelligent, hot, cute, and be human and yet understand the world below.”

“Yes.  Someone who’s already completely alone.”

Holly paused, her dark eyes going blank and Artemis stilled, watching her intently as she went into a trance.  He could be very patient when he needed to be, and so he sat and watched the screen for hours, taking in every nuance of her body.  At half past twelve, Butler, his bodyguard and friend, entered and placed his luncheon before him, but he ignored it.

He couldn’t think of eating when he was this much closer to finding his twin flame.

“I found him,” Holly said, her eyes still glazed. 

Artemis’s eyes narrowed in want and greed and he waited, allowing her to see more.

“He doesn’t know of fairies specifically, but he’s aware of dragons, goblins, giants,” she gasped, “leprechauns, and veela.”

“Veela?” Artemis questioned.

“Earth-walkers who live within the elements.  They’re part harpy and sometimes walk among mortals as beautiful women.  They do not affect him,” she smirked.  “He must be gay for that to happen.”

“His name?” Artemis inquired and Holly’s eyes flickered back to their usual hazel.

She looked right at him.  “I cannot tell you, it is not of our way.  I cannot know until you discover it yourself.”

Artemis inclined his head slightly. 

Holly took a deep breath.  “I swear on my magic to aid you in this quest and will not leave until it is completed.”  The words appeared to pain her, as if she did not want to speak them, but Artemis knew that she would keep to her word.  There would be dire consequences for her if she did not.

Artemis entered his room, the small vial of fairy dust in his hand.  He knew that to catch the first glimpses of his twin flame, he would have mix half of it into a glass of milk and spread the rest on his eyelids.

The dust was fine and a pale blue-violet, glowing in the moonlight that came in through his windows.

His room was comfortable and large, a bed dominating the center of it that was encased in dark blues and emerald greens.  A fire roared in the fireplace as it was early December and a chill had set in across Ireland.  The shelves were lined with books, most of them of Classical and Medieval philosophers and poets as well as the early scientific geniuses.  The room was comfortable yet impersonal, almost as if it should belong in a hotel or a museum, and not to a sixteen-year-old boy.  It was a mausoleum, Artemis mused absently, in a way, but soon he would be brought to life, perhaps for the first time, when his twin flame, his Cuisle, the Beat of his Heart, entered his life.  Once he had him, whoever he was, Artemis promised himself he would never let him go.

His parents were once again away, rekindling their romance as they often did, so Artemis was completely alone.  Fortunately, they had also taken the twins, Myles and Beckett, with them.

It was only a matter of weeks before he had lived seventeen years and an adult.  Soon he would have his soul mate and he would leave Fowl Manor for one of the lesser Fowl properties around Ireland or perhaps settle in whatever country his mate was born to.  It didn’t matter where he lived, as long as it was well decorated, comfortable, and he was no longer alone.  He also traveled a great deal so it would be more of a home base than anything.

The glass of milk was already placed on his bedside table and, carefully, he poured exactly half of the vial into it, watching with scientific interest as the blue-violet powder sprinkled into the white substance, turning it into a fiery orange.

He frowned at the color and, tentatively, raised the glass to his lips.

It tasted horrible, like compost that had gone bad mixed with grass.  Placing the vial carefully on the table, he brought his newly freed hand up to his nose and held it, quickly drinking the mixture before he could change his mind. 

The sordid taste lingered on his lips as he set the glass down and he wished that he had had some sort of warning.

Artemis could feel the potion—for whatever he drank certainly wasn’t milk any longer—slowly course through his body, warming his throat, freezing his stomach until it churned painfully, numbing his fingers as pain encased the nerve endings.  He grimaced.  It was rather unpleasant. 

He lay down on the bed, not bothering to do more than take off his shoes, and closed his eyes, pouring the rest of the fairy dust onto his eyelids and wishing himself to sleep.  The sickness overcame his body, but he forced himself to remain still, not wanting to dislodge any of the precious powder, determined that despite how painful it might be, nothing would stand in his way from catching his first glimpses of his soul mate.

Artemis felt as if he were rocking on a harsh sea, his breathing deep and labored, as sleep finally overtook him, pulling him under, drowning him, only allowing him to resurface into strange images he could not completely understand.

He was staring into sharp, green eyes that were hidden by glasses and obscured by darkness.  Artemis could hear the lapping of water nearby, a quiet river or a lake, perhaps, and a chill wind whispered over his flesh.

The eyes shivered and Artemis looked more closely, making out the form of a boy as he turned away, midnight black hair fading into the darkness of the night.  At first sight it looked shaggy, messy, as if the boy had never taken a comb to it.  The boy began to walk quickly and, startled, Artemis followed.

He caught snatches of white skin in the moonlight, the curve of a lip that was begging him to kiss away its frown, a straight nose, high cheekbones, a neck peaking out from beneath a red and gold scarf.

Artemis looked around them, trying to find some clue as to where they were, apart from somewhere out in the open.

They were walking along a pebbled beach, slate gray, water darker than death lapping at the shore.  He glanced across the wide lake, so deep, so black, and saw a single ship anchored to it.  It was large, a perfect reproduction of the great vessels that used to sail the oceans before the Industrial Revolution.  A flag he could not recognize fluttered in the breeze.  Beyond the great ship, he could see a massive forest spreading imperiously, and he wondered how the ship could have possibly have gotten to the inland lake.  He couldn’t see any hint of a river, and he wondered why anyone would build such a great reproduction anywhere but in a sea harbor.

His steps were silent, he wasn’t breathing in this dreamland, but he could hear the light puffs of breath the boy was emitting in the cold. 

“Ah, Potter,” a rough voice greeted from the darkness and Artemis stilled, his eyes searching the darkness for the speaker.

The boy, who must be named Potter, stopped and a half-smile formed on his lips.  “Krum.”

Krum stepped from the shadows and Artemis could see that they were near a plank that appeared to lead to the ship.  The man was tall, thin, with bushy black eyebrows and a large curved nose.  He was duck-footed, Artemis noted despite the darkness, and his shoulders were rounded.  He must have been about seventeen or eighteen and despite this Krum’s obvious lack of handsomeness, Artemis felt a surge of jealousy overtake him at the thought of Potter, his twin flame, greeting this boy with familiarity.

“Are you certain?” Krum was now speaking again, his voice heavy and tinged with a Slavic accent.  “Bulgaria vill offer you asylum if you vish.”

Artemis’s thoughts sped forward, thinking of exactly what Krum was implying.  They were somewhere probably other than Bulgaria and Potter was in need of some form of political protection.  His jaw hardened and he wondered just who was hunting the boy.

Potter laughed quietly.  “I know, and I thank Bulgaria, but we both know it would probably cause—problems for both Britain and Bulgaria.”

The voice was young, light, and yet full of an intense seriousness and understanding that one Potter’s age shouldn’t know.

Krum sighed.  “Vhere vill you go?”

“Ireland first.”  A glint of longing shone through Potter’s bright eyes.  “It should be easy enough to fly across the channel.  Then from there, I’m not sure.  It’s probably best if you don’t know.”

Krum nodded.  “It is a crime,” he said viciously.

“One that wouldn’t be punished.”  Potter’s shoulders seemed to sag.  “Krum—Viktor—“ he amended.  “I have to leave Hedwig, my owl.”  He held out a folded letter.  “This leaves her in your care if anyone asks.  You can’t let her follow me.”  His eyes were wide and desperate and Artemis, for the first time in his life, felt compassion, his heart breaking at the unearthly and beautiful sight. 

“You haff my vord.”  He rummaged in a bag and pulled out a few items, handing them over to Potter.  “A compass that vill lead you to vhere you desire.  Just state the destination,” he instructed and Artemis peered at it through the darkness, trying to get a better look. “This vill change your hair to the red,” Krum continued, handing over a small bottle.  “Drink it and it vill be permanent.  Your hair vill grow the red as vell.  I thought it vould match your eyes.—A letter of asylum to Bulgaria if you decide to go there.  I haff spoken vith the goblins,” (Artemis gasped) “and your gold is safe but they gafe me this.”

Potter laughed.  “It’s a credit card, Krum.  Muggles use it to spend money.”

“Muggles,” Krum sighed, and Artemis wondered at the term.  “I could get nothing for the scar.  I am sorry.”

Potter shrugged and Artemis took in the sight of him, trying to memorize him with his midnight black hair before his appearance changed much.  “I can get Muggle make-up to cover it and my hair is longer than usual already,” he commented as he pushed his fringe out of his eyes, proving his point.

“You should take that potion now,” Krum said, indicating the bottle in Potter’s hands.  “It does not taste good, but it vill change your looks enough.”

“Red?” he questioned, looking at it.

“You do not vish to look like Malfoy, no?” Krum teased, confusing Artemis slightly as he did not understand the reference.

Potter scrunched up his face in obvious dislike.  He looked at the bottle one last time before uncorking it and quickly drinking it.  “Disgusting,” he finally said as he handed the empty bottle back.  “My mum had red hair.”

Krum said nothing and instead watched intently, just as Artemis was, as slowly, from the roots, the midnight black hair changed into a deep auburn with flecks of a lighter ginger.  It was surreal watching a potion at work, he was always surprised despite himself, and slowly the red overtook the black until there were now messy waves of a beautiful auburn falling across his eyes and down his neck.  Artemis had believed that Potter was beautiful before the transformation, but now he found him breathtaking.  His green eyes, even in the darkness, sparkled more brightly, contrasting with the red waves and pale skin.  Even his eyebrows were now a shade of dark ginger, which highlighted his small black eyelashes that even his horrid glasses couldn’t completely obstruct.

“The potion is—how you say—untraceable,” Krum was now explaining.  “Very few can brew it and those who can, vell, most are in the jail for performing dark magic.”

Potter didn’t seem upset at the words and Artemis felt proud of his soul mate.  He was obviously unbothered by clearly illegal activity, untouched, and did what had to be done.

“I won’t ask where you got it, then.”

“No, you should not.  If you vere to haff children in about a year or a little more, the gene vill carry.  It needs time to vork into the blood.”

Harry nodded.  “Of course.  Am I recognizable?”  He looked anxious and stepped further into the moonlight, the curve of his neck now highlighted as it was tickled by the end of his hair.  Although his hair wasn’t remarkably long, not even coming to his shoulders, Artemis nonetheless wondered when the last time was Potter had bothered to cut it.

“As beautiful boy but not as yourself,” Krum replied succinctly and Artemis had to quell the flare of jealousy that tried to overtake him again.

Potter looked away uncomfortably.  Artemis could detect a sliver of wistfulness in Krum’s intense gaze before he shook himself from it.

“Oh, vone last thing.”  Krum rummaged in the bag and handed over another small bottle.  “For your eyes.  Another dark potion.  Untraceable.  Take it vhen you can sleep it off.”

“Thank you, Viktor,” Potter whispered, packing away everything in a small bag Artemis noticed he was carrying, along with a broom.  “I owe you one.”

“You owe me nothing,” Krum refuted harshly.  “They owe you everything.  For vone who has not entered, the contract is not binding as they say and still they force you to compete.”

“Nothing like being almost murdered by a dragon for people’s enjoyment.  I feel like a Muggle gladiator.”  He paused, looking uncertain for a moment.  “It really isn’t binding?”

Artemis found the sight around him shifting and fading, and his mind tried to stay close to the boy—Potter—and he reached out only to have his hand fall through his cheek as if Artemis were nothing more than a ghost.  Dragons, his mind focused, the boy had faced a dragon in some sort of sick sport and was now fleeing.  Potter and Krum might be prisoners of some sort, humans kept against their will to battle the otherworldly. 

“No,” Krum was now confirming.  “I had our lawmen, lawmen, yes? They look into it, Potter.  Father vould not let me enter othervise.”

Potter sighed and nodded, a look of betrayal on his beautiful, unearthly face.  “I don’t understand why then,” he finally admitted, toeing the pebbles at their feet.

“It is political, vhatever is happening.”

Potter snorted lightly.  “Isn’t it always?  They see my name and nothing else.”

“You can change it, you know,” Krum said quietly.  “It vould be untraceable if the goblins did it.  They use magic and make it safe, though I do not know how.  They do not care for human politics.”

“I gathered that from all of the rebellions,” Potter laughed quietly.

Artemis felt the world fading again.  Goblins; goblin rebellions.  Potter already knew of them and was clearly in contact with them.  The vision of Potter and his auburn hair faded and soon Artemis felt as if he were floating and was certain that within a few moments he would be awakening back in his bed in Ireland, hundreds of miles from Potter and his escape.

He felt the air whipping through his hair and Artemis found himself flying somehow through the sky, looking down at the Black Lake and down at a castle that was alight with torchlight.  They were somewhere in Britain, Scotland perhaps, he thought as he noticed the rolling highlands beyond the forest and a small little village tucked in against the border.

A rush of wind turned his attention to the ground where he saw Potter flying toward him, a small backpack on his shoulder and a broom clutched between his knees. 

Artemis’s eyes widened at the sight.  Potter, in his pajamas, scarf, and warm cloak, looked like a witch.  He hadn’t known that witches—or warlocks, he supposed, would be the male variant—existed. 

His eyes brightened as he watched his twin flame smile softly at the sensation of flying, both of their worries left on earth as Artemis stared unabashedly at the boy.  He was everything he could have dreamed of.  Strong, alone, so desperately in need of being loved, and Artemis hoped he could learn how to feel that elusive emotion for this boy.  He was so beautiful as the wind whipped through his hair, showing a strange scar cut in his forehead.  It looked like it had been fresh and angry, and was surprisingly in the shape of a lightning bolt.  Artemis would have to make certain it was healed properly.  It did nothing to mar Potter’s beauty, but he didn’t want any sign that he was hurt.

“Goodbye,” Potter whispered to no one, his eyes lingering over his shoulder as he gazed at the castle, before he firmly turned away.  He pulled the compass from around his neck, where he must have hung it, and stated clearly “Dublin.  I’m coming,” he continued, his voice once again wistful and a faraway look on his eyes.  “Wait for me.”  It was almost as if he knew that love and acceptance were waiting, and he only had to reach out and grasp it.  Then with a sigh, Potter flew westward, away from the thin blue haze that was overtaking the horizon, symbolizing that dawn was a few precious hours away.

Artemis wasn’t certain how long they flew, but soon he found that in his disembodied state he could move and carefully, so carefully, he moved forward until he was sitting somehow in midair in front of the boy, Potter. 

Potter looked unseeingly into his eyes, and Artemis longed for the time when he would gaze at him fully with want, need, affection.  His parents had never showered him with any of these emotions, though by the way they acted the twins were a gift from divinity itself.  He couldn’t help but be jealous of Beckett and Myles though they had done nothing but be born.  This boy, though, this boy would be his and Artemis would take him away from these people somewhere in Great Britain who would use him politically for their own ends, taking away his rights, his freedom, until he had to flee in the dead of night.  They would disappear completely and, Artemis swore to himself, within a few months the boy would no longer be “Potter” but “Fowl.”  Now that he had seen him, Artemis would never let him go and he would move heaven, earth, and the world below for this beautiful boy whose eyes were even now filling with unshed tears as he escaped in the darkness.

When Artemis woke up to the rising sun, a small smile, no less dangerous than his usual one, spread across his lips and Artemis wondered if this is what happiness might feel like.

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