“Potter,” Artemis said by way of greeting to Holly, who was still in her cell, although he had had Butler place in a bed so she would be more comfortable when he collected the fairy dust. “His name is Potter and he’s heading toward Dublin—on a broomstick.”
He gazed impassively at the video screen and saw Holly look directly back at him.
“Good morning to you, too, Artemis.”
He wasn’t in the mood for Holly’s sarcasm this morning.
She sighed. “He’s a wizard. The Potters are an old pureblood family—it means they can trace their ancestry through wizards and only wizards back several generations. To be considered an old family, I believe, you must be able to trace blood purity back eight or ten generations.” She shrugged. Clearly this bit of information wasn’t that important to her.
He shook himself mentally. “Wizard.”
“Wizard,” she confirmed. “We learn about them as part of our training for the LEP. They’re a very insular society. They hide themselves away from other humans. Have their own schools, currency, fashion. You name it and they have some form of alternative.”
“He’s running away from all of that.”
Holly looked up, her silver eyes wide and confused, her pointed ears quivering in curiosity. “Why? Wizards don’t just leave the wizarding world unless they’re Muggle-born.”
“Muggle.” It wasn’t really a question, though Holly took it as one.
“Muggles are non-magical humans. Muggle-borns are wizards born from two Muggles. It doesn’t matter. They’re strangely obsessed with blood purity. I could never understand why. Magic is magic.”
Artemis agreed with her. Magic was magic and money was power. That’s all he needed to know. He had accepted, however, when he first decided to search for his twin flame that he would accept and respect any cultural differences he had, and that would include this belief in the purity of blood. With a sickening feeling he realized he was a Muggle, although he did have rather extensive ties with the otherworldly.
He would simply have to sway Potter to his way of thinking.
“When did he leave and where is he heading from?”
Her words drew Artemis from his thoughts. “Britain, Scotland I believe, somewhere in the highlands. He left at perhaps two or three in the morning.”
She nodded. “You’ll have to scry for his arrival location.”
He stared at her. “Scry.”
“Yes, scry.” Her voice was dripping with sarcasm. “This is a journey, a quest, Artemis. He won’t just fall in your lap, though you might like that,” she added under her breath. “Also, I would recommend not kidnapping him when you do find him. It won’t invite trust and love.” Her eyes shone with anger.
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” he commented lightly.
She tapped the side of the bed where she was sitting, her long, inhuman fingers catching the dull light of the cell and reflecting it back to the camera that was sending Artemis the live feed.
“You said he’s running from the wizarding world?”
He inclined his head.
He paused. “Do you need to know, Holly?”
“Strictly, no. But I won’t be free until you have your twin flame, and have him forever. The sooner this is over, the better it is for me. The more information I have, the more I can help. You know nothing about wizards or their society. They’re human, yes, but barely. They’re almost a separate race, they will be in a few hundred years. They do inbreed with Muggles, of course, that’s how you get half-bloods, and the descendents of genetic throwbacks, or Squibs, can inherit the trait, but they’ve isolated themselves for too long. Soon they won’t be able to reproduce with normal humans.”
“Fascinating,” he murmured, watching the screen intently.
“So—are you going to tell me?”
He paused. “There’s some sort of game—gladiatorial in nature—perhaps a tournament. He was entered into it unwillingly and it appears that the adults claimed it was somehow binding when it wasn’t. He had to face a dragon for sport and now is leaving. He and the person who aided him believe that there may be some political motivation behind what’s happened.”
She stilled. “Did you say Potter?” Holly’s voice was quiet, not more than a whisper.
“And the other person?”
“Viktor Krum, from Bulgaria.”
She sucked in a harsh breath. “I—see.”
Artemis narrowed his eyes. “What do you know?”
She pushed her hair back from her forehead in a rare sign of disquiet and her eyes darted about the room, probably in attempt to decide how much to reveal to Artemis, which irked him although he would never admit it.
“I will not reveal his secrets,” she finally said, her voice no more than a whisper, “but, Artemis, you have to be certain that this is what you want. You’ll have to take him and hide him so that magic won’t even be able to find him or make it look like he’s dead. The Lower Elements Police will help, by the fates they will, but you have to be completely certain. From the moment he agrees to—be—your lover, you’ll never be able to speak his name. It will have to be changed if it hasn’t been already. His safety and sovereignty will always be in danger.” Her wide hazel eyes met his and he saw the certainty and wariness shining from them.
Holly’s words surprised Artemis. He knew that Potter was in some kind of trouble, but this was more than he could comprehend.
“We shouldn’t even mention his name now—in case a taboo is somehow placed on it.” Upon seeing the confusion on Artemis’s face, she enlightened, “It can trace when a name is said though his is certainly well known. They might be able to tweak it though. You can never know with wizards.”
“I’m certain,” he confirmed and Holly nodded.
“Send in Butler for more fairy dust. You need to pour it into a bowl of water and then watch. It should reveal where your twin flame is currently burning.”
He nodded once before standing up and leaving. He would find Potter and then he would hide him. He didn’t care if they had to beg asylum from the underworld, but these wizards would never find Potter as long as his heart was still beating in his chest. No one took what belonged to a Fowl.
The water churned as the violet-blue dust fell into its depths. It sparked in the light, mesmerizing Artemis, before images began to flicker, first only in blues and violets, then in darker shades of prune-purple and royal blue, which bled into shades of browns and forest greens, a hint of yellow in a corner before it flickered away, and a deep red seeping into the shapes as they began to form in front of Artemis’s hungry eyes.
He saw the rush of the skies before his vision plunged to a busy street somewhere in Dublin, a sign wavering in the wind that he could just pull out. A clock somewhere above them read the hour and Artemis smirked. That was in two hour’s time.
He concentrated again on the scene, the surface of the water moving ethereally through the strangely colored shapes, and saw his twin flame walk up to the door and look about, before quietly entering. The image shifted appropriately.
Artemis could tell that the pub was noisy. A television above the bar showed an old football match and people were cheering when Ireland scored before the usual chatter of such an institution seemed to begin again. His flame’s auburn hair was almost a reddish brown in the low light, but with flecks of red that made it unearthly. It looked so natural that if Artemis hadn’t dreamt of his flame taking the potion, he never would have believed it such a transformation possible. It was little wonder the potion was illegal in this strange wizard society. With it, anyone could change his appearance so as to make himself unrecognizable.
The boy, Potter, although Artemis might never be able to say it again, leaned up against the bar, the legs of his pajamas peaking through the hem of his cloak. They were blue and checkered, Artemis could now see, and appeared to be much too large for him. He’d have to rectify the matter. His flame hadn’t taken much with him, and Artemis wouldn’t permit him to be left wanting.
His flame set his credit card on the bar and the barkeep quickly grabbed it and swiped it through his machine, signaling a transaction, before handing over a key. A shiny number seven was attached to the keychain, belying the room where Potter would be sleeping.
He looked exhausted, dusky bags under his brilliant green eyes, his face windswept and a broom under one arm. Carefully, Potter made his way through the crowd and headed up the stairs, taking them one at a time before he stopped in front of a door. He fumbled with the key before he opened the door and locked it quickly behind him.
The room was nice for pub accommodation. A double bed was in one corner, a wardrobe and television across from it. Two doors must lead to the washroom and the closet. A window showed a view of Dublin, rain beginning to gently fall over it, all blues and violets and dark, dark greens—the color of fairy dust.
The boy sat down on the bed and wearily kicked off his shoes, not bothering to see where they fell. He then set his key and credit card on the table and Artemis could clearly read the name on it—H. J. Potter. An independent bank called ‘Gringotts’ was marked under the insignia. It must be the Goblin institution, he thought to himself.
Rummaging through the small bag, H. J., for that was the closest to a given name Artemis could get, pulled out the second vial and stared at it dolefully. He took off his glasses, setting them on the bedside table, and Artemis saw his eyes become unfocused before he quickly drank the clear liquid. Sputtering at the taste, although Artemis could hear nothing from the images flickering across the water’s surface, H. J. put the empty vial down and then, carefully, settled himself beneath the covers.
Artemis doubted, after flying across the English Channel and then wandering about Dublin for at least a few hours, H. J. would awake anytime soon. He would make certain he was sitting in the bar as soon as H. J. woke up. Now he just had to decide how to make it so that he met H. J. before he left the country again.
He watched intently as H. J. slept, his chest rising and falling rhythmically as his eyes flickered behind their protective lids, betraying that the boy was now dreaming. Artemis wanted to reach through the water and trace the lines of his twin flame’s sleeping face—H. J.—Potter. The auburn hair with its flecks of red-gold opened his face in Artemis’s opinion. Before the contrast between the pale white and the messy black hair would have been stark, beautiful, certainly, but not as fitting as his current coloring. Even the strange greens and reds of the images could not mar how breathtaking Artemis found the face. Some, before the change in hair, might have called him ordinary looking because the contrast was too great, but H. J.’s features were startling when not obstructed by his clunky, wire-framed glasses.
Soon, Artemis promised himself. The boy would undoubtedly be awake by that night or the next morning at the latest, and he would be there, waiting, as friendly as he could be.
He could offer to show H. J. Dublin, to take him shopping for clothes. Certainly if Artemis felt such a strong pull toward the boy without having actually met him, Potter must feel it as well. Their souls were calling out for each other, Artemis could sense it in the darkest recesses of his mind.
The colors swirled about the water, the reds darkening to inky blacks, the greens fading into blues and then violet until all that was left was his own reflection, tinted by small sparks of fairy dust.
Butler said nothing as he accompanied Artemis into Dublin. Artemis had been rather adamant that once they reached the city itself they continue on foot despite the risks of people recognizing him, but he didn’t want to take any chances of Potter seeing the limousine and forming any type of impression of Artemis before they had actually met.
“You have not said why we’re here yet, Master Artemis,” Domovoi Butler said in his deep voice. He was tall, almost seven feet, with piercing blue eyes and a shaven head. He was the epitome of silent efficiency and the first friend Artemis had.
“I need to acquire someone in an unusual way,” he confided. “I have found my soul mate and I desire for my mate to come with me willingly.”
Butler, most likely thanks to his impeccable training as a bodyguard, didn’t betray any sign of surprise. “Your soul mate.”
“Yes. I would appreciate it if you could remain undetectable once we enter the place where he is staying. I would prefer not to startle him.”
“Of course, Master Artemis.” Butler left any questions he might have as to his soul mate’s gender unsaid.
“When he is acquired and agrees to stay, I hope you’ll treat him as anyone who marries into the House of Fowl despite current legislation that does not permit such a union,” Artemis said, attempting—and succeeding—to keep his voice level.
“I assumed as such, Master Artemis,” Butler assured him. There was almost a hesitation, as if Butler didn’t want to say the next words. “My congratulations.”
“Thank you.” A flicker of his terrifying smile played across Artemis’s lips before his face became impassive once again. “I assume that at some point tonight or tomorrow, we will have to take him shopping. He left England hurriedly and I doubt he has many clothes.”
“Security will be difficult if I am to remain undetected.”
“But not impossible,” Artemis countered coolly, reveling in the familiar conversation. “My mate will most likely be desirous to leave the country, but we must either convince him to stay or to accompany us on our own travels—to India or Morocco perhaps. Wherever he wishes to go. It is unimportant.” He flicked his wrist to subtly emphasize his point.
As they came up to the street where the small pub was, Artemis took a deep breath.
Butler placed a large hand on his shoulder. “Good luck.”
Artemis could only nod. Entering quietly, he looked around and saw that the scene was much as it had been in the scrying mirror. As it was now Sunday night there were perhaps a few less people, but the television was showing an old football match that people were still avidly watching while a few families sat in the booths, having a meal out. He felt it when Butler entered, looking around before settling at the bar, ordering a Guinness in order to look casual.
Glancing around again, Artemis saw that Potter was nowhere in sight and was glad that he wasn’t late. Now all he had to do was kill time—in a pub when he looked underage. He was, however, noticeably recognizable as the Fowl Heir and he doubted that anyone, knowing his father’s reputation, would refuse him anything, even if he was only physically sixteen. His identification, though, proclaimed him as nineteen, if it came to that.
Deciding he might as well get a drink in order to look casual, even if he had no taste for alcohol, he walked up to the bar and ordered a pint of cider.
“Anything else, Mr. Fowl?” the barman asked and Artemis grabbed a menu. “Oh, good evening, lad. You slept the day away.”
Artemis could feel a presence to his left and he turned fractionally to see wide, bright, clear green eyes staring back at him, a flicker of recognition in them.
He had clearly cut it close. Potter had only managed to sleep eight hours after flying all night, which was surprising. Artemis knew that he’d probably been out for at least ten if not twelve, and he was usually rather Spartan with his sleeping habits.
Potter blushed lightly and took the seat beside Artemis. “I had a long journey,” he supplied and the bartender nodded in understanding.
“Now, Mr. Fowl, do you know what you’d like, or would you like to take your time?”
Artemis looked at the menu wildly. He’d never eaten anything quite so Plebian before. He turned to Potter who was looking over his own menu. “What would you recommend?”
The boy looked up startled, and Artemis drank in his appearance. He was clearly only fourteen years old, he could easily be a bit younger, and didn’t seem used to strangers asking him questions. “Er—sorry?”
“What would you recommend? I’ve never been to a pub before.”
“I couldn’t believe when I saw ye,” the man behind the bar agreed. “Artemis Fowl the Second, heir to the richest family in Ireland and one of the wealthiest men in the world—in me pub.”
“I gave the chef the night off,” Artemis offered by way of an explanation. He failed to mention that his bodyguard was fully trained in Cordon Bleu cooking and that Fowl Manor had three fully trained chefs beside.
The boy’s green eyes widened, his lips pressed momentarily together before he nodded. He glanced at his own menu and scanned through it. “What are you in the mood for?”
“Something typical of an Irish pub.”
Potter tried to stifle a laugh. “A coke for me and a fish and chips, and for Mr. Fowl—a streak and ale pie, I think.”
The barkeep was quickly writing this all down. “Anything else, lad?”
“No, I don’t think so.” He had to stifle a yawn behind his hand. “Still tired,” he remarked to himself.
He put down the menu and made to take out his credit card from his trouser pocket—Artemis noted that he was wearing khaki trousers that appeared to be part of a school uniform as well as a white button down shirt—but he quickly supplied his own. “For both of our meals, and keep an open tab,” he instructed.
The barkeeper happily took his credit card.
“You didn’t need to do that,” Potter objected, but Artemis shrugged it off.
“It is rare that I make the acquaintance of someone my age,” he answered truthfully, before pausing, weighing his options. “Join me for dinner.” His tone left little chance of refusal.
Potter hesitated, taking in Artemis’s formal frame, before nodding firmly.
Artemis had attempted to dress casually, but it seemed he had inherited the Fowl genes and wasn’t quite certain what casual meant to the rest of the populace. He was wearing Armani slacks that probably cost more than the entire pub was worth and a dark blue turtleneck sweater—also Armani. His appearance probably proclaimed wealth and privilege.
He doubted he looked completely comfortable in it as well.
He preferred either wearing a full suit or something better suited to his more espionage-like activities.
Artemis followed as Potter led them to an empty booth and he slid in across from him, taking in his form again. “I don’t even know your name,” he began, not certain what else to say.
“Harry,” Potter answered. “Just Harry. And you’re Artemis.”
“Yes. A pleasure to make your acquaintance.” It sounded stiff to his own ears, but at least it brought a small smile to Harry’s face. “What brings you to Ireland? Surely you should be in school unless you have early holidays?”
“Traveling. Not certain where I will end up,” he confessed, and Artemis nodded. “What about you?”
“What about me?” Artemis asked, stunned. He took a sip of his cider and was surprised when he rather liked it.
“Where do you go to school?”
“I graduated when I was fourteen when my mother insisted I return. I found it a lack of a challenge and thought to end my misery.”
Harry broke out into quiet laughter, his eyes bright and perhaps still tired, and Artemis wondered if he was really funny or if his mate was so tired that almost anything said could be found extraordinarily humorous.
“I-I see,” Harry finally said through his laughter and his eyes held Artemis’s for several moments.
Artemis willed him not to look away.
“How long will be in Ireland for?” Artemis asked, once the moment was broken. Harry was now taking a long drink from his coke.
“I don’t know. A few days? A week? Forever?” Again there was a knowing glint in his eyes, that intrigued Artemis.
“You should stay longer than a week. See the sights—it’s so easy to lose yourself here unlike any other country I’ve been.” Artemis held his gaze a moment too long, hoping he would understand his silent message.
“And where have you been?”
“England, India, Pakistan, Morocco, Egypt, France—“
“All five continents?”
“There’s six,” Artemis countered.
“Very few people can visit Antarctica.”
“True. I haven’t been to South America out of the five.”
Harry shrugged. “I’d never been out of England before this morning.”
“All the more reason to stay longer.”
“Is it your favorite place, then, out of all the countries you’ve visited?”
Artemis paused, thinking back over his life. “Yes,” he answered truthfully. “It’s home, I suppose, although my parents are rarely here now. They’ve taken the twins to Switzerland for Christmas.”
“Twins?” Harry asked, leaning forward.
“Myles and Beckett. They’re three—and terrible menaces, of course. I rarely see them, and Father was presumed dead for so many years and Mother became ill. It’s almost as if I don’t quite have a family at times,” he admitted. “I have Butler, though.”
Harry’s eyes narrowed as he looked around. Artemis noted that Butler had conveniently melted into the shadows somewhere. “I don’t see a bodyguard.”
“I asked him to be invisible.”
“He can do that then?” Harry teased, clearly warming up to him. “Become invisible?”
“Just about unless he employed magic,” he paused. “I doubt the fey would appreciate that though as it would mean he had stolen it from them.”
Harry stilled, taking in Artemis’s form.
Artemis stared directly back at him.
“The fey?” he said in little more than a whisper.
A waiter hurried to their table and placed their food in front of them. Artemis glanced over his meal in wonder, knowing that he could easily state that he had never had anything quite like this steak and ale pie before in his life.
“Anything else, gentleman?”
“Another ‘coke’ for my friend,” Artemis replied, noting that Harry’s glass was nearly empty.
“I don’t—“ Harry began to protest, but Artemis stared pointedly at him.
A coke was quickly placed before him.
“I could show you the sights,” Artemis offered. “You’d see Dublin through an Irishman’s perspective.”
Harry eyed him curiously. “Why would you do that?”
“Which answer would you like?” Artemis quipped.
“There’s more than one?”
“There’s always more than one answer, even occasionally in physics and mathematics. Some are correct, many are wrong, and if you change how you look at a problem, the answer can change drastically.”
“The full answer as you know it.”
Artemis took in his form unabashedly before nodding. “I take it people rarely tell you the truth then.” He didn’t wait for an answer. “When I was twelve I acquired an artifact, one that was not—human.”
Harry visibly started and paled. Artemis longed to reach out and take his hand, but stayed in his seat, carefully cutting his pie.
“A few months ago I came across a passage that I had translated, and after much research I realized it was referring to the twin flame of a soul—or a soul mate. I didn’t tire until I gathered everything I would need, and last night I dreamt of a boy with wild hair and green eyes, flying away from a castle. You told the compass you were coming to Dublin, and here you are.”
“I—“ Harry began before closing his mouth. “Dreams.” A thoughtful look was on his face, almost as if he had just discovered the answer to a mystery that had plagued him for years.
“You don’t have to say anything,” Artemis assured him, and took his first bite. He glanced down at his meal. It really wasn’t that bad.
“Prove you saw everything about last night,” he said, taking in a deep breath.
Taking a long drag from his cider, Artemis tried to collect his thoughts. “You were on a beach, with pebbles, by a lake. There was a boat—an archaic one made of wood. You met someone by the name of Viktor Krum who reminded you that you could claim asylum in Bulgaria—“
A callused finger pressed itself against Artemis’s lips. “What color was my hair?”
“And what did Viktor call me?”
“Potter. A Fairy was kind enough to inform me that once it’s discovered you’re missing, the name might become Taboo and be traced somehow.”
Harry started visibly at the suggestion. “I-I didn’t know they could do that.”
“Neither did I,” Artemis confessed. “I didn’t know there were wizards until last night either. Fairies and goblins, yes, but not wizards.”
Harry eyed him again. “What are you then?”
“A Muggle with political and economic ties to Fairies,” he answered quietly. “I have been led to understand that you’re from a family of purebloods and my blood might cause problems.”
His twin flame leaned back and took him in again, idly eating a chip. “You don’t know who I am. All you know is I’m a wizard and your soul mate.” A small smile spread across his face. “I need to hide and can’t be found—ever.”
“I think that might be arranged,” Artemis replied, trying not to smile in return.