Harry’s name was on his lips when he awoke, the fairy dust falling from his fluttering eyes onto his sheets. He lay in his bed for a moment, unmoving, remembering dreams of caressing hands tracing the lines of his face and breath near his ear as perfect lips hovered close to his skin. He shivered at the memories and turned to his side, toward a strange warmth, and saw Harry looking curiously back at him.
“I couldn’t sleep,” he said in greeting, remaining perfectly still above the covers, taking in Artemis’s sleepy face.
The words processed slowly into Artemis’s mind and then he nodded carefully in recognition. “What time is it?”
Harry grinned quietly at him and looked over Artemis’s shoulder. “Six thirty. A bit early, especially for a Monday. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
He shook his head, dispelling more of the fairy dust. “Not at all. I don’t mind. Were your rooms to your satisfaction?” he asked hastily, momentarily worried.
“Yes,” Harry breathed, blushing. Normally, Artemis would have thought it would clash with ginger hair, but it just brought a healthy hue to Harry’s pale skin, the deep auburn complimenting it with his green, green eyes. “I’m just—I’m used to the dorm with the others. It’s odd having a large room with no one else in it.”
Artemis frowned. “Aren’t you cold?” he suddenly asked, noticing the slight chill in the room. The fire had died away and Artemis disliked servants entering his room when he was sleeping, so they normally refrained. “Get under the covers before you turn blue.”
Harry bit his lip and, then, hesitantly, he crawled under the covers, his head once again resting on the same pillow as Artemis’s.
They settled into a comfortable silence, and Artemis felt himself once again begin to drift off to sleep, when cold fingers began to trace the line of his nose, bringing him back to awareness. “Aren’t you frightened?” Harry whispered a moment later and Artemis opened his eyes.
“What people will say?”
Artemis furrowed his eyebrows in confusion and then buried his head deeper in the pillow, never taking his eyes off of Harry. “About?”
Harry was once again biting his lip and he looked away at some point over Artemis’s shoulder.
“Harry,” Artemis sighed. “If you don’t tell me, I can’t answer you. You can tell me anything,” he promised, knowing it was the truth. “You’re my twin flame.”
“That’s just it,” Harry confessed, a hint of worry in his voice. “How can you not be worried about what people will say about us? We’re both boys—I—what about your parents—what if they throw you out or tell—or—“ Silent tears were now falling down his red cheeks as he sniffed, trying to quell his gentle sobs.
“Harry,” Artemis breathed, pulling him into a warm embrace and breathing in his fresh scent.
“I—I never told anyone. Not Ron or Hermione or—I never said it. I was so afraid. My relatives already thought I was a freak, and if they knew—knew I was a shirt lifter—that I had to pretend to fancy Ch-Cho because I was afraid when I thought O-Oliver was fit and half-wanted to stare at F-Fred and not the V-V-Veela at the World Cup. I was so scared and now this—I’ve never had such a nice room before—“
Artemis ran a soothing hand through Harry’s red hair and let him cling to him, crying for the stress of the past few days, for the gladiator games, for the fear of being gay and finding himself in such a strange situation.
“I’m here,” he found himself whispering. “I’ll take care of you. I’m here.”
As Harry quieted, Artemis focused on his warm breath against his neck, his fists clutched against him, the feel of a leg entwined with his, and felt a surge of warmth rise within him at the thought of this young boy who had been through so much and seemed so alone, a broomstick and a vault key the only things of worth he possessed.
“I’m sorry,” Harry murmured, pulling away, but Artemis kept a loose grasp on him, willing him to settle back in his arms.
“Do you feel better?” he asked calmly, tracing a tear track with the pad of his thumb and marveling that Harry’s eyes looked greener when they were wet with tears.
He nodded a bit, his arms tentatively moving around Artemis’s bare waist.
“It doesn’t matter what anyone says,” Artemis whispered, trying to comfort him. “I haven’t told anyone, though Holly—the fairy—obviously knows and my bodyguard will have guessed from what I said about you—but it does not matter. It’s—it’s not wrong. This can’t be wrong. Love and wanting can’t be wrong.”
“I know,” Harry conceded. “You—A friend told me that once. What about your parents?”
“They’re wrapped up in each other with the twins,” he answered, wondering at this friend. “I don’t think they’ll notice and when they do, well, Mother will say something and Father will probably congratulate me on now being a man. I’ve been raising myself since I was nine and they recognize this. They’ll probably think you’ll ground me,” he added with a smirk. “I hope you don’t mind two terrors,” he added, thinking of the twins. “You’re a Fowl, and Fowls can do no wrong and if we do we won’t admit to it.”
Harry burrowed into the warmth of Artemis’s warmth and sighed, his tears slowly drying. “I must be dreaming,” he sighed as he closed his eyes. “I only ever cry when I’m dreaming.”
Artemis slowly stroked Harry’s hair, letting the strands fall through his fingers, lulling Harry to sleep. “You’re not a freak,” Artemis whispered as he felt Harry further relax in his embrace. “Never that.”
He could feel Harry’s fingers against his back, pressing him closer, and he delighted in the small affection. Artemis couldn’t remember the last time he was hugged, wanted, when he last gave another human being comfort. It had only been a matter of hours, and yet so much had occurred, so many new experiences—waking up to someone beside him, feeling someone affectionately trace the patterns of his face, his twin flame choosing to confide in him all his worries and fears.
“And when,” Harry’s small voice, muffled against his shoulder blade, began again, “and when you don’t want me anymore?”
Artemis stilled at the thought and pulled away, needing to see Harry’s eyes. Reluctantly Harry released him, his gaze settled elsewhere and Artemis turned his head so that they were almost nose to nose.
“Look at me,” he begged and, slowly, Harry focused on him.
“I will never not want you,” he vowed. “Even when I’m angry, or I’m hurt and shut you out—I’ll always want you, Harry. I can promise you that. You’re mine and I will never let you go.”
“Never.” His voice was soft, no hint of what he was truly feeling, whether pleased, upset, or wary, but Artemis hadn’t cared and pulled Harry closer, tucking his shaggy auburn-ginger-gold head beneath his chin.
“I will follow you to the ends of the earth. We were made for each other—twin flames—and I refuse to lose that,” he breathed reverently. “Nothing else matters.”
Harry’s small hands once again encircled his waist, one of them clutching at the hem of his pajama bottoms, perhaps in the need to cling to something tangible other than skin, and Artemis let out a contented sigh.
His words filtered through Artemis’s mind and he scrunched up his nose in dissatisfaction. “Who, pray tell, are Oliver and Fred?”
A soft yet muffled laugh met his ears. “Jealous?” Harry tiredly teased. “You just met me—no one ever gets jealous, they just want and take and—“
“I will give,” Artemis reminded him. “And I need to know whether I need to bribe them or get rid of them some other way.”
Harry pulled away and glanced at him hazily. “You’re serious.”
“I never say anything unless I am,” Artemis answered succinctly, a vampire smile beginning to form on his lips. Harry appeared mesmerized by his mouth suddenly.
“Oliver was my team captain,” he explained tiredly. “He graduated last year. Dead boring strategy meetings.”
Artemis internally relaxed. A team captain was someone to be admired or watched, but if he was boring and now graduated, not that Harry was attending his school anymore, he wasn’t likely to be a threat. It also let him know that the first person Harry fancied, even in a childlike way, had been someone who was about Artemis’s age, which could only bode well for him.
“Fred was one of the twins. They were pranksters,” Harry laughed. “No one could tell them apart but Fred was more daring. They were my friend’s older brothers and, well, Fred would always rescue me when their little sister tried anything too daring.”
“She fancied you?”
“Since she met me,” he groaned. “She was horrible—is horrible—vicious and selfish.”
Someone older again, who made him laugh, was daring, and rescued Harry on a regular basis.
He couldn’t hold back the full smile, even if it might frighten Harry a little. He rarely made people laugh, but he’d gone on more than the usual number of life threatening adventures and was saving Harry in a way that no one could ever compete with. And Harry, if the way his hands clung to Artemis for comfort and protection and his eyes lingered on his lips, already fancied him despite himself.
“What was her name?” he inquired, settling back into the familiar and casual, loving the sound of his twin flame’s soft voice. It almost seemed that no one had just let him talk before—which could easily have been the case—and Artemis was determined to give Harry everything he needed, whether material, emotional, or physical. His complete devotion had been secured as soon as he dreamt of Harry by that black lake, fleeing from dragons and political games that almost killed him.
“Ginny—Ginny Weasley. She was a year beneath me and had flaming red hair and—well—no one but my mum could ever look pretty with hair like that.”
“I think her son inherited it then,” Artemis complimented.
“Hmm,” Harry sighed in response, snuggling closer to Artemis, who began to soothingly trail his hand up and down Harry’s back.
“My mother—Angeline—isn’t much of a mother,” Artemis confessed lowly, having never really spoken the words. “When Father disappeared, she became depressed and—mad. It was horrible.”
Harry pulled him tighter in obvious comfort and Artemis paused.
“She sometimes couldn’t recognize me, couldn’t recognize Juliet, our servant. She was convinced there were bugs eating away at her and that the light would harm her somehow. I didn’t go to school for over a year because, well, I had no parent, and the stock market was more intriguing.”
“She—she got sick. She’s better though,” he added. “Still, she’s not much of a mother, at least to me.”
Harry hummed in the back of his throat and Artemis found himself playing with the long ends of Harry’s hair, the highlights breaking through the deep, natural auburn in the slight light that bled through the curtains. Despite the fact that it was only hair, Artemis found himself fascinated, and suspected he could watch the play of colors for weeks, if not years.
“Artemis Fowl the First,” Artemis responded. “I was clearly named for him.”
Harry snuggled closer.
Artemis sighed. “He was a businessman. I thought a legitimate one, but it turned out he was a crime lord and he was kidnapped for several years.—I rescued him and now he wants me to reform my behavior as he now has.” He laughed coldly, no hint of emotion. “If it weren’t for me during all those years, our fortune never would have been restored. Legality is a matter of opinion,” he finished in little more of a whisper.
He would not deceive Harry, but still he was frightened as to his reaction.
“A rule breaker,” Harry mused tiredly.
“On an international level.” Artemis didn’t mention that his ‘rule-breaking’ extended into the otherworld. That was a discovery for another day, he decided.
“Like me then,” Harry concluded and Artemis smiled against his hair.
“A Fowl already.”
Arms tightened around him and Artemis smiled, closing his eyes once again, hoping to find Harry still in his arms when he awoke later.
A soft knock awoke Artemis a few hours later and he caught himself focusing on Harry’s soft lips that were pressed against his shoulder in his sleep. He knew he could ignore the summons, but no one would bother him unless it was important, and he did not want to stop holding Harry. He was too precious, too new.
“Come in,” he called softly and Harry shifted closer in his sleep, mumbling something against Artemis’s skin and causing a shiver to run down his back at the unfamiliar sensation.
The door quietly opened and he saw Butler standing there. “Forgive me, Master Artemis, but our guest is missing—“ he began before he saw Harry enclosed in Artemis’s arms, a brief hint of disapproval in his usually stoic eyes. “Of course. Would you like me to have breakfast served?”
“In a quarter of an hour, and have Harry’s clothes brought up as well.”
Butler left without another word.
The sun was shining through the drapes, illuminating Harry’s eyelids and the curved, black lashes that he had retained despite the hair color potion. There was something fey about Harry’s features, the ears not perfectly rounded but almost possessing a slight point, the cheekbones that were a little too sharp to be entirely human, the enchanting lips and lithe frame. Holly had said that purebloods were obsessed with wizard blood, but perhaps, he thought, they had once intermarried with other species and some of the residual traits remained in their descendants. It could possibly explain the prejudice against Muggle-borns and Muggles who not only were new to magic but didn’t have it naturally in their inheritance from other beings.
It would need further study. He had years to further explore.
There was also the matter of Harry’s political importance in the wizarding world. Holly knew who he was and instantly was aware that he would be chased. He’d dreamt of Albus and the other wizards and that one witch trying to find him, calling in Aurors, which he suspected were some sort of trackers or special police. It was immediately a full national search and their words suggested that there would be a panic if it were known that Harry had disappeared. He was clearly someone politically and culturally important—someone that perhaps others had attempted to manipulate into the gladiator games or, more worryingly, attempt to assassinate him through it.
He wouldn’t rest until he knew exactly why and made certain that Harry was completely safe from these wizards. Artemis would hide him away so no one could find him, making him invisible to them, and then he was going to finish this so that the search would end and they could continue their lives in peace. It only remained to be seen if Harry chose to join him or remain completely hidden while Artemis eliminated the problem.
The door opened almost silently again and Harry stirred as Butler and Juliet brought two trays into the room, their eyes carefully averted from the bed as they set them on the bedside tables. Juliet quickly exited and then began bringing in several shopping bags that must contain Harry’s preliminary wardrobe.
“Hmmm,” Harry moaned against his shoulder, the soft lips caressing him in an almost-kiss. “Do I smell hot chocolate?”
Juliet stilled, startled, and glanced at the bed despite herself.
“Quite possibly,” Artemis half-laughed as Harry immediately sat up, looking at the steaming pot of cocoa on one of the two trays. The other tray had a pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice.
“Breakfast,” Harry said completely startled. “In bed.”
“Yes. Have you never had breakfast in bed before?” Artemis asked as he reached for his plate and uncovered a plate of steaming pastries. He offered them to Harry who hesitantly took one and put it on a plate now on his lap.
“I was lucky to get breakfast at my aunt’s house,” Harry said absently and Artemis’s eyes narrowed.
Juliet stilled again.
“There’s always more than enough food here,” Artemis replied and poured Harry a cup of steaming hot chocolate, handing it to him.
“Oh, there was enough—I just wasn’t always allowed it,” Harry said quietly.
Juliet dropped the bags she was now carrying in shock.
Artemis’s eyes narrowed, certain that he would get to the bottom of this when Harry fully trusted him. He suspected that it was related to Harry’s earlier assertion that his relatives thought he was a freak. For now, Artemis wouldn’t press him on the topic. “That would never happen here, and won’t happen to you again,” he promised.
They ate in relative silence, semi-turned toward each other, Harry cautiously looking at Artemis and then looking away again whenever their eyes met, blushing occasionally. Artemis had no such qualms and watched Harry obsessively, taking in the way he bit his lip when nervous, how he would savor the first taste of every dish before happily eating it, how his tongue would lap at the left corner of his mouth after he took a drink from his hot cocoa.
He was so young and yet so utterly enchanting. Previously, Artemis had doubted the existence of love, at least as it related to his life, but now less than a day with Harry and he knew that he was in danger of loving this young boy and never being able to stop.
“Why do you keep looking at me?” Harry finally asked.
“I thought it was obvious.”
Harry looked away again. The top of his ears, not even remotely rounded, peeked through his long hair.
“We should have a meeting with the goblins within a week,” Artemis whispered when they were finally alone again. “We’ll have your name changed and your new identity created. The fairies say they wouldn’t touch a scar created by wizard magic, so I’ll get you an appointment.”
Harry nodded cautiously and embarrassedly looked around the room. “What are all the bags?” he finally asked.
“Your wardrobe,” Artemis answered blandly. When he saw Harry’s eyes widen, he added, “You’re a Fowl now, and you’re entitled to everything that entails. No arguments.”
Fortunately, Harry didn’t say anything else. After he finished his meal, he even carefully got out of bed and began to sift through all the bags, laying out his favorite items on the bed. Artemis didn’t think his eyes could have gotten any wider, sparkling green, and his hands would stroke the material of turtlenecks, slacks, and even the formal black winter coat lined with rabbit fur that Artemis had chosen on a whim.
“I can’t—it’s too much.”
“You’re a Fowl, the equivalent of my future spouse. This is only the beginning.”
“What if—what if I—“
Artemis’s gaze softened. “You will, I am certain, and you’re so young,” he answered affectionately. “You’re safe and I would never pressure you.”
“I don’t—I’ve never felt love.”
“I didn’t until this morning,” Artemis found himself whispering under his breath, and by the curve of Harry’s lips, he suspected he heard.
When Harry began to gather an outfit in his arms to go change, Artemis instead rose from the bed and trailed a hand down Harry’s arm. “Stay. I’ll go,” he promised and, after searching briefly through his wardrobe, exited into the hallway.
Juliet was waiting in the hall and they stared at each other for a moment.
“When Harry leaves my chambers, have his clothes placed in one of the wardrobes in my room,” he instructed calmly and she nodded.
“How long with he be a guest?”
“He’s not a guest, he’s a Fowl.” Nothing else needed to be said.
Over the next few days, Artemis watched with undisguised amusement as Harry explored Fowl Manor. Artemis would never follow him around, but he began to set himself up in certain rooms where he suspected Harry would next find himself.
Harry loved the fortress-like manor house, looking in every nook and cranny, insisting that he’d never been in such a magical place. He was like a child who had never before been in a fortress, and Artemis hoped his enthusiasm showed that he would fully accept his place as a Fowl and would soon consider this manor, and any other Fowl residence, his right and his home.
His favorite room turned out to be the kitchen and he went so far as wheedling Artemis into taking their lunches at the large table near the fire so that he could watch the cooks prepare their meals and speak with them.
From his installation that cold December evening, he had been known as simply “Harry Fowl,” and Artemis rather suspected that even when they officially changed his name to something else, that it would remain such unofficially until the time that Harry finally took it as his own. He knew the staff speculated as to his origins and history. Although Harry happily spoke with the servants, he never revealed anything about himself or his unorthodox friendship with Artemis. Artemis saw Juliet’s eyes linger on Harry’s hair, which was so unlike any of the other living Fowls, who all had various shades of dark brown or black hair, that was smooth and orderly, although Artemis wore his a little long so that he often had push his fringe out of his eyes when it was wet.
There was nothing similar about them physically except that they were both clearly boys. Artemis was tall and thin, while Harry was lithe and still growing, his body toned through some wizarding sport, Artemis’s form was just naturally strong with a quiet power to it. Harry’s skin was pale, but not as deathly light as Artemis’s. Their hair was as contrasting as a bright sun and a moonless night, and Harry’s every expression was truthful, while Artemis rarely expressed his emotions and when he did frightened people or reminded them of a vampire.
“How old are you?” Harry asked over ice cream one night. Artemis had argued that it was impractical considering how cold it already was, but Harry had insisted and, for good form, had worn his winter coat to eat it.
“Seventeen in a few weeks,” Artemis whispered. “Is that a problem?”
“Hardly.” Harry was smiling, hinting at a secret.
“Do you like older men?” he tried to tease and hoped it sounded natural.
“I thought that was obvious.”
Every morning Artemis would awaken with Harry still sleeping in his arms and he would carefully apply concealer to his forehead before they left the room, hiding the angry scar from the servants so they would never have a recollection of it if they were questioned.
It was a strangely intimate gesture, Harry sitting on the sink in the en suite bathing room, Artemis standing so close that he could see Harry’s individual eyelashes, the pad of his thumb smoothing over the jagged lines before he carefully applied powder to even out the tone. The result wasn’t perfect, but with Harry’s long fringe the scar remained nearly undetectable.
“I’ll miss this,” Harry whispered one morning, their lips barely apart, and Artemis found himself glancing down at Harry’s mouth when his small pink tongue flitted out momentarily.
Without withdrawing from the intimate closeness, Artemis washed his hand, leaning forward so that every time he breathed he could smell the winter cold on Harry’s hair.
Harry’s breath hitched as their noses gently brushed before Artemis dried his hands and brought one gently up to Harry’s face.
“I’ll still take care of you,” Artemis vowed and he saw a flicker in the depths of Harry’s eyes.
“Doesn’t anyone take care of you?” Harry asked and Artemis sighed.
“Not yet, but one day perhaps—and Butler makes certain I’m unharmed and well.”
Harry breathed out tremulously, tempting Artemis, but he reminded himself how young his twin flame was and, with a turn of his lips, helped Harry down and led him back out of the room, their fingers entwined.