Artemis was lying against a small bed, gasping for breath, the cold ebbing from his aching limbs as he came to himself again. The room was small, the ceiling sloped down, and there were stuffed animals everywhere he looked. It belonged to some adolescent girl, then, he mused when he saw a battered looking bra lying on the floor.
The door opened and Ginny walked in, her eyes skimming over his lying form as if she couldn’t see him, which he supposed was true. She had grown in the past few years, her body becoming more of a woman’s, though she was still on the cusp of adolescence. Her fiery hair fell in soft waves down her back and her freckled nose was tilted toward the floor as she was looking for something.
“Ah,” she said as she spotted the bra and, before Artemis could even comprehend, she had whipped off her shirt and revealed a very naked chest.
He stared, trying to figure out what anyone would find attractive in her soft, flat stomach and small breasts that hung limply without support. Her pink nipples began to harden at the contact with open air, and she moaned at the sensation, pinching one, the name “Harry” escaping her lips.
She was far too young for that sort of behavior.
Artemis was disgusted.
A knock sounded at the door and Ginny turned toward it, brown eyes wide and ginger hair flipping over her bare shoulders. “Hold on!” she called out and quickly put on the bra, lifting each breast individually into the off-white cups, pushing them up.
He thanked all of the deities that humanity had ever worshipped that Harry was gay. Ginny’s wishes and—baser desires—were far too disturbing to contemplate.
A moment later and Ginny had pulled her shirt over her head and was running to the door, yanking her hair that had been caught in her collar. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door cautiously and, after peeking through, opened it to admit a bushy-haired girl. Hermione, Artemis realized.
“Mione,” she greeted, quickly shutting the door and snapping the latch, which she had neglected to do before. “I was afraid it was one of the twins with their pranks.” She rolled her eyes for good measure. “Have you seen Harry?”
“Briefly,” Hermione sighed, walking over to the bed and almost sitting on Artemis’s legs. He had just enough time to swing them over the edge of the pink sheets. Pink. If he and Harry had a daughter, she was going to get violet, not this hideous color.
“No one knew if he would actually come apparently,” Ginny was saying, “so they didn’t tell me anything.”
“Yes, well, after everything, he’s not really speaking to much of anyone except for Fred. He’s the only reason why Harry agreed to come—he’s off with the twins somewhere.”
A coil of jealousy surged through Artemis, mixing horribly with the unbearable cold ice that was still in his veins, but he pushed it down. Harry was his, he reminded himself, and had even kissed him at the beginning of his third year and, if he was guessing right, it was just about a year after that.
“Not even you?”
Hermione sighed, a faraway look in her eyes. “No, not even me. We argued after the whole—never mind—we just argued. I think the friendship is almost not there.”
Ginny shimmied closer and lay down on the bed, forcing Artemis once again to move out of the way so that she and Hermione could take up the lower half of the bed. Girls. They were too complicated, his mother being a case in point, Minerva another.
“You have to give me more than that.”
Hermione huffed, pushing her bushy hair out of her face. Artemis absently noticed that she had rather large front teeth, almost like a beaver. “Dumbledore. Harry’s convinced he’s deranged. He tried to see us in the hospital wing when Ron broke his leg—remember?—and Harry had insisted he leave as it was a place for healing and he didn’t want any visitors. He kicked up such a fuss that Madam Pomfrey threw the headmaster out.”
“He did the same when I came to visit him and Ron,” Ginny sighed dejectedly, resting her chin on her hand. “I’m losing him,” she confessed quietly.
At first Hermione didn’t say anything, and Artemis just stared at the ceiling waiting to be pulled elsewhere or for someone to reveal something of importance. “Well,” Hermione mused. “Harry hates being famous, the Boy-Who-Lived. You need to pretend to get over him, act normally around him instead of blushing, stammering, and looking at him that way.” Artemis shivered at the mental images Hermione’s words brought to mind. “Date a little, show that you’re not after the fame and then, when the time is right, he might notice you.” She sounded slightly doubtful even to herself, but Artemis had to admit it was sound advice—if Ginny weren’t obsessed to the point of sexual deviance and if Harry liked girls.
“That,” Ginny began, sounding slightly surprised, “might actually work.”
She turned her head and smiled at Hermione, who grinned back at her, although the emotion didn’t reach her eyes.
“Do you think I’m pretty, that I could be pretty when I grow up?”
“Well,” Hermione said, turning toward her friend. “You do look a bit like his mother. I’ve seen pictures of her. That has to count for something.”
Artemis noted that she didn’t actually say that Ginny was pretty. She was too much in an awkward stage of growing for that, Artemis supposed. He really wished she stayed like that.
“You also have a large family, something that Harry’s always wanted,” Hermione continued in little more of a whisper. “Wait. Maybe he’ll notice you.” Maybe he won’t was left unsaid and at the glint in Hermione’s eyes, Artemis began to wonder if she fancied Harry as well.
Ginny clutched Hermione’s hand and Artemis glanced back at the ceiling. The world shifted again, pain searing through his fingertips, so very cold, and then he was no longer in the room with too much pink and a sloping ceiling, but a tent.
“No.” The word hung in the darkness, determined, and Artemis instantly recognized it as Harry’s. “I said ‘no,’ Fred.”
Artemis squinted in the darkness and saw that Harry was lying in a single bed that was somehow in this tent, and that a boy was leaning over him, his hands clutching Harry’s dark hair.
“Why? I know you fancy me,” the other boy said huskily, leaning down to kiss Harry as if he’d already done it before, but Harry pushed him away.
“I don’t want to,” Harry returned, turning away.
“I thought,” Fred whispered brokenly, his hand trailing out of Harry’s hair.
“I’m sorry.” Harry’s voice was muffled and full of uncertainty. “You thought wrong.”
Artemis moved through the shadows, looking between the two boys, one standing by the bed, his shoulders tense in confusion and rejection, the other lying on his side, his hand reaching out to the tent wall and tracing patterns on it. He passed through Fred, for once not bothered by the icy pain that struck through his heart or the fact that he was somehow a ghost and yet not a ghost, and lay down on the bed, his arm wrapping protectively around Harry’s waist, forcing it not to fall through his body as if Artemis wasn’t there.
“I told you ‘no’,” Harry snapped, glancing down at the arm, before looking back over his shoulder. His lips formed a surprised ‘oh’ and his eyes lifted to Fred again, who Artemis could hear shuffling away to the other bed in the small room.
They stared into each other’s eyes in the darkness, a place almost out of time, as images faded in and out around them.
He was alone suddenly in the bed, a figure shifting at the end, and Artemis squinted, just making out an imp again. “You’re out of time, Artemis Fowl,” it whispered, its florescent eyes glittering in the pitch black.
“You’re stalking a human,” Artemis whispered. “What do you want with him?”
The imp didn’t answer, briefly coming closer and sniffing at Artemis’s feet, which Artemis thought was rather strange behavior even for an imp.
Light shone around him and once again his arm was around Harry, who was sleeping soundly against him as if nothing were wrong. The light was focused, a single ball, and then all of a sudden there was shouting. “Fred, George, Harry, get up, there’s been an attack—Move!”
Before Artemis could think, he was standing in nothing but his pajamas and was pulling Harry up by the arm.
“Wha—?” Harry breathed tiredly, and Artemis grabbed a jacket and quickly threw it over Harry’s shoulders.
“Come on, we need to go,” he said, and pulled a tired Harry out of the tent.
He could smell smoke on the air as soon as they left the impossibly large tent—presumably some form of magic that Artemis wasn’t familiar with—and then he saw them, masked men and the people that were hanging in the air above them. It was sickening.
“Harry!” Fred called out, but Artemis didn’t want to wait. Fred wasn’t going to come anywhere near Harry as long as he was there.
“Merlin,” Harry breathed as he caught sight of the spectacle, his feet instantly picking up in his panic as he ran alongside Artemis through a campsite. People were everywhere around them, pushing, prodding, but Artemis held firm, never letting go of Harry’s hand as he made his way with the other running children toward the safety of the forest.
Artemis could feel his pulse rising with every step they took, pulling Harry forward, escaping in a press of faces all their age, shadowed in the half-light, before they were rushing through trees. Harry, whose legs were slightly shorter, stumbled on a root, and Artemis slowed to help him before they were running again.
When they were deep enough in for Artemis’s liking so that they could no longer even see the light from the campsite, Artemis pulled Harry in his arms and settled his head against the black thatch of his twin flame’s hair. “You’re safe now, safe,” he murmured, needing to reassure himself as well as Harry.
They stayed like that for several long minutes, Harry’s arms wrapped around Artemis’s waist, his hands fisting in the silk material.
“Did he hurt you? Fred, did he—?”
Harry pulled away, shaking his head and rubbing his eyes tiredly. “No. He just tried to kiss me.” He blushed lightly. “It was stupid, I knew he liked me, that he watched me, but I wanted a friend who didn’t want Harry Potter, but Just Harry.”
Artemis stared at him, not quite understanding the distinction, but he realized it was obviously an important one. “Well, whoever this Harry Potter is, I find myself liking Just Harry.”
Harry smiled up at him, his fringe falling over his scar, and leaned up to clumsily kiss Artemis, still unsure. “I love you,” he whispered against Artemis’s lips. “I don’t know who you are, but I love you.”
Startled, Artemis drew away and looked down at the young boy in his arms, who was blushing and glancing away again nervously. Reverently, Artemis reached up and gently stroked Harry’s cheek with his thumb. “I love you, too,” he whispered and kissed the top of his head, “so much.”
Harry buried his head against Artemis’s chest and he held him tightly, not wanting to let go now that Harry had finally said the words to him that he’d been longing to hear for so long.
Time flickered around them, trying to pull Artemis away with its icy coldness, but he fought back, not wanting to leave his beautiful Harry.
“What’s the date?” Artemis asked, looking dimly through the empty wood.
“August twenty-fifth—nineteen ninety-four,” Harry whispered.
“Time travel?” Harry guessed and Artemis chuckled lightly.
“Not quite. It’s difficult to explain. I will in a few months, I promise.”
A shimmer of movement and Harry was no longer in his arms and he was staring at the imp. Purple dust swirled around him and once again his arms were full. “Harry, I need to tell you something, and it will make sense in a little while, but not now. Dragons. The wizard gladiators have to face dragons in November, all right?”
“Gladiators?” Harry asked, confused, but once again the scene shifted away from Artemis, pulling him away from the bespeckled green eyes that were looking through the forest searchingly.
He couldn’t see it was so cold, but he could hear. The aged voice of Albus Dumbledore was murmuring to himself and, as Artemis’s feet shifted and his vision adjusted to the unearthly black night, he realized that he was standing in rubble. As he looked around some more, pain shooting up his arm, he realized that that it this had once been a house, and perhaps not too long ago.
Green eyes were looking at him from the clear face of Harry—Hyperion, Artemis realized—messy black and phoenix-red hair falling around his ears cutely, making Artemis want to lean down and kiss him senseless in this pile destruction.
“November the third, nineteen eighty-one,” Hyperion supplied and Artemis started, not expecting to jump this far back in time.
“Voldemort,” Albus was whispering now, and Artemis grudgingly turned his attention to the old man, who was wearing outrageous magenta robes with some sort of blue lizard near the hem. “Curse rebounding. Supposed death.”
He took his gnarled hand out of his robe and it was clutching a wand. Suddenly, the rubble was flying everywhere, and Albus kept on mumbling to himself, searching for something perhaps. “Can’t be gone. Too powerful. Not gone—never that. The prophecy. . .”
“It’s all about the prophecy,” Hyperion whispered from beside Artemis. “He can’t see that it’s been fulfilled.”
“There are such things as prophecies?” Artemis asked, not liking his ignorance.
“Of course. Also, I don’t know about it—not unless I’m out of time like this, if I’m existing at all,” he mused philosophically.
“Cogito ergo sum,” Artemis whispered in comfort, half-thinking Hyperion wouldn’t understand him.
“I think, therefore I am,” Hyperion translated, a small smile on his kissable lips. “Déscartes. You told me that once—or will tell me that, I suppose.”
The rubble continued to fly around them and Artemis watched silently, aware of Hyperion’s presence beside him, until a crushed hand was revealed, thin and spindly and bloody.
“There he is—the Dark Lord. A body and everything.”
Dumbledore’s eyes had widened and then narrowed.
“Officially, Ministry policy would state that he must report this immediately. A dead wizard is a dead wizard and the remains have to be disposed of properly and yet—“
There was a swish of the wand and suddenly Voldemort’s body was in flames.
“There goes the evidence and the beginnings of Dumbledore’s delusions.”
“Why?” Artemis breathed, watching the flames unseen as the flickered across the night. No one would notice in the morning, not with all of this destruction already. An imp, he noticed, was flitting about the flame for a moment, then another, and a third, before they were all gone.
“Why can’t he believe that Voldemort is gone?” Hyperion expanded and shrugged his shoulders. “I’m not him. I’m not me. I’m not anyone but a guide through your dreams in a form you will trust. I’m the Virgil to your Dante.”
“Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso. Well, not Paradiso. Virgil cannot go to Heaven.”
“Once this is all over, give me a full set in English. I’ll love them when I’m a bit older,” Hyperion advised. “I’ll like reading them to our little girl.”
Artemis stilled. “Little girl?”
Green eyes turned to him. “You haven’t seen her, on the edge of your vision as you go through the dreams?” He frowned. “Interesting. It’s still a bit too early then if she hasn’t been conceived. Time is far too fluid here.”
Silence passed between them again, and they watched the flames burn. So many questions raced through Artemis’s mind, wondering about his phantom daughter, about Harry, about where this tangled web that was decades in the making led.
“Lily and James have already been moved,” Hyperion stated quietly, his eyes focused straight ahead in the flames. “It’s so odd—the magic of adoption, even after the fact. You think of yourself less and less as who you were. Your family becomes names in a book, the memories of your former life like a book you read that moves you. There’s a before and after. A lie and the new truth. New parents, new blood. I’m a pureblood. Intellectually I know that I was a half-blood once but I can’t bring myself to believe it, would be insulted if anyone suggested it even though I adore our little girl so much, my fay. I don’t care that she’s a half-blood because I love you, and you’re my twin flame. Regulus was my father and Amarante my mother. Lily and James are two graves who meant something once to a boy I might have once known.”
“An ancient magic of some kind, then.”
Slowly, he turned to Artemis, love and adoration shining through his eyes. “You’re the constant between the two, however,” he vowed. “My twin flame, my Artemis. The little girl—don’t hesitate to save her. It will be important when she’s trapped beneath the waves.”
“I’ll remember that,” Artemis murmured before turning once more to the flames, Dumbledore’s robes creating a horrible image as he caught a glimpse of the bright blue lizard, its green tongue slithering out in stitches, a truly terrible parody of life.
The pain sliced through his hand like a thousand frozen knives as he was pulled away from the flames, a stolen cry falling from his lips as the scene shifted again.
As he looked around, he didn’t recognize where he had appeared. He was in a forest, dark, forbidden, somehow and it wasn’t until he heard giggles that he was aware of a boy, a little younger than he was, pushing a girl with vibrant ginger hair against a tree, kissing her. “Sev,” she squealed, still young enough that she found kisses strange and yet exciting. “Severus.”
Artemis was startled to realize that this happy, smiling boy (albeit one with a greasy shine to his hair and threadbare robes) was the same man who he had first seen in his dreams, angry and snarling at Albus. He peered closer. They couldn’t be more than fifteen years old.
“Love you,” Severus murmured against the girl’s lips, “I love you, Lily.”
Feeling as if he had been physically struck, Artemis stumbled slightly backward, leaves silent beneath his feet. Lily. Lily with ginger hair. Harry’s once-mother.
She was giggling now and with cold pressure in his thighs, the scene shifted. Severus was on the ground, boys taunting him, and a word escaped angrily from his mouth at Lily, the girl he had claimed to love. “Mudblood.” Artemis didn’t understand the insult except he knew, somehow, it had to do with the archaic idea of blood purity and Lily Potter had been a Muggle-born.
They were by the Black Lake, where Artemis had first seen Harry a few short months ago, decades in the future.
“An important moment,” Hyperion mused, suddenly beside him. “This changed everything, set it in motion. Snape was angry at Lily as she had watched him being humiliated by the boys in her house, including Potter, and—well—she had smiled and laughed a little before helping him.”
And once again the scene was gone, Hyperion with it. Artemis felt as if a claw, drenched in liquid cold, had hooked around his navel and was pulling his elsewhere, forward, until he was once again by the lake.
It was dusk, snow still on the ground, and the ship was still moored in the still waters. An owl hooted from somewhere close by and a white and beautiful bird flew through the air. Hedwig, he thought. Harry’s owl, the creature he left behind.
“You can’t be serious,” a voice drawled from somewhere nearby, and Artemis turned to see a handsome boy with a pointed face and white-blond hair coming toward him. He was bundled up warmly in a winter cloak, expensive boots on his feet, and his gloved hand was being insistently held by Viktor Krum, a crooked smile on his striking and yet decidedly unhandsome face.
“Very,” Krum assured his companion. “You are needing to relax.”
“I am relaxed,” Wealth—clearly the boy was wealthy—exclaimed. His shoulders were far too tense, Artemis noted.
Krum laughed. “If you haff been relaxing, then I am part-Veela.”
Wealth harrumphed in annoyance. “Bulgarian git,” he mumbled under his breath, an affectionate tinge to his tone.
Finally they stopped by a clearing of rocks and Krum took out his wand, casting some enchantment that seemed to dry the rocks before sitting down, dragging Wealth with him. He slipped an arm around his waist and leaned down, nipping at the boy’s pale lips. “He vill luff you.”
The boy relaxed a little into his arms as if tired and sighed. “How can you know that? He’s—he knows nothing about us. We know so little about him.”
“He is your cousin, yes?” Krum said logically to the boy that Artemis now realized must be Draco Malfoy. “He is vanting to know you or he vould not haff accepted your mother’s invitation to the second task. And I shall vin it so that, if you vant and only if you haff been vanting, you can brag about your, how you say, boyfriend to your cousin.”
Draco laughed a little breathlessly, his breath puffing out in cold spurts between them as he leaned up and kissed Krum tentatively before the kiss deepened. “You really think he’ll like me? No one likes me if they’re an outsider. When I was eleven, I met a boy in the robe shop. I tried to be pleasant and then, when I found out who he was and the filth he had befriended, I tried to show him that I’d be a better friend.”
Krum’s dark eyes softened and he leaned forward, kissing Draco again, effectively silencing him. “That vas then, this is now. You are arrogant, yes, but I am thinking your cousin vill be discerning and realize that you cannot help it when you are haffing nervousness. I found it quite endearing.”
A blush lightly spread across Draco’s cheek.
“High-peer-ree-on,” Draco corrected, annunciating clearly.
“Hyper-ninny,” Krum tried and Artemis found himself chuckling at the Bulgarian’s concerned and frustrated expression.
“We’ll work on it,” Draco said dismissively.
“Vell, he vill be uncomfortable too and vishing for you to like him. He is orphan, no? From France?”
“Yes, we think so. His mother was French. Mother told me about her, the beautiful and enchanting Amarante Alix Vilaneuve. She was a year or so older than Cousin Regulus and, according to Mother, Aunt Walburga wanted Regulus’s older brother to marry her, but he ran off to live with Muggles or something when he was sixteen.” He sniffed. “And it turns out she and Cousin Regulus eloped sometime after he just graduated from Hogwarts.”
Then they were gone. Pain seared through Artemis’s neck, so cold that he could barely draw breath, but he looked at the couples before him. He was in some sort of large hall, and everyone seemed to be waiting until, with the sound of trumpets, the great doors opened, some sort of procession beginning.
A handsome boy with blond hair and bright blue eyes entered first with an Asian girl on his arm, both dressed in expensive looking robes. They were followed by a stately girl with a lithe figure who was on the arm of a wizard who couldn’t seem to keep his eyes off of her as she led him through the hall, and then—finally—there was Krum. He was dressed regally in red robes, lined with fur, and standing beside him was Draco Malfoy, his hair tossed elegantly into his eyes and his thin frame clothed in black silk robes. Glancing down at Draco, Krum smiled before they processed in and then the three couples were dancing on the floor, everyone watching them while others whispered, most eyes on Krum and the pleased looking Draco in his arms.
A beautiful woman with deep auburn hair and blue-green eyes was staring at Artemis and, when he caught her looking, inclined her head. A moment later she was gone, leading a small girl of no more than seven who was dressed in Muggle clothes, her dark hair and green eyes striking against her pale face.
His breath hitched, before he forced himself to look back at Krum and Draco, dancing in each other’s arms.
Artemis could feel the familiar pull and surrendered gladly to it, hoping to drift into painless dreams, but instead he was in an ornate room, a hotel perhaps, somewhere. Candles floated in the air and rose petals were cast seemingly at random. He could hear heavy breaths and gasps of air and, tentatively, he moved forward, turning the corner until he saw the large bed that dominated the room. A woman with flaming red hair, different from the one at the ball, was lying on her back, her body naked and spread open to the man above her.
“Lily,” the man groaned, a mass of black hair, glasses on the side table. His back was slick with sweat at the exertion as he rocked within her, gently, he noticed, though there was a pained look on her face.
Perhaps, Artemis thought, this was the wedding night. It would certainly explain the surroundings and the romance.
“James,” she murmured, tears in her eyes, and then she moaned in pleasure, turning her head away as he leaned in to kiss her. Instead he began to drop wet, sloppy kisses on her neck, sucking, licking, one hand was gripping her hip as he moved within her, the other kneading her breast.
“I love you,” he breathed into the candlelight and she brought a tremulous smile to her face. “So much,” James continued, as if he wasn’t expecting her to respond. “I’ve loved you since we were children on that train and you instantly hated me.”
He was now thrusting harder, bringing small gasps from her swollen lips, her eyes roving the ceiling as one hand braced itself on his shoulder, the other twisting in the silk sheets beneath them.
They were so young, Artemis noted, barely older than himself. Maybe eighteen, nineteen. He could see the love and devotion on James’s face as he continued to snap his hips into Lily, unaware that the woman lying beneath him didn’t really want him, was just letting her body react to him.
He prayed this wasn’t the moment they conceived his twin flame. It was so wrong, the act of love meaningless to Harry’s once-mother, the words of another on her lips as she breathed out silently at a particularly pleasurable thrust.
“Is this good? Am I doing it right?” James asked worriedly, his hazel eyes searching out Lily’s.
“Yes,” she moaned out. “Wonderful—Se—“ the beginning of a name “So wonderful.”
He grinned down at her and captured her lips before she could move, his hand releasing her breast and moving up to cup her face, his thumb stroking her cheek affectionately.
Artemis could hear James moan into this kiss—so far in the past—and then suddenly his thrusts were speeding up and Artemis couldn’t watch anymore. He’d seen enough.
Turning, his feet feeling numb and frozen in his slippers as if he had frostbite, he made to leave the room. A cry echoed past him, calling, returning, and he breathed out painfully as he knew exactly just what had happened behind him.
“Lily,” James grunted just as his wife shouted out, “Sev!”
There was silence behind him, tense and horrible. Not even glancing back, Artemis left, feeling the cold burn through him until, finally, blessedly, he slept.