“I don’t remember,” Harry whispered desperately to Artemis as his eyes were scanning the Gryffindor table. “Why can’t I just remember?”
It was early the next morning and Harry and Artemis had risen early, neither of them being able to sleep through the night when they had passed out from exhaustion shortly after luncheon the following day.
Deputy Headmistress McGonagall—the Minerva from his dreams, as it were—had showed them to a private suite of rooms that the Malfoys had arranged, a stern expression on her face.
“It is not our custom to house guests,” she had told them weightily while she was leading them through the corridors. “We are not a hotel; but as the Malfoys are on such good terms with the Minister and he insisted. . .” Her voice trailed off as if that explanation should show her resigned displeasure.
Artemis, despite his usually cool demeanor, had felt the urge to laugh.
The room was comfortable if not a little small, but Artemis would never complain. They were at Hogwarts, at the source of their troubles, and that was all that really mattered.
Getting up just after first light and, when their hunger could no longer be denied, they’d gotten dressed and slipped into an almost deserted Great Hall.
Looking at his watch, Artemis saw that it was half past six. It was far too early to truly be awake, especially when Harry had been snuggled against him in bed.
Harry was now looking over toward the table where he had sat for over three years, where a single loan student was quietly eating his porridge.
“What don’t you remember?” Artemis asked kindly, snagging one of the French pastries that Harry seemed to think weren’t usually offered.
“Him. His name. I should know it.” He sighed and turned to Artemis. “I don’t understand why. Sometimes details of memories begin to slip. And it’s just—“
“Hyperion,” he whispered, leaning against Harry’s forehead and feeling him relax. Sometimes, the use of his adopted name calmed him, almost like he yearned for someone to subconsciously recognize him as a wizard, as a pureblood, as a Black. “It’s meant to be that way.”
“Why?” he questioned quietly, his eyes closed and his eyelashes fluttering. “Why, Artemis?”
“To keep you safe,” Artemis whispered. “It’s to keep you safe and to ensure that you are exactly who you’re supposed to be now.”
“But—what if it changes me?”
“Never that,” Artemis vowed. “Your past will be rewritten,” he admitted, remembering the Hyperion from his dreams, “but you will always remain essentially yourself. Nothing—not even your magic can change that.”
Harry smiled at his words.
“Now. Tell me about this unimportant student,” Artemis quipped as they leaned back.
A thoughtful expression settled over Harry’s face. “I don’t know. I feel like he annoys me somehow.”
Artemis glanced over again. The boy in question was about Harry’s age, maybe a little younger, and had mousy brown hair and large eyes. There was nothing especially remarkable about him at least that Artemis could see. “I would suggest avoiding him then,” Artemis finally said. “It’s easier not to be annoyed. In fact, I employ that particular solution with Minerva as much as possible.”
Harry grimaced at her name.
“You’re right. Of course you’re right.”
“I generally am.”
The hall was beginning to fill in with more students, despite the early hour and the fact that it was in fact a Sunday, and Artemis watched with interest as the young witches and wizards entered the hall, most of them dressed in casual robes and a few in Muggle clothing.
When Hermione came in with Ginny, his eyes narrowed and he watched them closely. He heard Harry sigh from beside him.
The two witches were chatting quietly, and Ginny had a hopeful look on her face.
“Why’s she so happy?” Harry mumbled from beside him and Artemis gave him a soft smile.
“It’s simple,” Draco replied as he came up behind them and sat on Harry’s other side. “Good morning, Hyperion, Artemis. That,” he explained, “is the Weaslette. The youngest of the brood.”
Artemis nodded to show he was listening.
“She’s happy because Saint Potter,” a hint of disdain colored his voice, but it remained otherwise neutral, “is contractually bound to compete in the Triwizard Tournament. The second task is on Wednesday and she thinks he will arrive as mysteriously as he disappeared a few months ago, and then stay. She probably also hopes he will then apologize for not escorting her to the Yule Ball and then propose on the spot—never mind the fact that she’s thirteen and thinks he can walk on water without magic because her mother told her bedtime stories about him growing up.”
Harry gulped audibly. “She—she fancies him, then?”
Artemis glanced over to his fiancé, just now realizing that he probably didn’t even know of her rather obvious interest since he began losing his memories, or had blocked out that knowledge. This was not the way anyone should find out, but it couldn’t be helped.
Draco snorted elegantly. “It’s so obvious that everyone knows. It’s just—painful to watch. However, it will be interesting to see if he shows up. He’s had the whole bloody Ministry after him according to Father.” He paused in covering his scone with jam, and licked the bit of it off his thumb. “He’s an advisor to Minister Fudge, and it’s currently chaos there.”
Harry casually reached out for some pancakes that had appeared just to the right of his plate. “What has your Headmaster done? Surely he’s in trouble. From the little I know, Potter was a student and just disappeared, didn’t he, from right under his nose and his security?”
Draco’s gray eyes glittered. “That’s what makes it even better. There’s pressure from the governors on Dumbledore because of what happened. He even has Mad-Eye Moody, a retired Auror, working for him and yet it happened, and there isn’t a trace. Not even his owl can find him, I’ve heard.”
“Draco,” a soft yet deep voice said from behind them. “Perhaps it is not being best to haff gossip this early in the morning, no?” A large hand landed on Draco’s shoulder and Artemis glanced up to see Viktor Krum had arrived with a few of the other Durmstrang students, who were even now settling in to the empty spaces around the Slytherin table.
“Viktor,” Draco greeted, a slight blush on his pointed face. “Good morning.”
“Good morning,” he said softly as he squeezed Draco’s shoulder before walking around the table and sitting across from them. “It is being early, yes?”
“We fell asleep after lunch,” Harry supplied, “and then woke up at five.”
Krum nodded and began to serve himself, his eyes resting occasionally on Draco.
“So, what is the general consensus among the students about the disappearance?” Artemis asked after a few minutes, a hint of cunning in his eyes before he quickly masked it. “I’ve read a little about it in the Prophet, but it told me nothing.”
“A few see him as a coward,” Draco answered truthfully, “but that’s a very small percentage, and growing smaller all the time. To be honest, it seems like most think Potter’s claims have been proved—that he didn’t enter the tournament of his own free will and that he did not want to compete. He had to be dragged to the First Task by the Mudblood.”
Artemis looked up curiously and Harry slightly paled at the term.
Suddenly Draco shifted backward, almost as if someone had kicked him under the table. His face turned ashen as he must have realized what he said.
“His Muggle-born friend Hermione Granger,” he corrected, not looking Harry in the eyes and turning back to his scones. Clearing his throat, he continued. “He was in the library if one can trust the gossip, and she ran and got him. She had to use Incarcerus on him and then levitated him in front of everyone down to the Champions’ tent. It was—strange.”
“It vas horrible,” Krum asserted. “He clearly did not vant to compete, did not vant any of this. And his own friend vas being a hypocritical little vitch. It vas disgusting. I do not blame him for leaving. He is orphan, yes? Your High Master is charged vith his vell-being and his protection, and then does nothing vhen this travesty has been occurring. I vould haff run sooner—and I vould nefer look back,” he emphasized, his eyes boring into Harry’s momentarily, before he returned to his own breakfast.
Chatter surrounded them as the four fell silent. Artemis pressed his thigh lightly against Harry’s in comfort and support, but neither said a word until a loud eruption of sound came from the Gryffindor table.
“And they’re at it again,” Draco mused, breaking the silence. He was cutting ham on his plate, his silverware held elegantly in his thin, aristocratic hands, his eyes not even looking at the commotion.
Harry looked over at the table at the other end of the hall, his eyes squinting in thought. His eyes briefly locked with a boy’s—he was about Artemis’s age with red hair and a saddened expression on his face. Harry quickly looked away.
“Anyway, Sirius Black is planning on turning up in case his precious godson does,” Draco drawled slightly importantly, perhaps enjoying the fact that he had all this information or that he was able to relate it to his cousin. “He was best mates with James Potter or some such rot back at school, and ever since he’s been cleared of all charges, the only thing he focuses on when he’s not carousing and making a public spectacle of himself in his many—celebrations—is that he’s concerned for Potter’s safety.” He took a bite of his previously abandoned scone. “Are you a seer?” he asked Artemis suddenly.
Artemis stopped and looked over to him. “Why do you ask?”
“Yesterday, just before we met, Hyperion asked you what you had seen concerning Sirius Black. You—knew things that you shouldn’t have known.”
“Only—only when it pertains to Hyperion, however loosely. No one else,” he admitted, not wanting to give away the secret of the fairy dust that was in a magically sealed box up in their room.
Draco looked at him appraisingly before nodding in acceptance.
Artemis knew nothing about Divination in the wizarding world, although he was aware that it existed. Harry had grumbled about it and how maybe his tutor would teach him Arithmancy or Ancient Runes instead as Divination was painful.
Harry rested his hand on the table, his Fowl betrothal ring glinting in the morning light.
Another wave of sound came from the Gryffindor table. Krum glanced over his shoulder at them, and huffed. “It is being shameful. Some demand that he should come back and he vill be made Squib if not, others that it vas daring, others that he is abandoning them and he must haff a duty as the Boy-Who-Liffed to remain vhere he can be in public eye.”
“And his friends?” Harry asked, catching Krum’s eye and understanding passing momentarily between them. Artemis saw Draco look at them intently and straighten at the glint of knowing. “What do they think?”
“Granger has told anyone who will listen,” Draco elaborated, studying his boyfriend closely, “of what could happen to Potter if he does not return. Weasley, well, they weren’t talking really before this year and then he thought Potter put his name in the Goblet, which seemed to ruin that friendship completely. They were his closest friends.”
Harry nodded slowly and took a large drink of pumpkin juice—at least it was juice that tasted like pumpkins, Artemis had noticed—his fingers lingering over the glass as he set it down again.
“He hasn’t been expelled?” Artemis asked, a thought coming to him. “Shouldn’t he have been for missing this much school time?”
Draco’s eyes darkened. “Of course he hasn’t. He’s Harry Bloody Potter, after all.”
Artemis frowned, glancing at Harry who hadn’t reacted at all, as if he hadn’t heard, his eyes once again resting on the Gryffindor table.
Artemis was floating again in a sea of violet flowers that dried and then faded into blue. He knew intellectually he was sleeping. He had wrapped his arms around Harry, who had drifted off earlier that night, and nestled his head against his shoulder, not caring about the taste of the fairy potion or the blue-violet powder on his eyelids that was probably falling into Harry’s beautiful hair as they slept. He had just wanted to hold his fiancé.
The petals of the dried flowers fluttered away and Artemis found himself lying in a field of flowers, his eyes staring at the blue sky above him. He wasn’t sure where he was—when he was—but he knew that he didn’t want to move. Not quite yet. He felt so lethargic.
“Maman,” a soft voice said from somewhere to his right, and he turned his head to see two teenagers sitting among the flowers in this wild garden, “eez wanting me to consider a marr-ee-age to your brozzer.” The girl who spoke had dark green eyes and long auburn hair that curled gently around her face. She must have been about Harry’s age, fifteen at most, but the boy beside her looked to be only thirteen.
At first glance Artemis would have thought he wasn’t handsome. He had black hair and soulful gray eyes and was a slight boy, slighter almost than Harry. When he looked closer however, his gaze blurry in the odd half-light of the gray day, he could see haughty good looks that were apparent when one took a second glance.
“Mother said something of such a marriage,” the boy conceded, not looking the girl in the eyes. “Sirius, of course, is against the idea.”
“Of course,” she responded, her voice resigned.
Artemis watched as he lay back among the flowers, her hair falling around her.
“What eez eet thees time? Eez eet because I’m a Pureblood—that ‘is parents theenk eet would be a good marriage—that I prefer you as a friend? What?”
“Amarante,” the boy began, but she cut him off.
“Regulus. Be truthful. I weell ‘ave nothing less, mon ami.”
Regulus sighed and lay back in the field beside her, their hands almost entwining and yet not quite touching in the long grasses.
Artemis gasped, no louder than the whisper of a breeze, as he stared at the two young wizards. They were Hyperion’s nearly-parents—the ones who adopted him in death, who gave him a chance of a new life without machinations—and here they were, lying in the grass, not quite grown up and discussing marriages as if the world still lay at their feet.
“He—it’s shameful. I’m not even supposed to know,” he whispered desperately and Amarante turned toward him, her auburn hair fluttering about her face.
“Tell me. Notheeng you say will I betray, Regulus. You know zat. Tu es ma couleur préférée,” she teased gently and Regulus laughed slightly.
“He’s, well, he’s in love. He’d never say it, of course, or if he would he wouldn’t admit it to me, his useless brother,” he spat.
Amarante reached up and lightly caressed his cheek before letting her hand fall once again between them.
“Je comprends. I do not need to know anything else.”
“You’re too good for him,” Regulus said passionately. “Mother only suggested you because you’re both purebloods and you are slightly more tolerant of half-bloods and half-breeds. She thinks it’s enough to bridge the gap between the Blacks and Sirius.”
“Per’aps she eez correct,” Amarante mused, a laugh in her voice. “But I am not theenking eet weell come to pass, non? Sirius will refuse, of course, and zat shall be zee end to eet.”
“Until the next suitor for your hand,” Regulus grumbled.
The flowers began to bloom around the three of them, and Amarante and Regulus remained lying beside one another, so close, yet not touching as the sun set and then rose again, the wind whipping through their hair as days seemed to pass and rain briefly fell on them. Still, they were unmoving and Artemis watched entranced as the two friends remained unaffected.
“Tell me about her,” Regulus said brokenly, his heart momentarily shining through his eyes. “Tell me, Amarante.”
“What eez zere to say? Notheeng weell come of eet. I am too important to my parents for a potential marriage.”
Regulus nodded and then glanced away, although he remained otherwise unmoving.
“She eez zee most beautiful girl I ‘ave ever seen,” Amarante whispered. “She does not know ‘oo I am, and she cannot. Eef Papa found out zat—zat I cared for a ‘alf-breed and une fille—“
Regulus grasped her hand in comfort and they fell silent again.
“Eet eez not forever,” Amarante finally said, continuing. “Eet eez a first love. I can recognize thees. I am not delusional, Regulus. I shall realize een time eet eez only zee allure and zen I shall love someone else, per’aps a man thees time—‘oo knows—“
She reached out and ran her hand through Regulus’s hair and he sighed, closing his eyes momentarily.
“’Oo knows. Per’aps eet weell be you, mon ami.”
The sun began to set again, turning into dusk, and Artemis found himself alone, Amarante and Regulus having disappeared in a blink of an eye. He lay among the flowers, which were now covered with frost as if it were winter here, but didn’t move. He just allowed the sensation of cold wind to blow across his unprotected body and gazed up at the changing sky.
Then, a moment later, he was sitting in a plush red armchair, a girl—Ginny—beside him as she was reading a paper avidly. He glanced at the date. Mid December. “Black Heir Discovered—Line Survives,” it declared and he saw several small moving photographs beside the article. In one he could see Regulus smiling at the camera in his Hogwarts uniform with a blushing Amarante beside him in a uniform of her own.
Another miniature showed Amarante on her own dressed formally in robes. A third showed Regulus and Sirius as boys and then there was a small family photograph of the Malfoys. It looked fairly recent. Perhaps it had been taken that summer.
“Have you seen this?” Ginny gestured to Hermione who Artemis now noticed was scribbling away on parchment. “There’s another Black.”
Hermione looked up and her eyebrows creased. “Black? As in Sirius Black?”
Ginny nodded absently, not noticing the confusion on her friend’s face. “Yes. His nephew. Hyperion Black—God, what a dreadful name. It’s almost as bad as Draco Malfoy—and, look, they’re even related. That explains it.”
“Another Malfoy,” Hermione sighed. “Just what the world needs.”
“It somehow managed to push away headlines about Harry,” Ginny continued, a glint of anger in his eyes. “How did that even happen?”
“They’ve been reporting Harry’s disappearance for a fortnight and nothing’s changed. A Pureblood Heir, I’m sure, is of some importance to bigoted people.”
Ginny tossed the paper away. “I wish he’d come back—“
“Yes, well, maybe he will.”
Then they were gone.
A boy had taken Ginny’s place, with dark curling hair and large gray eyes. Artemis’s eyes widened as he recognized a young Sirius Black, who had his legs thrown over the side of the chair. “Jamesie,” he whispered into the darkness; the only light now from the dying fire. “Prongs.”
A figure moved in the dark and Artemis could only make out a set of broad shoulders, the outline of a profile, before shadowed lips leaned down and claimed Sirius’s own in a gentle kiss.
“Why?” Sirius rasped out when James pulled away, his eyes wide and filled with lust. “Tell me, James, why.”
“You’re my brother in everything but name,” James admitted finally, his face moving away so that Artemis could make out the familiar features of hazel eyes, a sharp nose, and messy black hair. “I—love her.”
“No you don’t,” Sirius spat. “I know you don’t. How can you be engaged? I thought—“
“I need—I need an heir, and Lily’s beautiful,” James whispered. “I do love her in a way. She was always unobtainable, female perfection, and now she’s mine.”
A crack resounded across the empty room and Artemis found that the fire had gone out. James was spread out on the carpet, a handprint on his cheek, as Sirius leaned against him. “How could you do it to me?” he rasped. “I loved you—gave you everything—“
“I know, Padfoot. I know,” James whispered, not meeting Sirius’s haunted gaze. “My son. You can have my firstborn son—when he grows up. I swear. A piece of me.”
Light flowed out of the fire, blue and violet, pulsing around them as Artemis watched in horror as the deal was signed with a passionate kiss, hands pressing painfully against ribs, ripping off clothes, and a fierce mating ritual unfolded before his eyes. He looked away, willing himself elsewhere, but he could still hear the animalistic grunts, the insults flying between them, the declarations of hate-filled love and the continual slap as one hit the other in their passion. The scent of blood filled the air, making Artemis sick until, finally, he drifted away.
“Marriage contracts,” a voice whispered in the gloom, suspiciously like Ginny’s. “Did the Potters leave a marriage contract?”
“Yes,” the old voice of Albus responded. There was an unnatural hush in the darkness as a cozy room with mismatched chairs came to view. A Christmas tree was in the corner and unwrapped paper was littered everywhere as a gaggle of ginger-haired wizards sat around the aged figure. “Harry was betrothed to Sirius Black, strangely enough. It’s blood-signed.”
Ginny gasped and a plump woman with red hair clasped her heart as if she’d been physically struck. “But surely, Albus, you’re mistaken. He’s been in Azkaban and even if he’s innocent—he’s the boy’s godfather!”
“I know,” Albus said tiredly. “It was signed, however, before James Potter and Sirius Black graduated from Hogwarts—just after his engagement to Lily was announced.” He sighed. “I didn’t even know about it until Sirius was proclaimed innocent and was going about his affairs. He’s adamant that Harry be returned safely.”
Ginny was quietly crying. “No,” she was whispering. “There must be some mistake—it can’t—no—“
Someone was crying and Artemis was in a dark entryway, narrow and yet well furnished.
“Shh,” a voice soothed and then Artemis saw the two figures clasped together in a corner, dark auburn hair falling across them. “I’m ‘ere, Regulus.”
“I don’t—I don’t understand,” he was sobbing, clutching onto her shoulders as she held him close. “I hadn’t seen him in years, and then he just turned up and did this.”
“You’re safe. ‘Ee weell not ‘arm you anymore. I swear.”
Artemis crept closer, a flicker of movement near the door showing him the beautiful child with long black hair and bright green eyes before she was once again gone.
“It hurt, so much. He came to Hogwarts and got me without my wand—and—and—he’s my brother,” Regulus spat angrily. “He’s my own brother and he did this—that—to me.”
Small hands brushed away his tears and Regulus gasped in pain.
“Tell me it didn’t happen,” Regulus begged as he clutched against her. Artemis was now nearly upon them and he stared down at the mess that was in Amarante Vilaneuve’s arms. Regulus was slighter than usual, his black hair pushed over one shoulder and his school robes ripped and bloody. His face was bloodied and his lips looked like they had been bitten raw. “He’s my brother.”
“’Ee eez not,” Amarante said harshly. “Not anymore. Not after thees.”
“I thought—I thought he loved Potter—“
Amarante sighed and just held him closer. “When do you need to be back?” she murmured quietly as he clutched her desperately.
“Lundi,” he whispered brokenly, and she nodded.
“You weell be staying weeth me unteel zen,” she concluded. “Come, Regulus. You are safe. You are loved,” she comforted him.
Haunted gray eyes locked onto hers and she brushed away his tears, kissing his forehead lightly.
Then there was only darkness in the entryway, Regulus and Amarante having disappeared, an imp’s glittering gaze staring back at him curiously.