The stands were almost completely full of chattering students. Many of them had noted Harry and Artemis’s arrival the weekend before, and the two seemed to garner attention wherever they went, especially when it became clear through school gossip that Harry was a pureblood and yet they were both seen wearing Muggle clothing. A few Muggle-borns had attempted to approach them when they weren’t sitting at the Slytherin table, but Artemis had always guided Harry away, not wanting him to be overwhelmed.
“Minister,” Lucius intoned as they came upon five free seats near the top of the stadium, which gave the best view of the Black Lake before them. A short man wearing pinstriped robes and a bowler hat greeted them.
“Mr. Malfoy, a pleasure, as always, and your beautiful wife.”
Artemis looked over the Minister of Magic dispassionately as he guided Harry over to his seat, hoping to bypass any lengthy introductions.
“Ah, who’s this then?” the Minister asked, dashing Artemis’s original hopes. He held back a grimace and turned unnatural and unmatched eyes on the man, causing him to flinch. “Merlin,” the politician murmured. “A changeling.”
Harry glanced up at the statement, his own sharp green eyes focusing on the minister momentarily before resting worriedly on Artemis’s impassive face. The February light glittered off his red-auburn-gold-black-ginger hair, a beacon of beauty and the otherworldly.
“Minister Fudge,” Lucius began. “Allow me to introduce Hyperion Black, a cousin of my wife’s, and his companion, Artemis Fowl the Second.”
The little man’s eyes quivered in excited as he held out his hand. “A pleasure, of course,” he began, catching both of their gazes. “Forgive me, Lucius, but you haven’t said which one is which.”
Narcissa laughed lightly from behind her hand, settling herself easily beside Harry.
“My cousin Hyperion,” she said, indicated Harry with her hand. “He takes after the Vilaneuves, who are his maternal family.”
“Yes, yes, of course,” the Minister said quickly, taking his own seat beside the now sitting Lucius. “I never knew Miss Vilaneuve, excuse me, I should say Mrs. Black,” his eyes rested momentarily on Narcissa’s impassive face worriedly, “personally, but I did hear that she was a great beauty.”
“So I’ve been told,” Harry responded, most likely out of politeness than actual desire, as his eyes instantly turned back to the Black Lake.
“Yes, well, how wonderful that he’s here to support the Beauxbatons Champion. He does attend Beauxbatons, does he not?”
“No, Minister,” Lucius responded coolly. “He studies under private tutors. It appears the Muggle Orphanage he grew up in did not permit him to attend Hogwarts and it wasn’t until he became acquainted with young Mr. Fowl that he was given a magical education.”
“I see,” Fudge said worriedly, glancing back at Artemis and Harry again. “Most worrying.”
“I feel that perhaps there should be stricter guidelines that would protect innocent wizards—especially scions of old pureblood families—from such barbarity,” he suggested casually, but Artemis could see the glint in his blue eyes.
Fudge swallowed. “Yes, yes, of course. A tragedy. We’ll speak more on this later, Lucius.”
“Excellent. I knew I could count on your good judgment.”
Harry, Artemis noticed, could barely sit still in his seat and was twisting his hands in his lap. The stands were nearly full behind them, and everyone was chattering among themselves.
Krum along with the two other champions were standing in swimsuits on a dock near the cold water, obviously waiting for the task to begin.
“It’s barbaric,” Harry whispered. “Why—I don’t understand why—“
“Humanity is barbaric,” Artemis responded quietly, taking Harry’s hand. “It enjoys watching others risk themselves and looking on as they suffer. It is, though, ingenious to take someone each champion would miss.”
“What if something goes wrong?” Harry whispered in a hushed tone. “Someone could die—a student could die.”
“I know,” Artemis whispered, squeezing his hand lovingly. “Draco, though, won’t die. Krum won’t let him.”
Harry offered him a small smile in return. “I’m rather fond of the prat,” he admitted. “I never thought I would be all those years ago, and yet—“
“Family does that. You become fond of them despite yourself.”
“Yes. It is nice having a family of sorts, after so long.”
They stared at each other, green clashing with blue and hazel, and Harry leaned up tentatively, brushing a gentle kiss against Artemis’s mouth. His gloved hands came up to Artemis’s face and, after a moment, cupped his cheeks as the kiss was deepened slightly, the leather-covered thumbs stroking his soft skin and sending a shiver down Artemis’s spine.
Artemis clung to Harry, his arm snaking around his waist and pulling him closer to him so that their bodies were pressed against one another, layers of cloth separating them as the cold brushed against their faces. Still, the gentle kiss lingered and Artemis found himself gasping against Harry’s sweet lips as a soft tongue smoothly slid into his mouth before, a moment later, Harry pulled himself away again.
“You look dazed,” Harry whispered quietly as their noses brushed against each other, Artemis refusing to release his hold around his twin flame. Harry pressed a final chaste kiss on Artemis’s mouth with a smile. “I made the great Artemis Fowl speechless.”
Artemis couldn’t quite open his mouth to respond, bringing a chuckle from Harry.
“Love you,” he murmured, his eyes alight. “My one constant.”
He grasped Harry’s wrist and gazed lovingly down at him, words unneeded as his cold brain still tried to recover from the gentle onslaught.
A clock chimed, drawing their attention reluctantly away from one another, and they looked down at the platform where the three champions were ready and waiting for the task to begin.
“Oh no,” Artemis heard Fudge say. “Potter still hasn’t arrived.”
The judges, who were sitting away from the crowd behind a long table, were whispering among each other worriedly as the clock chimed the second hour of the afternoon.
Harry bit his lip as they continued to watch on.
“Harry,” a voice murmured somewhere behind them, but neither of them paid attention the first time.
“Sirius,” a voice replied. It was a girl’s voice, young, and she sounded as if she thought she knew everything.
“Harry will be here. He must be.”
“He’s a Marauder by blood,” Sirius responded quietly. “It would be just like him to not show up or to be somewhere watching and laughing.”
Artemis’s eyes narrowed at the suggestion that Harry was remotely like that. Such behavior would be more typical of Artemis, who would want to see how a plan ended—he also wouldn’t be laughing. He’d been far too mature for childish laughter since he was about five years old. That this man—who was both Harry Potter’s godfather and betrothed—would think he would react like that just showed how little he knew his best friend’s son.
Fortunately, Harry Potter no longer existed and soon any memory that Harry held of actually being Harry Potter would soon be little more than a dream or a childish fancy, protecting him from the contract forever—not that it would ever hold up in any court after the Goblins had given Harry his new identity.
“By the gods, what are the Malfoys doing here?” Sirius’s stunned voice interrupted Artemis from his thoughts and he turned to see the man sitting a few rows behind them, his large gray eyes wide and focused on Lucius and Narcissa, who had turned around and were staring at him in return.
Harry had remained unmoving, his eyes locked sightlessly on the champions beneath them.
“Cousin,” Narcissa greeted coldly. “I didn’t know that you would be attending.”
Artemis took the moment of distraction to fully observe Sirius Black in the flesh. He was handsome, with black hair that fell to his shoulders and piercing gray eyes. His face, nonetheless, was worn and showed hardship. The man was dressed elegantly in charcoal gray robes, however, making him seem every bit the pureblood wizard. Hermione Granger was sitting beside him and the Weasleys, unsurprisingly because of the revelation of the marriage contract, were nowhere to be seen. He idly wondered if Granger knew about it—if Lily Potter even had discovered it before her early death.
“Yes, well, I’m hoping that my godson might return. I’m worried about him,” he sneered at her.
Narcissa tilted her head. “What an excellent godfather you are, setting your best friend’s child before your own nephew. I wonder how you sleep at night, Cousin.”
“Yes, well, I haven’t seen the whelp here. I trust he’s a carbon copy of Regulus, all obsequiousness and back-stabbing ambition.”
“What a kind view you hold of your own family,” she responded.
They stared at each other momentarily and Granger was looking between them in slight confusion.
Harry glanced over at Artemis, his large green eyes showing his worry at the situation.
“Perhaps,” Artemis put in, “this is not the best time for this particular argument.”
“Of course,” Narcissa conceded with a gentle smile for him. “The task is about to begin—if they ever give up on the idea that Potter is ever coming back.”
Sirius scoffed at her. “Who are you, then?” he asked Artemis, his eyes flicking over his clothing. “Are you a Muggle?” he said in delight, his eyes flicking back to the Malfoys. “Those are Muggle clothes.”
Harry quietly groaned and set his face in his hands.
“I do not suffer such distinctions,” Artemis replied cautiously. “Human is human to me, after all.”
Harry’s shoulders twitched in suppressed laughter.
Granger gasped, her bushy hair swaying gently as her shoulders pulled back in shock, her brown eyes narrowing at him.
Sirius Black blinked several times. “What?”
“That is not your concern,” Lucius answered for him. “Our guest is correct, however, this is not the time or the place.”
“Your eyes,” Granger murmured, leaning closer.
Artemis turned away and heard the witch huff behind him.
“Your eyes,” Harry whispered to him quietly, teasing. “They’re so magical.”
Narcissa laughed softly at his awed tone. “That they are,” she conceded, her eyes never leaving the platform below them.
The champions were getting restless, talking among themselves and staring accusingly at the panel of five judges. A large woman, who Artemis would have said was a giant considering just how tall and wide she actually was, was dressed in silks and furs, her blonde hair piled elegantly atop her large handsome face. She was sitting quietly as she let the other four judges—all men—argue. Albus looked distressed, his white beard swinging back and forth as he argued heatedly with a sallow looking man who was also dressed in furs, but in heavier robes than the giant-woman. Finally, Crouch Sr. looked annoyed and took several glances at the watch around his wrist while the last judge, Bagman if Artemis remembered correctly, looked as if he was trying to be jolly and yet concerned at the same time. It made his already ugly visage even less pleasing to the eye.
Finally, Bagman stepped forward and placed his wand to his throat, before his voice became magically amplified throughout the stadium. “Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. We have waited for Harry Potter to appear for half an hour after the specified time and, as he has yet to appear, he has been disqualified from the task and will receive no points. He is also at fault for breaking a magical contract.”
Whispers rushed through the stands and Harry and Artemis remained perfectly still, neither saying anything.
Bagman cleared his throat. “Yes, well. Now, for the Second Task the Champions must—“
Artemis didn’t bother to listen. He already knew what the task would entail and he wasn’t looking forward to sitting in the cold stands for an hour or more while he stared at the Black Lake. The spectators, unlike the first task he assumed, would be unable to see what was occurring, making it both dangerous and pointless as there was no enjoyment that the public could derive.
A whistle sounded, breaking him from his thoughts, and the champions all brandished their wands before diving in the lake.
He blinked. “Did Krum just give himself a shark head?”
“Yes,” Narcissa responded. “Partial human transfiguration. Rather inventive considering both Diggory and Delacour employed the Bubblehead Charm.”
Artemis nodded. That particular enchantment didn’t need any explanation as the title told him everything he needed to know.
“Now we wait,” Narcissa murmured, her eyes on the Black Lake where her son was trapped. “I can’t believe that they used Draco as bait.”
“Who’d they use for Harry?” Artemis heard Sirius ask and he rolled his eyes.
“Ron, of course,” was the reply.
A few moments later and Artemis felt himself being tapped on the shoulder. Repressing a sigh and turning reluctantly, he saw Granger and looked at her in question. “Yes?” he finally asked when hadn’t said anything.
She had the decency to blush.
“The boy next to you kissed you earlier,” she said, her cheeks reddening even more.
Artemis stared at her. She couldn’t be serious and this couldn’t be happening.
“Well?” she asked.
“I applaud you on your deductive reasoning given the visual confirmation,” he replied calmly.
“You’re not human.”
Harry shifted beside him and he noticed that they had drawn the attention of several people around them including Lucius Malfoy, although Narcissa’s eyes were still on the lake.
“I believe it is customary not to speak to someone unless they’ve been introduced. We haven’t been.” He began to turn away, delighting in the affronted look on her face.
“Hermione Granger,” she supplied quickly.
He didn’t respond but continued to stare at her.
“You really shouldn’t—indulge in such public displays of affection,” she continued after a moment as if he had introduced himself. “I don’t know what it’s like among your people, but humans usually don’t appreciate such—displays between same-sex couples.” She nodded to herself, as if proud of herself for getting it all out so succinctly.
Several people around them gasped and Artemis stared at her for a long moment. Sirius Black had tensed beside her.
“My people?” he inquired quietly.
“Yes. You said that human was human—and your eyes.”
“I see. Well, Miss Granger, I happen to know that in the wizarding world ‘same-sex couples’ as you call it can bond. Isn’t that right, Mr. Black?” he turned his eyes to Sirius. “What would Miss Granger say if she knew you’d been betrothed to your former lover’s son ever since he got engaged to his wife? You were even named godfather, of all things.” His eyes glinted and Sirius Black stilled, his own gray eyes darkening harshly.
Granger turned to him, her hair whipping around her. “Sirius? What is he talking about?”
“I am referring to the fact that he and James Potter were lovers and that when Potter got engaged, he gave Mr. Black a consolation prize of his eldest son. Perhaps Harry Potter discovered the truth and that’s why he ran away. If you cannot find him, you cannot force him, after all.”
Even Narcissa had turned from the lake at Artemis’s quiet yet angry words, although Harry remained unmoving. Artemis knew he should have not spoken of what he had seen, but Granger had angered him, especially when her companion hadn’t bothered to correct her. He never had minded being judged in the past, uncaring of what others thought of him, but now that Harry had entered his life, he couldn’t bear to have him attacked, even through his own behavior. Harry deserved a defender, both as Hyperion Black, his fiancé, and as Harry Potter, the boy he no longer was—and if there was one truth about Artemis Fowl’s life, it was that he never backed down from a challenge.
“What are you?” Sirius breathed, wonder, fear, and anger mixed in his eyes.
“I see many things,” Artemis responded quietly. He turned his attention back to a pale and shivering Granger. “I would look to your own friends before you condemn others.”
“What are you?” Sirius repeated, slightly louder. “What the hell are you?”
“Mr. Black,” Fudge said, his voice slightly shaking. “I would appreciate it if you don’t bother my guests at this time.”
Sirius Black stared at the Minister and then nodded, sitting back.
Granger was glaring at him angrily. “How could you—you’re his godfather!” she murmured indignantly. Artemis tuned the rest of her angry tirade out.
A small hand entwined with his, squeezing his fingers lovingly. He turned and looked at Harry’s profile, the high cheekbones, the smooth nose and the fluttering eyelashes. Soft lips stained pink called to him, but he restrained himself, not wanting to draw Granger’s attention to both of them again—at least for now.
A murmur went through the crowd and Artemis looked down at the wide expanse of the Black Lake. Several students were pointing and he searched for the point of interest before he caught sight of ripples along the surface. A moment later and a blonde head emerged and he recognized the Beauxbatons Champion, Fleur Delacour.
She was alone.
Tears streamed down her face and Artemis watched as she cried, unmoving, and a few moments later a small magical tugboat made its way out to her with what seemed to be a nurse onboard. When Delacour was lifted from the water, Artemis could just make out thin stripes of bruises along her arms and her bathing suit was torn in several places, showing angry cuts.
“Fleur Delacour returns unsuccessful after twenty three minutes,” Bagman announced, “having been waylaid by grindylows, it appears.”
Artemis’s eyes narrowed. “What are grindylows?” he murmured.
Harry gave a strained laugh. “They live at the bottom of British and Irish lakes. They’ve been known to attack and even eat humans occasionally. Dark creatures.”
“They sent Draco into a lake where there are—creatures—that cold eat him?” he asked incredulously.
“Yes,” Harry answered quietly. “It appears so. They have long, brittle fingers so it’s best to break their grip and then it’s easy to escape.”
The surface of the lake shimmered and Artemis stilled, his eyes narrowing. “Did you see that?” he whispered to Harry, his worst suspicions coming to the front of his mind: a time stop.
Artemis sighed, hoping it was nothing.
The crowd became restless twenty minutes later, everyone’s eyes resting on the large hour glass that had been magicked about the lake so that everyone would know how much time remained.
“Who was first after the last task?” Artemis finally asked Narcissa when he noticed her attention momentarily wavering.
“Viktor,” she supplied. “He was tied with Harry Potter, of course, but now he’s in the lead.”
A murmur went up through the crowd and after another ten minutes, someone began a countdown. “Fifty minutes!”
Artemis’s eyes narrowed. The young man had ginger hair and was sitting near Ginny Weasley. He really hoped it wasn’t Fred.
“Fifty-one!” he called out, and the crowd surged with noise, several students sending up sparks with their wands while others stamped their feet or clapped their hands in excitement. The noise was becoming deafening.
“Fifty-four!” the Weasley shouted again and Harry laughed from beside him.
“Trust George,” he murmured to himself and Artemis sighed in relief.
Artemis was determined to keep Fred Weasley as far away from Harry as possible and didn’t want his twin flame’s attention wandering to him for a single moment.
“Fifty. . .” George began to call out again when the crowd went wild. Everyone stood up almost in sync, their voices shouting excitedly and Artemis found himself on his feet, his arm possessively wrapped around Harry’s waist as he caught sight of the ripples near the surface again.
“Come on, Viktor,” Harry shouted out, a large smile finally breaking across his face as he began to enjoy himself and, accompanied by loud yells and a swirl of magical sparks in the air, a shark head emerged from beneath the waves followed by a white-blond one. A moment later and the shark’s features began to meld together until Krum was revealed in his original human form.
“Oh thank Merlin,” Narcissa murmured before shouting once again with the rest of the crowd.
“At fifty-five minutes,” Bagman’s amplified voice boomed, “Viktor Krum from Durmstang comes in first place for this task, rescuing his captive—Draco Malfoy!”
Krum was now swimming back toward the peer, a sleeping Draco in his arms.
“Come,” Narcissa said as she grabbed Harry’s free wrist and pulled him forward. Releasing her cousin, she grabbed the bottom of her robes and began rushing down the steps toward the platform, Lucius Malfoy, Harry and Artemis immediately behind her.
The crowd continued to shout around them, a contingent of Durmstrang students in furred capes the loudest, Artemis noticed, as they rushed through the shouting students.
“What’s this?” Bagman shouted out again to renewed cries from the crowd, but Artemis ignored him as he followed Harry down the stands and then broke out into a run across the frozen beach toward the peer, directly behind his twin flame.
“Draco!” Narcissa called as she reached the pier, not heeding the warning of the wizards around her as she rushed to her son, who was just waking up within Krum’s arms. They each had a thick towel draped around their shoulders, and two uneaten bars of chocolate were resting beside them, forgotten.
Coughing, Draco’s eyes widened as he looked around him, clearly confused at the noise and the sudden influx of people around him.
Time hesitated around Artemis and he stilled at the edge of the pier, watching impassively as Narcissa clutched her son’s hand as Krum gently placed kisses on his forehead, slicking back his hair and holding the shivering boy close to him. He’d felt this before—this strange alteration of time just before he went to Hybras and disappeared for three mortal years. It was a shimmer, barely even present, and yet his heightened senses could feel the demon magic.
He took a deep breath. He thought that once Hybras, the demon island, had resettled in the main time stream with the rest of earth that he would never sense it again, and it sent a chill down his spine and his stomach clenched uncomfortably.
Artemis looked out over the lake and saw Cedric Diggory swimming toward them, the girl with long black hair in his arms. He swallowed. This tournament was absolutely barbaric.
Time slowed again and his eyes looked over at Fleur Delacour, who continued to weep, inconsolable even as the boy who escorted her to the Yule Ball hovered nearby.
Seconds began to speed up again and it was almost as if he were watching a film on fast forward. Harry was glancing at him with confusion in his eyes and Krum was kissing Draco deeply before he released him to his fussing parents. Harry speaking to him, standing in front of him when a moment before he had been sitting beside Draco, watching as Narcissa traced the lines of his face, assuring herself that her son was well.
“What’s wrong?” Harry’s lips asked, but Artemis couldn’t hear any sound. Instead, he could feel demon magic everywhere. It was subtler than the enchantments wizards wielded and it disturbed him. It wasn’t right, not here. Something was happening and the demons were behind it.
Delacour wept even louder and Artemis looked out at the lake. Merpeople—at least, Artemis thought they were merpeople; they were humanoid and were clearly water-dwelling beings—had surfaced and were speaking to Albus. They only had a red haired boy in their arms and they appeared agitated. Ron Weasley, Artemis’s mind supplied. The little girl with blonde hair, then, was missing, hidden beneath the water. A dream passed across his mind, Hyperion’s soft words echoing in his memory—not to hesitate and to save the girl beneath the waves.
Harry was once again sitting beside Draco and looking up at him in concern, his beautiful green eyes shining with worry.
Moments—minutes—ten minutes passed in the blink of an eye and still the conversation continued, getting louder, Artemis felt instinctually, although he couldn’t hear the words.
His jaw clenched and he stared down at the lake. He had done it before, he thought, he could do it again.
A moment later and he was kicking off his shoes and unbuttoning his coat. No one was looking at him, no one saw, and then, taking a deep breath and hoping his calculations were correct and that he would able to breathe beneath the waves due to the lingering properties of displacing a section of land—or water—from the rest of the earth, he dived into the Black Lake.