Chapter 16: Epilogue
Artemis stared at the pile of gold as a debate raged inside his head. As he heard his mother's voice call out to him again - "Arty, we are leaving now! You can't spend all of Christmas day in front of that laptop of yours!" - he came to a decision.
As the technicians worked on dismantling the rails, they were surprised when a trolley came careening down the tunnel from Fowl Manor.
They alerted their superiors, and an LEP bomb disposal team was sent down to investigate the cart.
No one noticed when a small figure broke off from the team with a few sacks filled with the contents of the cart. Foaly would have a few theories later on, but Root preferred hard facts and usually shouted at him whenever he went over to sound out a theory, so Foaly kept quiet. Needless to say, Foaly would eventually track that figure down to a "Lance Digger" in Los Angeles.
Once the team had declared the cart free of any bugs or booby traps, Holly, Root, and Foaly went in to examine it. They saw slightly less than half of the gold that the People had sent to Artemis. There was also a sticky note on the gold - "For services rendered by the Captain. Merry Christmas."
Minister Fudge slammed his cup of Firewhiskey down onto the table.
"Another, Rosmerta!" he cried out drunkenly.
The barmaid shook her head at the disgraced politician in disapproval but nevertheless complied.
After Harry had escaped yet again, the Daily Prophet had turned against Fudge, blasting him for being stupid enough to gamble various Ancient Families' fortunes on the safe return of Harry Potter without first verifying that Harry was still in Fowl's custody. As usual, Fudge had turned frantically to Malfoy for support, but Malfoy claimed in an exclusive interview with Rita Skeeter that Fudge had acted completely against his advice. "I provided him with a majority of the funds that he need for reelection, but in return, he wasted my time by soliciting advice and then promptly acting against it," Malfoy claimed in a put-upon manner in the interview.
Dumbledore had been so furious about Potter's escape that he had exploited the Prophet's attacks by calling for a Wizengamot vote to remove Fudge from power for "gross incompetence." The Wizengamot had complied, and a vote was scheduled for the upcoming Friday. Fudge was currently debating whether he should just resign from office rather than undergo the disgrace of impeachment.
"Minister Fudge," a gruff voice called out. Fudge raised his bleary eyes from his cup and saw a small green-decked figure in front of him.
"Who're you?" he slurred out.
"Who I am is irrelevant. What matters is that I managed to retrieve some gold from Fowl for you, sir. I am your biggest fan and hope that this will help you win some of your popularity back."
Fudge tuned the figure out as soon as he heard "gold from Fowl" and saw the trunk behind the figure. Pushing it aside hastily, he clambered to the trunk.
"Yes, yes, yes," he crowed as he ripped it open and saw piles of gold. "I can still save my career. Thank you, good -"
He turned and saw that the figure had vanished. For a moment, he felt uneasy, but he dismissed that feeling and turned back to the gold. "I can stay in power. This is my ticket to redeeming myself in the eyes of the public. Oh, the stories that we can shape out of this -"
The idiotic Minister would be booted out of power the very next day itself - he nearly triggered a goblin rebellion by trying to deposit an empty trunk into the ancient families' vaults. "There's gold in there, I swear," the man screamed as he was dragged out by the bank guards.
A heavily-cloaked figure stood in the shadows and surveyed the goblin army in front of him.
"How soon can they be deployed?" it hissed out from under its hood to the goblin commander.
"Within an hour, sir," the commander replied professionally, its tongue flicking out.
'Disgusting creature. I look forward to wiping out this loathsome species,' the figure thought scathingly.
"Good. Maintain readiness. We will march soon, and Haven will fall."
Another figure was watching this entire play on a camera and giggled as the conversation drew to an end. "Oh, Briar, you are soooo evil..." it squealed.
Meanwhile, in Riddle Manor, another evil figure was creating its own plans.
"Sssssoon, Nagini, ssssoon, we will have Harry Potter in our clutches and shall be restored to our former glory."
Dumbledore stared at his feasting students wearily. On one hand, he had gained potential allies against Voldemort in the form of the People. But on the other, he hadn't been able to regain control of Harry, who now knew far too much about the game to be a mere pawn. No, the game had been completely thrown off-balance, and he would have to adjust his plans accordingly.
'New contacts and a hundred-million Galleons later, the only one who lost nothing in all this is Artemis Fowl. Let that be a warning message to my pureblood colleagues,' he thought, raising his goblet. 'Do not underestimate the mundanes.'
Subconsciously, he revised his initial impression of Artemis; the boy may have looked like Tom, but he was actually more a master manipulator like himself.
'Well played, Artemis, well played. But if you are anything like me, then this is only the beginning of our interactions...'
Harry wandered through the streets in his stolen sweatshirt, hood up to cover his face.
He heard Christmas carols ringing through the air and passed several glittering toy shops, but he ignored all of this. Ducking into a secluded alleyway, he hid behind a large dumpster, opened his knapsack, and leaped inside, foot-first.
He landed in a miniature version of Fowl Manor's alcove with a smile. He had been very lucky to find the spell in Rowena's journals, which took care of replicating the alcove's structure itself. Besides that, all he had to was extend the life of the space expansion charm on his knapsack and summon all of the tomes into the bag.
Harry gently picked up a small fairy communicator from the ground and placed it on a stand, so that the webcam was level with his eyes. "Contact."
A small red light blinked for a few moments before turning blue. The screen promptly turned on.
That's it, folks. Thank you for taking part in this ride. It has truly been a pleasure to write this fanfic, and I have really found the reviews that I have gotten so far to be extremely helpful in improving the quality of my writing. I can see a marked difference between the beginning and the ending.
A sequel, "A Tale of Two Thieves: Escalation," is in the works at s/11945061/1/A-Tale-of-Two-Thieves-Escalation