Title: Bounty Hunter

Rating: R-ish

Author: Snippy

Pairing: H/D, Hr/SS (a little)

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and Co. do not belong to me. Sadly.

Summary: Warning: dark fic, character death and H/D slash. This story is not light and hope and puppies, people. The bounty hunter is going after the Death Eaters one by one, but at what price? This story is not about black and white, it's about shades of grey. Can people change? Can a hero become a villain? Can a villain save a hero? And which is which?

Prologue: Ginny

The 22 year old man trudged through the woods. It was beyond the pitchest black among the heavy trees in the warm night, but he stepped as though he could see in the dark, lightly and accurately. For a moment, he paused to drag his hand across his face, before shifting slightly and melting into the tree in front of him. His eyes focused on a group of hooded men in the clearing ahead. Two of them held a struggling girl, their campfire sharpening the shadows and planes of her face and sparkling in her tears, the third stood in front of her, waving a wand menacingly at her trembling form. The man's expression never flickered as he reached behind him for his cross bow.

The first arrow flew through the man's neck. He fell to the ground, choking and gurgling as blood flooded his mouth and throat, his wand still tightly clutched in one hand. The other two men stared in shock for a moment. Then, one threw the girl down, muttering, "Imperio. Stay." They drew their wands and searched the woods warily from a defensive position, backs towards each other.

"It's him, Vince." The first one hissed.

"Shut up." He gripped his wand tighter. "There's no way he could have followed us this far."

"We never should have taken her." He was visibly shaking now, as he stared down at the red-haired girl in tattered robes. "We can lie to ourselves all we want. But we know who it is, that guy out there. Do you know how many of us he's killed?"

"Greg! Now is not the time."

"No, it's not." A voice sounded from just beyond the touch of the firelight.

"Cruc -" Before Vince could finish the curse, his wand jumped from his hand and he was thrown back several feet. When he tried to stand, the figure gestured swiftly and he found himself unable to move.

"Looks like you were right, Greg." The figure came closer to the waltzing light. "You never should have taken her."

"Who are you?" He narrowed his eyes at the cloaked man, feeling more afraid of this figure than of the full arsenal of dark arts curses.

"You see, Vince here, has a bounty on his head." The man ignored his question. "But you, *Greg*," His voice bit with bitterness over the name. "You, do not. Do you understand what I'm getting at?"

Greg shook his head, wishing he had tried to use his wand earlier, feeling frozen with fear. This shadow had been hunting them for three days, always just beyond their perception, always leaving them signs that he was near. Like food with a parchment instructing it be given to the girl. Or a snapped branch just when they thought they were alone. At first he had been irritated. Why not just rescue the girl and be done with it, if he could sneak into their camp without their knowledge? But the answer had become clear to him the moment he heard the ice in the man's voice. Here was no interest in being a hero. The man was playing with them, confident that he could take them whenever he wished. It was just a game.

"What I'm telling you is that I have no use for you . . .no need to keep you alive." The man stepped into the light, letting his hood fall back. "Avada Kedavra."

"Oh, Merlin." Greg gasped, raising his wand . . .too late. In a brilliant flash of green, his body hit the ground, next to his still gurgling master. The curse was repeated and they both lay still.

The man pointed at the petrified body of Vince, lifting it into the air and moving it to the far side of the fire. Then he turned to the girl and offered her a hand. She took it, standing up and wrapping her arms around herself. For a moment, she looked like she was going to embrace her savior, but in the next instant, turned away. "What? No hug, Ginny?"


"Oh, I'm hurt." He laughed, mockingly, as he settled by the fire. "I'll take you back in the morning, when I turn him in. We might as well stay here tonight."

"By the fire they were going to burn me on?" She gaped at him.

"Well, they're in no condition to burn you now are they?" He gestured to the bodies.

"Are you really going to sleep next to the corpses?" Her voice held a shocked tremor. He shrugged, it didn't bother him. After a moment in which Ginny looked like she might be sick, he sighed. "Fine. Incendio!"

In a matter of seconds both bodies were little more than ashes blowing away in the wind. Vince closed his eyes, unable to express his fear. Ginny felt tears well up in her eyes. "What happened to you?"

"I grew up." The man said shortly, before raising an eyebrow at her. "I just saved your life, y'know. Gratitude isn't necessary, but a refrain from criticism would be duly appreciated."

"Thank you," She shook her head, eyes still blinded by green light. "Harry."