A note before we begin: Harry remains a Parseltongue after the Voldie-fragment is out of his skull because it's more fun and makes him look more evil to unknowing passerby.
I. A Lair
Before anyone can truly start on the path of being a dark lord, a base of operations is needed. Somewhere to gather your strength, organize your followers, and avoid all those who would wish to stop your burgeoning movement. Your first doesn't have to be permanent, but a good lair should have a certain gravitas…
Harry was getting a little tired of Grimmauld Place. Nothing against Kreacher, who did his honest best to keep the place tidy and clean while looking after Harry… but it house was just too big, too filled with painful memories, for Harry to tolerate living in it. He supposed that he could go out and find somewhere else to live, buy or rent or maybe even just crash at the Burrow, but Harry was possessed by an urge to do something himself. After all, Harry was a wizard, and his magic let him shape the world as he pleased. If he couldn't make a house for himself, he was a pretty poor wizard.
Of course, the next question was where. He supposed he could buy up a plot, or even just use magic to make some little stretch of wilderness impossible to find, but once again, he was feeling ambitious. He made his way through a lot of painfully dry books taken from the Black library and got a few ideas that were a lot more fun than just cordoning off some wilderness.
So that led to him flying over the North Sea on a broom, searching for somewhere… appropriate. Flying out to the Dogger Bank Wind Farms took a bit, as did flying far enough past the turbines to make sure his construction wouldn't cause a stir with the muggles. However, there was an awful lot of Dogger Bank to go around- surely, the muggles wouldn't mind if he used the tiniest bit of it for personal use.
He pulled out his wand, and began to cast. After a few moments, a crest of sand rose from the sea, covered in algae, seaweed, and the odd fish. Woops. Harry used his wand to lift the poor fish back into the ocean and landed on the little rise of sand. It was scarcely more than a few meters wide, but it was a start. He could Apparate here, he could stop and take a nap… he would just have to hope it didn't sink.
It didn't sink the next time Harry came by, thankfully, and with that proof of concept out of the way he could really get to work- lifting land from the sea floor was tiring, especially considering the fact that he was shooting for a comparatively massive island- at the very least, he was going to fit a Quidditch pitch on the island, if not more. Of course, he was also working on spells that kept the place unplottable and kept ships far away from his shores. His shores, wasn't that a thought.
"You need something, Harry?" Neville looked up from whatever Herbology text he was reading and smiled at Harry.
"I've got a bit of a Herbology problem, and I was wondering if you could take a look at it."
They left Hogwarts- Neville was studying under Sprout to eventually take up her mantle- and Harry side-Apparated Neville away to his island.
"Harry, where are we?"
"Dogger Bank." Harry said, gesturing out to the frothy sea around them. "I just kind of rose this little bit of land up."
"You lifted it up?" Neville asked.
"Yep. I was thinking of maybe installing a Quidditch pitch, but, well…" Harry stomped the ground. "Not really growing material. You have any advice?"
"You might be able to grow it like a meadow without too much issue… like the Dutch, sort of. I hope you don't plan on farming here."
"Oh, not at all- I just want a house… or maybe a castle."
"A castle, huh?" Neville chuckled. "Save me a room."
After marking out an area for his pitch in the dead center of the island, he began to lay foundations for a castle- a massive one. Magic allowed Harry to ignore silly things like 'stress', 'tension', or 'architecture' when it came to his design- there was literally a charm that made things unbreakable. Why you wouldn't apply that to every brick and ounce of mortar, Harry couldn't imagine.
Harry had already told Neville, but otherwise he tried to keep his project on the down low- he did not need wizarding paparazzi flying around his island, to the point where he almost considered Fidelius. He just needed a secret keeper, which was kind of a problem- he had nothing against Neville, of course, but Harry preferred the idea of keeping the secret keeper on the island. He supposed that was something of a contradiction in terms: he didn't want anyone to know about it, but Harry couldn't stand the idea of being completely alone on an island as big as this… oh wait.
"Kreacher!" Harry shouted. With a pop, the elf appeared and looked around. "I'm building a castle, and I'd like you to help."
House elf magic helped tremendously, and Harry was frankly shocked by the weight of the stones Kreacher could move around. Did that somehow fall into the category of house repair? Whatever the case, Kreacher helped Harry dig out basements and lay out walls. He also helped grabbed books whenever Harry needed to double check something- how wards worked, space expansion spells to make the most of what land they already had, all sorts of minor household spells which Harry wanted to integrate into his house.
Not to mention the sheer value of having Kreacher there to talk to- what makes a good house for a house elf? Did they need their own working quarters, tunnels or passages or dumbwaiters? It was definitely different than what Harry expected to do after Hogwarts, but it certainly sounded a lot better than being subject to endless scrutiny wherever he went- he would never be just another Auror, unfortunately.
The foundations of the castle were going alright, as were the tunnels Harry was beginning to carve into the seafloor- but he wanted more ideas. Sure, he knew what Hogwarts was like, and he was definitely going to be taking inspiration from there, the way magic seemed to have seeped into the castle's being (although maybe a little easier to navigate) and the way it just seemed like its own little world…
But that wasn't to say Harry was opposed to other ideas. There was more to the world than Hogwarts caste, after all, and as nice as it was he had no interest in making Hogwarts Two. Sure, there were books and photographs of muggle architecture he could look at, on top of actually visiting several English castles, but Harry was curious about how other magical castles looked like. He had even heard that the Americans had one at one of their schools- Illverymorny?- which just seemed a little odd to Harry. The Yanks, in castles? Damned strange.
Still, Harry was hoping that there was something a little closer to home than the foreign magical schools- surely, there was at least one other magical castle on the British isles. It was just a matter of finding it, preferably without spending years searching from a broom.
So for the first time since he was given his Order of Merlin Award for defeating Voldemort, Harry Potter returned to the ministry, determined to talk to someone- surely, there was some sort of magical census taker or whatnot who kept track of things. Of course, the press swarmed the minute he returned to the ministry- making navigating it even more of a joy than it was normally.
"What do you mean, the wizards don't take censuses?" Harry asked, nearly choking on his bite of sandwich.
"We just don't, mate." Ron shrugged, in the middle of eating his own sandwich at a little place popular with Aurors- and Aurors-in-training, in Ron's case. "Hogwarts knows who needs to go to school, so why should the ministry keep track of it?"
"How are you supposed to run a government if you don't even know your population?"
"Magic." Ron shrugged. "I mean, why are you even mad about all of this, mate? Was it your dream job?"
"No," Harry sighed. "I figured they might be able to tell me where I could find a magical castle other than Hogwarts."
"I'd like to see one." Harry said.
"The DMLE might have something..."
Not to be confused with a staff (the somewhat obscure magical tool which can be used to add to your mystique, see section on Weapons), but nearly as useful as one, a good staff will carry a villain far. What, you may reasonably ask, is the difference between your staff and your minions? Not much- but having a well organized staff and not a horde of disorganized minions allows you to harness the power of one of the world's greatest evils: bureaucracy.
Ron pointed him at a list of castles, warning Harry that they were the sorts of places the wizarding public were explicitly warned not to go. Horrible hauntings, terrible monsters, curses that lingered, things fundamentally warped by magic gone terribly wrong… Harry thought it was great. Maybe he could nick some of the better security features.
So he left Kreacher to look after the castle and continue construction while Harry went out adventuring. He had to admit that it felt good to be out and about again without actually living the life of a rebel on the run. Having a home, even one as unappealing as Grimmauld Place, to return to was much better than long term camping.
Admittedly, some of his targets were busts. Castles that were only magical because they had actual ghosts wandering about- the muggles were shockingly talented at missing the actual haunted castles- were pretty useless unless he could get something out of the ghosts. Something other than screaming.
The cursed ones were more interesting. They required a lot more caution- sometimes Harry barely got off his broom, preferring to hover above the ground- but were definitely more interesting. Sure, he couldn't think of many practical uses for the curse that made a person's organs into haggis inside their body, but it was definitely interesting. Could it be modified to work on normal animals?
Shockingly, he found himself taking notes. Curses massively trended towards the uber fatal, but there were occasional spells that allowed for capturing people peacefully; fortunate, both for Harry and for any potential invaders of his island home. Occasionally he'd get lucky enough to find some old magical text- they weren't always legible, complete, or even in the right language, but they were neat. They would go into the library- and Harry planned on a big one, partially for Hermione's sake, whenever she visited, and partially for himself. He was certainly rich enough to buy himself a full set of the Encyclopedia Britannica if he liked, although he had to wonder if he could spoof the presses with a spell that would make the Encyclopedias update automatically…
Unfortunately, while Harry was cautious enough to avoid curses and the occasional irate poltergeist, he wasn't capable of spotting every pair of prying eyes- and news began to spread. Harry Potter was skulking around old castles, avoiding deadly curses… and taking careful notes.
One of the castles Harry aimed for was marked especially dangerous, with a note about a vampire living there, which was perfect. Finally, someone who had experience- perhaps even centuries- with magical castles!
So Harry flew his broom between some towering Welsh peaks, searching for a castle- he wasn't entirely sure what he was looking for, but he hoped it would be something exceptional. He refused to believe that only one magical castle of any significance existed in Britain- it would be a shameful mark on his country's wizards if they couldn't even manage a properly enchanted tower.
Just before he started to worry that the vampire had put some sort of anti-wizard spell over the entire complex, he crested a peak, looked into a valley, and saw it. There was a castle, constructed of some black brick that seemed to suck in light, surrounded by thick bushes of thorns and all sorts of other plants Harry did not want to imagine the effects of. Harry took a few quick laps around the tall, needle-like towers with his broomstick before coming in for a landing in front of the door, being careful to avoid the thick brambles.
He walked up to the door- a great monstrous affair in brass- and slammed the heavy, intricately carved knocker. Of course, the door wasn't opened, considering it was the middle of the day- that would be a fatal mistake for a vampire to make, if they weren't busy dozing in a coffin or something. He had to wonder if that was a real thing or just a muggle trope…
With a creak, the door swung open, nearly striking Harry, but as he stepped inside he couldn't see a soul who could have actually pushed it open. Magic- he'd have to include self opening doors in his castle, maybe ones with some sort of lockdown feature? Harry was sure that whoever was in charge of this castle had seen him before opening the door, and had decided to let him in. Either a good thing, or a very bad one.
Walking inside revealed a small entrance hall- very pretty and covered in gilding and dark wood, but small. Probably just because it was a vampire's castle, and having a big open room where sunlight came in would be a horribly bad idea. There was a single door in front of him, one that he walked towards and attempted to open- locked.
After closing the entrance door behind him- why not just use the same magic you did before, mystery vampire?- it unlocked, and sung open to reveal the sort of entrance hall Harry was expecting. A massive stairwell in the center of the room, carved statues in the same dark rock that made up the castle's exterior, all beautifully lit by a chandelier of shimmering glass that was constantly changing colors.
He wasn't alone in the room, though- there was a maid waiting for him, her face unusually gaunt and pale. Without a doubt, she was a vampire, although the fact that she was wearing a maid uniform (unfortunately it was of the modest, completely practical type) seemed to show that she wasn't the head of this particular… coven? Colony?
"Prithee, stranger, what name do you go by?" She had a very gentle voice, almost a whisper.
"I'm Harry Potter."
"If thou would follow me, I shall introduce you to my good master…"
She led him through a complex series of rooms, hallways, and stairwells- of course, without a single window anywhere in the entire complex, including several password protected doors (he would have to install some of those too). Eventually, after going up so many stairwells he was certain they were at the top of a tower, he was deposited in front of a rather plain looking door. "The master will see you now." She bowed and walked off.
Turning around, Harry opened the door and walked into an office, where the most vampiric vampire he had ever seen sat behind a desk. He had the fancy suit, he had the fangs, and he had the glass of a questionable red substance on a table in front of him. Harry couldn't help but stare.
"If you say so..."
"What brings you here, Mr. Potter?"
"I wanted to see your castle."
"Why wouldn't it be? I figured there were more castles in England than Hogwarts, so I tried to find other ones…"
The vampire almost seemed to sag in his seat. "Was it to your liking?"
Harry nodded. "Yes, I liked it, but I'm curious about that maid of yours- are you paying her extra to talk like that?"
"No? That's how people from her time talk, after all."
It took Harry a moment to process that. "You mean to tell you have a Shakespearean vampire in your staff?"
"Not quite Shakespearean, actually- I first turned her around that mess with the Roundheads…"
"The Civil War?" Harry sputtered. That girl had been around since the English Civil War? It definitely explained how she spoke, though… "Why does she still speak like that, though? I mean, you speak normally, and you're older than her."
"She doesn't get out often," the vampire shrugged. Seeing Harry's expression, he changed the subject. "How would feel about dinner? I'm certain you'd like to see my dining room..."
The dining room was admittedly very impressive- no windows or sky painting on the ceiling like in Hogwarts, but it seemed to tower even higher than Hogwarts did- it honestly felt like overkill for a a single table. It was, to be quite frank, stupidly long- there seemed to be some sort of spell that let him talk with the vampire as if they were sitting face to face though, which was neat.
Harry supposed he could have just dug in into the piles of charmingly antiquated food, but he wasn't stupid. At least, not completely so. Quietly, he pulled out his wand and whispered "Serpensortia." A little snake, roughly the size of his finger, fell onto his lap. "Can you smell any poisons, friend? I'll let you have anything that's not dangerous."
Some careful sleight of hand got the snake up to the tabletop, where it slithered between the dishes- giving Harry a shake of the head at every last one. Of course the vampire would try to poison him. He made a show of picking at his food while letting the snake slip inside his sleeve, while trying to keep the vampire distracted with talk. "Oh, you commissioned the castle? Really? When…?"
While the vampire gave a long winded answer, Harry palmed his wand and pointed it at the table before casting a spell that made the entire length of it jerk- sending the table's far end crashing into the vampire's stomach. One of the maids- another vampire- yelped and rushed from the room as Harry jumped to his feet and rushed the vampire lord.
Harry sent a Stupefy flying, but the vampire moved with remarkable grace for his seemingly elderly and genteel appearance. He continued to dodge and weave as Harry sent all the plates and cutlery he could find at him, before charging at Harry, fangs almost seeming to gleam in the candle light.
Stumbling backwards, Harry transfigured his sleeves, turning them from flowing robes to stiff but protective Kevlar, which the vampire managed to get his teeth stuck in as he went for the tricep. At point blank range, it was impossible to miss, and with a cry of "Sectumsempra!" the vampire found himself headless.
After giving the body a tentative poke with his shoe, Harry backed up a little and set it on fire- no risk taking chances. For a moment, Harry stopped and thought. Would it be wrong to take this guy's stuff? Well, it was wrong to attempt to poison Harry, but that didn't stop the vampire.
Turning, Harry heard the creaking of a door, and heard one of the maids go "Eep!" before quickly slamming the door and rushing away. Oh, there was the matter of them as well...
There were seven maids in the castle, no house elves- apparently because they expired, unlike vampires- and although they were spooked, Harry managed to herd them all into one place.
"Did he-" Harry gestured to the char that had once been the castle's lord. "-have a library?"
"Aye," one the maids nodded. "I can lead you there…?"
"Sure," Harry said, "but did he also have treasure?"
"Yes- you should take the money, sir."
"Did he ever pay you for your centuries of work?" Harry asked.
"Well, no, but he got blood for us, and fed us…"
"He turned you into a vampire, stuffed you away, and you're acting like you should be grateful?" Harry asked, gobsmacked. "You deserve that money."
"Well, if you insist," she murmured before curtsying. "Thank you, sir."
Harry was almost willing to leave them to their own lives- hopefully ones that would be quite rich- so he could loot the library, but before that a thought occurred. "Which one of you is the youngest, again?"
Another one stepped forward: she was sort of mousy, her small figured exacerbated by the thinness characteristic of vampires. "Me, sir."
"What's the last war Britain fought in?" Harry asked, dreading the answer.
She gulped. "Crimea?" Good grief, there was no way he could leave these girls alone- they'd get flattened by the first car they saw.
"Crimea…" Harry sighed. "If you girls would like, I could give you someplace to stay until you familiarize yourself with modern Britain?"
After stealing piles and piles of books (jackpot!) and a significant amounts of money and jewels, he found a few other interesting things: large collections of dark artifacts, a few wands that had once belonged to the maids (God forbid they work with magic instead of doing everything by hand), and even some vintage muggle firearms- Harry nicked those, at least for the pleasure of hanging them over a mantel somewhere.
Unfortunately, Harry wasn't quite good enough to carry all of them with him in a single apparition, but in time the seven, slightly sicker, stood in Harry's home- the complete one.
"This is Grimmauld Place." Harry said. "The home of the Black family- now extinct."
"I cannae believe it…" The one with the Scots accent murmured, and the other witch vampires weren't far behind in expressing their shock. Some of them seemed relatively unsurprised- the muggle ones, then. The vampire lord was apparently something of an equal opportunity employer.
"How did it come into thine possession, Sir Potter?"
"Just Harry is fine." He sighed. "But the last male of the line, my godfather Sirius, left all of his possessions to me. Including the house, of course."
They eventually settled in, once Harry had painted over the windows and informed Kreacher that in no circumstances should sunlight be allowed into certain rooms. The books went into the Black family library, which was already running dangerously low on space- a fitting library wing would have to be a major part of his castle plan.
He was pleasantly surprised to see that the library wasn't empty- that tiny little vampire was trying her best to organize the piles and piles of books in some order that made sense. "How's it going?" Harry asked.
She squeaked and dropped the heavy leather book she was handling. "Oh, I'm sorry sir, so so sorry, sir…" She babbled, clearly terrified- only souring Harry's opinion of the vampire lord more.
"It's fine." Harry knelt down to look her in the eye. "I'm sorry to say I never got your name, Miss…?"
"Mary." She answered quietly.
"You seem to like books-" she nodded in response, "How would you like to go buy some with me?"
"I'm planning a library- a big one. I'd appreciate someone to look after it, to read all those books while I'm busy…" Her expression lit up at that, but Harry knew there was one quick change they needed to make to not stick out like sore thumbs.
With a tap of his wand, the maid outfit (which Harry honestly thought wasn't half bad- just a dead giveaway anywhere public) transfigured into a long black dress and matching coat.
"Is this what people wear these days?"
"Something like it." The fashion was definitely more muggle than magic, but Harry couldn't bring himself to care. Who cared who he went book-shopping with, and what she looked like?
Harry had no subscription to the Daily Prophet- getting a newspaper during a war was an impossibility, not to mention the fact he considered it little more than a rag. Add to this all the time he spent on the island, working towards his castle and adjusting his plans to accommodate vampires, he didn't hear a thing about the Prophet- which was probably a good thing for the paper's continued survival.
POTTER: COURTING A VAMPIRE?
[The picture, clearly taken without Potter's notice, shows him walking next to an evidently vampiric woman. She seems more confused by the camera than anything- although her red eyes and fangs are clearly visible. Both are dressed in muggle fashion.]
Harry Potter, wizarding Britain's most eligible bachelor, has been seen recently in the presence of an honest to goodness female vampire! The two have mostly been seen at bookstores, both magical and muggle- perhaps Potter prefers intelligent women, or perhaps just women like his own close friend, Hermione Granger? Why Potter has chosen to chase a vampire instead of any of wizarding Britain's bachelorettes is unknown- maybe he was driven by an appetite for adventure, if not an appetite of an altogether different sort?
Admittedly, this takes some hints from Rorschach's Blot and his stuff- the idea of a Harry who's viewed as many times more dangerous than he actually is, the collecting of a crew of supporters on a far flung island… I always liked those parts in Make A Wish, so I decided to give it my own try.
Is it good? Is it trash? What steps should Harry take on the path to supposed villainhood? I do want him visiting other countries, grabbing cool shit (and monsters like Yuki Onna, at least). Visiting these United States, perhaps.