Blood Bound: A Vampire Tale

Disclaimer: Everything concerning Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling. I own nothing, nor is this done for any purpose except my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of anyone reading this. There is no attempt to make any profit.

I wish to extend a grateful thank you to my beta readers, Amanda and Prof Roz. Any mistakes left in this story are due to my last minute revisions.

A/N Conversations in italic print are telepathic in nature.

Chapter Twenty-Seven

As the vampires moved along the first floor, they began taking out the defenders hiding there. The Death Eaters had been forbidden to attack until the members of the diversion were on their way back; so they were hiding, watching their fellows fighting. With their attention focused elsewhere, it was a simple matter for a vampire to creep up behind them and steal their wills from them.

Harry was wondering in which room he would encounter Tom Riddle. Yet, as he moved along the musty hallway, he felt that Tom was somewhere below him. There was something in the house that was calling to him. When they finished with the Death Eaters on the first floor, Harry began seeking the stairs to the basement.

Fate took a hand when a Death Eater came down from the second floor and made a bee line to the back of the house. Harry and Hermione followed silently as the cloaked figure led them to a back staircase that went down to an underground floor in the mansion.

The lower floor appeared to contain the servant's quarters and storage rooms. The vampires hid as the scout bowed low and entered the room crawling on his hands and knees.

"Well, what is it?" Tom snapped.

"My Lord," Death Eater's voice quavered. "There is no sign of Nagini's attack. The Aurors are continuing to bombard the house; and many of those you sent forward have been stunned or paralyzed."

The Dark Lord flew into a towering rage. "Crucio!" he cried. After torturing the unfortunate messenger for a short time he screamed, "Must I do everything myself? Go back to your post. I will come shortly."

Voldemort had risen to go and fight when a wave of indecision rolled over him. He paused in confusion before sitting back down. This was a new experience for him. Something had changed within him, he felt … diminished. He nodded as he continued his internal dialogue, never before had he felt so weak, so indecisive. His intellect was intact, but the fighting spirit, the fire that had once been his had grown cold. He wondered if this was the result of the Horcruxes being missing or destroyed.

Harry and Hermione waited until the sound of the Death Eater's steps retreated up the stairs. Harry smiled at his partner and thought, "Wait here." He pulled back the hood of his cloak and walked toward the room where Tom Riddle was hiding. He could sense the indecision in the being before him; Tom was desperately trying to be Lord Voldemort, trying to convince himself that all was not lost.

Tom was sitting in his throne-like chair, holding his face in his hands. Harry stood in the doorway and said, "It is all gone, Tom, and I'm here to finish what you started seventeen years ago. You are wondering why you don't feel like your old self? I have destroyed your Horcruxes. All you have left is one-seventh of your original soul."

Tom Riddle looked up in surprise, into a pair of eyes that were as red as his own. He stood uncertainly to his feet, stunned as if he had been hit by something heavy. "What…Who are you?"

"You know who I am, Tom. Doesn't your blood tell you? Hasn't it been warning you since last July? I feel it. In fact, it called me to you."

Tom's eyes jerked to Harry's forehead. The scar was almost hidden by the pallor of Harry's skin. "Harry Potter," he hissed. He raised his wand and commanded, "Avada Kedavra!" Harry swayed with the force of the spell; it even caused his cloak to billow out behind him. However, the magic had been designed to work on humans, and the vampire-symboite was unaffected by the magic. Now, Tom's eyes went wide with fear as Harry stepped forward. Twice more Tom repeated the deadly curse, each time with no effect.

"You can't kill what's already dead, Tom." Harry gestured with his wand. The movement was so fast that Tom had no time to react, and his wand went flying from his hand. The would-be Lord Voldemort was stunned. Harry could see it in his mind. Defeat was staring him in the face, and his mind could not accept it.

Something within the monster snapped, standing once more he screamed, "I AM LORD VOLDEMORT."

Harry paused. "No, you're not; you are Tom Marvolo Riddle. I can see it in you, Voldemort is just a mask you frighten people with, and you even believe it yourself. Dumbledore knew better. He showed me what you were, a bully and a thief from the start. You would never share anything, keeping everything inside yourself; never allowing anyone in; you rejected anything anyone tried to do for you. You believed sharing, even happiness, made you weak. Well, you stole from me and I want what you took from me back."

Harry never imagined that face could look horrified, but it did. "What are you?" Tom whispered.

Harry smiled, showing Tom his fangs, "I am a vampire, just like you. I only take blood though, and just what I need to survive. You, however, feed on power, and you selfishly want all of it there is." Tom Riddle began backing away from Harry. "Something else, Tom, you're a coward. When Dumbledore was in the position you are now, he stood his ground. You can only be brave when you have the upper hand."

Moving swiftly forward, Harry caught Tom by his shoulders. "You stole my blood from me, and now I want it back." Tom's scream was cut short when Harry's fangs pierced his throat.

Harry began to try to draw Tom's blood, but he immediately encountered a problem. The body Tom inhabited was constructed by magic. There was no real circulatory system, further, the blood had been corrupted by that magic and it was now a vile, black poison. Harry entered Tom's thoughts; his mind was a whirling tornado of incoherent fragments. It took a few moments for him to decide what to do. Cradling his victim with one arm, he drew his wand with the other. Pointing the tip at his lips he commanded, "Accio, my blood." He was grateful to Snape for teaching non-verbal magic.

As he began to swallow the bitter poison that was his own blood, he thought of Hermione; once again her love and kindness were helping him to reach his goals. Little had he realized how valuable this simple spell would be, when she taught it to him four years ago.

To take his mind off the sickness that was beginning to permeate his body, he recounted to his opponent, the search for the Horcruxes and how each one had been destroyed. Deep within his own mind, Tom Riddle howled in fear.

Unknown to Harry, Hermione had crept into the room. She was watching in horrified fascination at the scene before her. At what point it happened she could not begin to guess, but when Harry had taken enough of his own blood back, the spell that held Tom's body together was broken. His physical form began to disintegrate before her eyes. In a couple of minutes Harry was falling to his knees. All that was left of Tom Riddle was a fine white powder and several large globs of putrid meat.

Tom Riddle was not quite finished, however. The prime motivation of his life was to exist. It had driven him to depths of depravity few had ever explored. It had driven him to drink Unicorn's blood, knowing that he would be cursed. Now, that motivation drove him to use the last power he had left. He would try to possess Harry Potter and his task was made easier by the fact that Harry had his "blood" within his body.

His spirit followed the paths of the bond of blood into Harry's mind. He beat himself against the prickly, alien thing he found in the way. He began matching himself to it, trying to move around it and into Harry's soul. It took every bit of concentration he had, and slowly he began to seep past the vampire; he was succeeding.

Harry was aware of what was happening in his mind and soul, but the poison in his body was slowly robbing him of the ability to fight. He dared not turn his attention away from the attack Tom was mounting on his mind, even as he was becoming ill from the blood he had taken.

Hermione looked on in fear. She knew something terrible was happening, but she didn't know what. Gently, she rested her hand on Harry's shoulder and entered his thoughts, trying to strengthen him with her love. The effect was immediate.

As Tom slipped into Harry's mind he was met by the thoughts and encouragement Hermione was sending Harry. The weakening will that was slowly surrendering to him was suddenly energized. The power of her love, a love that took no thought for itself, joined with the will that knew its own need. In his surrender to Hermione, Harry rejoiced in the connection they shared, and thoughts and memories filled his mind.

It had happened once before, the thoughts of the love he had for Sirius had defeated Voldemort. Now, faced once again by love, Riddle rejected it again. Surrounded by its burning light, the soul fragment that was Tom Riddle imploded, fleeing the light into the only darkness that it could find. He fled deeper and deeper into himself, until he reached the point where death would have brought him anyway. As the dementor would have said, "The being has changed Frequency." Tom Riddle vanished and would trouble this Frequency no more.

With his enemy vanquished, Harry was violently sick, his body rejecting the vile fluid that was poisoning him.

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The battle had raged outside the house until all of the raiding party had been captured. The Aurors were at a loss about what to do. There was a vast open space to be crossed, but the response from the manor had been lacking. They had no way of determining how many Death Eaters remained. Kinglsey was thinking of sending a scout under the Invisibility Cloak to see what they could find out when the Death Eaters began to scream. Even those that were unconscious were twisting violently, tearing at their forearms.

The awful noise brought the Order of the Phoenix to the front of the house. They all stood and watched helplessly as the Death Eaters suffered. Then as quickly as it started it was over, every Death Eater was unconscious on the ground.

Arthur Weasley bent down and pushed the sleeve of a Death Eater back. The dark Mark was gone leaving behind it a wound like a bad burn. Realizing what had happened, he began to run toward the manor house, followed closely by Fred, George, Bill, and Fleur.

Several loud cracks made him stop just short of the door. A quick glance showed him that house-elves were appearing on the grounds and were moving to help tend the wounded. With a practiced gesture, he blew the door down and ran into the house.

He followed the entry hall to the rear staircase. Without hesitation, he took the stairs leading down. Arthur Weasley followed his heart; it was easily the best part of him. He searched the rooms and it did not take him long to find Harry and Hermione. Harry was lying on his side, with Hermione trying to help him by wiping his face with a clean cloth.

The elder Weasley started to enter the room, but the stench drove him back. Using a Bubblehead Charm for air, he re-entered and started cleaning the room. Fred, George, and Bill joined him in a few minutes; Fleur was waiting outside to summon aid if it was needed.

Members of the Order and a few Aurors came to Fleur; they were wondering what to do when a creature came flying down the stairs. It was some sort of half man and half wolf. The wizards needed several stunners to stop the werewolf's attack. They looked at one another as they realized that not all of Voldemort's forces had been rendered unconscious. Carefully, they moved into the house with Lupin in the forefront. It was hoped that he might be able to negotiate with the rest of the werewolves.

As the battle raged above them, Arthur wanted to take the time to talk to the vampires. Arthur helped Harry into Tom's chair and helped Hermione clean him up. Bill and the twins were quickly and efficiently removing all traces of Voldemort's magically created body.

"Thanks," he croaked when they halted their ministrations for a few minutes. He twitched his wand and summoned Tom Riddle's wand. He pressed it into Arthur's hand. "For you. This is the Order's victory…don't let Scrimgeour claim all the credit."

"What's been going on, Harry?" he queried.

Harry managed a sickly grin, "That's a long story. Professor McGonagall can fill you in on all the details. Mostly what we've been doing is to remove Tom Riddle's anchors; after we did that we were able to destroy him." Harry briefly recounted the story of how Riddle created the Horcruxes and what he used them for.

All of the Weasleys were suitably impressed/horrified by Riddle's plot to gain immortality. The elder Weasley recovered quickly, and turned to the matters that concerned him the most. "What are you going to do, Harry?"

The vampire was taken aback by the question. Before he could answer Fred stepped up, "Harry, you don't look too good, even for someone that's dead." He held out his arm as he rolled up the sleeve of his robe. "Take some of my blood…please."

Harry looked at him with a horrified expression on his face.

George closed in on the other side, "Look, Harry, what happened here isn't going to stay secret for long. There is a group of students in the town, the Knight Bus brought them; the Aurors mostly have families that they will tell as soon as they get finished here, because they will want them to know that they are all right. They will also be sending notifications to the families of those that were killed or injured. You've got to get your strength back if you are going to escape."

It was almost comical the way Harry looked back and forth between them with his mouth opening and closing, almost like a gold fish.

Fred resumed the attack, "It's not like you haven't taken blood from people before. I know you won't hurt me. You've given to us; let us help you for a change. It is a gift, Harry, take it in the spirit in which it's offered."

Harry looked at Hermione. She shrugged her shoulders, her expression said, "I can't tell you what to do."

Reluctantly, he took Fred's wrist, cut him with a swift stroke of his talon, and took some of his blood. The whole time Fred had a dreamy look on his face. When Harry looked up at him the wound was gone. The effect of the blood was immediate, Harry looked stronger in moments.

George held out his arm, and Harry took some of his blood as well. As he finished, a female voice cried out, "What in heaven's name is going on here? Good Lord, Arthur…vampires." Molly looked wildly between all of the faces before her, "Bill, Fred, what…is that you, Harry? No…no…not Hermione, too? Oh my God, Arthur, they're vampires." Her eyes were wide and staring.

Before she could say anything further, Hermione stepped up, her eyes glowing red. The twins had an idea of what was coming, but Arthur was stunned. "Molly," she began, "you will forget what you've just seen. You never entered the mansion tonight; you fought outside and then tended the wounded. You have finished your grieving for Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. It is time to move on. When you think of the last battle with Voldemort, you will believe that somehow, Harry reached out from beyond the grave to influence the battle because it was his destiny to do so. Go in peace, Molly; enjoy your life, your children, and your grandchildren." Wordlessly Molly turned and walked out of the room.

Arthur was grateful to Hermione for taking care of Molly so gently, and he returned to his question, "What are you going to do, Harry?"

"Ultimately, I will find a peaceful place and enjoy one last sunrise."

Arthur remembered the vampire in Little Whinging and shuddered. "I've talked to another vampire," continued Harry, "It happens to most of us, otherwise you mortals would be up to your eyebrows in vampires," Harry smiled, showing his fangs. "In the meantime, I want to see some of the world; it's a beautiful place, especially at night."

"Are you going to contact Ron and Ginny? They may eventually find out what really happened to you."

"No, I've had a small taste of what happens when the living spend time with the undead. It can get awkward. I don't want to create that kind of jealousy." Arthur looked puzzled. "Eighty years from now, I will look just as I do now. I don't want to take the chance of Ron or Ginny being envious of my 'eternal youth'. It's a price they really don't want to pay."

"I'm not sure I understand, Harry."

"A vampire I met told me that the pain of existence gets to be too much. Vampires don't change, while the rest of the universe does. Hermione and I are standing still, while you are growing up. Dumbledore said that death was the next great adventure. Until we destroy ourselves, we're stuck. We can do many things, learn more about magic, even help others; but my feelings are fading, my emotions too. I find less and less that brings me any joy. On the other hand, there isn't much that makes me really sad, either. I feel so empty some of the time. I'm afraid of how long it will be until that emptiness is all that is left." With that Harry bowed his head.

"Harry, for what it is worth, we owe you more than we can repay. Wait a few years until Ron has moved out. When he does, I will close his room and seal it from the light. The window will be a door, just say your name and it will open to you. When the years grow too heavy, it can be a sanctuary for you. Something familiar in the vast seas of time," he smiled. "As long as there is a Weasley at the Burrow it will be yours, Fred and George will make sure it is kept for you and Hermione, I promise."

Harry glanced at Hermione, but he could not read her expression, and her mind was closed.

Kingsley appeared at the door, followed by McGonagall and Fleur. "Harry, you might want to consider leaving. I just got word that Scrimgeour is on his way, apparently not all of my people are as trustworthy as I thought. All of the Death Eaters and werewolves are in custody."

Refreshed and strengthened by the blood of his friends, Harry stood. He, McGonagall, and Arthur walked up the stairs and out of the front door, with Hermione, Fred, and George close behind. Bill and Fleur lingered whispering to one another.

Outside of the house, they paused for a few minutes watching the house-elves as they helped the wounded. Harry stretched out with his powers, touching the minds of the many creatures on the lawn. As he drew his hood back over his head he looked at McGonagall, "You're wondering about the house-elves and why they help like they do. From their perspective, they are teaching us how we ought to behave. They're teaching by example." He reached out and put his arm around Hermione's shoulders as he drew her gently to him. "I won't say we won't visit you ever again, but it's best we allow you to grow undisturbed. Farewell, my friends, we won't forget you." With that, they transformed into bats and flew into the night.

Walking hand in hand, Tonks and Lupin approached the somber group standing before the old mansion. Tonks spoke, "Kingsley, we've a lot of work to do, yet. The werewolves need to be moved from here. Tomorrow night is the full moon." The tall, black Auror nodded. "Now, there's something else we need to look into."

"Now, what?"

"You knew Carstairs died this morning?" said Tonks, her voice carefully neutral. Kingsley nodded looking confused. "His body disappeared from the morgue tonight and nobody knows what happened to it." Tonks hesitated, biting her lip. "There is also a missing person report, Worpel says that Count Sanguini has disappeared; do you think that there could be a connection?"

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The bats flew over the cemetery. The DA was walking to join their teachers in front of the Riddle House. Harry felt a small sense of pride as they passed beneath him, and he smiled at Ron and Luna bringing up the rear, walking hand in hand.

Certain that there was no one around, the vampires transformed and reentered the back of the funeral home. Silently they gathered their belongings and slipped out of the door.

Neither spoke as Harry jerked his head toward the lane leading out of the town. They slung on their backpacks, repositioned their cloaks, and began walking out of the village. Neither had thought to ask about the anti-Apparition wards.

"It's over at last," Harry said as they passed the sign welcoming visitors to Little Hangleton. Hermione slipped her hand into Harry's as they walked under the bright moon.

"Where are we going?" she asked.

"To the Gaunt's cottage. I just wanted to see it for myself."

"You were brilliant, Harry. You did everything Dumbledore asked of you and at last the wizarding world is free."

Harry gave her a small, quiet smile. "I couldn't have done it without you. In spite of all of the hardships, you never stopped giving. The victory tonight is a testament to your dedication and…love."

Hermione stopped when he said it. Gently she wrapped her arms around Harry and held him close. She nestled her forehead under his chin and whispered, "You're welcome, Harry."

It took a little time to locate the overgrown path to the Gaunt's decrepit hovel. The years had dealt with it harshly and there was little left standing to make it even seem like it had once been a house. Harry wondered where the ring had been. The remains of a cellar indicated a possibility, but it had fallen in and there was no way to explore.

"I'm going to change clothes," he said. He dropped his pack and began pulling off his cloak, BDU's, pads, and boots. Hermione decided to do the same, so she moved into the trees, seeking a little privacy. After she changed clothes, she seemed vaguely interested in looking around, so he let her wander. When she wasn't looking, he slipped the crossbow bolt out of his backpack. The wood prickled and stung against his skin, so he wrapped it up in the rag in which he had been carrying it. He examined the ground, and found it sufficiently hard for his purposes. If he could drive it deeply enough and they fell, perhaps it would pass all of the way through her and pierce him as well. Hermione wouldn't rest with her parents, but maybe she would forgive him. He had decided that he did not want to face the years without her.

"Harry, would you hold me again?" She asked from behind him. With a heart that seemed to be growing heavier by the second, he turned around. It seemed he had been wrong when he told Arthur that there wasn't much that made him feel sad anymore. This was pain almost beyond enduring, but it was the cost of love and he was more than willing to pay.

He was glad that she was almost making this easy. Hermione pressed her body against his; "Harry," she started, "I've been thinking…" she started. He pressed the arrow against her back. She felt the sting of the wood as the point came through the material of her tee shirt. Realizing what Harry was trying to do, she launched herself against him, crying, "Noo, Harry, don't…please…wait…" She pushed with such force that Harry fell over backwards. She lay still and unmoving against his chest.

In a near panic he rolled onto his side. Hermione's eyes were open but lifeless. Harry drew the bolt out of her back; fortunately, it had not gone very deep. He waited for a few minutes, hoping and begging for her to be all right. Suddenly her eyelids fluttered. Gently, she reached up to touch his anxious face. "I wanted to tell you I changed my mind about walking with you."

Harry sat back and then helped Hermione to sit up. She appeared weak, but as she had not borne the bolt as long as he had, the effect was diminished. She sat cross-legged and looked down into her lap. "When I asked you to lay me to rest, I was being selfish. I thought my existence was my own. That I was going to have to…" she smiled up at him, "to 'live' it on my own. Then, when you said that you loved me, and you showed me by being with me, I began to understand that I had a partner to help me. So, Harry, I love you too. I'll need your help, because I'm afraid I am coming to enjoy hunting for blood too much. Promise to help me be careful and I will walk with you. Where you walk I will, where you lead, I will follow; and when you decide I'll walk into our final sunrise with you. I wish I could feel it more, but I do love you."

Harry pulled her to him and kissed her dry, cold lips. There was something special about that kiss, since she had said she loved him. Not because of intense feelings, but because of the assurance of her willing faithfulness. Together, they could face any trial, even without the feelings. She had demonstrated that she was truly his partner, and that would always be enough.

Standing, he helped her up. "What are we going to do?"

"Paris is lovely in the spring. I'd like to show it to you. Then, we'll go where ever you want to."

"Since we have time, why don't we learn Greek? There is a whole library we can explore."

Hermione beamed at him.

Harry fished out his Firebolt from his backpack, and expanded it to its normal size. "Paris is a bit far for tonight, how about Number Twelve for the day and Paris for tomorrow night?" Hermione responded by hugging him, even a little feeling was better than none.

Within a few minutes they were high above the clouds, speeding toward London. The black canopy was ablaze with stars and the man-in-the-moon seemed to smile with extra brightness. The cascading moonlight colored the vast canyons of the clouds with silver and blue-gray. Their endless night beckoned as it opened before them. How could they have doubted? The possibilities were never-ending.

Finis