Title: Après Moi, Le Deluge
Rating: T for now to be safe, will go higher with future chapters.
Summary: AU - An unfortunate incident leads to Harry becoming a vampire.
Disclaimer: I guess it all still belongs to JKR, huh? Yuck. Well, I'm using nothing from DH, because I didn't finish reading it, and some – but not all – of the vampire concepts are blatantly stolen from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, because her vampires bring sexy back.
A/N: Right, so, I started this after I read Twilight because I was on such a vampire kick, and I'm finally posting it now. As the disclaimer says, this completely ignores DH, and no, it's not another crossover – all HP, just waaaay cooler, because vampires rock.
Chapter 1: Cause
"Creepy place," Ron whispered in the darkness as the three looked up at the old, abandoned structure that once was an orphanage. Now it was nothing more than an empty, condemned building, insignificant – except that it might hold one-seventh of Voldemort's soul inside it.
"You're so unprofessional," Hermione hissed from Harry's other side. All three were Disillusioned, blending in like chameleons with the building and shadows.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize there was a certification program for horcrux hunting," Ron retorted. Harry shushed the two before they could turn the sniping into a full-blown skirmish.
"Let's get this over with," he said, leading them to the door, which hung precariously on its top hinge and opened with a squeak that would wake the dead. Harry winced and hurried inside, wand ready to do its work.
Hermione was already at work the moment she walked in the door, casting a battery of detection spells. Once finished, she nodded, satisfied. "We're alone, but I'm not sensing any lingering magic. I don't think it's here."
Harry frowned his disappointment. "Well, let's look in his old room, just in case."
Half-heartedly, he led them the way he'd been shown in Dumbledore's memory. He'd really hoped this wouldn't be another dead end. They'd found the first horcrux, Slytherin's locket, almost off the bat, hidden in Kreacher's cupboard at Grimmauld Place, having been there all along. Unfortunately, no lead had panned out since, and that was when they'd decided to start searching places from Voldemort's past, starting with the orphanage he'd grown up in.
A floorboard creaked ominously as they entered Voldemort's former living quarters. All the furniture had been moved out of the building, and all that remained was a grimy window and a coating of dust on the floor.
As one, they all began heavy-duty magical traces of the room, which would pick up on any unseen enchantments. After a thorough sweep of the room, however, Harry realized there was nothing to find.
"We may as well go," he sighed, looking to Ron and Hermione, but they were looking past him, at the doorway, with wide eyes.
Harry turned swiftly and took in the figure in the doorway. It was a woman, but not any normal woman. Her body was almost invisible in the darkness, covered entirely in black clothing, and her hair was nearly the same color, but her exposed hands, neck, and face were unnaturally pale, so that they nearly glowed against the blackness, and staring from her face were two large, luminous, almost cat-like, golden eyes that glinted at him – menacingly.
Harry took a step back, instinctively placing Ron and Hermione behind him. He heard Hermione gasp, not out of fear, but out of cognition, as she often did.
"It's a vampire," she hissed into his ear, and the woman smiled, exposing a pair of gleaming white fangs.
"That's right," the woman said, her voice smooth and strangely musical.
Harry raised his wand – to do what, he had no idea – but before he could begin to speak, the woman moved, so rapidly that she was little more than a blur to his vision – and then he felt her hands grasping him, followed by a sharp pain in his neck.
The last thing he heard as his consciousness faded was Hermione's panicked scream.
Oh no, no, have to stop her…vampires, vampires can only be killed by a stake to the heart, decapitation, or burning…fire, fire, I can do fire.
Hermione moved quickly, taking a step to the side while the vampire's attention was focused on feeding, and aimed her wand at the woman's exposed side.
The vampire reared back, shrieking, and Harry slumped to the floor, unconscious. Hermione went to him, dropping to her knees beside him, watching out of the corner of her eye as the vampire attempted to put out the flames with her hands. The attempt was in vain. The fire spread quickly, from the side of the shirt that Hermione had ignited around her torso, down her arms and legs, and finally blazing upward to envelope her entirely.
With an unearthly scream and a cloud of ash, the woman was gone, incinerated.
The room was suddenly oppressively black after the brightness of the flames, and Hermione lit her wand, examining Harry. In the background, she vaguely registered Ron speaking – calling to Remus for assistance through one of the two-way mirrors Sirius had left behind, she'd later realize – but all she could see was Harry, paler than she'd ever seen him with blood oozing from his neck, startlingly dark as it dripped to the floor.
She pulled out the handkerchief she always carried with her – her mother had trained her to do so as a young girl, and she'd never been more grateful for her rigid instruction – and applied it to the wound. Harry groaned in pain but didn't wake, and Hermione could do nothing but watch.
Three loud cracks sounded outside the door, and Hermione heard the sounds of spellfire, and two eerie screams like the one the woman had let out when she'd died. Then a head of bright pink hair appeared in the doorway.
"There were two waiting to ambush you," Tonks started to say, but then her eyes landed on Harry's still form. "Was he…bitten?"
Ron didn't answer, and Tonks was looking at Hermione now, so she nodded slowly, unable to speak.
"Oh, hell," Tonks said grimly as Remus and Kingsley Shacklebolt appeared behind her. Hermione winced and finally accepted what her mind had been trying to tell her ever since the vampire had attacked.
All it took was one bite to make a person a vampire, much like a werewolf. There wasn't a cure.
Remus and Ron side-alonged Harry back to Grimmauld Place, and the others followed after. Hermione watched as they carried him up the stairs to his bedroom. They came back out without him a moment later, and then, by wordless agreement, they all went into the kitchen. No one bothered to sit down.
"We'll need to decide what to do about this," Kingsley stated, his deep, booming voice startling Hermione out of her trance-like state.
"What do you mean, do about it?" she said. "The transformation's already begun. There's nothing to be done."
Kingsley looked to the ground, and Hermione realized with horror what he meant.
"No," she breathed, feeling as if she'd been punched in the gut. "No, you can't."
Ron shot her a look, full of panic, as Remus and Tonks both looked away uncomfortably. "Can't what?"
"Miss Granger," Kingsley said firmly, ignoring Ron, "He's going to wake up in three days looking to sink his teeth into the first neck he meets. We may not have a choice."
"You want to kill him?" Ron cried, his voice cracking oddly on the word 'kill.' "Remus, Tonks, you can't let him do that –"
"I don't want to lose him, either, but I'm not sure Harry would want us to let him become a vampire," Remus said, looking impossibly weary.
"All right, but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't want to die either," Ron retorted.
Hermione saw Tonks and Kingsley both open their mouths to speak, and she felt the panic set in again.
"Wait!" she cried, and everyone turned to look at her. She mentally grasped for whatever knowledge she had on the subject, needing to find a way to stop them. The information came to her like a message from a god.
"I've read about cases," she said in a rush, "Vampires who've become humanized, who weren't allowed to feed on human blood when they woke. They learned to drink animal blood, retained their humanity – they live amongst people, as harmless as anybody else because they've retained their conscience. If anyone could do it, it would be Harry."
She waited, breathless, as the others considered her words.
Remus was the first to speak, although gently. "That doesn't address the question of whether he'd want us to let him live."
"But he deserves the choice, doesn't he?" Hermione argued desperately. "Do you wish someone had killed you after you'd been bitten?"
"That's different, Hermione," Remus said, looking stung. "Lycanthropy is a separate state, and temporary. Harry will be a vampire all the time; the bloodlust will never subside. He'll have to live with it constantly, for every minute of every day. Do you want that for him?"
Hermione couldn't respond; tears threatened to spill from her eyes, and her throat closed in an automatic response.
"Look, none of that matters." To Hermione's surprise, it was Ron that spoke. He went on, "Harry has to live because he's the only one that can defeat You-Know-Who."
Kingsley raised a skeptical eyebrow. "That's a rumor the Daily Prophet invented to sell papers."
"No," Ron retorted, "It's a prophecy, actually – you know, the one the Order was trying so hard to protect in the Department of Mysteries? Dumbledore had already heard it, and he told Harry about it. And even if you don't believe that," Ron went on, preventing Kingsley from arguing, as he'd been about to, "Harry's the only one with the information needed to do it now that Dumbledore's gone."
"That's true," Hermione said, happy to agree with Ron this time. "Everything we need is in his memory – if that's gone…there's no way we can do it."
Kingsley sighed and nodded, relenting. "All right, but you'll have to keep him contained until he's safe."
"Of course," Remus said, and Hermione made her way to the door, not in the mood for any socializing. That business was complete. Now it was time to research.
The library of Grimmauld Place was not exactly pleasant. Besides the serpent motif, the unconquerable cobwebs, and the dust – Madame Pince would have a heart attack if she'd seen the state of the place – the collection also happened to be composed entirely of books about the Dark Arts.
Fortunately, that's exactly what Hermione was after.
The library had been very helpful, ironically, in their search for the horcruxes and learning to destroy them – a process they still hadn't entirely worked out – and now Hermione hoped it would be equally helpful in telling her about vampires.
Browsing the shelves she'd painstakingly alphabetized by topic over the summer, she found the vampire volumes, and only then did she recall just how many there were. There had to be at least fifty relevant titles, some innocent enough – A Guide to Vampirism, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Vampires – and others that Hermione would not be opening – like Feeding Your Hungry Vampire and Vampiric Sexuality for Beginners. She wondered just which member of the Black family had purchased those volumes.
Hermione had learned, in the course of her school reading, the basics facts about vampires. They were humans transformed, technically dead but still animate, immortal, given extraordinary strength, senses, and speed. Sunlight burned their skin, which was the cause of the belief that vampires couldn't go outside in the daytime.
Most of the typical myths about vampires were untrue, however. They didn't sleep in coffins or turn into bats; they had reflections like anyone else. They were still human beings, not demons, but most of them could not resist the bloodlust, in spite of their consciences. Many who tried to resist went insane.
But some thrived without drinking human blood, Hermione reminded herself, still struggling to tie all the facts she knew to Harry…good, kind Harry, who would be tortured when he found out what he was. Remus was right about that. But never seeing Harry smile again or hearing his voice, that was unthinkable; he would manage, and she would be there to help him.
Hermione had just settled down with a stack of books into the armchair she'd moved into the library – the other available chairs might as well have been beds of nails, as uncomfortable as they were – when the door creaked open, and she saw a flash of red in the doorway.
"I figured you'd be here," Ron said, stepping inside. "Found a cure yet?"
Hermione shook her head bleakly. "There is no cure, Ron, you know that."
"Hey, come on," Ron said, pulling up a chair to sit across from her. "It's not the end of the world. He's not dead. Well, I guess he is, actually, but you know what I mean."
"I know," Hermione nodded, "But it won't be easy for him. He's going to need our help."
"Just tell me what I can do."
Hermione smiled and handed him a book. "Start reading."
Ron sighed and sat back with the book. "I was afraid you'd say that."
Hermione couldn't believe how much there was to learn about vampires.
The transformation alone would have been a fascinating subject if her best friend hadn't been going through it. The concept was fairly simple – when a vampire bit, its fangs released a paralytic poison. If the vampire drained its victim, he or she would simply die…but if the vampire stopped or the attack was interrupted, and the victim had enough blood left to recover, then the poison would work its way throughout the body through the bloodstream, slowly changing the internal workings of the body. After three days, seventy-two hours, the body would be completely changed, and the person would awake a vampire.
Upon waking, the vampire would be hungry. Very hungry. So hungry that it was nearly impossible to resist chomping on the first blood-filled thing that came along. After learning this, Hermione had sent Ron off to bind Harry – with steal, because rope wouldn't last against a vampire's strength, and because magic could wear off – and then to purchase as much animal blood as he could find. Ron wasn't happy about this task, but he dragged Remus along as punishment for considering chopping Harry's head off, and it seemed to be easier for him than reading for hours on end.
After that, there was very little to do for Hermione but wait, and that was nearly an impossible task for her. She would have liked to read more about human-friendly vampires, but the library wasn't so helpful with that. All she could do was draw on the memories of what she'd read before and hope to God she could actually save Harry from succumbing to his new instincts…because the alternative, losing Harry, was impossible.
She simply wouldn't survive it.