Title: Memento Vivere
Fandom: Harry Potter
Summary: AU of OotP and later. After learning the truth of exactly how badly vampires are treated in the Wizarding world, Harry takes it upon himself to improve their lives, in whatever way he can. Even if it means joining forces with a certain Dark Lord. eventual Dark!Harry, vampire!Harry, HP/LV/Sanguini
Disclaimer: I'm sure it's pretty obvious Harry Potter does not belong to me, not with that summary.
AN: This is looking to be a relatively long fic, starting the summer of fifth year and ending sometime during seventh (so you have an idea of what "relatively long" means to me, I have written 100k and that's gotten me to January of fifth year). The first part is going to be somewhat OotP compliant, then it'll have some elements of HBP but not most, and then it'll be pretty much all mine. A good deal of it will be solely how Harry turns Dark and decides to join Voldemort. There will be Harry/Voldemort eventually, but it really is eventually. Sanguini's also involved in there somewhere, maybe, probably.
Warnings: nothing definite at the moment, the usual gore and violence associated with Dark!Harrys and Voldemorts and vampires, multiple character deaths, and also Voldemort's looking pretty scaly through the whole thing. there's a reason it's rated M!
Prologue / In Medias Res
He was standing over Hermione's body.
Ron gritted his teeth and pulled out his wand. Not even a year ago, he would have charged recklessly at them, firing curses left and right, never mind that his leg was probably shattered. But so much had changed since Harry had disappeared (he refused to think "died" because they'd never found proof of that) and it had all changed so quickly. It seemed Harry had been all that held You-Know-Who back and with him gone, not even Dumbledore scared him enough to stay still. The Order seemed to finally be gaining the upper-hand lately, but for a while there, You-Know-Who had seemed unstoppable. Those months had forced grim reality on them all, and Ron wasn't the child he'd been anymore; he knew better than to do much of anything with his leg in such a state.
But he wouldn't let Hermione get hurt anymore either. He took a deep breath and started dragging himself across the ground, careful not to jostle his leg more than he had to, as quietly as he could. He had to get closer if he had a chance of hitting him with a spell before he noticed and blocked it.
He was saying something to Hermione, who wasn't moving. Ron couldn't tell from where he was whether she was alive or dead, unconscious or injured or just Body-Bound. Armaros spoke with confidence that she could hear him, but everyone knew the only man madder than You-Know-Who and Bellatrix Lestrange was Lord Armaros. He might have spoken to a half-rotted corpse with the same tone.
What was certain was Armaros having any interest in Hermione being a very bad thing. He and his Knights didn't often take prisoners, but those he did were never returned whole and more often never returned at all. They still had very little idea of what went on in Armaros's stronghold because he left no one to talk about it, and his followers were almost religiously loyal. They had managed to capture a couple of his Knights and they'd been sent to Azkaban without having said a word. Even Veritaserum hadn't been able to get any information out of them. Ron would not let Armaros take Hermione away to never be seen or spoken of again so long as he was still alive.
He finally got close enough to see that Hermione was alive and awake after all, but blood was oozing through the fingers of the hand she had clamped on her side. She was already looking quite pale; he thought she might pass out if she didn't get help soon.
"Weasley! How nice of you to join us. I hope that leg's not giving you too much trouble."
Ron froze for half a second before continuing on with even more determination. He hadn't counted on being noticed so soon, but Armaros didn't move to do anything about it, so he might as well take advantage of that. It was just very unnerving how sane Armaros sounded when he spoke. He couldn't be, not with what he'd done, but he really did sound like it.
"I was just telling your girlfriend that you might as well surrender now. Your forces are surrounded and outnumbered. They'll be taken out shortly. If you surrender, or even join me, I promise you won't be harmed." The man paused and added almost thoughtfully, "Well, any more than you already are."
Ron pulled himself up beside Hermione and carefully shifted her hand so he could see the damage. He couldn't help a low growl; it was more than he could fix. She had to get to a Healer.
"Like I'd believe anything you said," he spat back.
Though he couldn't see his face under his dark hood, Ron had a feeling Armaros smiled. "I knew you would say that, but I thought it kind to offer anyway."
"You're insane," Ron said, and Armaros just laughed. Ron couldn't help a slight shiver. That laugh was so familiar, but it was too cold and cruel for him to say why.
"Is that so? You think I'm mad?"
"You killed my best friend and now you think I'd join you? Yeah, I do! You're bloody bonkers!"
Armaros just laughed again and started twirling his wand. "Ah, so I did. What a pointless death it was, too. He didn't even fight back."
Ron did move then, jumping to his feet in fury only to collapse again when his leg folded beneath him. He bit his tongue and rode out the pain. Armaros was laughing again, and Ron was not about to give him the satisfaction of hearing him scream.
Then Armaros fell silent again, and Ron knew he was a second away from being hit by a Cruciatus or worse. He tightened his grip on his wand and got ready to block it.
He looked up after a moment of nothing happening. A man had appeared at Armaros's side and grabbed his wrist, keeping him from flicking his wand. The blood left his face so fast he felt himself go pale. Sanguini, the leader of the vampires allied with You-Know-Who and Armaros's second in command, was rarely seen on the battlefield but he was as ruthless as his masters. Ron had been nervous enough to take on Armaros alone; both of them would be impossible, not the least because his magic couldn't easily counter Sanguini's blood magic.
But Sanguini hadn't seemed to notice him yet. His gaze was fixed on Armaros's hidden face. Armaros himself seemed to be frowning down at the hand on his wrist and was trying to shake it off.
"We must leave immediately," Sanguini murmured, only tightening his grip on Armaros's wrist. "Our favour has turned, and our Lord wishes no further casualties."
"I don't care what he wants—"
"Please. You've made your point. He asked me to tell you he is not angry, but we are to return to him unharmed."
A soft snort left the darkness of his hood, but Armaros lowered his wand a fraction. Rumour had it that he would only listen to You-Know-Who himself and Sanguini, and it seemed that was the case. None of them had been aware of any sort of rift between the two Lords, and Ron wondered briefly if they could work with that, but it had been so impossible that You-Know-Who had taken anyone on as a partner in the first place that he doubted it.
He decided to worry about it later. Right now he had to get Hermione to a Healer. He didn't even bother to check if the Anti-Apparition wards had been dropped yet; there was a Portkey in his pocket that would take them where they needed to go. As long as Armaros forgot about them and left, they would be okay.
But Armaros looked back down at them. His hood must have shifted slightly, because now Ron could see the lower half of his face and the mocking smile he wore.
"I suppose luck was on your side today, Weasley," he said in a light voice. "We'll have to continue this another time." But as he turned to follow Sanguini, the firelight caught his face and vibrant green eyes glinted out of the darkness.
Ron gasped and almost bolted to his feet again. "Harry?"
Armaros paused and looked back around. His eyes were only faintly visible under the hood, but they were visible enough and horribly familiar. They were definitely Harry's.
Even though he wanted to deny it, even though it made him sick to stare at those eyes, he couldn't figure out how he hadn't seen it before. Armaros had come out of nowhere—even with You-Know-Who, there had been hints about him long before he became active—and it wouldn't be just any wizard who convinced You-Know-Who to take on a partner. Harry had been growing Dark for months before he'd disappeared; at the time, Ron told himself Harry was just moody, or mourning Sirius, or he'd started taking his duty to defeat You-Know-Who more seriously, but that was because he didn't want to consider the truth. Even Armaros's wand was familiar; Ron recognized it now as one Harry had bought in their fifth year, supposedly so he could duel You-Know-Who without their wands connecting again.
"It seems you've been discovered, my beloved," Sanguini murmured, his dark eyes glinting.
"So it does," Armaros said. He reached up to push back his hood. "Too bad, I was hoping to play in secrecy a little longer."
Ron gaped at him. Though he hadn't seen Harry in half a year, and he looked a little older than Ron had expected, there was no doubt this was him. He had the same bright green eyes, which almost seemed to glow on their own now, and same messy black hair, though it was a little longer, the same lightning bolt shaped scar as a bright red mark on his forehead. The only big differences were his lack of glasses and how pale he was, but Armaros was well known now as being You-Know-Who's other prominent vampire ally.
"What the hell, Harry?" was all Ron could say. Any other thoughts had been driven out of his head in his shock.
Armaros—Harry—cocked and eyebrow in mock surprise and Ron couldn't help but think how wrong that type of arrogance looked on him. "C'mon, Ron, didn't you think it was odd when Harry Potter disappeared without a trace and Armaros appeared just as suddenly? And it was only then I let anyone see my face? I didn't really hide it. I thought someone had figured it out by now."
Ron swallowed a couple times, his voice thick in his throat. "How could you? He killed your parents, Harry! He killed Dumbledore!" His fists tightened even more and he choked out the rest. "He killed my dad!"
"I really don't have time to explain myself to you, Weasley," Harry said, all his previous humour gone. Ron stared in horror as he raised his wand again and Sanguini did nothing to stop it. "But remember this. I am Lord Armaros, the cursed one, sole partner of Lord Voldemort. Harry Potter is dead. I killed him myself."
Then red flashed across his vision and he fell into blackness.