A/N – I first started this story a while ago and it came back into my head over my Christmas break. My intention was just to add a chapter or two and then go back to the Goddess of Vengeance Sequel, but this story took over. Not only did it turn into a trilogy, but it also turned into a Dark Harry. I am a good way through the second part, and I have every faith it will be finished before this one is finished publishing. However, I can't guarantee that all three parts of this story will be published back to back. Basically, I'll publish each part when I've finished them, and there might be gaps in between. As for the Goddess sequel, it's still got a fair bit of work to go, but I'm still hopeful it will be published this year and I will make an announcement about it's publication as soon as I have something definite to say.
Onto Step into Darkness, which is the first part of the Darkness trilogy. This trilogy features both a dark Hermione and a Dark Harry, so if that isn't your thing, this story is not for you. This first part is really all about setting the scene, and doesn't feature too much darkness. In fact Harry's only in a few chapters even though I've listed him as a main character, because he's a main character throughout the trilogy. Updates will be Monday and Friday, and Step into Darkness has 19 chapters in total. Enjoy!
Hermione Granger quietly explored the dusty library at Grimmauld Place, running her fingers over the books as she looked for something to read. She'd arrived at Grimmauld Place a few days earlier to spend the majority of her summer holidays with her friends, and while she'd tried to make herself useful to the newly reformed Order of the Phoenix, she was conscious of not getting in anyone's way. The Order had been kind enough to let her spend most of her summer holidays with them, so she didn't want to be a nuisance.
Currently several members of the Order were discussing plans to go and get her best friend, Harry Potter, from where he lived with his mother's relatives. Hermione didn't know the whole story, but she knew Harry had been in a bit of bother over the holidays and sometime over the summer he would have to face a hearing at the Ministry to determine if he could go back to Hogwarts. Hermione was worried about what the future might hold for her best friend, but the rest of the Order were confident that Harry's hearing would go just fine and there would be no further problems.
Hermione hoped that they were right, as the last thing Harry needed was to be kicked out of school. Harry was currently being vilified in the press for claiming that the dark wizard Lord Voldemort was back. At the end of the previous school year, Harry had encountered a rejuvenated Voldemort, and had barely escaped with his life. The boy who was accidentally with Harry at the time, Cedric Diggory, hadn't been as fortunate, but even Cedric's death wasn't enough to convince the authorities that Harry had been telling the truth. And since the Ministry were refusing to believe Harry, the official line in the wizarding world was that Harry was a liar and an attention seeker.
Hermione was looking forward to Harry arriving at Grimmauld Place. Their other best friend, Ron Weasley, and his family were around quite a bit, but it wasn't quite the same without Harry around. Ron's mother, Molly, was always nice enough towards Hermione and she never said anything untoward, but Hermione got the distinct feeling that the older witch didn't like her. Not that Hermione had ever been able to figure out just what she'd done to warrant Molly's dislike.
Shaking her head to dispel unpleasant thoughts, Hermione turned her focus back to finding a book to read. There were several choices, but eventually Hermione settled on a wizarding mystery novel. Spotting a large cosy chair beside the fire, Hermione curled herself up on it and began to read.
For over an hour she lost herself in the pages of the book, and she was so engrossed that she initially didn't hear the library door opening and two people entering the room. It wasn't until she heard Molly Weasley's voice that Hermione realised that she wasn't alone. She was also guessing that since Molly and whoever she was with hadn't spoke to her, they couldn't see her curled in the large chair from where they were standing.
"What's this about Molly?" Sirius Black, Harry's Potter's godfather asked, just as Hermione was about to make her presence known.
"There's something you need to know before Harry arrives," Molly said. "Something about Hermione."
At the mention of her name, Hermione slunk back lower in her chair so she wouldn't be seen. Not only would it be awkward to reveal herself now, but she wanted to hear what Molly had to say about her. Maybe she was about to discover the reason Molly didn't like her.
"Hermione?" Sirius questioned and Hermione could hear the bewilderment in his voice.
"She's not who you think she is, Sirius," Molly warned in a low voice. "She's You-Know-Who's daughter."
Hermione had to clap her hand over her mouth to stop herself from crying out in distress, but fortunately Sirius's surprised exclamation drowned out any sound she might have made.
"She can't be," Sirius gasped.
"She is," Molly replied, sounding very sure of herself.
"How can you be so sure?" Sirius asked.
"Dumbledore," Molly answered simply.
"Dumbledore," Sirius repeated, clearly wanting more information.
Hermione herself wanted more information, and it was taking all her willpower not to jump to her feet and demand Molly told her what she knew.
"He spoke to Arthur and I a few weeks after Ron started Hogwarts," Molly explained. "He told us who Hermione was and how he'd manipulated the hat to put her in Gryffindor where she could hopefully befriend Harry and Ron."
"Are you telling me he deliberately put her back in our lives?" Sirius asked.
Hermione frowned at the wording of Sirius statement as it began to occur to her that not once had Sirius expressed surprise that Voldemort had a daughter. He'd clearly been shocked by what Molly had said about her being the daughter, but he hadn't questioned Voldemort actually having a daughter in the first place.
"Yes," Molly answered in disgust. Hermione couldn't see her face, but she could just imagine the look of disdain on it.
"Why?" Sirius demanded. "Why would he do this? It took months of work for us to snatch You-Know-Who's daughter in the first place. Why would he risk bringing her back to the wizarding world?"
"I asked him the very same question, and he reckons who her father is doesn't matter," Molly replied.
"Doesn't matter? Of course it matters," Sirius exploded. "Her father is the bloody Dark Lord for crying out loud. He murdered my best friends and left their son an orphan. And Dumbledore thinks it's okay to let that monster's daughter befriend, Harry? Her father is the reason he has no parents."
Hermione winced at the harshness of Sirius's words and she curled herself into an even smaller ball. She was horrified by what she was hearing, and she didn't know what was worse, hearing that she was Voldemort's daughter or hearing the Order had clearly taken her from her parents when she was younger. Everything was so messed up, and Hermione's head was already spinning, but she knew she was stuck in the library until Molly and Sirius had finished talking and she could escape unnoticed back to the bedroom she'd been given.
"Wasn't she supposed to be placed with a family that wanted nothing to do with our world?" Sirius barked. "Dumbledore assured us when we took her that we wouldn't have to deal with her again."
"He was wrong, because he's not only brought her back into our world, he's brought her right into our lives," Molly replied.
"Didn't you complain?" Sirius asked.
"Of course I did. But Dumbledore was adamant she wasn't a threat. And I could hardly warn Ron off her without having to tell him who she was. So for four years I've been forced to be pleasant to that little witch, all the time knowing she's the spawn of the devil."
"I'm telling you now that I'm not going to play along with whatever game Dumbledore is playing," Sirius spat.
"What are you going to do?" Molly asked eagerly.
"I don't know yet, but I will not have her worming her way into Harry's affections," Sirius replied in a firm voice. "I will do whatever it takes to get her away from my godson."
"Dumbledore won't just let us tell the truth," Molly warned. "Don't forget, we all played a part in her kidnapping when she was just a baby. I will not go to Azkaban for what we did back then."
"I wasn't thinking of telling the truth," Sirius replied with a cold chuckle that sent shivers down Hermione's spine. "Don't forget, we're at war, and the world is a dangerous place at the moment, so I'm sure an accident won't arouse too many suspicions."
"Count me in on whatever you're planning," Molly said. "I want her out of our lives, this time for good."
"Don't worry Molly, we'll get rid of her," Sirius said reassuringly. "I won't risk all of our lives, just because Dumbledore thinks she can be trusted. The whole reason for taking her was so that she wasn't raised with magic. All it would take is one spark to light the darkness that will inevitably be in her soul. Having her around is too damn dangerous."
"We can't tell anyone else though," Molly warned. "I've been the lone voice against Hermione for four years, Sirius. No-one else is going to support us."
"We don't need anyone else," Sirius said firmly. "We can get rid of Hermione ourselves, but in the meantime we're just going to have to act as though everything is fine. Can you do that?"
"I've been doing it for four years, a few more weeks won't hurt," Molly replied.
Still curled up on the chair, silent tears streaming down her face, Hermione listened as the pair left the library. For a long time she couldn't move as she was gripped with fear. Her life was in danger, and she knew that if she stayed with the Order she was going to be killed. Running back home wouldn't solve the issue as she'd never been close to her parents, and now she knew why. They weren't her real parents, and she doubted they would be able to protect her from Molly and Sirius.
Logically she knew the best person to protect her was Voldemort himself, if indeed what Molly and Sirius were saying was true and she was his daughter. However, Hermione didn't know if she wanted to be Voldemort's daughter, or at least she didn't know if she wanted to embrace being his daughter. Gut instinct told her that Molly and Sirius had been speaking the truth, but just because she was Voldemort's flesh and blood didn't mean she wanted to stand by his side. However, to survive she just might need his protection.
Eventually Hermione managed to get up from the chair and on unsteady feet she headed back to the bedroom she'd been given. Curling up on the lone bed in the room, she stared at the bare wall as she tried to decide what to do next. She was still staring at the wall when Ginny burst into the room to let her know that dinner was ready.
"Are you okay?" Ginny asked, looking down at Hermione. "You look really pale."
"I'm not feeling well," Hermione replied, surprised she could even manage to get the words out as she was still so upset at everything she'd heard.
"You stay here, and I'm sure Mum will send some soup up," Ginny said with a kind smile.
"I don't want to be a burden," Hermione whispered.
"You're not a burden, you're our friend," Ginny said. "You get some rest Hermione, and I'll make sure you get something to eat later on."
"Thank you Ginny," Hermione replied softly as the red-headed girl left the room and returned downstairs.
Half an hour later Hermione heard footsteps on the stairs again and when the door opened, Molly bustled in with a tray holding a bowl of steaming chicken soup and some bread. Placing the tray on the bedside table, Molly put on a good show of fussing around Hermione, but now she knew the truth she could see the lack of empathy in Molly's actions. It was glaringly obvious that she was going through the motions and that she honestly couldn't care less how Hermione was feeling.
"Just yell is you need anything," Molly said as she bustled back out of the room.
Hermione warily eyed the soup Molly had left, wondering if it was poisoned. However, a poisoning would raise questions and if one thing had been made clear that afternoon was that her death would either be put down as a tragic accident, or the result of the war. Deciding it was safe to eat the soup, Hermione did so more out of necessity rather than actually been hungry. No matter what was going on, starving herself wasn't going to help. She needed to keep her strength up, especially if she was going to fight for her life, and despite everything she'd discovered that afternoon, Hermione wasn't ready to give up just yet.
Curling back up, Hermione returned her focus on what she was going to do next. She was trying not to think too much about the fact she was Voldemort's daughter as it was still too hard to believe. However, she knew she couldn't just bury her head in the sand. Unless she wanted to die, she had to find a way to get away from the Order, in particular Molly and Sirius. And like it or not, Hermione was becoming increasingly convinced that in order to get away she needed to seek the help of her father.
Not that gaining Voldemort's help was going to be easy. Not only did she have no idea where he was, she could hardly just walk up to him and tell him she was his long lost daughter. She would be killed before she got anywhere near him. What she needed was a way to contact him, maybe via someone he knew and trusted.
"Professor Snape," Hermione whispered to herself as an image of her Potions Professor entered her head.
Severus Snape's allegiances were dubious and Hermione knew he had ties to both sides of the war. He was a Death Eater, but he also seemed loyal to Dumbledore and the headmaster was convinced he was truly on the side of the light. Not that it really mattered what side he was on. All that mattered was that he had access to Voldemort, and right now that could be the key to saving Hermione's life. She was going to have to throw herself on Snape's mercy and hope that he would do everything he could to protect her. Hermione's life now depended on trusting Severus Snape with the earth shattering secret she'd learned that afternoon.