A/N – This is the second part of the Darkness trilogy, and although I was originally going to wait and post it after Goddess of Victory, I decided that was too long to wait so from today there will be double darkness with both this and Goddess updating on a Monday and Friday.
As for this part of the trilogy, it is 15 chapters long and is very Harry centric. That's not to say Hermione and Draco aren't in the story and don't play a part, but a lot of this part focuses on Harry and his journey to the dark side.
On his seventeenth birthday, Harry Potter awoke with a smile on his face and only one thought in his head. Today was the day. After two excruciatingly long years, he was finally going to break free. Now he was officially an adult in the wizarding world, it was his opportunity to leave behind the people he no longer trusted. The day had been a long time coming, but now it was here, Harry was determined not to mess it up.
For the last six months, Harry had been planning carefully for this day. Two years ago, after discovering what Albus Dumbledore and his Order of the Phoenix had done to his best friend, Hermione Granger, Harry had decided to leave behind the Order and his life in Wizarding Britain. However, he knew that as long as he was underage he could be traced, so he'd had to patiently wait and plan for his seventeenth birthday. However, it was only within the last six months that a plan had been decided upon and put into place.
Although Harry knew that even with what seemed like a foolproof plan in place, he would still have to make sure no-one smelt a rat at the last moment. At the moment he was still stuck with the Order, in fact he now lived at headquarters and had never returned to the Dursleys in the muggle world after leaving them the summer before his fifth year. However, over the last two years, Harry had convinced all of the Order that Hermione was in the past. He no longer mentioned his best friend, and Harry was confident that all the Order believed he was fully on their side.
That wasn't to say that there wasn't tensions within the Order though, and even though he'd convinced people he'd forgotten about Hermione, some betrayals were too big for Harry to just pretend as though nothing had happened. His once close friend friendship with Ron Weasley was finished, and although the pair were still friendly, they didn't spend half as much time with each other as they'd used to. Harry also now wasn't that close to his godfather, Sirius Black, these days, despite the fact they lived together. However, Harry hid his feelings about Sirius pretty well and he knew that Sirius believed that their relationship was improving and one day would be as solid as it had once been.
Not that it really mattered what the Order thought of him, as unless Harry messed up over the course of the day, he would soon be free of them. Bursting with anticipation for the day ahead, Harry jumped out of bed and visiting the bathroom, returned to his room to get dressed. Sticking his wand into his jeans pocket, he headed over to his owl, Hedwig, who was settled in her cage.
"It's time for you to do your part," he whispered to his owl as he removed her from the cage and carried her over to the window. "Off you go to the twins, and I'll see you later."
Opening the window, Harry sent Hedwig flying out into the morning air towards her new home with the Weasley twins, Fred and George. Right from the start, the twins had been allies of Harry's as they'd shared his views on how wrong the Order had been in their treatment of Hermione. Harry had given the twins his winnings from the Triwizard Tournament, which they'd used to buy a joke shop in Diagon Alley. Harry had helped them initially set up their shop between his fifth and sixth year, and he'd helped out during the holidays.
The twins were also the only people who knew of Harry's plans to leave. In fact, he wouldn't be able to pull off the plan without them. Not only were they taking Hedwig for him, but they were causing the distraction that would give him time to get away from the Order later on that day. They also had a bag of his clothes and belongings that he'd slowly been leaving at their place, along with a stash of money he'd given them to convert into muggle money.
Once Hedwig was out of sight, Harry turned and left his bedroom. Shutting the door behind him, so that no-one would notice Hedwig wasn't in her cage, he braced himself to face his godfather one final time, before heading down to breakfast.
"Happy Birthday, Harry," Sirius cried as he soon as he entered the kitchen. He was standing at the oven, stirring a large pan of scrambled eggs and frying some bacon, while the kitchen table was littered with brightly wrapped presents.
"Wow Sirius, you didn't have to go to so much trouble," Harry replied, trying to look pleased at the array of presents he knew he would be leaving behind.
"Of course I did, it's not every day you turn seventeen," Sirius replied. "Sit yourself down, Harry. Breakfast is served."
When Sirius placed a large plate of bacon and eggs down in front of him, Harry thanked his godfather and dove into the food. When everything had happened with Hermione, Harry had all but refused to eat with the Order and had often skipped meals, but as part of his attempt to try and make them think he was accepting the situation he'd come round and started eating with the others. Now he ate every meal with Sirius when he was at Grimmauld Place. Besides, he had a big day ahead of him and it was just cutting off his nose to spite his face to refuse to eat.
"That was great," Harry said once he was finished and he deposited his plate into the sink.
"Leave the washing up and open your presents, Harry," Sirius called, urging Harry back to the table.
Sitting back down at the table, Harry put on a good display of enthusiasm as he opened his array of presents. Most of the presents were from Sirius, but there were one and two from other members of the Order.
"Thank you, Sirius," Harry said.
"You're welcome, Harry," Sirius returned with a beaming smile. "Let's leave your presents here. I'm sure you'll have more to join them when we get back from The Burrow."
The Weasleys were throwing Harry a birthday party at their home that day, and it was from The Burrow that Harry intended to disappear. Between the general chaos and noise of the Weasley home, combined with the distraction Fred and George had agreed to provide, Harry was confident he would slip away unnoticed. And hopefully by the time his absence was noticed he would be long gone from the wizarding world and safe in the obscurity of the muggle world.
"Should we go now?" Sirius asked his godson. "I know it's still early, but I'm sure Molly will appreciate the help. And maybe you and Ron could got for a fly."
"Maybe," Harry replied non-committally as he made sure to grab his best jacket. Once he left everything else in the house would be lost to him, so Harry had made sure that he had anything he would want on his person.
The pair flooed to The Burrow, where the Weasleys were in the midst of their party preparations. Harry had to endure Molly fussing over him before he was allowed out into the back garden, where Ron and Ginny were placing a large table, which would be packed with food, under some shelter.
"Happy Birthday, Harry," Ginny called, grinning widely and waving when she spotted Harry exiting the house.
"Happy Birthday," Ron added with a smaller smile. He was well aware that his relationship with Harry had been damaged two years ago, but they were still friends and he lived in hopes that one day Harry would truly move on and things would get back to how they used to be.
"Thanks," Harry replied, walking over to the two redheads. "Can I help?"
"It's your party, Harry, we're not going to make you help us," Ginny tutted.
"But the quicker you get done, the quicker we can hang out," Harry said. "I thought we could go for a fly."
"In that case, help us put the shade up over the table," Ron said. "Then we have to hang the bunting, blow up the balloons and set up a table at the bottom of the garden for the twins."
"Why do the twins need a table at the bottom of the garden?" Harry asked, faking a frown, even though he knew full well what the twins were planning.
"It was going to be a surprise," Ginny said, shooting her brother an annoyed look.
"Harry does have eyes, he'd see what they were up to the second they arrived," Ron shot back. "They've been working on some new fireworks and they're organising a display for later this afternoon," he informed Harry.
"Wow," Harry remarked with a low whistle. "That should be fun."
"It should be," Ron agreed with an eager nod as Harry helped them fix the rest of the shade over the table.
From there the trio moved onto decorating the back garden, before placing a table at the bottom of the garden for the twins to set up their fireworks. With everything sorted they informed Molly they were off for a quick fly and headed off to the nearby orchard that provided protection from anyone from the nearby muggle areas spotting them. It had been a while since Harry had spent as much time with Ron and Ginny, and he found himself missing the way things had once been. However, he knew there was no going back and even though they also didn't speak of Hermione, he knew it was for different reasons. Ron and Ginny both hated Hermione for who her father had turned out to be, and Harry knew that if they ever saw her again, they could class her as their enemy. Still, once upon a time everything had been so perfect and Harry missed the simple days when Hermione was with them and none of the nasty secrets from the past had been exposed and ruined everything.
Harry was still in a slightly reflective mood as they headed back to The Burrow, where Molly was busy laying out the party food. As the rest of the Weasleys, members of the Order, and other friends began to arrive, Harry couldn't help but wish that things had been different. His seventeenth birthday should have been a time of celebration with everyone he loved in attendance, but thanks to Dumbledore, Hermione had left the country two years ago and now he too was breaking away from the Order and everything bad they'd done in the name of bringing down Voldemort.
"You're not having second thoughts, are you?" a voice whispered in Harry's ear.
Turning around, Harry came face to face with the Weasley twins. Normally the pair had smiles on their faces, but they looked deadly serious as they studied Harry.
"No, I'm doing the right thing," Harry confirmed. "I guess I just miss the way things used to be."
"Join the club," Fred said with a sigh.
Since finding out what had been done to Hermione, the twins had drifted away from their family. As soon as they'd finished school, they'd used the money Harry had given them to not only but a shop, but the flat above it. These days they rarely visited The Burrow unless it was for a special occasion and they downright refused to have anything to do with the Order and their fight against Voldemort.
"And things won't be the same around here without you, Harry," George added in a low voice.
"I'm going to miss you guys," Harry said, smiling at the twins. "Thanks for everything you've done for me. I never could have done this alone."
"We're just doing what's right," George said.
"Is everything set then?" Harry asked.
"It is," Fred confirmed with a nod. "Just leave the chaos up to us. Once everything kicks off here, you need to leave. We've altered the wards around the flat to allow you to apparate directly into the front room."
"And we've left your bag and money on the coffee table," George added. "Just make sure to lock the door when you leave."
"I will," Harry confirmed with a nod. "And make sure to look after Hedwig. She did reach you this morning, didn't she?"
"She did," Fred answered. "Don't worry Harry, she'll be fine. I just hope you will be."
"I will," Harry said assuredly. "I have a plan."
"We know," George said with a small smile. "And make sure you give Hermione our love."
"Yeah, let her know that we haven't all turned our backs on her," Fred said.
"Will do," Harry replied, flashing the twins a reassuring smile before the trio headed off to enjoy the party before the fireworks began.
After a couple of hours, Harry was starting to tire of smiling and being nice to people he no longer respected. As a result he was tending to spend his time with the people he did still like and trust, and that included his good friend, Neville Longbottom. Unlike some people who had doubted Hermione and believed the lies that were spread about her, Neville had believed Harry without question and had shared the views that Hermione had been badly treated.
"It's not the same is it?" Neville said quietly as he and Harry were sitting off to the side of the garden, each with a small plate of food and a glass of pumpkin juice.
"What isn't the same?" Harry asked.
"Life," Neville sighed. "Do you ever think of her?"
Harry didn't need to ask who Neville was talking about, as the only her he could mean was Hermione, so he nodded his head. "All the time. Do you?"
"Yes," Neville whispered. "She was my first friend at Hogwarts. She helped me find Trevor when everyone else just laughed at me. Do you think she's okay?"
"I know she is," Harry replied. Even though he didn't know where Hermione was, he did know she was okay as they'd been corresponding for the last two years. In fact Hermione was in on his plan to escape and once he left the wizarding world, he was going to be reunited with his best friend.
"I know she writes to you, but it would be nice to see her for ourselves. Just to be sure she really is okay," Neville said.
"Maybe one day," Harry said, wishing he could confide in Neville about his plan. Not that he didn't trust Neville to keep his plan a secret, he just didn't want to put his friend in a difficult position as Neville's gran had joined the Order and she wanted nothing more than to bring down Voldemort and his dark forces.
Neville nodded his agreement just as Ron approached them. However, before Ron got a chance to ask what they pair were talking about, Fred emerged from the house carrying a small box of red and gold coloured rockets.
"Hey Ron, put these with the other fireworks," he ordered his brother, handing over the box. "But be careful, they're pretty sensitive."
"Anyone would think I was a House Elf the way I'm bossed around in this place," Ron muttered as he headed off towards the table at the bottom of the garden, which was now packed with boxes both on top and below the wooden structure.
Getting up to grab some fresh drinks for himself and Neville, Harry missed exactly what happened when Ron put the box of rockets with the other fireworks. All he heard was a loud squeal and he turned around in time to see Ron being chased by a rocket emitting red smoke. At the same time a loud explosion rocked the back garden of The Burrow and in a rush of confusion, fireworks began to crack and explode, creating a crackle of noise and light.
"What the hell?" Neville cried, jumping to his feet and abandoning his food.
"Ron, what did you do?" Fred exploded as he and George took off towards the fireworks.
Not that Ron had any answer for his brother, as he was still running around the garden with a steaming rocket on his tail. With more and more fireworks continuing to go off, the noise and confusion reached fever pitch. Almost everyone made their way towards the bottom of the garden to see if they could help bring some order to proceedings. That was, everyone but Harry. The second the fireworks had started, he knew that this was his distraction.
Harry hung around long enough to make sure that there really was enough chaos to cover his leaving, and once he was sure no-one would notice him leaving, he slipped out of The Burrow's back garden and apparated away with a small crack that no-one heard amidst the chaos of Fred and George's fireworks going off prematurely.
As it turned out it took nearly fifteen minutes for Fred and George to save the fireworks that hadn't yet gone off and for the ones that had to cease their display. In that time several people had been chased around the garden by rogue rockets, including Molly who had been chased into the house and Ginny who had resorted to climbing a tree to escape her rogue rocket.
"What on earth happened?" Arthur demanded of the twins as peace was finally restored.
"Some idiot dropped one of the sensitive rockets into one of the boxes of fireworks on the floor," George said, shooting Ron and annoyed glare.
"I did not," Ron protested.
"I gave you the rockets to take down to the table," Fred said. "And I warned you to be careful as they were sensitive."
"Sensitive, they were bloody out of control," Ron spat. "I was chased by one for five minutes. Mum's still hiding in the house, and Ginny is stuck up a tree."
"Set off properly they would have chased each other and spelled out 'Happy Seventeenth Birthday, Harry'," George explained.
"And now thanks to you, our birthday treat for Harry is ruined," Fred grumbled.
"I'm sure Harry will understand," Sirius said. "Don't you Harry?" he called, looking around the garden and frowning when he couldn't see his godson. "Harry? Has anyone seen Harry?"
"He's probably hiding from those lunatic rockets," Ron muttered, glaring at the twins.
However, Ron's prediction was totally wrong and once everyone had been rounded up and checked for injury there was still no sign of Harry. In all of the confusion, no-one could remember seeing anything untoward, but a full search of The Burrow and the garden revealed that Harry was gone.
"But where has he gone?" Sirius whispered to himself as he gazed around The Burrow's gardens, as if expecting to find Harry was still there. But he wasn't, his godson was long gone and it would be quite a while before Sirius set eyes on Harry again.