Ethan Frome

Web of Darkness

A/N: I plan to make this a series...everything's laid out, and all I need is for you to review! Please review and tell me whether or not I should continue.

Disclaimer: Everything you recognize belongs to J.K Rowling. The rest, to me.

Part 1: The Dark is Rising

Harry quickly downed a glass of pumpkin juice before chancing a glance up at the Teachers table. Across from him, Ron and Hermione were busy bickering about whether or not the house elves had done a good job frying the egg and tomato omelets.

As Harry's eyes slid over the Professors' sullen faces, he rested his gaze on Dumbledore, studying every detail critically.

The Headmaster's usually brilliant eyes, which inspired hope and love, were now a murky gray. Gray, like clear streamwater mixed carelessly with mud. The only wrinkles that Harry could pick out were at the corner of his eyes, where Dumbledore always had them, yet his face still held a tired, burdened look. Maybe it was in the way his back, usually so straight and proud, sagged a bit, or the line of despair his mouth drew. Whatever it was, Harry felt a twinge of fear in his heart, not knowing what misfortune the future might bring. And he knew it wouldn't be a bright future.

"Harry. Harry! Come on—the Quidditch game—don't want the Gryffindor team star player to be late, do we?" Ron roared eagerly into Harry's ear, a slice of well-buttered toast in each hand.

Not hearing at first, Harry continued to submerge deeper into his own thoughts until a fleck of water hit his clear green eyes. He blinked, his eyes adjusting with some difficulty on the freckled face in front of him. The face slid in and out of focus a few times before standing out sharply.

"Oh, hi Ron. What were you saying?" Harry asked blankly, watching from the corner of his eye as Dumbledore and Snape rose from the table and slipped out of the Great Hall. Feeling an inexplicable urge to follow them, Harry stood up immediately, almost sending Ron flying off his feet.

"Whoah, Harry, are you all right?" Ron stuffed a piece of toast into his mouth before breaking off a piece for his friend.

"Maybe you should see Madame Pomfrey," Hermione butted in, eyebrows furrowed in concentration. "If it's a cold, or something, she'll heal it quickly enough. Don't worry about Quidditch—if it's really bad, no one will care."

Ron shoved her aside. "Ignore her. She doesn't know anything—you're most likely experiencing pre-game jitters," he added knowingly.

This comment received a venomous glare from Hermione. "You're wrong. Whatever you're feeling probably isn't jitters. Ron just cares more about Quidditch that the well-being of one of his close friends."

Harry closed his eyes, willing himself to scream that they didn't even know what he was feeling—and that there was nothing wrong. Willing that they would just go away...and leave him alone for a few minutes.

"I care! It's you who doesn't care! You don't want Gryffindor to win the Quidditch cup!" Ron hurled back, face rapidly turning red.

It continued like that, each shooting insults at each other, both quite forgetting about Harry as they walked away, arguing loudly.

Harry couldn't help but smiling a bit as he watched his two best friends disappear from view, attracting many glances from other kids.

"No, you just don't care!"

"Yes I do! But this is important!"

"Not that important."

"OH yeah? You said that last time when..."

Their voices gradually subsided as they trekked further down the hallway.

Still, Harry sat alone at the Gryffindor table, smiling blandly into space. After a couple seconds, he dislodged himself from his chair and stole out of the Great Hall, eyes trained on the gray gargoyle statue in the distance.

Upon reaching the gargoyle, he found that it was still open—Dumbledore or Snape had forgotten to shut it. Harry wedged himself into the space, grateful that he didn't have to stand out in the hallway guessing passwords for the next ten minutes.

The moment he stepped into the shadows of Dumbledore's office, the gargoyle closed shut with a rough grating noise.

A silent pause—then—"Harry, come on in."

Harry considered dashing out again, but decided against it, as they already knew he was here. Feeling a bit apprehensive, he stepped into the circular room, blinking as bright light flooded his vision.

"I should've known you'd come...what with your curiosity..." Dumbledore said, his blue eyes regaining some of their former glimmer. "Please, sit down."

Harry nodded, casting a sidelong glance at Snape, who was seated on a chair behind Dumbledore's desk. The Potions master stared viciously at Harry, as if daring him to sit down, to stay longer.

With a swift movement, Harry dropped stonily into a chair, smiling inwardly as Snape frowned even more. He waited for Dumbledore to speak.

"Harry...Please don't panic when I tell you this...I indeed had decided against it, before, but in light of new things, you have a right to know." Dumbledore closed his eyes, taking a deep breath before opening his mouth to continue.

"Headmaster! Do you think that this—this—mere boy, even if he is a Potter, should know about this? If it leaked out, it could be the end of us all!" Snape intervened icily, clearly against the fact that Harry should know.

Dumbledore, with a wave of his hand, silence Snape. "He has a right to know," he repeated again, gently, before turning back to Harry.

A feeling of foreboding and tension settled in the air as Harry braced himself for the worst.

"If you haven't noticed already, Harry, that Voldemort has begun his gathering of the Dark forces, you should know that he has. Dementors, appearing every which way, streets out in broad daylight flooded with veelas, werewolves changing at the full moon and never changing back to their human forms...He has begun. Begun to put together the fallen puzzle pieces—to call back his former might army of Dark creatures...This is bad. If he manages to climb up the steps to power, it might be the end of the Light as we know it. There is no mother to die for you again. There is no other Harry Potter. The worlds luck may run out, and Voldemort may reign. We cannot let Voldemort continue this....this...this...destruction that he once caused."

Harry listened intently, his green eyes quivering. Seemingly far away, he heard Snape cough.

"His main power—the main reason he was so powerful—is his army. The ones I've mentioned already, the Lethifold...All these creatures are known to strike terror in the hearts of wizards', and for very good reason. If these creatures can be destroyed...it would all be so much easier. No, it wouldn't be easy to actually kill Voldemort, but it would now be possible.Whearas...with his backup..." Dumbledore trailed off, looking at Harry probingly, watching as the meaning of his speech sank in upon the boy.

"So...how is it possible to destroy Dementors? I know that we can drive them away with Expecto Patronum, but banishing them...forever..." Harry bit his lip thoughtfully. "How would you do that, Professor?"

"That's what I would like to know also, Headmaster," Snape cut in nastily, sneering.

"This has been kept secret from the public...barely anyone but myself and a few others know. Have you ever wondered how Dementors, lifeless as they are, keep 'alive' and moving? With their own mind? Their energy, as well as other Dark creatures, come from some sort of object that distributes it among them—Salazar Slytherin is said to have created it when he created his beasts, and Voldemort has hidden and protected it well. If that were to be destroyed—then, basically, so would his army."

"Do you know where he hid it?" Harry asked simply, his heart thudding loudly in his chest.

"No. But I can search, follow my instincts...and find it. And destroy it." Dumbledore's face and eyes grew hard as he stood up. "And I must leave now, after preparing for weeks. Snape will take over for me."

Horrified, Harry looked at Snape, who was standing with his arms crossed, a proud sneer plastered across his face. "But Professor—you can't...how about us? What if Voldemort decides to attack here—please, you can't go!" he pleaded desperately.

"That is why I must find the Black Orb as soon as possible," Dumbledore explained gently, placing a hand on Harry's thin shoulders. "The Black Orb...Harry, promise me one thing."

Harry only stared at the floor.

"Don't go looking for the Black Orb yourself. It is too dangerous, and you are too valuable to lose. To Voldemort, you are his grand prize. Stay in the castle, stay with friends and teachers...but don't go searching," Dumbledore stated firmly, straightening to his full height, back straight.

No! I have to go! I don't want everything to be destroyed! Harry's mind shrieked. To his astonishment, his mouth opened, and a raspy , "I promise," came out.

Regarding Harry with utmost confidence, Dumbledore walked out of his office, taking long strides, no sign of weakness or tiredness following him.

Harry stood rooted to the spot, overwhelmed at the tide of information he had heard. He yearned to beg for Dumbledore to stay and protect the school, wished he had never known.

"Get to the game, Potter. Ten points off for being late—and if it happens again, your team will be forced to find a new Seeker," Snape said breezily, breaking the icy silence.

A rush of red hot anger flooded Harry's body as he fought to keep from slumping to the floor in despair.

A somber feeling spread across the castle walls, enveloping the castle and it's grounds. Even those who did not know what had just occurred felt the emptiness. Albus Dumbledore had departed from Hogwarts.

A/N: REVIEW!!! Please review and make me happy! Yay!!! Thanx!!! Yeah, I know that this chapter had a lot of explaining stuff, but you will need to know it for future installments. It'll get more action/mystery soon!