A/N: Here's the first part of my 'major story'. This is my first attempt at a longer, plot-driven story, so please give me an easier time with the plot development and characterization – it's my first attempt! As always, constructive feedback is welcome for helping me improve my writing and storytelling.

There will be Ron bashing in this story. I generally do not write Ron bashing. My previous stories have generally showed Ron in a positive or neutral light, which I believe reflects his true character. But here, I will be trying something different, and I hope you bear with me.

I have about 20 or so chapters amounting to around 100,000 words already drafted. I went on a writing marathon in the week before university started. I am planning on doing weekly updates. Hopefully, I will have enough chapters to keep this schedule going until I finish the story. Once I am finished, I may switch to a more frequent updating schedule, but that will be decided later.

As always, I hope you enjoy!


1998

Voldemort's corpse lay in a disused storeroom to the side of the Great Hall. His wand lay snapped next to him. The sooner that ugly and despicable sight was removed from the hallowed halls of Hogwarts, where the bodies of the brave defenders lay in eternal rest, the better. It was time to move on. Time to build a world anew. Time to bring down the old walls of division, prejudice, and bigotry that had ripped apart the wizarding world.

And spectacular news was coming in from all corners of Britain. The innocent muggle-borns, so-called 'blood traitors', and half-bloods were being released from Azkaban. The Imperiused were coming to their senses and turning themselves in for treatment at St. Mungo's. Death Eaters, their allies, and those who had willingly facilitated the regime and its attempted genocide were being rounded up and put on trial.

Kingsley Shacklebolt had been named the Minister for Magic. Minerva McGonagall the Headmistress of Hogwarts.

There was talk of awarding the 'Heroes of Hogwarts' – Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, and Fred Weasley, among many, many others – Orders of Merlin in recognition of their bravery and selflessness. There was talk of promoting unity between families, Houses, and people of different blood statuses so that such bloodshed could never happen again.

A new dawn awaited Britain.

Society, unfortunately, often waited to change until it was forced to change by dramatic events. And now, rising out of the bloodshed, was the promise of a new, more egalitarian, and fairer country.

And Harry Potter sat in the Great Hall, one arm around Ron Weasley, one arm around Hermione Granger, looking into the new dawn. Thinking about their futures that they could have together.

But his scar still prickled.

Severus Snape had died alone that night, taking his memories of Lily with him to the grave.

And the Death Eaters' marks still burned black.


1999

In the dead of night on that year's Summer Solstice, in the centre of a stone monument in Wiltshire, England, a cauldron stood.

Around the cauldron stood two masked, hooded men, chanting and dropping odd items into the brew.

And the cauldron flared and shattered.

A bone-white, snake-like figure rose out of the fire. His eyes were red and slit-like.

The two men wrapped the figure in long robes and handed him a wand. A new wand, tailor-made for the figure in a foreign land. A new wand imbued in Dark Magic, promising even greater power than his last.

Lord Voldemort had risen again.

Harry Potter's scar burned as he witnessed the second regeneration of his nemesis.

The Order of the Phoenix was recalled the very next day and the Ministry of Magic was alerted. That night, Harry Potter and Hermione Granger apparated to Hogwarts and reclaimed the Elder Wand. They needed to keep it from Voldemort, and would no doubt need it again when the fighting inevitably recommenced.

The Ministry and the Order hoped that this time, after being alerted to the resurgent danger immediately, they would have time and surprise on their side as they coordinated their response against the Dark Lord. Voldemort may be dangerous on his own, but he was far more dangerous if his most loyal supporters – those now held in Azkaban – were on his side. Actions were taken to prevent the second sacking of the prison in a decade.

But Voldemort had been busy. The Death Eaters who had managed to escape incarceration or death had been recruiting in his absence, preparing for their master's return. By the end of June, Voldemort had an army numbering over ten thousand at his command, consisting of mostly New World mercenaries from Canada, the USA, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil, cast out of their own countries by their own civil turmoil.

Not the Third Order of the Phoenix, nor the hundred-or-so-wand-strong Auror Office, nor the seven hundred fifty troops of the British Magical Army – formed from the Hit-Wizard Corps – had any numbers comparable to Voldemort's.

Azkaban was sacked in early July. What the hired brutes lacked in fighting skill relative to the Army regulars stationed at the prison, they made up for with sheer numbers. And Voldemort's worst followers were once again by his side.

The Ministry had fallen by mid-August.

Dolores Umbridge became the new Minister of Magic after Kingsley's murder.

Hogwarts followed before September.

As Voldemort achieved commanding victory after commanding victory, his forces swelled. Scores of mercenaries and pure-blood supremacists from every corner of the world – though mostly from the European mainland, Africa, the Middle East, India, China, and Japan – flocked to his cause. By the end of the year, their numbers reached nearly twenty-five thousand.

The Order was relegated to hiding in a Fidelius-protected and heavily enchanted stretch of abandoned tunnels of the London Underground. Its erstwhile leaders – Minerva McGonagall and Kingsley Shacklebolt – were dead. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were left heading the tattered group, whose prospects looked bleaker every day. It was only a matter of time before they all fell, but they would go down fighting.


2000

Tragedy struck soon after Easter. On a raid at the Ministry, Arthur and Ginny Weasley, Hestia Jones, and Michael Corner were killed, but not before sending fifteen of Voldemort's soldiers to their graves.

An almost four-to-one casualty ratio seemed good on paper, but it was a disaster. The Order and what had been Dumbledore's Army could not replenish their losses. Casualties represented a permanent reduction in their numbers. Fifteen deaths, however, were nothing to Voldemort's forces.

From that point on, Ron withdrew more and more into the shadows. Molly was murdered several months later; Bill went missing weeks after his mother's death; George valiantly attacked a Death Order stronghold unaided, seeking revenge for his family's fate, but was killed himself after smiting more than twenty foes.

But by the calculations, even after the losses suffered battling the Army, even after the losses caused by Order raids, Voldemort still had more than twenty-four thousand paid soldiers under his thumb.

Harry had to kill for the first time that spring, decapitating Fenrir Greyback with a Sectumsempra curse and then burning five mercenaries alive with a single Incendio Maxima.

The pained screams of the dying haunted his dreams for months and months, but he never regretted killing, for Hermione was in danger then, and he would do anything to protect her.

Ron disappeared from the Order by August of that year, and Harry and Hermione were left to fend for themselves, leading an ever-diminishing number of fighters.

It was at Christmas that year that Harry and Hermione finally confessed that they loved each other.


2001

Hermione found out in early February that her mother and father, who she had brought back in late 1998 after Voldemort's second defeat, had been murdered nearly a year ago at the hands of the Death Eaters.

She cried for nearly two weeks in a row, cursing herself for being so foolish as to bring them back before all was clear. Only Harry's arms kept her from completely falling apart.

By June, the Order was running short on supplies. All magical items, including potion ingredients, wands, books, and brooms, were now tightly regulated by the Voldemort-controlled Ministry. Generally, only pure-bloods with clearance had access to these items, and the prices were sky-high, so that in practice, only those in Voldemort's inner circle could afford them.

Voldemort had declared himself the Regent to the Eternal Emperor of Magical Britain – the official ruler was Eternal Emperor Salazar Slytherin – and the Imperial Army, as Voldemort's brutes were now named, had hunted down and murdered every last one of the Order's underground suppliers.

In April, Seamus Finnigan, Dean Thomas, and Cho Chang were killed in a raid on one of the Imperial Army's supply depots. Susan Bones, the fourth member of their squad, barely made it back to headquarters, heavily wounded, with a small load of essential supplies.

She chose to end her own life hours later rather than allow the supplies to be wasted on her.

By Halloween, eleven more were dead.

In November, Luna Lovegood was captured on a raid and publicly executed in Diagon Alley.

Besides Harry and Hermione, only Neville, Angelina Johnson, and Fleur Delacour remained.

Harry and Hermione were married on New Year's Eve that year. Neither was willing to wait any longer, for death could claim them at any moment. Neville was Harry's best man, while Fleur both was the Maid of Honour and presided over the ceremony.

There was no ring, no wedding dress. Nothing but a small toast with the last bit of Firewhiskey they had. They had no funds left for food beyond a few months, forget the niceties.

But Harry would forever remember how beautiful Hermione was on that day.


2002

Less than three weeks after the wedding, Fleur died.

In a reversal of the muggle armies' landing at Normandy nearly sixty years earlier, Fleur had been leading a large group of fighters from France and the Low Countries into Britain. They landed just north of the Thames Estuary and was immediately met by heavy fire from Voldemort's Imperial Army. They were driven back into the sea and forced to retreat, but not before Fleur, along with almost half the reinforcements, were killed.

Hermione cried for days after that. All Harry could do was hold her as she fell apart.

They were never able to recover Fleur's body.

Word reached the last four survivors that camps were being set up for the forced labour and extermination of all muggle-borns, half-bloods, squibs, pure-bloods who did not follow Voldemort's line, and their families. Harry and Hermione wished that they could do something to stop or disrupt the slaughter, but unfortunately, the Order was now too weak to do anything.

On November 5, Voldemort took over the muggle government, too. The entire muggle Parliament, including the Prime Minister, as well as the whole of the Royal Family, were massacred. The commanders of Her Majesty's Armed Forces were purged and replaced with Voldemort's loyalists.

Angelina and Neville were both killed while trying to protect the Prime Minister and the Queen.

Voldemort's title was now amended to 'Regent to the Eternal Emperor of All Britain'.


2003

Early in January, Harry and Hermione decided that it was time to leave their hiding place. The muggle authorities, with aid from Voldemort's Ministry, would likely soon discover their tunnel refuge.

They sought shelter in an anonymous muggle home in Northern Ireland, hoping that the Irish Sea would give them some separation from Voldemort's forces.

There, they trained and trained, diving further and further into Occlumency, Legilimency, and offensive magic and Dark spells of the sort that would not even be seen in the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts Library. All bets were off now. The time for Stunning was long past. From now on, they had to cast to kill, and kill with the first spell, just to survive. There was no time to discuss or even contemplate how supposedly 'dark' a spell was.

This was proven just a month later. A squad of Death Eaters – or as they were called now, the 'Special Enforcement Squad' – came knocking in their neighbourhood, dragging out muggles to rape, torture, and murder for pleasure.

Harry and Hermione confronted them and killed every last one before they even had a chance to fight back.

They had to resort to stealing using the invisibility cloak to survive. They had no more funds available to them, and the moment they stepped into a muggle store, they would be recognized and turned in, as a ten-million-pound bounty had been placed on each of their heads.

They had settled into a sort of morbid routine. Wake up, train, go out for supplies, train again, and pass the evenings with sex. There was nothing else to do. They were trapped and cornered with only each other for support and company. To think was unhealthy, for there was nothing to think about but the darkness of the world around them, so all they could do was to feel.


2004

Voldemort had taken over much of Europe. The actual invasions were short and brutal. Both the magical and muggle governments of the occupied countries had been long subverted before any of Voldemort's army set foot on their soil.

The new muggle government had set up a secret police force modelled after the magical Special Enforcement Squad. Any muggles who displayed any sign of disloyalty to Voldemort – even failing to bow before his portrait before entering an establishment – were arrested and sent to the camps.

Special Enforcement Squad members roamed the streets, torturing and killing muggles for sport. It was all Harry and Hermione could do to stop them – with lethal force – before they could wreck too much havoc on their immediate neighbours.

Harry and Hermione both craved children, but to bring new life into this perverted world was more than cruel.

Both knew their days were numbered. Sooner or later, they would be found and killed in the most brutal way possible. Hope that he could one day defeat Voldemort had long vanished for Harry. Even Hermione could not bring herself to give him false hope.

The only thing they wanted now was to live the rest of their lives with each other in relative happiness and peace, and when they finally died, to take as many Death Eaters with them as they possibly could.

For that was the best they could hope for in this dying world.