This page is a general disclaimer for all of the chapters that follow.

Disclaimer: I own neither Harry Potter nor any of the characters in this story, they are the property of J. K. Rowling.

This story is set after OotP and therefore contains spoilers.

I would appreciate any comments or reviews.

I hope you enjoy the story.

Ch 1: Harry's World Destroyed

Smoke hung thickly everywhere over the once green fields of Hogwarts, obscuring some of the sights, but not the sounds of the battlefield. Yet Harry did not need his eyes to tell him where the bodies lay. His mind's eye recalled for him with perfect, gut-wrenching detail the location of every friend's body that had fallen so far in the brutal battle. With virtually no time to prepare any defenses before the vast army of Voldemort appeared in the fields bordering Hogwarts, the professors, the sixth and seventh year students, the members of the Order of the Phoenix, and as many Aurors from the Ministry of Magic as could arrive in time had formed a small defensive line forming an arc protecting the entrance to Hogwarts.

To his right, Hagrid, beaten savagely by three giants, lay in front of the bodies of Lupin and McGonagall, surrounded by piles of Death Eaters and giants. Hagrid's sacrifice had provided McGonagall enough time to cast one final explosive spell, taking with her six Death Eaters and two giants before an Avada Kedavra curse struck her down. Having lost his wand to a powerful Expelliarmus spell, Lupin had transformed into his werewolf form, hoping to take a few more Death Eaters with him before he was caught in the powerful grip of a surviving giant. With a painful yelp and a sickening crunch as the giant twisted his head brutally, the werewolf body was then tossed roughly back to the ground to lay by his lifeless friends.

Off to Harry's left, most of the Weasley family and several members of the Order of the Phoenix lay crumpled on the charred ground. Molly lay in the middle, surrounded by her sons as they made a final stand against the surrounding Death Eaters and Dementors. As their Patronus charms finally wore down and were overcome by the insatiable hunger of the Dementors, Molly watched as her husband and her sons were each given the Dementor's kiss after being paralyzed by several stunning spells from Death Eaters eager to prolong their agony. Harry shuddered as he recalled the look on her face as the dark hood bent over her face and her body then stiffened like the rest of her family before her.

Between those groups of friends lay the remaining members of the staff at Hogwarts, all the sixth and seventh year students who had chosen to fight, the rest of the Order of the Phoenix, and every Auror from the Ministry of Magic that had come to their aid. In front of them lay hordes of Death Eaters, Dementors, and perhaps a score of giants. Hopelessly outnumbered by Voldemort's army, they had nevertheless put up a tremendous, if ultimately futile, resistance. Amidst all this chaos stood the sole remaining defenders of Hogwarts—Harry, flanked by Ron, Hermione, and Dumbledore. Dumbledore stood motionless, immoblized by Voldemort's last spell. The high-pitched laugh continued mockingly.

"You were correct Dumbledore. There are worse things than death. Such as watching hopelessly as those you care for die painfully."

The moans of the dying and the shrieks of those already dead continued to echo in the ears of Harry. Turning to the source of all his pain and misery, Harry noticed numbly as Voldemort raised his wand to Harry's side and intoned "Avada Kedavra."

Harry had raised his own but only managed "Expell…" before the green light erupted from Voldemort's wandtip and struck Ron in the chest.

"Nooooo!" erupted his futile scream. "Nooooo. Not Ron!" Harry caught the slumped form of Ron and eased him softly to the ground as the tears began to fall again.

"Foolish boy. Did you really think you could successfully oppose me again? Have you learned nothing? Did you really think you could best me with your pathetic knowledge and skill? I, who have spent years perfecting my art? Did you really think your luck would last forever? Nobody can save you now—not your teachers, not your adopted family, not your filthy Mudblood friend, not even your precious mentor Dumbledore. My army will finish off the rest of the Mudblood students and those who are disloyal here at Hogwarts under the watchful eye of its last headmaster. He will also be allowed to watch as I finish off you and your Mudblood friend here as a lesson about the futility and stupidity of opposing Lord Voldemort. Crucio."

Hermione's body jerked and she screamed in anguish.

"Impedimenta! Impedimenta!" screamed Harry.

"Silly child. You will need much stronger magic than that. Here, let me show you while I finish off your friend. Petrificus totalus."

As Harry's body froze in place, he could only watch helplessly as Hermione's cries became weaker and weaker. Collapsed on the ground, her body shaking from pain, she managed to raise her head and uttered "Harry, I…I…" Unable to finish, her head dropped back to the ground and she finally lay still.

Wanting to scream, wanting to cry, Harry realized a fury he had never known he possessed. He only wanted to put his hands around Voldemort's neck and squeeze the life out of him. With a surge of will, he broke free of the full body bind curse and took one halting step towards his tormentor.

"Now, now Harry. Temper, temper. Surely you have learned better manners than that while here at Hogwarts? Surely you know to bow before your betters and kneel before your master? Imperio."

"You know I won't bow to you! You know I won't kneel to you!" Harry screamed to the voice inside his head. Continuing his march, he shouted out loud, "You have killed everyone I ever cared about. I hate you! I'm going to kill you!"

"And just how do you propose to do that boy?" Voldemort's laughed again. "But enough, boy. I tire of these games. This has gone on long enough. Now you die. Avada Kedavra."

Again, Harry raised his wand to defend himself, but once again, too slowly. There was a bright green flash and then everything went dark. Harry heard a low noise that slowly grew in intensity. Harry slowly realized it was his own voice he heard screaming in his dark bedroom at the Dursleys.

His loud scream echoed in the room until Harry rolled over and shoved his face in the pillow. Hedwig, startled out of his slumber, flapped excitedly in his cage. Lumbering footsteps outside of his door ended as a loud pounding began on his bedroom door.

"Listen you bloody insensitive idiot! It's nearly 2 AM and us decent folk have to work tomorrow. I swear, boy, if I get one more complaint from the neighbors about these silly outbursts at night, you'll be staying in the garden shed the rest of the summer! Are you listening to me boy?"

"Yes, Uncle Vernon. I'm sorry. It won't happen again," came the mumbled reply.

"It bloody well better not," muttered his uncle as he stomped off back to bed.

Fumbling for his glasses, Harry rose from his bed, unlocked Hedwig's cage, and began stroking his feathers, trying to soothe the startled owl.

"There, there Hedwig. I'm sorry I frightened you. It's OK. It's OK." The last part was as much for himself as it was for the bird.

As he sat back on his bed, the violent nightmare replayed itself over and over again in his mind as he calmed his pet owl. "What am I going to do? How am I supposed to beat him? I'm not strong enough or smart enough to beat him. How am I supposed to save the world from him? I've barely been able to save myself, and then it's just been dumb luck. I couldn't save Cedric, or…or…or Sirius. How many more people are going to die because of me?" Sleep driven far from his mind, Harry leaned back against the wall and continued to stroke Hedwig hopelessly.