Voldemort's rise to power began with his return to a physical body, in June of 1995. Throughout the rest of 1995 and leading into the beginning of 1996, Voldemort gathered his followers, slowly, one by one, releasing several from Azkaban and pulling others out of hiding and exile. It was during the end of this time that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix happened. After the Ministry of Magic debacle, Voldemort went deeper into hiding, building his strength and power and gathering more and more followers to his side, including the Dementors and other Dark creatures. In the summer of 1999, he struck again, beginning the pattern of terror that had been so successful for him nearly 30 years previously. Muggleborn and halfblood wizards and witches were murdered, kidnapped, attacked and the Dark Mark was left behind. The railtracks for the Hogwarts Express were sabotaged and only luck found the damage before the train ran. Conflicts began to happen between the Order of the Phoenix and its supporters and the supporters of the Dark Lord. The Order stepped in whenever and wherever Death Eaters were seen or known to be headed, in an attempt to save as many lives as possible -- even so, Muggleborns and halfbloods died. And occasionally, so did Order members who had tried to save them.
Voldemort began to stage attacks on large groups of people: Quidditch matches, hospitals, gathering places -- all in an attempt to raise the terror levels of the populace. In September of 1999, Death Eaters attacked the Ministry of Magic again, this time with the sole intention to do as much damage and wreak as much havoc in the shortest amount of time as possible. The then-Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, put himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and was killed, as were several of his aids and direct subordinates. The then-Minister of Transportation, Cedric Silverthorn, stepped up and took over the duties of Minister of Magic, under the guidance and with the advice of the Wizengamot, until an election could be called. Silverthorn was elected into office at that time, and remains in office to the present day. Silverthorn was a great proponent and supporter of Albus Dumbledore and sought his advice frequently, following it with careful precision.
Over the next few years, the battles raged across the Wizarding World, the Order and its supporters against Voldemort's Death Eaters. Voldemort avoided confronting Harry Potter or Albus Dumbledore with a stunning single-mindedness and great success. Members of both sides were lost with frightening regularity; sometimes their deaths were known right away, sometimes they simply vanished and their deaths only speculated about and confirmed days, weeks or months later, if at all. Death Eaters were captured when possible, but killed if that was the only option. Captured Death Eaters were sentenced to a wizard-guarded Azkaban after short trials.
In October of 2001, Voldemort's followers attacked a Muggle hospital, St George's Hospital Medical School, one of very few that were aware of the Wizarding World and supplied St Mungo's with extra beds, and extra hands as needed, and a school environment in their own subterranean levels where young mediwizards and mediwitches could come and go with little concern for secrecy. During this battle, Voldemort's most fervent (and insane) supporter, Bellatrix Lestrange, was killed. With her death, the tide of the war begin to swing firmly into the favour of the Order and the free Wizard world.
A firm swing does not mean there are no impediments and in January of 2002, Molly and Ginny Weasley were murdered in their own home. Percy Weasley disappeared shortly thereafter. More supporters of Harry and Dumbledore died. But the knife cuts both ways -- Peter Pettigrew also vanished, as did the Lestrange brothers. And Death Eaters continued to be captured ,and killed, until, finally, the Order discovered the headquarters of Voldemort's army, and plans were made to attack and take Voldemort out, once and for all.
The Final Battle:
Location: Riddle House
Date: 23 May, 2002
Remus Lupin (Walden McNair)
Tom Marvolo Riddle (Harry Potter)
Graham Pritchard (Zacharias Smith)
Maxwell Montague (Remus Lupin)
Crabbe Sr (Albus Dumbledore)
Anton Dolohov (Remus Lupin)
Walden McNair (Pansy Parkinson)
What Happened: Harry (with assistance from such clever minds as Hermione, Remus and Dumbledore) discovered a spell that it was believed would defeat Voldemort. Essentially, the spell builds a mirrored shield around the subject (mirrored side in) that reflects everything the subject tries to cast back upon themselves until either they implode or they destroy themselves completely by some other means. The subject can attempt to build up enough pressure inside the shield to explode it, but generally that much pressure would kill the subject before he or she was able to burst the shield. Generally, it is considered that the Mirrormus Shield can only be removed from the outside. After judicious testing and careful practice, it was decided that 'now' was the best time to go after Voldemort, now that they knew where he was located (Riddle House) and while his army was the smallest it had been for years. Thanks to careful planning, the Order was able to get into the Riddle House with minimum alarm, and attack the remaining Death Eaters by surprise. Unfortunately Voldemort’s army had gotten larger than they had anticipated and it became a bloody and mortal battle. Upon confronting Voldemort, Harry focused all his attention and magical abilities on casting and maintaining the Mirrormus shield around Voldemort while his trusted companions defended him from the Death Eaters. This is where Dumbledore, Lupin, and Zach Smith all died. Pansy Parkinson took out the Death Eater (Walden McNair) that killed Lupin, and Ron and Pansy were two of the very few who were left standing by the time Voldemort had reduced himself to ashes inside the Mirrormus Shield, leaving Harry barely conscious with exhaustion, the pain in his scar resulting from Voldemort’s death making him delirious with shock. At the point of Voldemort’s death the Dark Marks each of the Death Eaters wore flared dark with pain, then changed color and faded to an almost-normal white scar tissue and the Death Eaters either fled or surrendered...what few were left alive. The Final Battle was extremely costly to both sides, but Voldemort is confirmed as being permanently dead. Unfortunately, so were Albus Dumbledore, Remus Lupin, Zacharias Smith, Daphne Greengrass and Dedalus Diggle.
The Time After:
Minerva McGonagall first takes over as Headmistress-pro-tem, then is officially appointed into the position in July of 2002. She decides to invite various previous students back to teach at Hogwarts, to fill positions left empty by the war; specifically, she invites Draco Malfoy to be Professor of Transfiguration, Blaise Zabini to be Professor of Charms and Harry Potter to be Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts. The Wizarding World is in shock over the death of Albus Dumbledore, and a little uncertain about a world without Voldemort.
Minister Silverthorn declares he will call for a general election in the summer of 2003, after society has had an opportunity to re-stabilize itself. Members of the Order of the Phoenix, and their supporters and survivors, settle in to begin rebuilding their lives. Many of them are rather lost without the struggle against Voldemort to focus them, and quite a few suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder related maladies (such as nightmares, anxiety, paranoias, etc). Survivors can finally grieve for the fallen and missing, and life is, very slowly and painfully, beginning to return to 'normal'. For many, normality itself is a serious challenge to be faced.
The Time To Come:
The dead will rise -- in more ways than one.
October 31st -- Samhain -- The Night of the Dead. In many cultures, particularly those of Britain, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, this is the time when the veil between the worlds of the living and the worlds of the dead is the thinnest, and many believe the dead walk among the living on this night. ….Some even believe the dead may be snatched from the grasp of Death itself, on this one night, if enough is wagered.
Rastaban and Rodolphus Lestrange believe. And they have nothing left to lose.