Disclaimer from Us Two Squibs: If we owned it, we'd be done by now. With less than 12 hours until Deathly Hallows, we're cutting it too close.

YAY!!! It is 11p.m., July 20, 2007 (EST) and we finally finished, BEFORE the release of Deathly Hallows! Good Reading and hoped you liked yesterday's post. Thank you for your reviews dear readers... you've made our journey worthwhile.

Chapter 27 - The Final Battle

Harry watched in angst at what was transpiring before his eyes. Led by Abe, hundreds of members of the Order flooded through the opening where the entrance to the school had resided only moments before.

"To the back, Potter", Mad Eye yelled above the chaos, as he made his way toward the front of the battle lines.

Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione hurriedly moved aside, allowing the masses to ascend to the grounds. All of the months of preparation had not been enough to keep Harry's fear at bay. He watched as his beloved friends and comrades headed toward the war, fearing that it would be the last time that he saw any of them. He barely made eye contact with Sirius, as his god father and Raven organized Order members into shoulder to shoulder formation before leading them out the door. He watched as the Weasley family split up into their respective positions: Arthur, Bill and Percy headed for the grounds, while Molly, Fleur and the twins rounded up the young children, who were to be locked in the kitchen to be protected by the houseelves. Tonks and Nia were desperately and hopelessly attempting to arrange the fallen rubble into a barricade, using only their wands, which proved useless due to the fact that their attempts were being unconsciously trampled by wizards fleeing to their posts.

Hermione was atop a table, attempting to view the scene outside.

"I can't see anything. It's completely black outside", she said, anxiously.

Harry, Ron and Ginny joined her in vain, a mixture of curiosity and terror. As they squinted into the darkness approximately one hundred yards ahead of them, Harry noticed that he and his three closest friends were the last to enter the battle zone.

"We should go out there now", Ron said quietly. "There's no reason to draw them in here. This is where they'll be bringing the wounded soon."

"Ron, you imbecile", Ginny said, wildly and almost insanely. "How do you expect anyone to be healed in here? The school walls no longer offer us protection. Everyone inside of here is just as much at risk as the members who are outside."

The silence was deafening. Harry had always imagined a war to be filled with explosions and screaming warriors. Instead, he felt as if he were in a quiet sanctuary.

"Maybe it was a false alarm", he mused aloud, as the group began to inch closer to the outside. "Grawp could have just gotten a little curious and --"

"DOWN!", screamed Molly Weasley.

Without hesitation, the four friends fell to the floor as a barrage of red, purple and green spells flew into the opening. Harry knew that no one was aiming specifically for him. Not yet, anyway. But, he couldn't help but wonder how these spells had gotten through already. It had only been a few minutes.

"A lot of us must have been taken down already", Hermione said, answering his unspoken musings.

The group quickly jumped to their feet and began running toward the outside, dodging spells that randomly whipped past them. Behind them, Harry heard Tonks screaming in agony, and quickly caught a glance of her sinking to the floor as Fred and George ran toward her.

"Harry!", Ginny screamed as she pushed him out of the way of a random blur of bright blue light. "Pay attention!"

The group hurried toward their position, a small barrack which had been placed near Hagrid's hut. It was here that The Order members had been told to send Nagini after she had been petrified. It was here that Harry began to take notice of the awful sounds that he had anticipated. Looking around at the grounds, Harry watched the shadowy figures, which seemed to be moving closer to the school, and realized that the earlier silence may have been due to the wordless magic which was being cast in attempts to surprise the opposition. Now, as spells were hurdling into and striking down the people around him, Harry realized that he actually preferred the cries of the wounded, which were growing steadily louder and more frequent, in comparison to the overwhelming silence which was being emitted from the random witches and wizards who were on the ground, seemingly taking a peaceful nap.

Harry's thoughts turned to Snape, whose priority was to use Harry's invisibility cloak, in order to retrieve Nagini and bring her to the trio.

Hermione's voice broke through his reverie, "Harry, Snape has it! Ron, Harry, get in your positions!"

Raven must have seen Severus racing towards the trio, levitating a bubble containing the large snake, because a moment later, she was by the side of the trio and ordering Ginny clear of the magical backlash, sure to be present at the destruction of the last horcrux.

Snape set the bubble down in the center of a circular area Raven had drawn in the dirt. Quickly passing him a numerous amount of potions bottles as she tightly held one. She instructed him, "When the containment charm comes down, throw these at the beast with me. It will destroy the shell so they can destroy the soul!"

Many of the still standing Order members began to gravitate around the small group, trying to keep the enemy at bay, long enough for Harry, Ron and Hermione to destroy the snake. For many, Order members and Death Eaters alike, the spell seemed to draw their eyes. No one, save the four directly involved, had never seen this spell performed.

Raven began her chant as the bubble charm was released. With a look to Severus, they both threw the potions at the volatile snake. As they hit their mark, an inhuman sound of pain erupted from the dying animal, as the shadowy form of Lord Voldemort was emitted from the beast's belly. The trio quickly destroyed the last horcrux and readied themselves to truly engage in the battle.

"Harry," Hermione said softly, "Ron and I need to stay with you for this…or it will be like the last time, when you were an infant. There is still a piece of his shattered soul within him. You have to defeat his body and we need to banish his soul. Are you ready for this?"

Harry did not answer.

The trio walked side by side, further onto the battlefield, surrounded by their friends and allies. Harry knew that they may have already lost many they cared for, but now, further deaths were inevitable. Many of the most important people in his life, had joined the growing mass of those surrounding him. Ginny, Sirius, Raven, Neville, Draco, Luna, Abe, Minerva, Remus, Snape and many others were taking and deflecting the brunt of the curses which were being thrown towards the approaching trio.

Harry froze. "Remus, I think Tonks was hit with something up at the castle. When we left, Fred and George were with her. She was alive…but it didn't sound good…"

Remus' eyes were filled with conflicting emotions. Harry could see he wanted to run to Tonks, but at the same time, his loyalty to Harry prevented him.

"Remus, go…If this doesn't end well, you should be with her…" Harry's voice trailed off.

Remus hesitated for a moment, turned and ran back towards the castle, destroying anything in his path that might prevent him from getting back to Tonks.

The group turned their attention to the situation at hand, and continued to move ahead.

"Harry, Harry, your ignorance still astounds me…" the voice of Lord Voldemort carried through the battle. "Indeed, many of my followers have met their demise. But do you honestly believe that you have the power to defeat me, the greatest wizard alive?"

From the shadows, emerged the Dark Lord himself, flanked by Lucius and Bellatrix. Cowering behind his Master was Wormtail, as filthy and afraid as Harry had ever seen him.

The wizards and witches within the group positioned themselves in front of Harry and his friends. Yet, Voldemort did not make a move.

"Very worthy attempt", he hissed. "But, I have learned from my past mistakes. As I now understand it, a sacrifice based upon love may lead to my next 'hiatus', should I attempt to kill you, Harry. I will not act hastily again, I assure you."

"Hiatus?", Abe cried, madly. "Ha! You're not as slick as you think, Tommy. The boy here has found and destroyed the mangy pieces of your soul that you left lyin' around."

Voldemort said nothing at first, seemingly taking a moment to absorb this piece of information. The members of the Order which surrounded their young counterparts remained with their wands at the ready, but did not fire a spell at the Dark Lord or his companions. It seemed as if they were procrastinating in order to give Harry time to mentally prepare himself.

"Yes, yes. Lucius did make mention of an unfortunate little incident that occurred five years ago. I knew that it would be only a matter of time before Dumbledore informed his young lackey of the significance of the book", Voldemort seethed. "So, go on then, child. Fulfill your prophecy."

Harry hesitated momentarily. But before he could even utter a spell, the combatants of both groups had begun to fight. Harry and Ron simultaneous shouted "Protego" which they noticed was in vain. Harry took notice of the color of jetting light which was flying around him. No longer was he in the sanctuary of Hogwarts, where random stunners were fired during the preparatory phases of the battle. With one wrong move he, or anyone around him, could be hit with one of the green streaks of death that were being fired toward them.

Voldemort still stood staring at the trio, as smaller duels erupted around them. Neville and Luna were fighting Bellatrix and Wormtail, Draco was facing his father, while Snape, Sirius and Raven stood protectively around Harry, Ron and Hermione, waiting for Voldemort to make his move. Abe and Minerva had unexpectedly broken from the group.

Harry's eyes swept around him, looking for Ginny. She was standing behind Ron, but there was something in her eyes that he hadn't expected to see…fear. Composing himself, Harry faced his nemesis, looking past Voldemort, he saw Abe and Minerva behind the dark wizard. He knew he needed to keep Voldemort's attention focused on him, to give them the chance to do whatever they were planning. His best chance was to irritate the daylights out of him. With a smirk that could have rivaled even Snape's, Harry said, "Hello Tom, enjoying the evening?"

The look upon the most feared man in the world, could be described as almost comical. His expression was quickly schooled into one of boredom as he responded, "Why yes, Harry, I am. Torture, death, maiming…they always make the day more pleasant…"

Hermione began speaking quietly to Harry, "There has to be a reason for this. He's leaving himself open to attack. He would not do that unless he was sure that he had a way of return…unless we missed one…"

"It's impossible, Hermione, we got them all. Dumbledore was sure there were seven…count 'em out…", Harry growled between gritted teeth. There couldn't be another, not now.

Abe and Minerva were about to raise their wands.

Hermione began going through the items, "The snake, the locket, the cup, the tiara, the diary and Dumbedore destroyed the ring. Aside from the piece residing in him--Merlin!! Harry, the diary…you destroyed the book…not-"

"Not the soul." Voldemort finished, "My soul, I am pleased to say, took up residence elsewhere…" He quickly turned, as if sensing someone behind him. With a lazy flick of his wand, he threw the killing curse. As the green light was about to hit Minerva, there was a shout of "NO!" and Abe jumped in front of her and fell to the ground. In that moment, Minerva McGonagall was a fearsome sight. She stood tall, with resolve and recited curse after curse at the Dark Lord, while Harry attempted to do the same.

Harry stood dumbstruck and fierce as he attempted to strike the Dark Lord and the Deatheaters, until Ron hit him in the arm. "There's no time, Harry! Hermione, what do we do?"

"W-we need to destroy the horcrux…" she said with a stutter, shooting a cutting curse. She looked at Harry with tears in her eyes. "It's the only thing that makes sense. The diary, the horcrux it was connected to-"

"Me." Ginny responded in a fearful tone. "I-I think I've known…"

With this revelation, Hermione and Ron turned to Harry with horrified eyes.

Whatever was going to be said next was interrupted by a scream of agony. As Harry looked over to the side, he saw Neville and Luna unmoving on the ground and Draco screaming as he was subjected to the Crucio curse from both his father and Bellatrix, Wormtail looking on. Sirius immediately jumped into action, trying to save Draco.

Using this moment of distraction, Raven began throwing curses through the air, shouting at the trio, "Destroy the horcrux, while we hold off Voldemort…" She helped Minerva throw volleys of curses at the Dark Lord, staving him off until the right moment.

Raven turned her head and caught sight of an eerie light heading for Sirius. She jumped on top of him, knocking them both to the ground.

She yelled, "You moronic arse! Are you trying to get yourself killed?"

Sirius chuckled, "See, I knew you loved me baby."

An irate Raven stood, raised her hands, knocking the three Death Eaters harming Draco, onto the ground and quickly resumed helping Minerva battle Voldemort.

"What a woman," Sirius muttered appreciatively.

"Enough of that", Raven seethed. "Help her", she added, motioning to Minerva.

Raven turned on her heel and headed toward Harry and his friends. Snape stepped in her path just as she raised her hands toward Ginny.

"Raven, don't act in haste. There must be something: an exorcism, perhaps. Killing the Weasley girl cannot be the only way --", Snape started.

Raven, seemingly disinterested in Severus' pleas, used one hand to send him magically backward, out of her path. Snape hurriedly repositioned himself, along with the trio, in front of Ginny, who was shaking uncontrollably.

"Away from her", Raven instructed. "Oh, enough of your ridiculousness", she scolded to Snape, who was attempting to hide what remained of the potions behind his back. "I, of all people, do not need a potion to dispose of her." She locked eyes with Harry. "I can remove the piece of his soul from Ginny's body in the same manner which my being was removed from the chess piece".

"But Raven", Hermione pleaded. "The queen piece was shattered into pieces! Humans CANNOT repair themselves the same way that the set can!"

"It's our only chance. We can attempt to use healing spells to tend to the wound where the soul will exit her body. It is her only chance to live." She looked shortly at Ginny. "You will have to fight hard". She let the girl take a moment to absorb this information and gave Ginny an admiring glance as the young girl bravely nodded in agreement.

"The most difficult part of this will be destroying the fragmented soul before it inhabits another human", Raven said quickly, rolling up her sleeves. "With any luck, it will house itself in something inanimate, so we can use the potion to destroy it. It will move quickly, just as the others have. Only this time, we are not contained in the Room of Requirement. It possible that it could go anywhere. "

At the sound of Minerva shrieking, and Sirius shouting angrily, Raven glowered at Snape and yelled, "Help them you imbecile! I'll protect this lot!". Severus hurriedly ran toward the areas where his colleagues were fighting the Dark Lord.

Raven turned on the young people, shouting for the trio to get into position. She walked closely to Ginny and started murmuring spells in a foreign tongue. Ginny screamed in pain and collapsed to the ground, as blood started to seep freely through the front of her jumper. The trio watched in horror and froze as they saw their friend in such agony. The rising spectral form took advantage of their hesitation and drifted away before the spell could be cast.

Harry's head turned and saw it heading towards where Voldemort, Snape and McGonagall were still dueling. Sirius was on the ground tending to Draco. Harry was afraid of what would happen if the released soul was able to rejoin with Voldemort. He did the first thing that came into his mind, with all the love he had for those around him, he raised his wand and screamed "Sectumsempra," at the Dark Lord's body.

The spell slashed through the evil wizard, the intensity causing Voldemort to fall to his knees. A wisp emerged from Voldemort's chest, even with his screams of disbelief, and joined the spectral form of the young Tom Riddle, hovering in the air. The two joined pieces swirled in the air, before coming to rest in front of Minerva.

Hermione screamed in dismay as the silver colored fog encompassed her favorite professor.

Minerva staggered forward, as a flash of light came forth from her eyes. She raised her wand, pointing it at Harry "Avada Ke - NO!!! I will…"

It was clear to everyone that McGonagall was fighting the possession. The proud headmistress looked to Raven, "I cannot resist him for long…kill me…end this…please…"

Raven yelled for Harry, Ron and Hermione to be ready.

Minerva's eyes were beginning to lose their focus on her loved ones. She knew she was fighting a losing battle, "Please…"

"I'm sorry, Minerva. I will take care of them… Avada Kedavra!!!," Raven shouted, her voice thick with remorse. "Children, finish this!"

The trio would not hesitate this time. As the curse struck Minerva, and her body fell slowly to the ground, the mist came forth looking for another vessel. Harry knew he would never allow another person to have to make the choice Minerva did. Raven started the spell, while Ron, Hermione and Harry all said their parts.

As the last word was spoken, the mist took form for a moment and seemed to howl in pain as it began to shrink into the familiar spherical ball of light. The burst of brightness upon its destruction lit the sky as if it were daybreak.

Too exhausted for anything else the three friends collapsed to the ground as the last of the battle finished around them. The remaining Death Eaters became disorganized and desperate as they saw their Lord destroyed, not noticing his barely breathing body on the ground.

Lucius Malfoy looked around the battlefield and saw the destruction and knew that the battle was done. His grey eyes locked with the emerald gaze of Harry.

"Potter," he said in a seething tone, "my lord will not be the only loss today!" Flourishing his wand he shouted "Diripio," at the young boy, too tired to even raise his own wand in defense.

Amazingly a short, round figure through himself in front of the torturous curse. Harry found himself holding the dying form of Wormtail.

The shaking, former Marauder raised a hand and touched Harry's cheek, "So much like James. And you do have Lily's eyes." Peter struggled for a breath, "I am sorry, Harry. My life debt is now repaid…" As his words slowly ended, his eyes began to close, never to reopen, as he died do the first truly brave deed of his life.

Harry turned to his friends, "It's over? It's really over…"

The three friends looked behind them and saw the ravages of battle until they found the tall figure of Severus, standing over a shuddering body, which they all realized was Voldemort in his last moments.

Harry went to approach but Snape held up a hand to stop him from coming any closer, not knowing the boy was close enough to hear the exchange.

"Sssever-us he-elp your mass-ter…" Voldemort said through his coughs.

Snape looked at his former lord with disgust, "I think not, my lord," his voice dripping with sarcasm. "While the children are the reason you will no longer plague the world, I will not allow them to feel responsible for your death. You see, they are heroes. They would never allow themselves to knowingly kill. Fortunately, I am not one."

He spit down upon the dark lord and said, "And just to make my feelings perfectly clear, Albus Dumbledore was the greatest wizard who ever lived… you never came close."

With those words being said Severus held his hands over his former master's mouth and nose, preventing him from gaining the breath he needed to have a final word. Snape watched as the last bit of life vanished from the Dark Lord's eyes and let out a sigh of relief. He knew that the wound inflicted by Potter would have killed Voldemort, as the old wizard had been close to death while Severus was over him. But having the responsibility of Voldemort's death on his conscience would only hurt Harry.

As Severus strode away from Voldemort, Harry stopped him, "Thank you…I don't think I could have handled…"

"I know Harry." Severus answered, "there has been enough death and destruction. Now, let us see what we can do to help some of the others."

Harry's mind snapped back into reality. "GINNY! WHERE'S GINNY?"

Snape looked perturbed.

"If we were all here fighting, who was healing Ginny?", Harry screamed as he ran to the spot where they had last seen her.

His heart was pounding in fear as he approached her lifeless form. He had barely sank to his knees when Severus and Raven hurried to tend to the girl. Harry stepped backward and silently prayed for her to be healed. He begged a greater good to save the woman that he loved. The world seemed to be collectively inhaling. As if answered, Harry literally cried with relief when he heard Ginny coughing violently. Far off into the night, within the remnants of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a newborn baby cried for the first time.

Epilogue

Ashes to Ashes

By Rita Skeeter

It has only been a week since the downfall of the evil wizard, known as Lord Voldemort, and the magical community is still in celebration. There was an immense loss of life in the battles fought for our freedom. Mr. Potter has asked me to make specific mention of several individuals who fought for us, tirelessly until they met their end. Most especially:

Aberforth Dumbledore

Minerva McGonagall

Percy Weasley

Kingsley Shacklebolt

Lavender Brown

Oliver Wood

Dean Thomas

Argus Filch

Pomona Sprout

Our many thanks go out to these fallen comrades. For they gave their lives for our freedom.

Birth of a New Dawn

By Fred and George Weasley

While those of us in the battles saw horrors that will stay with us throughout our lives, there was also memories which bring us great joy. When the walls began to crumble and spells flew through the air, we had the responsibility of protecting the young that were hidden within the castle. As we tried to group everyone together we saw Dora ('Nymphadora Tonks': why would anyone's mother do that to them?) fall to the ground.

We automatically rushed to her side, believing her to be struck by a spell. The joke was on us for once. Our lovely, little Dora had chosen precisely that moment to go into severely active labor. Poppy Pomfrey had run onto the battlefield, trying to treat some of the more seriously wounded and get them into the castle.

Needless to say, our dear readers, we were quite aghast when we realized that we were going to have to deliver Dora's baby.

It was soon learned that this little baby was determined to be born at the right time. As we heard the cheers of victory rise up from outside the castle, Dora gave birth to a beautiful little girl. Remus Lupin, father of said baby, walked in during the delivery and promptly fainted. George was able to quickly revive the proud papa with some very inventive products, which can now be found in our Hogsmeade branch of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes -- just ask for the Lilting Lupin line (sorry, Remus!)

We are also quite pleased to announce that Dora and Remus have named us the proud god-parents and honorary uncles to the first baby born into a new day of freedom, little Dawn Minerva Lupin.

'Boy-Who-Lived' to Wed 'Girl-Who-Died'

By Rita Skeeter

In the year that has passed since the downfall of the Dark Lord, life has slowly gone on for each of us. Every individual has been touched by the war and these effects have an impact on the way we live our lives.

Harry Potter, the infamous young wizard, who played a major role in the downfall of Lord Voldemort, is set to wed his longtime love Ginevra Weasley. Miss. Weasley was gravely injured during the final battle, clinging desperately to life for several weeks after sustaining her injuries, we are told that on the battlefield her heart stopped beating twice. After her eventual recovery, Mr. Potter had told me that he was waiting for the right moment. I can happily report that he found that moment.

It is speculated that the other two members of the affectionately dubbed "Golden Trio," Ron and Hermione Weasley, will be the best man and matron of honor, respectively.

It is sure to be the event of the season. In attendance there will be the Lupin Family, the Weasley Clan (ladies, the twins are still unattached…) the Longbottom Family accompanied by Neville's lovely fiancée, Luna Lovegood, Draco Malfoy (Witch Weekly's Most Eligible Bachelor of the Year), as well as Severus, Nia and Dudley Snape.

Sitting in the stead of Harry's parents will be his godfather, the charming Sirius Black and his wife Raven (who, I am sorry to report, is a very irritating woman. Can you believe she tried to instruct me of how to write an article more effectively?!!!).

In other news, I am proud to announce the worldwide success of my first novel entitled 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' under my alias in the Muggle world 'J.K. Rowling'. Mr. Potter has given me consent to continue the biography of his life in exchange for giving a percentage of my earnings to charitable organizations in both the Wizard and Muggle worlds alike.

And Life Goes On

By Rita Skeeter

It has been ten years since the downfall of the dark side. I, for one, can never forget the sacrifices that were made by so many. Each year, on this date, the memorial erected at Hogwarts is the gathering place for those who want to honor those who were lost.

As years pass, life has continued for everyone involved. This year, the 10th anniversary of that long ago battle, marks some significant mile-stones and returns for many well-known names.

Severus Snape, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, welcomes some new additions to his staff this year. Mr. Harry Potter, who has been working as a free-lance auror for the last decade, has finally consented to take on the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. Luna Longbottom joins her husband Neville (herbology professor) there. She is the Editor in chief of the Quibbler and will be teaching an elective course in journalism.

In other news, Ronald Weasley was elevated to the position of Captain of the Chudley Cannons. Hermione Weasley is completing her 2nd year as the youngest and first Muggleborn Minister of Magic in history. She has been working closely with the Muggle Prime Minister to promote a healthy relationship with our two worlds.

Draco Malfoy, eternal bachelor and prince charming, has helped Minister Weasley to establish an internship program for Hogwarts 5th year students and older in both muggle and magical businesses.

My final novel on the accounts of Harry Potter's adventures at Hogwarts will be released tonight, promptly at midnight. The final installment has been titled 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'.

If we have learned anything over the years is that lack of understanding and tolerance leads to hate. With citizens such as these leading our society, I truly believe that we will never have to relive the events of years past ever again. After all, as Minister Weasley is so fond of telling me, "If we fail to learn from the mistakes of our past, we are doomed to repeat them."

Meanwhile….

Three shadowed figures stood before a flowing veil. One figure turned to the others, before asking, "Are you sure that you've figured out how it works?"

"Of course I have. This relic has been my main study for the last 10 years. I've learned everything we need to know. I can help to navigate us through the different dimensions until we find where you want to go," the smallest of the three responded in a matter-of-fact tone.

The third added in an evil tone, "Imagine the power we'll have, the realms we can control…"

"We can bring down the barriers. No one will dare oppose the power of the Dark Triad and I can finally repay my 'beloved' godfather for the visit he paid us all those years ago, before he escaped to his own realm" the first figure said bitterly.

The trio laughed evilly as they pulled the Veil aside and prepared for what may be their last journey.