A/N - So the end is drawing near. I realised that I haven't put a disclaimer in for a good while now. So just in case you all mistook me for a billionaire, I own nothing. It's not mine Officer, honest!

My sincere thanks to those of you who have bought my book over the last few months. You are paying my rent just now so I am very grateful.

Enjoy!

)O(

Chapter 41

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They had just reached the upper level when Harry froze, his attention diverted by events below. Ron gripped his arm as Harry winced several times.

After a few minutes, Harry smiled. A huge relief filled smile, that almost made Ron vomit with anxiety.

'Harry?'

'They did it Ron! They got Nagini. I thing Tonks is hurt but the others are moving normally. They are heading towards the hospital wing.'

Ron sagged in relief, leaning against the stone wall.

'Way to go Hermione.'

'Actually, I think it was Neville. It was hard to follow at the end there and I think Faulkes was there as well.'

'Maybe he brought that bloody sword again,' Ron suggested and Harry smiled.

'Yeah, that might have been it. I couldn't really see what he did.'

'We are just a floor above the Hospital Wing. Let's meet them there. I feel like I should be doing something.'

It only took them a few minutes and they arrived at the doors at the same time as the other three, Neville and Hermione practically dragging Tonks between them.

'It bit her!' Hermione said breathlessly as the others rushed to help, carrying the unconscious Tonks between them.

'Ron gave his girlfriend a sharp look, seeing the cut on her cheek and grazed knuckles.'

'I'm alright,' she reassured him breathlessly.

Together the four of them managed to manoeuvre the injured woman into the hospital wing, wincing at the wall of noise that hit them the moment they pushed through the heavy doors.

Aurors and students ran back and forward with supplies as they tended to the many, many wounded. They lowered Tonks onto a stretcher on the floor and a seventh year ran over to assess.

'She was bitten by Voldemort's snake,' Neville explained and the girl ran to the nearest cupboard, coming back with a small glass bottle that she snapped open and poured into Tonk's open mouth.

'She'll be alright,' the girl said hurriedly. 'We've treated a few others for bites and they have a really good anti-venom here.'

A small elf moved in to start bandaging the open wound on Tonk's leg and they all moved aside.

Ron looked around, his expression tight and anxious and Harry moved to his side, knowing his friend was searching for red heads amongst the injured.

The seventh year who had been treating Tonks also saw his search and moved back over.

'Ron,' she said quietly and his gaze flew to hers. 'Are..are my family..are they.'

'Percy and Fred were brought in,' she answered quietly. 'Percy is badly hurt but will probably make it. Fred...,' she swallowed. 'I'm sorry but Fred was too badly injured. They have both been taken to your family home.'

Ron staggered where he stood, only stopped from falling by Harry and Hermione grabbing an arm each. Hermione wrapped her arms around her shaking friend while Harry rubbed his back gently. None of them said anything.

Harry glanced from bed to bed looking for Remus with his heart in his throat. He wasn't in the infirmary. Did that mean he was dead? Had he lost one of his guardians? He was too scared to ask any of those working here. Harry looked over at Neville who was sat in a nearby chair with a shell shocked look on his face. The sword of Gryffindor hung bloody and tarnished at his side.

Harry caught his eye and gave a weak smile.

'Well done Neville,' he said quietly and the shocked teen gave an acknowledging nod.

The battle continued to buzz at the back of his consciousness and Harry carefully shifted his attention to the castle's grounds. He could feel Voldemort's presence strongly now, hovering on the edge of the Castles weakened wards.

Dumbledore was keeping a small horde of magical creatures at bay while the Death Eaters themselves seemed to be running in confused circles.

Harry was confused by what seemed to be the presence of close to a hundred none magical humans. What were muggles doing there? he thought in alarm before realizing the cause of the enormous strain on the wards. The castle had stripped those with the mark of their magic. Lured in by the Order and remaining Aurors, the Death Eaters had been caught by the wards and turned in squibs.

A sense of satisfaction filled Harry. He couldn't think of a better punishment than being forced to live with those you have despised and oppressed. He tried to focus on the forest but found himself distracted by a sudden flurry of activity near the great lake. Several Death Eaters had focused on one of the castles defenders and the Dark Lord was rapidly heading that way. The headmaster attempted to intercept but was caught by a wave of blinding magic that seemed to throw him into the forest.

Harry gasped as the headmaster hit the floor and was still, his hand unconsciously gripping Ron's elbow in a vice like grip.

'Harry! What's happening?' his friend asked hoarsely and Harry shook his head tensely, his gaze far away.

'Dumbledore's down,' he said quietly, hearing his friends mutters of distress.

Voldemort was moving quickly now, racing to where three of his faithful were battling a single Order member. Harry could almost feel the monsters anger and he focused on the fierce battle, seeking to identify the lone person.

A familiar magical energy swept over him and Harry cried out in horror.

'Severus!" he gasped before turning and running for the hospital wing doors. Behind him, he heard his friends feet pounding on the stone steps.

None of them called him back, for which he was very grateful. By the time he had reached the first floor on the great stairs, Ron, Hermione and Neville had caught up with him. The whole time Harry saw the battle raging outside; he saw every cut Severus took and how the man had tired. His guardian was no longer fighting back, reduced to casting shield after shield to try and deflect the onslaught he was under.

Harry reached the open doors of the Castle at the same moment Voldemort reached Severus's side. Harry turned to his friends.

'Voldemort has Severus, ' he said hoarsely. 'The headmaster went down just behind Hagrid's house. I need you to get help for both of them. I don't think anyone saw Dumbledore fall.'

His friends nodded and Neville spotted a group of Aurors rounding up some of the injured Death Eaters.

'I'll get help for Severus,' Neville ran towards the group of Aurors, his wand held ready.

'We'll go find Dumbledore,' Ron said firmly before gripping Harry's arm. 'Harry,' he whispered hoarsely and Harry felt the lump in his throat grow.

He grabbed his two best friends and pulled them into a hug, which they both returned fiercely.

'I knew I'd have to do this,' he whispered, feeling them both nod against his throat.

'Just come back to us Harry,' Hermione whispered and he choked back a sob.

'I love you,' he whispered to them both, feeling their arms tighten around him. With a shaky cough he pulled away and without looking back turned and ran out into the dark. He pulled the invisibility cloak out of his pocket and threw it around his shoulders as he ran. He knew that Riddle could probably see through it but any advantage was a help.

As he approached he saw Riddle wave the other Death Eaters away and position himself above Severus who was laying panting on the damp floor.

Harry wasn't close enough yet to hear what was said but a second later a spell flew from Voldemort's wand and Severus screamed, his back arching off the floor.

Harry cried out in rage and finding himself within shouting distance, roared at the man who had caused so much pain in his life.

'Riddle,' he yelled. 'Are you ready to finish this?'

The man's head whipped around at the familiar voice and a feral grin appeared on his face. Harry felt a bolt of fear hit him and land like ice in his stomach. He forced himself to keep moving steadily towards the snake like man who had now turned to face him.

"Harry! No!' Severus cried out, trying and failing to drag himself up from the ground.

Voldemort laughed as the teenager came to a stop several metres away, his wand held in shaking fingers.

'Mr Potter, what a pleasure,' he said with a little mocking bow. 'I did not expect to find you here. Killing you in front of the traitor will make this whole debacle worthwhile.'

Harry felt the undercurrent of anger in the man's words and laughed.

'What's wrong Tom? Did someone hear a rumour that the wards were going to be down?' Harry looked around at all the fallen followers of this maniac and grinned. 'Oops,' he said cheekily, ignoring how his fear spiked as the rage grew on the other man's face.

Voldemort whipped his wand threw the air and Harry was almost blasted off his feet by the wave of magic that thundered off his hastily cast shield. Staggering back he almost fell but recovered quickly.

Think Harry, he yelled internally. You can't win this by strength alone. What do you have that he doesn't?

From the side he heard a commotion and several spells flew at Voldemort from the edge of the forest. Harry nearly fell over with relief as he saw the headmaster approaching. He was limping and being held steady by Ron who had a grip on the older man's elbow. All three were sending a steady stream of spells at the Dark Lord.

Harry took advantage of the man's distraction to send the strongest stunning spell he knew at the monster. Riddle seemed to deflect them all with ease.

Waving his hand over his head Riddle conjured a large glass dome that encompassed them both, it's edges fusing into the churned up grass. The dome extended about fifty metres around them, holding back the desperately needed help. Harry saw a flurry of spells bounce of its edge and the Dark Lord laughed.

'That should prevent any more of these rude interruptions, don't you think Harry?'

'You've already lost,' Harry said hoarsely. 'Your followers are all either dead or squibs. You should surrender.'

Riddle laughed. 'Followers can be found anywhere Harry. No one is as strong as me, I can't be killed.'

'Even with all your horcruxes gone?' Harry stated loudly, watching a flicker of something pass across the man's face.

Riddle tilted his head to the side with an expression of casual interest but Harry could see the fear.

'Did you not know they were gone?' he asked quietly, trying to ignore the panicked shouts as his friends tried to reach him through the magical barrier.

'I believe you are lying Mr Potter,' Riddle said with a hiss of rage and Harry smiled.

'I might be,' he admitted with a shrug, 'but then how would I know about the Gaunt ring? Or Hufflepuff's cup, Slytherin's locket and Ravenclaw's diadem. That locket was nasty by the way,' Harry added with a dramatic shudder. 'No taste at all. Why anyone would put a bit of their soul into something so ugly is beyond me.'

Riddle screamed in rage and the spell flown his way threw Harry into the back of the dome. His friends screamed as he lay winded on the floor. Voldemort lifted his hands and huge clods of damp soil tore from the earth and began to swirl about them, creating a vortex of mud that obscured everything outside the two of them. The sounds from beyond the dome where muted now, regular vibrations the only indicator of those attempting to get in.

'The others!?' Riddle spat and Harry shuddered as he pulled himself to his knees.

'Nagini,' Harry rasped. 'She was beheaded with Gryffindor's sword. The diary of course and the 7th. Did you even know you had made that one?'

Riddle snarled, his confusion clear. 'It's funny really, you spent all this time trying to kill me and what you should have been doing is keeping me safe.'

Harry watched as realisation spread across the man's face. 'Did you never wonder why we are so alike?' Harry hissed in Parseltongue as what little colour the man had fled from his face.

Riddle took a step back, uncertainty on his face as Harry thought desperately. He had bought himself a few seconds while Riddle tried to work out if he could still kill Harry and survive himself.

He attuned to the magic around him, nearly gagging as the wrongness of the Dark Lords energy assaulted his senses. It felt a hundred fold worse than it had with the spirits that had come through to help. He could almost feel magic herself railing at the undead presence that profaned her gift.

In a flash Harry knew what to do. He pulled the stone from its leather covering, allowing it to settle at his throat, and dragged the headmasters wand from his pocket. the cloak was still hanging down the centre of his back and he pulled it back around his shoulders, one hand holding the outside edge. Now connected with all three of the hallows, he lifted the wand, seeing Riddle lift his with a snarl.

Harry allowed the energy to flow through him, feeling the death all around as those who had fallen in the battle crossed over.

'You don't belong here Riddle.' Harry stated, his voice shaking but echoing with a magical authority that wasn't his own.

Riddle screamed with rage and deciding against caution threw a barrage of spells towards the arrogant brat that dared to stand before him.

Harry instinctively reached out with the hallows, stopping the spells in their tracks and grabbing hold of Riddle's magic.

Lifting his voice he stated as strongly as he could.

'The Hallows and I command you to leave.'

Riddle froze, his expression one of confusion as his magical core ceased to turn and his heart stuttered to a stop. Harry saw the coming explosion and instinctively threw the cloak over his head, throwing himself to the ground as the world around him turned to fire.

Outside the growing collection of staff, students and Aurors gasped as the inside of the dome turned to liquid fire. They had been unable to see what was happening since the swirling mud had risen several minutes before.

The fire spluttered out and then the dome imploded before rushing out in a wave of dispelled magic that knocked everyone onto their backs. An eerie silence fell as everything stopped. There were few left to fight on either side and the remaining followers of Voldemort had fallen to the ground as the dome exploded.

One by one, the Order members and remaining members of the light stood shakily to their feet. Severus lay trembling on the ground, half propped up by Minerva who was crouched beside him. Dumbledore also sat on the ground with Neville supporting him, unable to stand now the adrenaline was fading.

Ron ran towards the smoking crater, closely followed by the few remaining Aurors. Ron reached the rim and fell to his knees in horror. The crater was completely empty, its contents incinerated and the grounds charred black.

'Harry,' he whispered mournfully, ' feeling as Hermione knelt beside him and slipped her hand into his.

Watching from the distance, Severus moaned as he saw the teenagers sink to their knees. God please no, he pleaded. A moment later the confirmation came through the communication network in Moody's gruff voice.

'Potter did it. Voldemort's gone. Looks like he took the boy with him. The craters completely incinerated.'

Minerva's arms tightened around Severus as he buried his face in his hands with a groan of agony. The pain of his injuries swept over him in a wave and he allowed it to take him under, giving in to the darkness. The last thing he heard was his colleagues voice crying out for help as he fell limp in her arms.

After a moments shocked silence, the activity increased again as students and healers flooded onto the grounds to treat the injured. The threat was gone now.

It quickly became apparent that the Death Eaters who still had their mark and magic when Voldemort fell, died with him; Severus only spared by the conflicting bonds and magical block that Poppy had placed on his arm.

The injured were quickly transported to the hospital wing, with Order members being sent through the floo to the Burrow and the Aurors transported to St Mungos.

It took less than ten minutes to clear the grounds with the enemy dead left where they fell for the Ministry to deal with. Through it all, Ron and Hermione sat together on the wet ground, holding each other and crying quietly.

Behind them, Moody and Eric Baxter stood guard, keeping and looky loos away with a glare. Moody watched the Head boy with interest. Baxter had been safely inside the castle doors for most of the battle but had fed the Aurors and Order members a steady stream of potions, explosives and products that Moody was sure had come courtesy of the Weasley twins.

The boy had seemed to know what was needed before anyone asked for it and had directed a small army of students inside the castle to replenish the supplies both at the door and in the infirmary.

Moody made a mental note to himself to ensure the Auror core approached him with a job before anyone else snapped him up. He glanced around, seeing several magical creatures patrolling the edge of the forest, talking to his Aurors and a few stragglers who appeared to be in shock.

He looked over to where Dumbledore still sat on the ground, now being treated by one of the healers. The man had been incredible today and had fought one on one with the Dark Lord for more than a hour. Right now, he just looked like a tired, old man as he sat staring at the two teenagers grieving over the crater.

Moody was distracted as Baxter gave an amused snort beside him and looked up to see Mr Filch standing dazed on the steps with a broom in his hand.

Moody found a wry smile crossing his face. 'I don't think that's going to do it somehow, do you?'

Eric answered with a smile in his voice. 'No Sir, I suspect not.'

The caretaker gave a furious whisper as his cat shot out over the grass and disappeared into the crater.

"Mrs Norris! Get back here yer daft thing.'

Moody clomped over to watch what was going on. You could never be too careful when Dark magic was concerned and the last thing they needed was the cat taking off with any dark artefact that Riddle had left behind.

Looking down over the edge, he saw the cat pacing back and forwards over the same spot and yowling loudly. Every so often she would stop and rub her face on the ground, ignoring the caretakers admonishments.

Moody frowned heavily, his auror senses tingling as he slowly stepped down onto the scorched earth, feeling the heat that still rose from the soil.

Ron and Hermione had risen to their feet watching the activity with confusion.

'What is it? Ron asked hoarsely and the Auror held up a hand in answer.

'Stay back lad,' he ordered harshly. 'We have no idea what we might be dealing with here.'

'Alastair?' a tired voice queried as Dumbledore limped to stand beside the two Griffindors, Neville gripping his arm tightly. The headmaster looked wearily down to where the cantankerous cat still paced and froze, his sharp intake of breath drawing everyone's eye to him.

'Albus!' Moody said sharply. 'What is it? I can see some energy patterns there but have no idea what they are.'

'The cloak.' Dumbledore whispered. 'He's under the cloak.'

Moody huffed, ready to bark out a query but Ron's cry interrupted as both of the teenagers threw themselves into the crater and fell to their knees beside the yowling Mrs Norris.

)O(

Harry lay winded and dazed on the warm ground, his thoughts scattered. He had been pushed into the ground by the dispersing magic so hard, he felt as though his back was fused to the earth. His ears were ringing and his neck felt as though a hot coal was pressed into it.

He lay still, waiting for his memory to return and understanding to come. Hogwarts spoke soothingly to him, reassuring him he was safe. She sent him images that helped his heart rate to calm. Severus being tucked into a warm bed at the Burrow, Mrs Weasley washing his face and patting his hand. Remus being helped to take a sip of water by Bill as he rested near the fire; Ron and Hermione knelt together, seemingly unharmed. They were both crying. Harry frowned. Why were they crying?

A high pitched noise invaded his senses, along with a strange sensation. It felt like someone was walking up and down his chest and belly. He slowly identified the strange noise as a cat crying. Harry closed his eyes again in confusion. Why was there a cat walking on him? The ringing slowly settled to a bearable hum before the vibrations from running feet made him open his eyes to see two shapes hovering over him through the cloak.

Ron cautiously held a hand out, feeling for the edge of the cloak and exchanged a nervous glance with Hermione as his fingers closed over the material.

He gently pulled it away, his breath catching in his throat as the messy dark hair and pale skin of his best friend was revealed.

Harry blinked heavily as the cool spring air blew across his face and he found himself looking up at his two closest friends.

'Harry,' Hermione whispered tearfully before throwing her arms around him. Still laying on the ground, he wrapped his arms around her; one hand grabbing Ron's in a fierce grip. They had made it! They had all made it.

He saw the headmaster limp to stand beside them, Neville beaming down at him. The larger boy paused to make sure Dumbledore was steady and then knelt down beside the trio with a tearful grin.

'Help me up,' Harry muttered hoarsely and Neville's arm slipped around his waist to help him up to a sitting position. He found himself leant back against Neville with his other friends knelt on either side.

'There's help on the way lad,' Moody's gruff voice bellowed from a few feet away. 'Stay put until one of the Mediwizards has checked you out.'

'I don't think I'm hurt,' Harry said incredulously, looking at his own hands in wonder. He took a slow inventory. Other than a slightly sore ass from landing on it a few two times; the only things he was aware of was a burn on his throat and the annoying ringing in his ears.

Ron laughed in relief and Harry grinned back before the smile fell from his face with a jolt.

'Did you see...is Severus?'

'The infirmary staff took him away for treatment,' Hermione said softly before the headmasters soft voice answered from the side.

'He's at The Burrow Harry; as is Remus. They are both injured but not in any danger.'

Harry nodded, relieved that the images Hogwarts had shown him had not been conjured by his imagination. There was a flurry of activity as a team from St Mungo's arrived at the edge of the crater and hurried down to his side. His friends were gently pushed aside as a witch and wizard knelt either side and started casting diagnostic spells watched carefully by Dumbledore and Moody.

'You're fine,' the witch said with amazement. 'A little magical exhaustion and your ears drums both have some trauma but that should heal by itself. The woman looked over her shoulder at Dumbledore.

'He needs food, rest and some burn salve on his neck. We really need to get back to...,'she waved a hand vaguely over her shoulder and the headmaster nodded seriously.

'Of course, go treat the wounded. I know you are swamped just now.'

Harry winced and reached under his backside before pulling out the forlorn looking remains of the elder wand. The intricate wand had been snapped almost in two, its core exposed and burnt away by the inferno. Harry dropped it with a sigh and felt for the stone at his neck. That too was gone; the sore and burnt bit of skin testament to its fate.

He looked up at the still shaking headmaster and shared a sad smile with the older man before shrugging helplessly. The truth be told he was relieved. He pushed the fact that he couldn't say goodbye to his parents away to be dealt with later. Right now, he was just relieved to have joined them.

Harry allowed his friends to help him to his feet and support him as they moved slowly back towards the castle.

'Get them to The Burrow, Alastair.' I will follow shortly.' Dumbledore said softly as he watched the group walk away in a huddle. Ron had his arm planted around Harry's waist while Hermione gripped his other hand tightly. Neville walked behind them, one hand lay on Harry's back whilst the head boy guarded the group, his wand in his hand and his gaze on the Aurors and healers that were pouring in and out of the Castles doors.

Once inside, Moody lead them to a fireplace and after giving them all a once over, handed out floo powder.

'Are you all keyed into the wards?' he asked gruffly and the group nodded; Baxter stepping back to stand beside the Auror.

'You first Potter,' he barked and Harry stepped forward and stepped into the flame. With a swirl of green he was off, away from the battle and into the hearth of his favourite family.

Harry stepped out of the fireplace and into what could only be described as organised chaos. The always cluttered living room was now rammed with people and noise. The three sofas were pushed against the far wall, each filled with a person wrapped in a blanket. Harry recognised several Order members moving about with trays of tea and toast.

Charlie, who he had only met once was knelt on the floor beside Percy who was wrapped in a blanket and shivering in an armchair. Charlie was rubbing his brothers leg and whispering softly to him. Harry could hear voices from the kitchen and the sound of multiple footsteps on the stairs above them. He had no doubt that each of the bedrooms were as rammed full as this room.

The fire flashed behind him and Hermione stepped out, her hand coming to rest on his back. No one had even looked their way yet and Harry was grateful to have a few moments to get his bearings. Remembering the vision Hogwarts had shown him, he looked around for Remus, spotting the sandy hair sticking out of a patchwork quilt on one of the sofas. He moved unnoticed between the Order members until he reached his guardians side and knelt beside him on the floor.

'Remus?' he said softly and the man turned to face him, his expression showing shock and then distress as it fell on the son of his childhood friend.

'Harry!' he gasped sitting up and pulling the boy almost into his lap. 'Merlin child, we thought...they said...,'

'I'm OK Remus,' Harry reassured the older man as he adjusted his position so that his weight wasn't on the obviously injured man.

Remus clung to him for several minutes as behind them the floo continued to flare with people coming back and forth.

Harry heard Molly's tearful exclamation as Ron arrived safely back into his family home and watched from the comfort of his guardians arms as Ron was greeted and fussed over by Charlie and Percy. His throat felt particularly tight as he saw Arthur pull Ron into a fierce hug, tears streaming down the older man's face. They had lost a son today and Harry could only imagine their relief at having the remainder of their children safely home.

By the time Remus had calmed and released him, everyone's attention had fallen on the three teenagers and Harry squirmed as he felt a dozen sets of eyes on him. He stood shakily and greeted Molly and Arthur, touched by their joy at seeing him unharmed.

'Severus is upstairs,' Arthur said softy. 'The healers have sedated him to allow him to heal. Harry, we were told you had been killed. Severus was very distressed.'

Harry winced and nodded his understanding.

'Dad,' Ron asked shakily. 'Where's...where did you put...?' He trailed off with a sob and Arthur pulled his youngest son into his arms.

'Fred is upstairs in his room,' he whispered hoarsely. 'George is with him.'

Ron wiped his face furiously and moved away towards the stairs. With a quick shared glance, Hermione and Harry moved to follow him.

They climbed the stairs quietly, allowing Ron to lead until they reached the twins room. Ron paused and then with a shaky breath, pushed the door open. The three of them stepped in and quietly closed the door, their hearts breaking with the scene they found.

Fred lay on the nearest bed, his face pale in death while George sat beside him, his hand stroking through his brothers matted hair and tears poring silently down his face. Bill stood at the window with his back to them, his shoulders shaking in silent grief.

With a cry of anguish Ron fell to his knees beside the bed and buried his head in Fred's chest. Hermione grabbed Harry's hand and let out a quiet sob.

George looked up at Harry, his face drawn and empty. 'Tell me you killed him?' he croaked and Bill turned to see who his brother was talking to.

Harry gave a nod, his chest tight with grief and anger. 'He's gone. He won't hurt anyone again.'

'Are any of you hurt?' Bill asked and Hermione answered.

'Just cuts and bruises. Harry still need some treatment but nothing too...,' she trailed off looking down at Fred again.

Bill gave her a sad smile. 'Harry I could get a healer up here? George needs his back dressed but won't go downstairs.'

Hermione moved to George's side and seeing the blood soaked shift, reached for the back.

'May I?' she asked gently and George nodded numbly. She lifted the shift and winced at the jagged cut that ran across the back of the boys ribs.

'This just needs some cleaning and some dittany. I could run down and get some.'

'I'll call Dobby,' Harry said and quietly summoned the elf to his side.

Predictably, Dobby threw himself at Harry's legs and cried quietly for a few minutes before giving Ron and Hermione the same treatment.

'Dobby, could you get us some Dittany and a clean dressing,' Harry asked and the elf nodded enthusiastically. The elf glanced at where George and Ron sat sobbing over their fallen brother and frowned slightly before disappearing with a crack.

Hermione pulled her wand out and gently cleaned out the cut, while Harry rubbed circles on Ron's back.

Dobby swiftly returned with a small potions bottle that Hermione proceeded to pour over the angry looking wound. The cut slowly closed, leaving a thin line with a few bleeding edges left. She covered it with the dressing and patted the crying boy on the shoulder.

'All done,' she said softly as Bill tugged the blood soaked shirt over his brothers head.

'Let's get you into a clean top mate.' Bill said gently as Hermione raided the wardrobe for a warm jumper.

Harry found himself being pulled over into the corner by the door by the small elf who was tugging on his trouser leg.

"What is it Dobby?' he asked and the elf tugged on his ears nervously.'

'Master Harry Sir, there be something strange with the wards.'

'What do you mean?' Harry asked in alarm. 'Is someone trying to break in?'

The elf shook his head fervently. 'No Sir, the soul can't get out.'

Harry frowned in confusion and the elf tugged his ears again in distress.

'Master Fred is still here Sir.'

Harry eyes widened as he looked back at the still body and he knelt down to be on Dobby's level.

'Do you mean his ghost is here?'

'No Master Harry. Master Harry is a great wizard and made the wards so that Death can't visit here. Master Fred is still in his body. You should try and heal him.'

Harry felt his heart jump in his chest.

'Are you sure Dobby? The elf nodded. 'Could you go and get a healer?'

The elf disappeared again and a few seconds later appeared with a crack and a struggling Madam Pomfrey.'

'...yer daft elf... I was just in the middle of...,' she stopped as she took in her surrounding and she saw the distressed group huddled around Fred.

'What's going on,' Bill asked wearily and Harry nodded at the elf. Dobby repeated his belief that Fred was still there with them, leaving the room silent and staring at him.

'What does that mean?' George asked shakily and the elf wrung his hands.

'You should try to heal Master Fred again,' the elf said confidently and Madam Pomfrey shook her head.

'His injuries were too severe' she said softly.'He lost too much blood and his heart stopped. We couldn't get it started again.'

'You must fix him first, then start his heart,' the elf said firmly. 'He will wait.'

'Death doesn't wait,' the mediwitch said softly and Harry coughed.

'Err actually,' he said sheepishly. 'I may have accidentally done something with the wards that buys you more time than usual.'

The witch stepped forward with a frown and waved her wand over the still boy. 'There's a lot of damage and I've never tried to fix a body before.'

'Can you try?' Bill asked hoarsely and the witch paused a moment before nodding and setting to work.

'I'd better get Mum and Dad,' the older Weasley said before moving swiftly from the room. The remaining Weasley's quickly poured in and after a brief explanation the room seemed to burst into activity.

Harry and Hermione quietly left the family alone and went to sit on the stairs outside the room to wait for news. Ginny appeared and seemed to become the gofer for the witch. She would appear every few minutes and run down the stairs for supplies.

After about twenty minutes Ron and Charlie came and joined them on the stairs.

'She's still fixing all the damage.' Charlie muttered. 'I've never heard anything like this.'

'Me neither,' Harry muttered. The whole thing was seriously freaking him out. How did you repair a dead body and what if it didn't work? Even worse, what if it did work and Fred wasn't...right?

His hand stayed to the burn at his throat where the stone had been. He was pretty relieved that both the elder wand and the stone had been destroyed in the magical backlash at Voldemorts death. He couldn't say he was sorry. He really didn't like this messing around with Death. No one should have that kind of power, let alone a teenage boy.

It was nearly an hour after they had left the room that they heard a startled cry from Molly. All of those gathered on the stairs jumped and Ron stood, moving uncertainly towards the door. Before he could find the courage to reach for the handle, the door flew open and Arthur stood there, his face bathed in tears. His eyes flew over them until they found Harry and he stepped forwards and pulled him into a hug.

'Thank you,' he whispered hoarsely 'I don't know what you did but thank you so much.'

'It worked!?' Bill cried and Arthur nodded, pulling away from Harry.

'He's conscious! Groggy but awake...alive! It's a miracle.'

The Weasley's all piled back into the room leaving Hermione and Harry standing shell shocked in the hallway.

'I'm,...I'm going to make them all some tea,' Hermione said shakily before heading down the stairs.

Harry watched her go before sitting with a thump on the bottom step. He was suddenly exhausted and could feel the pull on his core, a clear sign of magical exhaustion.

He sat with his head in his hands for a few minutes before pulling himself to his feet and heading for the upper floors.

He needed to see Severus and then he needed to sleep. He found Kingsley sat outside the room Severus was in, filling in what looked like a small rainforest full of paperwork.

He smiled when he saw Harry and opened the door for him.

"Well done today, Mr Potter,' he said quietly and Harry smiled.

'Thanks,' he whispered before stepping into the room, feeling the buzz of a silencing charm as he passed through the doorway.

His guardian lay curled on his side and looked awful. Harry could see the marks from the various curses and hexes the man had been hit with across his face and arms. Both hands were bandaged and one leg was raised up on a pillow. Someone had tied his hair back to keep it off his skin and it only made the man looked thinner than normal.

Harry looked about for a chair and found an armchair near the rooms only window. He dragged the chair over to the bedside and looked about for a blanket. With the fatigue sweeping over him, he was suddenly freezing. Spotting a quilt folded up on top of the wardrobe, he pulled it down and wrapped it around himself before collapsing into the armchair. He snuggled down and reached out for one of the potion masters hands.

Harry took a deep shaky breath and let it out slowly, trying to stop his racing heart. It was over, he reminded himself. Voldemort was gone for good. His guardians were safe, Hermione and the Weasley's were safe. Everything else could wait for tomorrow.

He squeezed Severus's hand, smiling as the man's hand tightened around his, even in sleep.

He allowed his eyes to drift shut and for the first time in years fell into a dreamless sleep.

)O(

A/N - Well I hope the final battle didn't disappoint? A few loose ends to tie up for all of them but thank goodness that's over.