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Complete header information may be found in Chapter One. You may find all parts of this story by clicking the Remembrance and Reunion tag.

Chapter Nineteen: An Explosive Resolution

Harry waited for silence to fall, taking comfort from Severus' steady presence in the gallery. I hope we haven't underestimated Zabini's preparations, she thought, meeting her husband's eyes. He nodded to her, and then it was time to speak.

"Peers of Wizarding Britain, I stand before you today not only as the Voice of the Goblinate, but as a voice of reason against the lies of Giancarlo Zabini."

"Lies!" called someone from the back.

Minister Weasley banged his gavel on the podium before him and called for order.

"Lies," Harry continued after casting an amplification charm on her voice, "that he spread in my absence."

"Yes, your absence, Peer Voice," a Zabini supporter remarked sarcastically. "Good of you to grace us with your presence after so long, your majesty."

There was some laughter at this.

"I am not a queen, nor even a would-be monarch. I left because I thought that the man who would have set himself up as our ruler had gotten me with child before I destroyed him."

The chamber went deathly silent.

"I was wrong about that," Harry almost whispered, though the magical acoustics of the room carried her voice to every corner of it. "But I was not mistaken when I realized that I had taken Riddle's knowledge of sorcery inside of me during the . . . attack."

The witch stopped momentarily and lowered her head to repress certain memories. She had not been sure that she would admit to her rape in this forum, but she was not ashamed of what had happened. I let him take me because he no longer feared to touch me after the change of my sex, and the metaphysical connection he forced between us went both ways.

Harry, Severus' pain-filled voice echoed in her mind.

It gave her the strength to continue her testimony.

"I ripped the Dark Lord's mind from his body, something that my father-in-law," Harry said, raising her head and her voice and gazing steadily at Giancarlo, "suspected and sought to use. He wanted to bind my will to his through a . . . proper remarriage to his son so that he could wield me like the tool of war I had become. . . . I could not allow that."

"If you truly know what Lord Voldemort did, then why couldn't you have stopped him?" someone asked.

"Why didn't you kill him?" demanded someone else.

At that suggestion, the hall erupted again.

"Silence!" roared Harry, her voice shaking the windows.

Everyone was.

"I have proof that Giancarlo Zabini has been working with foreign interests to sway both the minds of this body and the future of our world. He wants a kingdom of his own, and plans to build it with your money once it is no longer under the protection of the Goblinate. The Wizard Bank of Merlin is nothing more than an attempt to destroy the alliance between those Above and Below the earth of our land, and leave it weak for some new dark lord to conquer."

The general commotion that followed this accusation caused the Minister to cast a silencing charm over the gallery, but the exclamations of the peers were vigorous and loud.

"The woman has run mad!" Zabini exclaimed over the reduced din. "She speaks like a goblin—for the goblins! Brave though she has been, her defeat of my Lord Voldemort has left her insane!"

Arthur, red-faced and furious, demanded of Zabini, "Did you just admit to being a follower of He Who—of Voldemort?"

Giancarlo laughed. "I learned much from that madman. Only see," he said, withdrawing his wand and pointing it at the floor of the chamber.

Arthur dove away from his podium in alarm as a yellow bolt of light shot into it and the floor began to crack, shake, and fall away as the groan of earth could be heard pushing itself up into the chamber. The spectators fled as dirt and glassy looking globes spilled out of the chasm that Giancarlo had opened.

They glowed a fell green.

The same green that lit Harry's eyes. Severus! she screamed in her mind. Help me!

What can I do? he thought to her as he braced himself against the shoves of the terrified people in the gallery.

Don't allow his rage to claim me, she thought before opening that part of her mind in which the last vestiges of Tom Riddle's consciousness had made their own and releasing his powerful final emotions to fuel her magic.

Through the bond, Severus felt Harry's metaphysical body become engulfed in something like fire, though the flames were not hot. He knew that his wife was attempting to shield him from what she was feeling, while also controlling both her magic and the Riddle force's "ideas" of what she should be doing with it.

He knew that if he could not help her," she would be completely overwhelmed, perhaps possessed, so he imagined himself as water, and allowed his cool control to flow toward the flames of hatred that surrounded the witch's mind.

"Get the rest out!" Arthur shouted from somewhere in the room, and the commands of aurors could be heard removing those peers who had remained in hopes that they might be of service.

Giancarlo, meanwhile, had been congratulating himself for not placing his complete trust in his goblins. Several of his wizards had been sent to the true basement of the building with Avada Kedavra bombs. These were what he had called up from below. Now that his trap was ready to spring, he attempted to apparate.

"Damnation!" he shrieked, realizing that someone had set an anti-apparation ward around the chamber. The gallery, he thought. Climb to the gallery and get out that way.

But looking up, he saw Zoroastrid with her wand pointing down at him, her son by her side.

And then a voice he'd never thought to hear again spoke to him.

"Face me and judgment, Giancarlo Zabini, my servant," Lord Voldemort's voice issued from the mouth of Harry Potter.

Her eyes were no longer green, but red slits, and her fingernails had blackened and curled around her wand.

Smoke poured from them.

Giancarlo screamed. He knew the spell his "lord" was about to cast.

No, Harry! Severus mentally screamed. Don't do it! Think of the bombs—we have to stop the bombs!

For there were enough of the devices, Severus knew from having examined Lucius' journals, to rip through all of London.

An unearthly laugh escaped from Harry, then, who Severus could see in his mind had lost some of her definition. The witch was changing, inside out, into something perhaps much more frightening than explosive packages of death curse. She raised her hands and black shadow serpents shot out of her fingers to burrow into Giancarlo.

The man's skin quickly became as a bubbling cauldron as the snakes appeared to be eating him from within, and then, amidst his screams and the growing green glow, he dispersed into dust.

"I call upon the child you bear! Hear me, new soul—pure being—I call upon you now to wash from your mother the evil inside of her. Come forth, come forth, come forth! I command you, child, to come forth!" a strident, elderly, feminine voice commanded from behind Severus then.

He thought it had to be his mother, but she was across the chamber from him, shooing the Zabinis out of the gallery.

No, it's just Harry, Arthur, and I, Severus thought, as his wife's mind closed to him completely. He could no longer feel her through their bond. "I will not fail you again!" he called to Harry, unable to look behind him for fear that the woman he loved would utterly disappear if he did.

"Then call with me, man!" the feminine voice ordered imperiously. "Call your child with me!" she cried again before beginning to chant, "I call upon the pure soul inside of you to come forth. Come forth, come forth . . . ."

Looking frantically beneath him at Harry, Severus added his words to those of the unfamiliar witch who he now felt stood beside him. "Come forth! Come forth! Come forth!"

Harry—or the thing that had hold of her, to be more specific—had been about to shoot serpents into a terrified, but resolutely still, Arthur Weasley when the magical words began to have an affect.

The smoke ceased pouring from her fingertips, and her eyes turned green again. She closed them as she screamed and fell to the floor, writhing in a fit that kicked up the dust of Giancarlo Zabini and set her skin glowing with a white light. The light grew brighter—but so did that of the Avada Kedavra traps.

"We need to hurry, I think!" Arthur shouted a bit shockily to the witch and wizard above him who were locked in verbal combat with the essence of Voldemort. "Yes," he whispered, looking into the ball of white light that contained Harry. "Oh, yes, we must hurry!"

Two things happened then. The scream of a crying baby was heard from inside of the ball, and then the oscillating energy of the bombs began to hum.

"I believe that noise is our cue to exit, Sir," the short, plump, tidy lady said.

All of the sudden, Severus found himself outside on the street with Arthur Weasley—but of Harry and the unfamiliar witch, there was no sign.

"What did you see, Arthur?" Severus asked, feeling frantic—and confused.

The other man was still somewhat stunned as he took in the sight of hundreds of people, wands drawn, working together to reinforce the building in a combined shielding spell. He looked at Severus and replied abstractedly, "Congratulations."

It was then that the Father of the Snape Family remembered the sound of the crying baby.