"NO!" shouted Voldemort, his voice maniacal and his eyes blazing red. He stared at the dissipating stream of energy from the place that just seconds before had been occupied by Nagini, and then with fury in his voice, he turned to a whimpering Wormtail and, without briefest hesitation, aimed his wand and shouted "Avada Kedavra!" Wormtail was enveloped by intense green light and rolled over dead on the floor. The other Death Eaters moved back a pace, leaving Wormtail and Harry in the centre of their circle. Each Death Eater was now cautiously considering Voldemort and Harry alike.

"Does anyone else care to question my authority or my orders?" hissed Voldemort, the promise of death shading each syllable. "What, no one to stand for Harry Potter in his hour of need?" This time no one laughed. "Well Harry, I have violated the rules of confrontation I learned many years ago and look what I have to show for it. My most faithful servant is dead."

Harry was surprised to hear the emotions of loss in Voldemort's voice. But instead of passing to Wormtail's body, Voldemort paused at the place vacated by the dead snake. "Nagini did all she was commanded. She never complained or demanded. She did not abandon my ways while I was no more than sundered spirit. She sustained me while I had only a rudimentary physical body. She was much more than a serpent. She..."

As Harry let Voldemort rant, he strengthened the simple magic he had spread throughout the room. He knew he could send a tremendous surge of magic through the unicorn hair woven into his garment. Enough magic, he was sure, to sever the chains holding him to the chair. He weighed the unknown. Snape had moved behind him, out of his line of sight. Even if Voldemort and the Death Eaters holding captives were preoccupied at the moment, nothing indicated that Snape was similarly distracted. "Snape would see the gathering of large magic and strike me before I am fully ready," concluded Harry. As the thought crossed his mind, he realized the chains holding his arms were growing slack. As he hazarded a quick glance down, he saw links being added quietly to the chains. Harry traced the subtle magic altering his bonds and was shocked to see it extending from the crumpled form of Verity, lying motionless where Wormtail had dropped her. "She's faking unconscious and helping me! So much for a wild card!" thought Harry as he prepared his muscles for what was about to be required of them.

He carefully worked his arms free from the chains and retrieved Lockhart's and Greyback's wands from within the gold sheath inside his robes. No one reacted. It seemed that no one was yet aware of his subtle motion, all attention in the room being focused on Voldemort's sweeping figure. Harry struck Voldemort mid-soliloquy. He gathered the small strands of magic he had so carefully conjured, then and sent a protective spell down each thin filament. The protective magic blossomed into thirteen shimmering spheres, twelve containing a single Death Eater and the thirteenth containing Voldemort himself. Harry sprang from the chair and with both wands raised he elevated his captives into the air. He had placed the magic so carefully that only Voldemort and his cronies were lifted off the ground. Each of their captives fell free when the spheres rose.

The reaction was immediate in several of the spheres. Voldemort, Avery, and Bellatrix struck at the enclosure with potent magic. The spheres frosted as the magic struck the enclosures and cooled the interiors. Most of the remaining Death Eaters seemed shocked beyond action. Snape alone, Harry noted, regarded the situation with detached patience, not even raising his wand.

"Get behind me," yelled Harry to the newly freed captives. They obeyed immediately. Verity supported Fane who hobbled and whimpered piteously. When his friends were behind him, Harry directed his attention to the spheres he supported with the two wands.

"Myrtle, you may now visit with what is left of Tom Riddle, your murderer," said Harry as he pointed at Voldemort.

Myrtle whooshed from within a nearby tapestry and went straight into the sphere holding Voldemort, the expression on her face most grim.

Harry focused his attention on the imprisoned Death Eaters. "I will now make each of you an offer. The magic holding you captive is point specific. It cannot be broken from the inside. The more magic you attempt to use inside the sphere, the colder you will become. Use too much magic, or too potent a spell and you will literally freeze solid. Now that you are warned, here is my offer. Some of you have been bullied into league with Voldemort." At this Bellatrix hissed and clawed at the enclosure. "Other have followed Voldemort for reasons entirely their own. I care not to hear those reasons. I ask you to consider what you have received by serving Voldemort. Pain. Humiliation. Fear. Voldemort's promise of purifying the wizarding race has gone by the wayside. He repeatedly engages in killing pure-blood wizards. He is only half-blood himself. I should say he was half-blood; he is now much less than that. Created by magic, his body can barely be called human. But it goes deeper than just his body. Those of you who were with him when he was Tom Riddle have watched as he underwent terrible transformations in his quest for immortality. He killed with the purpose of splitting his human soul and hiding bits of it to make himself invincible. Lestrange, Avery, you were with Tom Riddle in his younger years. You were privy to the killing of Myrtle Longbottom and the Greyback pups. What you didn't know was, that beside the blood on his hands, Riddle used those murders to create Horcruxes. Myrtle's murder was used to create a Horcrux of Riddle's basilisk, and the Greyback murders were used to hide a portion of Riddle's soul in a diary."

Voldemort's screams could now be heard from within his sphere. Ignoring Myrtle's torment of Voldemort, Harry continued, "I have destroyed those Horcruxes. He killed his muggle father and grandparents and created a Horcrux hidden in an ancient Peverell ring. Dumbledore destroyed that Horcrux. Voldemort killed Hepzibah Smith and used her death to split his soul once again. He hid that bit of soul in a locket that once belonged to Salazar Slytherin. He used the murder of Regulus Black to cow his followers and secret his fifth Horcrux in a goblet once owned by Helga Hufflepuff. He disguised that goblet as a bronze shield and hid it in the trophy room at Hogwarts. He intended to kill me and Neville Longbottom as babies and use our deaths to form more Horcruxes. He was thwarted, before he could proceed, by my mother's love. After he regained a rudimentary body, he settled for a witch named Bertha Jorkins for his sixth Horcrux, hiding that bit of soul in Nagini. A moment ago, Nagini was killed and that piece of his soul was released."

Harry paused and considered the Death Eaters. "There is one more thing you need to know before you decide where your loyalties lie. I transferred the Horcruxes contained in the locket and goblet to the adamant crucible that Voldemort thought contained Dumbledore's Porcrux. Voldemort himself saw to their destruction. He stands before you now, much less than human, but very mortal, and very much subject to death."

The words ran through the room like a blast of cold wind. Harry continued, "You have given over your loyalty to a creature that is less human than the lowliest muggle. By my calculation what is left here has less than one-sixtieth of a human soul. He, for all his brave pronouncements, has blamed the bulk of his murders on others. Myrtle's death he blamed on Rubeus Hagrid and his acromantula. The responsibility for the slaughter of the Greyback werewolf pups he laid to the blame of Albus Dumbledore and the Ministry of Magic. In his father and grandparent's deaths, he pointed blame to his blood uncle Morfin Gaunt, who by the way, he allowed to die under the tortuous care of Dementors in Azkaban. Hepzebah Smith's death he arranged to be blamed on her house elf, Hokey. He has consistently avoided personal responsibility for his murderous acts. During this entire time has he offered the possibility of immortality to any of his followers? No he has not. He will be the only immortal on the earth. You heard him speak of "wretched mortals" in the same tone he used to speak of "filthy muggles" or even pureblood wizards as "blood traitors." He would have eternity to exterminate the human race. How long will extermination take? A hundred years? A thousand? Do you really think he plans teaching you the magic to become immortal? Think again. When the muggles are all gone who will be left to kill? His wizard enemies. When they are eliminated, who would be next? The less able wizards, those who aren't as quick or as subservient. Then who? You, or your children, or your grandchildren. Do you honestly think he is a respecter of anyone who has helped him? Look at Peter Pettigrew. Look at his discarded body! He gave his own flesh to allow Voldemort a physical body. See what he earned for that sacrifice. Look at his devoted Dementors, they did his bidding and he destroyed them remorselessly. Don't deceive yourselves. Voldemort will eventually kill you all because he is no longer connected to anything remotely human. He has become an insatiable misanthrope. I offer you a way out, just as I offered Voldemort a way out before he destroyed his last three Horcruxes. Renounce him. He is as good as dead right now. He will never leave the sphere he presently occupies. I will take it directly to the Ministry of Magic. He has a date with a stone archway. Chose to follow him and you will truly follow him through the archway. Denounce him and your lives will be spared."

The room was silent. Death Eaters stood immobilized by what they had learned. It was obvious that Harry's words had stirred many of them to thoughts of saving their own skins if Voldemort was truly doomed. Harry stood, holding the spheres aloft and examining each captive. He saw that some were considering capitulation, but he also saw the determination of those who were ready to follow Voldemort into death. Judging from the looks, he knew it was time to bring the matter to final resolution.

Bellatrix and Voldemort again loosed great blasts of magic at their imprisoning spheres. The interiors whitened as if filled with snow, the occupants completely obscured from view. Harry ignored the magical outburst. He separated the spheres, placing the twelve Death Eaters on one side of the room and Voldemort directly opposite them. "Here is your chance. I will ask one time if you will renounce Voldemort. Those who choose to remain aligned with Voldemort will be set on Voldemort's side of the room. The others will be sent to Azkaban to await trial."

As he prepared to ask each Death Eater separately to voice their choice, a huge chunk of rock struck Harry squarely in the back. The blow was followed by a tremendous spell spurting from the floor beneath Harry's feet. The power of the spell knocked Harry from his feet and hurled him across the room into the stone wall between two pillars. As he fell in a bloodied heap, his captives also fell from the air, their protective spheres evaporating as Harry's magic connection was severed.

Pandemonium reigned. Freezing gusts of air, frost, and snow filled the chamber when the globes disappeared. Myrtle left Voldemort and zoomed into a nearby wall. Bellatrix and Voldemort seemed hypothermically lethargic and remained in icy heaps on the floor. A spell slammed Fane Pinchbeck into a stone pillar. Draco Malfoy appeared to have pushed his mother behind him, and beyond all comprehension, was dueling with his father. Dobby and Kreacher stood back-to-back and battled Death Eaters. The members of the D.A. had formed triplets and were dueling with now unmasked Death Eaters. Snape was fighting magic-for-magic with two house elves. Deadly spells and incantations filled the air. The D.A. worked seamlessly, as they had practiced, trading support and backup with those in close proximity. In short order, the D.A. members held Death Eaters captive and the only remaining conflict was Snape and the two house elves. As if drawn by the immensity of the magic used, all eyes focused on the battle between the elves and the furiously fast want of Severus Snape. The intensity of the fight was incredible, releasing great waves if heat and smoke as magic collided mid-air. Even though Snape was using spells of tremendous power, the protective magic of the elves withstood all his efforts. With sweat dripping from his great hooked nose, Snape paused for the briefest of seconds and shouted, "Avada..."

Simultaneously, a spell lit the gloom with an evil green light, hitting the two house elves from behind and hurling them out the hole in the ceiling and into the darkness.

"ENOUGH!" Voldemort's cold voice sliced through the smoke and haze like a sword. All motion in the room stopped. "What have we here?" asked Voldemort as he pinned everyone in the room, high against the walls with a tremendous wave of magic and stepped into the centre of the room.

He crossed to where Harry lay bloodied and motionless on the floor. Voldemort kicked him roughly. Harry moaned.

"Good! He's still alive. You've done well Fane!" said Voldemort as he released a bruised and bloody Fane Pinchbeck from his pinioned position against the wall. "Your role was cunningly played, although you revealed yourself a bit later than I had forseen. I admit, I was concerned when I lost your dissociate stream from the gnome on Arthur Weasley's stoop, but the flour and meal in this mill came to good use. My faith in alueuromancy as augury of the future is reinforced. Fane you have Lord Voldemort's favor for your service."

Fane bowed and nodded, "Neither a problem nor forced, my Lord. Your prescience is awe-inspiring. As you predicted, the dragon was sent to fight the giants. My conscience is now free to follow you without the subterfuge I have been forced to keep." He bowed again, circled the room, and made to stand behind Voldemort.

"Not behind me Fane, I want everyone out where I can see them. After all, look at what has happened to poor Harry for allowing you safety behind him." Voldemort's voice dripped with sarcastic amusement. "Now, to find out who was foolish enough to consider taking Harry's offer!"

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