A/N: Happy Friday everyone! Thank you so much for the wonderful comments on the last chapter. I'm so glad you liked it.
Chapter 126: Gloria's Resolve
Severus and Gloria walked into the sitting room hand in hand to the shock of the reporter before them.
"Gloria, is this wise?" Dumbledore asked gasping as he stood and rushed to her side. It had been by his hand that she had been rescued in the first place, and deep down, Dumbledore would have kept her hidden away just to keep her safe. Truth be told, she reminded him of his late sister, and the controversy that surrounded Ariana's death would always parallel the mystery and horrors of Gloria's captivity.
"I can't stay hidden forever, Albus. It is time," Gloria said as she was offered a seat. "Hello Rita," she said and smiled.
"So you are alive?" Rita asked as she sat and a wave of relief seemed to settle over her.
"Have you seen him?" Gloria asked softly. "I am very much alive, no thanks to Hannibal, and he did try to kill me, as you know, but what I need to know is why you haven't stepped forward to tell your story?"
"Who would believe me?" Rita asked. "Until you, it was my word against his and he is still very powerful, as are Voldemort's followers. This was my last hope when I heard of his capture, but no, I didn't see him, nor do I want to."
"That is understandable," Gloria commented. "I have no desire myself, but it would seem like we must. We can ruin him," she said. "If you and I tell our stories, truthfully."
"How much do you need to stop the current story from running tomorrow?" Severus asked as he remained standing at Gloria's side, never moving far from her.
"Proof that she is alive should be enough to counter the editors decision to run Allanian's story," Rita answered. "But I will need something more then just the words," she continued and pulled a note pad and her quill from one of her pockets. "This is the story as it stands," she said and with a flick of her wand a golden thread of writing appeared from the quill and the whole story wrote itself in mid air, "I stole it when Allanian was being congratulated by his lackeys."
"You know that most of this is incorrect," Gloria said as she read it.
"Yes, I do," Rita nodded. "But again, I couldn't very well come forward in a room full of Death Eater's, or with my reputation what it is."
"But the memories have to be in your mind, just as they are in mine, that should have been truth enough."
"I should fetch my pensieve," Dumbledore spoke at the mention of the memories.
"It may be wise," Gloria said and looked to him.
"If you turn over the memory to Albus, couldn't the tribunal question its authenticity?" Rita asked skeptically. "I mean, my credibility as a writer is always in question but if we really wish to see Hannibal fall, then we have to be very careful."
"I plan to be at the tribunal. I will accompany my future husband and I will give my memories there depending on what they wish to know," Gloria vowed.
"Husband?" Rita asked and looked from Gloria to Severus.
"Everyone is bound to find out, or the rumours will flow very quickly," Gloria said as Severus turned a skeptical eye to her.
"So report that and the truth about the Pairywhethers for all of the magical community to read?" Severus asked.
"They should already know that you have Harry, what more will catch their attention now?" Gloria asked. "It is a complete contradiction to the article in question and enough in my mind to discredit Hannibal and the Death Eaters within the Prophet."
"I agree," Rita said.
"Hannibal Carthridge is a monster and he deserves to pay for all of his treachery," Gloria spoke as she saw the hesitation in Severus' eyes. "I am not dead. I am very much alive and engaged to marry one of the most powerful men in our world, and I can prove his lies to everyone. I believe I must do all of these things for the good of our family, the good of our world, and the credibility of all of us who dwell and remain loyal to Albus Dumbledore."
"You have your camera with you, I assume?" Severus asked in defeat. "My fiancée has made her stance very clear, it is now for you to make this happen."
"I have it, yes," Rita answered.
"Then you will take our photograph and enough to counter that article," Severus ordered. "We are in as deep as we can get now, I suppose."
"It is time to be out of the shadows," Gloria said with a nod. "I am very determined, sir."
"I'll support you in all that you choose to do," he responded and she smiled up at him.
"And you will be my particular companion for the tribunal," Dumbledore jumped in. "They will attempt to have you thrown out, or barred from entering, but if we walk in arm in arm, they will have to let you in Rita. I will stand up for you as a witness against Hannibal if that is indeed what this tribunal is all about. If it is not, then at least you'll have something else to write about," he said to Rita, who's eyes grew wider and wider.
"It has to be, hasn't it?" She asked when the weight of the task suddenly crashed in around her.
"None of us know for sure what this tribunal is going to be about, but with your news, the story you will put forward to take the cover, and the knowledge that Hannibal has been lying and conversing with other nefarious people within your news paper, I fear that yes, this is how things must be. That is, unless your insider can get us the absolute truth," Dumbledore said.
"Clarance is not privy to any of the information regarding this tribunal. If I didn't know then he doesn't know," Rita confessed.
"Then we cannot assume anything, and we'll have to go in hoping that we have everything we need for any possibility," Dumbledore finished.
"So, am I to expect you to wish for me to leave my quill at home?" Rita asked, the reporter returning to her persona in full force.
"Lord no, by all mean Miss. Skeeter, we are to hold them accountable, or as much so as possible. So please bring the quill and take notes," Dumbledore answered.
"And after?" She asked. "Are we to go back to being enemies, or does this make us allies?"
"It is complicated," Sirius piped in. "We do not trust you around Harry."
"Nor will you see him if you are invited back here," Gloria said harshly.
"The boy, you must understand, is to be protected at all costs. He is just a little boy, and this world has enough to say about him. I know he is a treasure to you, but he cannot be the subjects of your stories. Not now, not as young as he is," Dumbledore continued.
"I understand," Rita said and bowed her head.
"After the tribunal and the trial, the minister plans to make a public statement and once we hear what she has to say you will come back to Poppy House for an official statement from us. We will not be attending the conference as we believe she will be authorizing and act of war. So we will make a statement against it afterwards," Severus explained once his friends had stood up for his little one.
"That is a fantastic idea, Sev. Get the paper in your pocket, but perhaps first we should make an appearance, just to make a scene," Sirius added with mischief in mind.
"I have to say, I agree with Sirius, as much as it pains me," Rita said. "If I may be so bold as to add my two cents, considering I am going to have to testify against Hannibal, and I will, and I do stand with you in this. In all honesty this, tomorrow, the tribunal, and connecting myself with you could ruin my career as well, but it is right. So I must say that to see you, to have people see you in public, to be able to photograph you among them, just to have you walk away the moment Bagnold begins to speak; that could be the nail in the coffin for her plan."
"A plan that we do not know, entirely, but that we have made many assumptions about," Dumbledore warned.
"I do see the novelty in it, but I think that part of tomorrow should be played relatively on the fly, as information comes our way," Severus said thoughtfully.
"Very smart," Rita said. "We need to be sure."
"That is not like you Rita," Sirius said suspiciously.
"I'm still human, Sirius, and I know what this means for me as a person, not as a reporter," She said harshly. "I know what Hannibal did to me, to Gloria, what he is capable of doing. I'm as good as dead if he gets off. Can't write a story if you're dead."
"Very true, and I apologize," Sirius said and bowed to her.
"Thank you Sirius," she said.
"All right, that about settles it then, can we get on with it?" Severus asked. "So that you can get a story to the publisher before it's too late."
"Of course," Rita said and jumped to her feet. She pulled a camera, much larger than one would expect, from the folds of her very tight fitting ensemble.
"Just once again, as you have been invited back here, I must be very clear in saying that you will not see Harry," Severus said as her excitement began to show through.
"For now, I don't need him, I have you," she said and much of her old demeanour returned. "And I do expect exclusive rights to the wedding of the century."
Severus rolled his eyes but nodded his agreement.
"Splendid, let's take a photo, shall we?" She asked and arranged the three men around the true headline before her; Gloria Pairywhether was alive, and engaged to Severus Snape.