Chapter 72 - Confrontation

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Harry stumbled out of the trees, wand clasped in his hand and blood dripping down the side of his face from the cut above his eye.

"Expelleramus," came from the side and he ducked and rolled, sending a blasting curse back at the caster.

There was a satisfying grunt from that direction. Scrambling to his feet he went to run, but a severing charm glanced off the back of his right leg, causing it to go out from under him. Only a quick Protego saved him from a second one.

"Enough!"

That voice was enough to send cold shots of fear down Harry's spine, even though he had been expecting it. Gripping his wand tightly he forced himself back to his feet, despite the pain in his now bleeding leg. After all defiance was kind of his trademark. Breathing hard he glared at Voldemort across the other side of the clearing.

The irony of this being the same place where he had brought Sirius back from the dead did not escape him.

"Harry, is that any way to greet old friends?" Voldemort asked, smiling at him from the hideously disfigured face.

"No one here is my friend, Tom," Harry spat back.

Even the use of his real name didn't wipe the smile from Voldemort's face this time. Clearly the madman thought everything was going his way and it had put him in a very good mood.

"Your continued defiance of me has been troublesome this last year," Voldemort said, tone almost conversational, "but I think we both know it is over now."

Harry sent a nervous glance around the ring of Death Eaters surrounding him. There were six robed figures, not including their Dark Lord himself and all had their wands trained on him.

"Not man enough to fight me yourself?" he demanded and Voldemort laughed.

"Oh Harry, every time we meet you are such a source of entertainment."

"Every time we meet you lose," he said.

That did cause the smile to slip slightly on the serpent like features.

"As much as it pains me to do so," Voldemort said, "I am here to offer you one last chance. Things have changed so much since we last met. Join me and we can put all this nastiness behind us. You could be a most valuable ally."

That really did shock Harry and, if the way some of the wands pointing at him moved, he wasn't the only one.

"You want me on your side?" Harry did not have to fake that reaction at all. "But you had Lucius Malfoy try and kill me."

"And yet again you proved you are stronger than my underlings," Voldemort said, rolling his own wand between his fingers. "I will admit I was impressed, and I was doubly so when I heard what you achieved with your godfather. If you join me I will promise you your life, the life of your soulmate, the life of your godfather and even his wolf. I do not believe in wasting high magic and you are unique. Speaking of which, where is Draco Malfoy?"

"Not here," Harry said vehemently.

"I know he is in this forest," Voldemort said, "it is only a matter of time before we find him."

With a nod from their lord, two of the robed figures disappeared into the trees.

"Harry, we both know you cannot duel me and hope to win," Voldemort continued.

"Afraid of what happened last time?" Harry challenged.

That caused another hissing laugh to escape the madman.

"I have it on good authority that, that is most unlikely," Voldemort said, pointing his own wand at Harry's. "I know what has happened since you raised your godfather from the veil, Harry."

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