Disclaimer

I don't own Harry Potter.

In fact, if you get down to it I probably own very little of the ideas being used in this story. But I am not getting paid for them and have hopefully put them together in a new and interesting way.

Enjoy.

Authors Note

Well here's another chapter. It's been good to get my mind off the Christchurch Earthquake.

While I've not been directly affected, it's had an impact on the entire country.

My deepest condolences to those who've lost family and friends.

Chapter 20

Friday was a bustle of activity. Emily had taken the morning off and been volunteered to help get the last items they needed for their overnight trip in the World Room.

Harry still had his martial arts lesson where he continued his sword form and practicing utilising his energy to move and enhance his attacks. John had even had the idea of a means of using it as a defence, attempting to barrier to block and deflect incoming attacks.

Harry found the idea had a lot of merit but his initial attempts had little success and he was not looking forward to testing it.

The girls had arrived earlier than normal that morning to get things sorted and the Basilisk Fang knives Daphne brought were admired then put away until they needed them. She didn't get the chance to measure them but it could wait.

The preparations for their trip were put on hold when they all attended the Auror training. It was only Tonks and Jones this time and they continued practising their previous lessons on Apparation and Port-keys and working on Auror detection spells.

Both before and after their training they had collecting what they needed and checking lists built by Hermione and Padma.

Daphne had done some simple enchantments on some small packs they had gotten to increase their internal space to hold everything they needed and Susan and Hannah oversaw their packing. Tracy focused on any possible medical needs and Ginny and Luna focused on food. Susan was also occasionally assisting Hermione and Padma to collect all the other things they felt they would need.

Hermione and Emily visited a few camping stores. Hermione had convinced everyone that a mostly muggle style of trip might be beneficial so they could still manage if magic was not an option for them. The rest of the girls were not totally happy but recognised the value of the experience. Daphne still roped Harry into helping her 'prepare' their stuff. Temporary charms on the sleeping bags to ensure their comfort and warmth was a prime example. She and Harry, with Hermione and Padma's help, would work on enchantments that could not be detected later in the summer, once they were up to speed on necessary foundations.

It was the afternoon before they felt they were ready and had double checked everything. Even though this was a simple trip they treated like a real mission. Tonks had stuck around to watch their activities out of curiosity and been impressed by the level of preparation they put in and made a few suggestions to help.

They gathered everything in the Club House in the World Room and went to change into more appropriate clothing. When they had all reassembled they slung their packs onto their shoulders and adjusted the straps, checking each other to ensure they were okay.

"Well, is everyone ready?" Harry asked looking around.

Seeing everyone agree they picked up their brooms and headed to the roof to take to the skies. Harry led the way across the World Room, keeping his speed and his altitude down. Hermione was still nervous on a broom but Tracy kept close to ensure she was okay.

They group set down just outside the castle replica and stowed their brooms in a sleeve Harry and Daphne had attached to the side of their packs for that purpose. Harry led the way through the large gate, across the courtyard and into the inner building carved into the cliff-face.

The girls looked around the large Hall they were led into and followed as Harry headed straight to far corner and opened a door hidden by shadows and the Hall's intricate internal decorations. The shadows deepened as they moved deeper into the large room to join Harry and they were forced to light their wands. Lighting was one problem they had not managed to solve just yet and most muggle torches they could easily find would not last the extended duration of darkness they were about to endure.

Hermione pulled out some paper and measuring tools and began plotting the tunnel with the help of Hannah, Tracy and Padma. Harry, Ginny and Daphne took the lead and carefully advanced deeper into the tunnel while Susan and Luna took the rear. Harry was holding his wand above his head, letting the light carry forward without getting in his eyes.

It took the group an hour to reach the first intersection. With walking, mapping and taking precautions they were progressing much slower then Harry did when he was on his broom.

"I don't know how you managed to come this far on your own." Daphne said as she stared into the darkness. "It's pretty creepy down here."

"It is a little." Harry admitted. "But I grew up in the dark, literally, so it's also a little comforting for me."

Daphne shivered. "That cupboard right?" She asked softly.

"Yeah." Harry replied quietly. "It was my haven and my prison."

"Now are you free and safe." She and Ginny hugged him from either side.

"Yeah." Harry shifted uncomfortably. "Come on, do we start with this side passage?"

Ginny and Daphne released him.

"What do our mappers think?" Daphne looked back at Hermione and Padma.

"Cartographers thank you very much." Hermione replied. "I think you should have a look. Go only as far as the first intersection, if there is one. Let's not get ourselves lost."

"I agree." Padma said. "I'll go with Ginny and Daphne."

"Hang on." Hermione took her pack off and dug in one of the pockets.

She pulled out a ball of string. "I had Dobby mark this at half and one metre intervals. From this point on measurements are going to be important."

"Dobby huh?" Harry asked.

"Oh, shut up." Hermione huffed. "We were all busy and I didn't have time."

Hermione handed the end of the string to Padma and explain what to do then watched as the three girls set off down the side passage. It didn't take long before they were lost into the darkness, the light from Ginny's wand being the only means of locating them.

Hermione watched the string as it unrolled, counting the marks as they passed, and ensuring it both flowed freely and remained taut.

The string paused then shifted a few times before two distinct tugs travelled down the line. Hermione made a note on her map. The string began moving again and the light was seen to disappear to the side and it's glow faded from sight.

"Corner?" Harry asked quietly.

Hermione nodded, focused on her task.

"This is a little boring." Tracy said quietly.

"We'll see if they agree with you when they get back." Harry replied.

The string stopped again and was tugged again. There was a long pause then the string fell slack and they began to see the light appear again and begin growing steadily brighter. The source appeared and the three girls became visible as the hurried back.

"That was a little freaky." Ginny said looking a little jittery.

Padma nodded rapidly. "Being lost in the darkness, especially when we turned the corner and lost sight of you. The corridor ended in a room."

"Ginny and I looked around." Daphne took up the tale. "There is a single main room with six smaller adjoining rooms. There were no other exits."

"So boring then?" Harry asked.

"Boring? No!" Daphne stated glaring.

"Hey, point that glare at Tracy; that was her comment." Harry raised his hands in partial surrender.

"Fine. You can go next time." Daphne pointed her glare at her friend.

Hermione finished winding up the string. "Shall we go and measure those rooms?"

"Yeah, let's do this properly." Harry replied. "Wouldn't a tape measure be better then string? They wind themselves up."

"I know but that corridor was longer than any self-winding tape measure I know of and this string is longer than the longest tape measures I've seen. It's also smaller. I'm sure we can magic up a better replacement when we have time but this was a last minute solution." Hermione explained.

"Okay. That is why we are doing this; to learn these things. Let us know what you need, Daphne and I will work something out." Harry said.

"Good, because I already have a few ideas." Hermione grinned as she pulled her wand and lit it before setting off down the corridor. "Come on, we don't have all day."

It didn't take long to map out the rooms, nor the next few. They were simple side corridor's ending in 'T' junctions that led to either single rooms or simple complexes like the first one they found. Tracy had measured out the next corridor with Susan and Luna. She and Susan had come back quite worked up taken a few minutes to calm down again. Tracy had never commented on being bored again. Luna, on the other hand, had spent the entire time making shadow puppets on the wall of animals they were sure she was making up.

After this the network of corridors became much more complicated. They found a large room, a much larger room than any they had found previously.

"Can I suggest that we set up a camp here?" Hermione suggested. "This seems to be getting close to the main complex. We have room to set up the tent here and it will give us a base camp to work from. AT least until we find better location."

"Sounds good to me." Harry nodded.

The others agreed and Harry un-slung his pack to dig out the tent.

"Thank you." Hermione said sounding relieved.

"Oh?" Hannah looked at the Gryffindor witch. "What aren't you telling us?"

Hermione flushed. "I need a bathroom, and I don't fancy squatting in a dark corridor." She admitted.

There was a long silence.

"That's not a bad idea actually." Susan commented. "I'm after her."

"Then I guess we had better get this tent up quick." Harry said as he unrolled it.

It didn't take long, not with all the willing hands, and a blushing Hermione disappeared inside.

Harry followed her in and caught a glimpse of her disappearing into a side room. It was his first time in the tent so he stopped to look around. It had a single main room with a small bathroom on one side and a small kitchen on the other. The main room would be a little tight for all nine of them to sleep but he figured that they could sleep outside if they had to.

Harry checked the time and figured it was close enough to start dinner. He used the kitchen to wash up and, with Ginny assisting, dug out the food they had brought and began getting it ready. The elves had been a big help and most of the prep work had been done so it didn't take long before he had the meal ready.

The girls accepted that they would be sitting on the floor and eating off their knees, so they had ensured the majority of the main room was clear so they could sit together.

Hermione and Padma mixed their eating with their cartography. Using graph paper they translated their notes and sketches onto the large sheets of graph paper as an actual scale map. The other girls watched them work and complemented them on how the map began growing. They were a little disappointed they hadn't done more but they had a slow start with how long it took to find the start of the main complex. Hannah had questioned Hermione about the entrance corridor and Hermione pointed out the opened ended corridor at the edge of the paper with a small notation about leading to the castle.

"I think after dinner we should try to cover this area here. I think we will be able to get that done tonight without too much trouble." Hermione suggested.

"Isn't that over doing it a little?" Tracy asked.

"I don't know." Hermione replied. "We don't know how big this place is. I'd rather do a little more now than be rushing later."

"Okay, fair enough." Tracy nodded. "Well I'm done here."

!HPEaSE!

It took about as long as Hermione anticipated to complete the section she had suggested and return to their camp site. That, surprisingly, was the only thing she got right. The area was larger than she had anticipated but they worked faster as well.

Harry was moving around the large room with Daphne. She was providing him some light while he set up detection wards both at the entrances to the room and partway down each of the corridors to protect then campsite. Not that they thought they would need it but it would be good practice if they had to do it for real.

"There. Done." Harry smiled proudly at the Slytherin girl.

"Nice Harry. You really are good at wards." Daphne complimented him. "We need to work on your enchantment skills too."

"I'd like that." Harry replied. "Thanks for taking the time to help me with it."

"You don't need to thank me. If you prove as capable as I think you could be then we'll have plenty of work for you." Daphne told him. "Father gave me a piece of basilisk hide for you to practise on. If you can enchant it then we can do some amazing things with our basilisk hide armour."

"I hope so." Harry's good mood waned. "I'm terrified of any of you girls getting hurt."

"I know." Daphne gently hugged him. "It's part of what makes you so special."

She pulled back and looked at him for a minute. "You know. At Hogwarts you always seemed to be in the middle of whatever trouble occurred that year. From a Slytherin point of view it was stupid and 'typically Gryffindor' behaviour. I never understood why you got involved instead of leaving it for the Professors to sort out. It was like you went looking for trouble to boost your fame."

"No..." Harry began.

"Let me finish, please." Daphne stopped him. "That day Malfoy attacked you, I know that you did nothing to provoke it, you were just minding your own business and something else happened to you. I began wondering if that was closer to the truth than the fame seeker you were portrayed as in Slytherin."

Harry tried to speak again but Daphne placed a finger on his lips to stop him. "I now know the truth is different. You never acted with the intent of boosting your fame, only trying to do what you felt was right when no one else would. You never went looking for trouble but couldn't not act when it found you.

"When I saw your memories, when I saw what you've been though and what you've achieved I was reminded of what you told my father about achievements. It would be so easy to write off your actions as those of a reckless, idiotic Gryffindor but that would be wrong. Your actions are those of the next Legendary Wizard. Your name will be listed with Merlin and the Four Founders as one of the true greats."

"I'm not that good." Harry protested.

"Yes you are." Daphne contradicted him. "Yes. You. Are. You're making your own legend. It's because you aren't trying to that makes it great."

Harry flushed but didn't say anything. She wasn't letting him.

"Thank you for letting me be a part of this." Daphne finished by wrapping him in another hug.

When she pulled back her expression had changed to one of nervousness.

"Daphne? Are you okay?" Harry looked a little concerned.

She nodded and blushed a little as she spoke. "Hermione and Ginny told us about kissing you. You as a male."

Harry nodded.

"I was wondering if I could too?"

"Here? Now?" Harry questioned.

"It's not the perfect setting but..." Daphne looked a little shy. "With our talk, it's kind of made this the perfect moment.

"If you don't want to that's fine. No pressure or anything." She finished in a rush.

She bit her lip cutely and ducked her head slightly.

"It's just that I still can't hold it very long. Both Hermione and Ginny kissed me while I was a girl when I changed back in the middle." Harry explained.

"I know." Daphne told him. "It doesn't stop me from wanting to kiss you. Change, please. If you don't want to then don't but I'd like to try, if you don't mind."

Harry nodded and focused to shift to his male form.

Daphne looked at him and ran her fingers through his short dark hair before caressing his cheek lightly.

"You really are handsome." She whispered as she slowly closed the gap.

The kiss began gently at first then slowly began to deepen as the pleasure she felt began filling her. One of her arms slid around his neck to pull him closer while the other kept caressing his cheek before tracing down his neck to rest on his chest.

His soft round chest.

Daphne stumbled as Harry pulled away from her suddenly. He turned so quick his long red hair whipped across her face, stinging her.

Daphne watched the flying red hair as he vanished down the corridor. She suddenly realised the nature of the soft mound she had been fondling. Harry's breast.

"Damn it. Stupid idiot." Daphne cursed herself as she began chasing the wizard.

She was fortunate that the corridor they were in was on they had mapped and the turn Harry took led to a dead-end room otherwise she would never have caught up with him.

Harry was slumped in a corner trying, unsuccessfully, to fight back tears as Daphne approached slowly.

"I'm sorry Daphne." Harry said when he noticed her approach. "I'm really sorry."

Harry was pulling away, Daphne noticed, almost trying to burrow into the wall.

"No Harry. You have no reason to apologise. I'm the one who's sorry." Daphne told him gently. "I'm so incredibly sorry. I ruined our special moment by being doing something stupid. Don't apologise for my mistake."

"I don't know what happened." Harry cried. "I feel..."

"Violated?" Daphne suggested.

Harry looked a little surprised but nodded. "A little."

"That's not surprising. I did violate you. I touched you inappropriately. That is violating you. If you'd done that to me without my permission I would have slapped you or hexed you. Or both. I would deserve it if you were to do that to me."

Harry inhaled sharply in shock. "I would never do that."

"I know. It would hurt you worse than me to do that." Daphne knelt in front of him, ensuring she wasn't too close so he wouldn't feel more uncomfortable. "Still, it doesn't change the fact that I did something very wrong to you."

"Why did it feel so wrong? I don't understand?" Harry asked, his tears slowing.

"Because you're a girl at the moment." Daphne held up a hand to stop his protest. "Your mind is male and so is your heart but your body is female and it seems to cause you to respond that way on occasion."

"Great more problems." Harry grumped.

"I don't think this one is new." Daphne commented. "The way you've been keeping your breasts covered; that's a female reflex. You would never have worried like that when you were a guy."

Harry thought about it. "You're right. It doesn't make this any easier though."

"Yeah, okay. That's true." Daphne sighed. "I'm really sorry. I never meant to upset you."

"It's okay." Harry mumbled. "It's not your fault I'm a girl."

"No, but I am the one who touched you inappropriately."

There was no response to that. Harry buried his face back in his knees and Daphne sat back. She was wracking her brains trying to figure out how to fix this.

"I have an idea." Daphne said suddenly.

"Huh?" Harry lifted his head to look at her.

"Um. Your hand, please?" Daphne asked hesitantly.

"Why?"

"Trust me, please." Daphne nearly pleaded.

Harry hesitantly reached out and Daphne gently caught his hand and held it from behind as she moved closer. Harry watched in shock as she gently drew his hand to her breast and held it there firmly.

"How does that feel?" Daphne asked as her cheeks flushed from the intimate contact.

Harry was right red as he stared at where his hand was located on the busty girl. He managed to nod but couldn't form words due to his shock.

She squeezed his hand so that it had a massaging effect causing her to blush further before she released his hand. Harry pulled it back quickly and stared at his hand.

"How did that feel?" Daphne asked.

"Soft. Really soft." Harry whispered.

"Thank you." Daphne managed to smile a little. "I understand how you feel better now."

Harry looked up at her questioningly.

"I wasn't totally ready for that. Don't you dare start apologising." Daphne stated as she saw Harry's expression change. "It was my choice to do that."

Harry nodded hurriedly, not wanting to make her angry.

"Like I was saying. I wasn't totally ready for that so it did feel uncomfortable. I now have an idea of just what I did to you so I really am truly sorry. That having been said, when I'm ready, I think I'll enjoy having you touch my breasts. I think I'll enjoy it a lot." Daphne finished softly.

"Really?" Harry looked surprised.

"Yes, really. I hope you'll enjoy the same when you're ready."

"I really don't know."

"It's far too soon for you to know." Daphne told him. 'There's no rush either so take all the time you need. I'll wait."

Harry nodded. "Thanks."

"You're welcome." Daphne smiled brightly. "Now, are you ready to head back or do you need a little more time?"

"I think I'm okay." Harry stood.

"Good." Daphne stood as well. "Now, which way do we go? I was so busy following you that I didn't keep track."

"That way." Harry pointed. "I can feel the wards I raised."

"That's a useful ability." Daphne fell into step beside the wizard.

Harry nodded and led the way in silence.

When they reached the camp site and entered the tent, Harry hurried past everyone and into the bathroom so they wouldn't see the tearstains on his face.

Hermione, looking up from her book, noticed his stance. Daphne followed him in and it was obvious she had been upset as well.

"What happened?" She asked the Slytherin girl.

"I screwed up. I seriously screwed up." Daphne admitted as she sat.

Hermione looked at her firmly, silently commanding her to explain. She wasn't the only one. All of them were focused on her, waiting for her explanation.

"We were kissing and he changed back into a girl and I accidentally fondled his breast." Daphne gave them the cut down version. "If any of you want to slap me then please do so. I deserve it and Harry is way too nice and vulnerable to do it himself."

"I should." Hermione growled. "But it'd make you feel better so I'll just leave you to suffer. It would upset Harry too."

Daphne nodded. "He ran off and I followed and we talked so we're okay though. I think. We came back together, but in silence."

"Has he forgiven you?"

"I didn't ask. I guessed he'd just say yes and I don't deserve it." Daphne slumped and began berating herself. "Stupid, stupid, stupid."

"Yes." Ginny agreed. "Harry is far too fragile for that sort of thing."

"I know." Daphne's eye started tearing. "I didn't even realise what I did until he was disappearing off."

"You are both really lucky you didn't get lost." Tracy commented.

Daphne looked up at her long time friend and saw the disappointment in her features. "I know. I was really worried but Harry could feel his wards and just followed them back."

"That's right. I forgot about that." Hermione nodded. "He did the same thing when he went running after he got here."

"What did you do to try and ..." Ginny stopped as Harry left the bathroom.

"I'm going to do some training." Harry said as he pulled his training blades from the enlarged interior of his pack. "I won't go far."

He disappeared out the door before anyone could say anything.

"He's really hurt isn't he?" Daphne whispered as tears began to fall.

"Yeah." Hermione sighed. "It's not totally your fault. Touching his chest when he's male is totally different to when he's female and the change between the two is pretty unnoticeable if you're distracted or otherwise occupied."

"So I found out." Daphne grimaced.

"What did you do once you caught up to him?" Hermione leant forward and studied the girl intently.

"I didn't get too close. I could see him pulling away from me." Daphne explained her actions to everyone.

"You let him touch you?" Susan asked in shock.

"It seemed the best way to get his perspective." Daphne shrugged. "It was probably about as stupid as my mistake. I learnt a few things though."

"Like?" Tracy prompted.

"Being touched like that if you're not ready for it it's really uncomfortable. But when I am ready, I think I'll really enjoy it." Daphne admitted.

"Oh?" Hermione grinned at her. "You want him to touch you?"

Daphne blushed heavily. "Not yet but, when I'm ready, I think I'll enjoy it. I may even end up... craving it."

"Interesting." Hermione teased her.

"Am I forgiven?" Daphne whispered. "At least by all of you?"

"I think so." Hermione sighed. "You really messed up, but it was a mistake we all could have made in that position."

"I don't think he'd have run from you or Ginny though." Daphne commented.

"I don't know." Hermione admitted. "It could go either way."

Daphne nodded. "There is one more thing. The way Harry reacts sometimes. He has different reactions when he's a guy to when he's a girl."

"You're right." Hermione looked surprised. "There are differences in how he acts. Almost like there's a male and female shell to him, though he remains the same inside."

"But how?" Tracy asked. "Most of those reactions are learnt. We're taught to cover our breasts, it's not instinctive. So how did he learn it?"

"The only thing I can think of is that it's something to do with his transformation." Hermione said after a couple of minutes thought. "A gender change is an unusual side-effect in any situation."

"We need to know more about that potion." Tracy stated.

"We do." Hannah agreed. "That has to be the key. Without that all we can do is guess."

Hermione grimaced. "Not my favourite situation to be in. Harry does better with those massive leaps than I do."

"Really?" Padma looked surprised.

"Yeah. In first year, he's the one who linked Hagrid's dragon to an attempt on the Philosophers Stone and Moaning Myrtle's death with the Chamber of Secrets in our second year. He can make intuitive leaps that would surprise you."

"I should check on him." Ginny stood. "He's been alone for a while. I'll see if he's okay."

Hermione nodded.

!HPEaSE!

Harry was at the far end of the room practising his martial arts and sword forms. He had gotten a little distracted by the corridor in front of him. He had entered it and tried to continue his practise only to find the width and height of the restricted his sword forms. He had more success with the short staff. Knives would work better too and hand-to-hand would work in a pinch. His swords were far too long for such tight confines.

Just outside the corridor in the room was a different matter. Leaving the corridor, he would have to fight in restricted quarters while whoever he was fighting would have full range of movement. Defending the room was a different matter. He could use his blade to its fullest potential while his opponent would be trapped by the sides of the corridor.

He wouldn't want to have to fight down here though. The corridors would restrict his movements making magical duelling difficult as well. He would have to think about this. Maybe the Assessor or his Sensei, John, would have helpful suggestions.

He had continued training when Ginny found him. She sat against the wall nearby and Harry didn't acknowledge her presence as he flowed through the forms. It wasn't until nearly twenty minutes later that he stopped but he still didn't face her.

"How much did she tell you?" He asked finally.

"Everything." Ginny admitted.

"Is she okay?"

"Yeah. She's just really upset about upsetting you."

Harry nodded.

"You're still upset about what she did aren't you?" Ginny asked quietly.

"Yeah." Harry replied just a quietly.

"And you're upset that she's upset about it." Ginny stood. "It's a bad situation all round but no one is really at fault. You know she didn't mean to, don't you?"

"I know. Her hand was there before I turned back. It was just when she squeezed me a little that I realised I'd turned back. It was more than I was ready for."

"It would be too much for any of us." Ginny said. "None of us is ready for such intimacy. Not even Hermione, despite her letting you put sunscreen on her butt."

"She does have a nice butt though." Harry blushed a little in recollection.

"True. I hope mine is as nice." Ginny move round so she was in front of him. "I'll expect you to let me know how mine feels, when I'm ready for you to touch it."

"Ginny." Harry growled playfully.

Ginny laughed lightly. "So, did Daphne's breast feel nice?"

Harry turned bright red and he looked at the hand she had placed on it. "Yeah. It was so soft, but there was a firmness there too."

"I'm a little jealous."

"Huh?" Harry was shocked. "Do you want to feel her breasts too?"

"No!" Ginny exclaimed. "Harry! That is not what I was suggesting at all. I just wish mine were bigger. I hope they will feel as good though."

"I'm sure they'll feel like you." Harry said.

"That has to be the most pathetic response you could have given." Ginny grumbled. "But thank you. It was still rather sweet."

"We should head back." Harry packed his practise weapons away. "I found out something we will need to consider in our future training."

"Okay." Ginny nodded.

They walked back to the tent together and were greeted by everyone inside. Harry could see the concern on their faces and the guilt that marred Daphne's.

"Hi everyone. I just found an aspect of our training we've missed. Fighting in confined spaces." Harry told everyone.

"Of course." Susan smacked hand to her forehead. "Fighting in houses and other buildings. We've only been practicing open areas fighting we've not been using the Room to its full potential."

"Exactly. Though I don't think it's that bad since we're still learning but we'll need to include those aspects into our training." Harry said.

"We will. For now, it's getting late." Hermione said. "We should head to bed."

The girls agreed and set about getting ready. They would sleep outside and began pulling out their sleeping bags and setting them up. Harry managed to move next to Daphne who looked at him in shock at his sudden proximity.

"It's okay Daphne." He told her. "No harm done and I know it wasn't intentional."

"Thanks Harry." She sagged in relief. "Can I hug you?"

"Okay."

Harry was rocked back on his heals as she jumped to hug him as soon as he answered. He hugged her back while the others looked at the two happily, relieved that their mishap was being put behind them.

!HPEaSE!

The morning was chaos.

It started off quietly enough. Harry had woken early as normal and done a few exercises and a little training while he waited for the others to wake. Hermione and Padma had woken next and the three had had breakfast together. The others had joined them as they woke so soon they had all awoken and eaten.

Then the chaos started.

Nine people, eight of whom were girls, and one bathroom. Chaos might not have been a strong enough word.

Harry, by dint of having risen first managed to shower and dress first. He then had a from row seat to the madness of the girls trying to get ready as he tried to sort his hair. They seemed to be running everywhere in various states of dress. Towels, lingerie and other states of undress were common as they fought for bathroom time. More than once, one of the girls had had to dive out of the bathroom to get something and been stuck in a towel, dripping on the floor and banging on the door as another girl had dived in.

Harry was flushed as he finished his hair and fled the tent to give the girls their privacy. It didn't help as they also decided that the additional space would be useful and they spilled out of the tent with their belongings to finish getting ready.

"Oh, stop it Harry." Hermione had scolded lightly at one point. "This covers more than my bikini and you've seen me in my lingerie before."

"Doesn't mean I'm used to it." Harry flushed as he looked away.

Hermione walked over to stand in front of him. "I can walk around in my underwear more if it helps."

Harry turned bright red at the thought. "You do look really pretty in it." He whispered.

"Thank you." Hermione smiled happily. "You can look forward to the next one I show you. I hope you'll like it."

Harry gaped at her retreating back as Hermione walked back to finish dressing and packing.

!HPEaSE!

Hermione's and Padma's plan for the day was to focus on one side of the underground complex, the one towards the cliff face. Their hope was to find any additional entrances to the complex. Once they reached the far end they would work back on the deeper passages until they reached their starting point.

They made good progress. They found a second entrance behind the waterfall and stopped for an early lunch out of the dark confines of the underground. They were very reluctant to return but return they did, it was the only way they could complete their task.

!HPEaSE!

They reached the far end of complex late that afternoon and began working back towards the end they had originally entered. It was Tracy, Susan and Luna that made the discovery. They had headed off down a side passage to map it out while Harry, Ginny and Padma worked on another side passage and had returned minutes earlier. Hermione, Daphne and Hannah were acting as a central point to collect their information and plot the next destination.

"What is it?" Harry asked when he Tracy's downcast expression.

"We found stairs." Tracy grumbled.

"Stairs?" Hermione looked interested. "As in stairs to another exit?"

"No. Stairs to other levels."

"They go in both directions." Luna chirped. "Up and down."

"How big is this place?" Ginny asked.

"Much bigger than we expected." Padma replied. "This is going to take longer than we thought."

"I only have my lesson with the Assessor tomorrow." Harry commented. "We can see what we manage to get done by tomorrow evening and figure things out from there."

"Fair enough." Daphne commented. "You had better come back with some decent lunch and dinner tomorrow though. We hadn't planned on being that long."

"I will. Though we could just call Winky to bring us something." Harry replied.

Daphne opened her mouth to replied and stopped. "You're right. I actually kind of forgot that we're still in Hermione's house."

"That's not difficult, considering the situation." Susan said.

"Yeah, if only I could find the light switch." Hermione added dryly causing everyone to laugh.

!HPEaSE!

They found two more set of stairs; another set similar to the first set close to the far end they had explored the previous evening and a much larger set off a large hall in the central area of the complex.

They had returned to the large hall they had found for the night and set up camp. There was a little banter due to how tired they were but the atmosphere within the tent was relaxed as they lounged around.

Daphne still kept a little distance from Harry. Though Harry felt no anger towards her there were still feelings of discomfort when she got too close. So she stayed back a little, allowing Hermione or Ginny to stay between her and Harry. She kept talking to him and slowly the residual discomfort was fading but there was still healing to be done.

!HPEaSE!

Sunday morning was as chaotic as the previous one and the group set about continuing their task. They agreed to start on the downstairs area since they agreed that there was unlikely to be any lower level. The stairs down had only gone down one level. The stairs up went further, though by differing amounts.

The first set of stairs they found had only gone up a single level, the second small staircase whet up two levels. Looking up into the darkness of the Main Staircase they could make out a third level but given the height of the mountain range they were in it was possible there were additional levels.

They got moving early and started mapping the smaller lower level. Due to their proficiency at mapping and their experience with the environment they had it all finished before they stopped for lunch, including the two small areas below that. One appeared to be a dungeon while the other looked more suitable for storage.

Given the central location of the large hall and the nearby main staircase they decided to keep the tent setup in the hall so they returned there for lunch. It was from here that Harry left his friends temporarily to attend his training lesson with the Assessor.

He had studied the map they had created over lunch to ensure he knew how to find the waterfall exit and the way back so he ran the halls with confidence carrying his training blade.

He left the underground complex and crossed the World Room to the exit. Leaving the room he checked the Duelling Room to see if the Assessor was there and found the old goblin waiting patiently.

"I'm sorry to have kept you waiting." Harry apologised profusely.

"Not to worry Harry." The Assessor reassured him. "We've only just arrived ourselves."

"We?" Harry looked around in surprise.

"I brought you a sparring partner. He's waiting in the Entrance Hall. You need to invite him in or he'll be eaten by your guardian."

"Of course. I'll be right back." Harry dashed back to the end of the corridor and stuck his head into the hall.

"Right this way please." He called out to the goblin that stood next to the fireplace.

The goblin didn't give any response Harry could detect from where he stood as he headed towards him. When he got closer Harry could tell this was a much younger goblin and did not seem anywhere near as pleasant.

The goblin followed in silence as Harry led him to the Duelling Room.

"Excellent. Thank you Harry." The Assessor said as they entered. "Now, since we are going to start off with a spar, you have a few minutes to prepare yourselves."

"Her wand." The new goblin said gruffly. "She must fight without her wand."

The Assessor looked like he was about say something but Harry spoke first.

"Okay. I'll just put it down over here with the Assessor." Harry pulled his wand and set it down.

The goblin spun on his heal and stalked off.

"You didn't need to do that Harry." The Assessor told him. "You have no need to handicap yourself for any opponent."

"It's fine. I can't really hold it any my sword at the same time and using it to will won't help my sword skills any either." Harry replied as he began stretching and ensuring his muscles were warm.

"Well reasoned." The Assessor nodded. "I will trust your decision then. Just do not hold back. He will not be going easy on you."

Harry nodded and hefted his training blade. He looked over at his opponent and calmed himself to focus on the upcoming fight. Studying his opponent he could tell that this goblin had no liking and less respect for humans. He would be on the offensive right from the beginning, no doubt happy for the opportunity to humiliate a human.

"Take your positions." The Assessor called. "Now, this is a training match so the standard rules are to be adhered. I will act as referee. If either of you ignore my instructions then you will be disqualified immediately."

Harry nodded, slightly distracted as he kept his focus on his opponent. The goblin was studying him as well with a slightly contemptuous expression as far as he could read the goblin's face.

"Ready? Begin." The Assessor called.

Harry was immediately on the defensive as the goblin charged to attack him without hesitation. The moves were fast and his strikes were powerful, more so than the Assessor's during their spar a week earlier. The strikes lacked the Assessor's fluidity and precision and there was a hesitation between the strikes allowing Harry to keep pace. He was yet of offer a counter and he could see his opponent growing more confident and arrogant as the fight progressed.

Harry allowed the fight to progress as it was, trying to learn how to read the goblins movements. It wasn't long before he found an opening and shifted his stance to exploit it. The goblin fell back, stumbling slightly at the sudden counter. He showed his skill though as he rapidly adjusted and the fight progressed with the two, surprisingly evenly matched.

The goblin was obviously an experienced warrior and Harry began to struggle to hold his own as his stamina was still not where it should be for this. He felt a little clumsy fighting against the fluid movements of the goblin but he noticed a change as the goblin started getting more aggressive and showed signs of frustration. Harry guessed that the goblin didn't expect the fight to last this long.

Harry knew he would have to end the fight soon before he got too tired but was yet to find any means to striking the goblin. At least, not using the techniques the Assessor had taught him.

Harry used the rebound from a block to spin his round the other way, shifting his grip to his martial arts one and struck at his opponent, swinging down from above using his height advantage. As the goblins blade rose and blocked Harry snapped out a kick. The kick wasn't meant to make contact but it forced the goblin to fall back to avoid the strike allowing Harry to strike again.

The goblin struggled to hold his own against the new style Harry was using and was hampered more by Harry shifting between the two styles at random. The goblin retreated again to regain his balance. Harry used the distance to flick a wandless spell at the goblin to ensure he kept the advantage.

The goblin rolled to the side, narrowly avoiding the spell, shocked at the sudden change in attack. The goblin showed his skill though as he managed to stay in the fight but his struggle was obvious. It was difficult for Harry to include spells in his attacks as he hadn't practised combining his skills so the combined effort was lacking its full potential, but he was good at improvising in the heat of the moment.

The Assessor was grinning broadly. The fight progressed beyond his expectations. He knew from experience that Harry would need time to really put himself into the fight, something he was working on correcting. Harry, however, managed to surprise him by adding a completely different style of combat. The addition of wandless magic led him to believe that Harry was holding back far more that he believed possible. This was good. It was why he brought this particular opponent to try and bring out Harry's true abilities.

Harry was now in control of the fight. His martial arts style mixed with his goblin taught style and magic kept him in a position of dominance but he could see the effect it had on the goblin and could tell that he was going to do... 'something' in order to win and it wouldn't be good for Harry.

Harry saw a slight shift it the goblins demeanour and threw himself to the side to avoid the vicious blow that could have been fatal, even using training blades. His energy crackled around him as he rolled to his feet, his blade swinging between him and the goblin violently. The blade missed by three feet but the concussion wave of air crossed the gap and sent the goblin flying. A follow up stunning spell caught the goblin before he hit the ground causing him to hit the ground limply and remain.

Harry retook his stance and held his guard to ensure he was not taken by surprise.

"Winner, Master Warrior Potter." The Assessor announced. "Well done Harry. After I discuss this with this young goblin we will discuss this match in private."

Harry nodded and summoned his wand to wave at the fallen goblin. The goblin woke with a snarl and looked ready to continue until the Assessor snarled at him in Gobbledygook. The goblin threw the blade to the ground in anger and turned to stalk away until the Assessor's voice stopped him.

"This is way you are not ready to be a Master Warrior." The Assessor spoke in a scornfully in English, obviously wanted Harry to hear when was being said. "You think that form is all that matters. Form has nothing to do with being a Master Warrior. A Master Warrior has a quality to survive and succeed where normal warriors fail. That is a quality you lack."

"He cheated. There is no way he could beat me in a fair fight." The goblin snarled back.

"Silence Worm." The Assessor snarled back. "You go too far. You lost even though you attempted to handicap you opponent right from the beginning. This was never a fair fight. You have been training for decades. Master Warrior Potter has only been training for a couple of weeks. He has never had a fair fight in his life but still manages to survive. That is beyond mere luck. It is the ability to improvise, act and improve while fighting. Something Master Warrior Potter has demonstrated during each session, and you have not."

The goblin opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by a look from the old goblin. "You claim he cheated? A true Master Warrior would never utter such words. We know that a cheating opponent is only to be expected. You prove your incompetence every time you open your mouth. Perhaps you should return to the crèche with the younglings until you learn proper manners."

The young goblin looked horrified at the threat.

The Assessor continued his lecture. "The agreement was you would not advance unless you won. You lost so keep your mouth shut and remember your place. There is a reason you have not been advanced or accepted as an apprentice under a Master Warrior. You will think on that and learn the reason why if you want to remain among the warrior ranks. Now leave. Your time here is done."

The goblin kept his mouth shut, though it was obvious it was a struggle. He gave a half hearted bow and stomped off angrily.

"Ignore him Harry." The Assessor said after the door slammed closed.

Harry called for Dobby and asked him to ensure the irate goblin left without trouble before turning to address his mentor.

"While he was a challenging sparring partner I feel there is more to this." Harry stated.

"Indeed. He has been trying to ascend to the rank of Master Warrior for a few years now and been turned down every time. He has always lacked the necessary quality, one you possess in quantity.

"He believes that perfection of form is enough when form is not actually a requirement. You are already well aware what true combat requires, even if it's subconsciously rather than consciously."

"Yes. At least I think so." Harry paused to think. "If I had to put it into words it would be persistence, determination and the ability to improvise but I think those are lacking."

"You are on the right track. Training merely gives you more tools to use in a fight. They do not guarantee victory. Which is why I'm impressed that you know another form. What is it and when did you start learning it?"

"Martial arts. Aikido I think it's called. Actually it's a variant of it. It's a muggle combat form, from Japan I believe, Asia anyway. It's a mix of hand-to-hand forms, sword forms and staff forms. I started learning it earlier this summer."

"It sounds very flexible. Why did you not tell me earlier?" The Assessor queried.

"It never came up." Harry shrugged. "I was planning on telling you when I was ready to start combining everything I had learnt."

"Fair enough." The Assessor nodded. "I am pleased that you are not just relying on my teachings. Seeking other methods of fighting, especially such useful ones, is a good sign. I am pleased with your progress."

"Thanks."

"However..."

"Oh oh."

"I think you should put a little time on to blending your different techniques now. Not much right now but you should start considering how you will begin to blend them.

"You are essentially creating your own personal fighting style so take your time and get it right. This sort of thing takes years to perfect." The aging goblin explained.

Harry nodded thoughtfully. "I understand. Thanks."

"It's what I'm here for. I look forward to seeing the results. Now we need to go over your spar then we'll continue your sword training."

"Can we work on knives instead?"

"If you want. I was planning on it but you've been making so much progress with your sword I've been putting it off."

"I've found a real weakness in the swords. They are useless in tight spaces, so I was looking for an alternative." Harry explained.

"That is very true." The Assessor nodded. "Very well. I will run you through a few drills later. Now, your spar..."

!HPEaSE!

Harry clumsily negotiated around the waterfall, hampered by the pack he was wearing, and re-entered the underground complex and headed for the main hall they had set up camp in. Hermione and Padma were there working on the master copy of the map.

"Hey Harry. How did it go?" Hermione glanced up as he entered the hall.

"Good. The Assessor brought a goblin for me to spar with." Harry replied as he set his pack down. "I won but it really made me understand how much I'm still to learn."

"You've only been training for a couple of weeks." Hermione told him. "You expect far too much from yourself."

"I have to." Harry sighed. "The longer this takes, the more lives at risk."

"We know but you can't hold yourself responsible for you-know-who's actions." Padma entered the conversation. "Right now you have more important things to worry about, like if you brought everything we asked for?"

Harry laughed and handed the pack over and watched as the Ravenclaw girl dig into the pack.

"How's the map going?" Harry asked.

"Pretty good." Hermione held it up for him to look at. "We gotten most of the next level up mapped and Ginny, Daphne and Hannah have started on the level above that. We might just get it done today."

"That's good news. The map looks great." Harry looked it over. "So, where do you want me?"

"With us." Hermione told him. "We've just got a little more to go then we're going to start on the level above Ginny, Daphne and Hannah. It should be pretty small."

Harry nodded. "Whenever you're ready."

!HPEaSE!

It was a very tired group of girls that left the underground complex that night. They had finished the mapping and were very pleased with themselves. With good reason. The complex was much bigger than they had expected. The final entrance to the complex had been on the small sixth level and the long tunnel rose to open in a sheltered cave, high on the snowy mountain slopes.

The elves had dinner prepared for the girls outside the Granger's house in the cooling night air. They had time to shower first and changed into clean clothes. While they had a lot of comforts with them in the tent, the ability to shower and change once their long task was completed felt like a luxury.

There was little conversation as they simply enjoyed the fresh air and cool breeze. After they had eaten they bid each other good-bye before leaving to sleep in their own beds for the night.

!HPEaSE!

"What did you learn?" The Assessor studied the young goblin that had been defeated by Harry.

"I didn't like losing." Kicbold admitted.

"No one does." The Assessor gave him a small, humourless grin. "Why did you lose?"

"I underestimated my opponent. I thought that a human female who had only begun training could never defeat me."

"That human female used to be male but that is irrelevant. Did you not consider that fact that that human holds the rank of Master Warrior?"

"I don't know." Kicbold admitted. "If I did then I discounted it as I felt I deserved that rank more."

"So what did you learn?"

"I'm not ready to hold the rank I desire. I lack something. Something Master Warrior Potter has in large quantities."

"Exactly." The Assessor nodded. "I am pleased that you are not complaining about his use of magic."

"I was going to, but I remembered that Master Warriors have triumphed over Wizards in the past."

"And you took an advantage of him by requesting that he not use his wand."

"Yes. Not that he needed it in the end." Kicbold grunted.

"Why is it you are not ready to advance?" The Assessor prompted.

"I rely on my teaching too much. Master Warrior Potter improvised the entire fight and felt the flow of it much better than I did."

"Exactly. A Master Warrior does not require perfect form as you used to believe. They rely on their instincts and adaptability to adjust to their opponent and discover a method of defeating them. Form is merely one set of options to use in a fight"

"I think I finally understand." Kicbold said.

"Good. You are finally on the path to be a true Master Warrior." The Assessor nodded approvingly.

"Oh, one more thing. Don't tell anyone about your spar or Harry's abilities." The Assessor turned to leave. "He shouldn't be the only one to suffer the surprise of the unknown in his future sparring."

!HPEaSE!

Voldemort finally had enough strength to leave his private quarters. He was still a long way off from being fully recovered, but he could now hide his weakness from his followers.

His abuse of the potions compounded with his losses to Potter, both in the Ministry and the following day when he tried to steal his power, had rendered him unconscious for days. He could barely stand when he finally woke and even now tired easily.

"Master." Wormtail grovelled before him as he entered the Throne Room.

"Report, Wormtail." Voldemort took his seat.

"Potter has been causing lots of problems. He had Fudge removed as Minister and Bones has replaced him. Potter has also provided vast amounts of money to the DMLE to recruit new Auror's and to provide a Fund that allows everyone to get wards to protect them from you."

"He is proving to be a more than an annoyance." Voldemort snarled. "What of Dumbledore?"

"Very little. With the proof of your revival he was re-established to his position in the Wizengamot. His name had not come up in conjunction with any of Potter's activities."

"What else?"

Wormtail cowered. "Many of your marked followers have been arrested. Loyal unmarked followers have reported that they have been stunned and arrested as soon as they show up at certain locations. Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade and the Ministry."

Voldemort really wished he could curse the snivelling coward before him but couldn't spare the strength. Or the follower it appeared at this point.

"Who is left?"

"Bellatrix is the only one remaining here. I believe there may be half a dozen still free and in hiding. There've been a number of Auror raids on safe houses and the houses of other followers and supporters."

"We will have to recruit amongst the younger generation to replenish our numbers." Voldemort stated. "And if Potter has cut off one group of people to torture to inspired fear then we will have to find another.

"Seek out the families of our followers and recruit as many as possible. I must adjust my plans." Voldemort stood sharply and left.

As soon as the door shut behind him he slumped, his strength waning.

'Blast that Potter.' He swore mentally. 'So many plans ruined or set back. I don't have the man-power to free them at the moment now either. With Bones now in charge she will have them sucked dry in days. I will have to re-plan everything. I WILL have revenge on her and Potter, just as soon as I can.'

Voldemort slowly returned to his quarters to rest.

Wormtail breathed a sigh of relief. He really expected to have been cursed repeatedly for being the bearer of such bad news.