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.
And here's another update.
I've been getting some great reviews so thank you everyone. I really appreciate all the support you give me.
Harry woke and sighed sadly when he realised that he was at school and that classes were starting later that morning, he'd enjoy his summer far too much. A novelty for him really.
It was odd, being in a different dorm to everyone else. McGonagall had put him in a suite next to the Gryffindor Common Room. It had a door in to the Common Room and another into the hallway. The suite consisted of its own common room, three bedrooms and a bathroom. The first thing Harry did before retiring was to add additional wards to prevent anyone but him and his girls from entering without permission. The extra trunks had ended up in one of the spare rooms; they would sort out a workspace later when they had time.
Harry tried to get up but weight on his chest stopped him. The brown hair told him that Hermione had snuck in. There was red hair as well; Ginny had joined her.
Harry pushed at them but all he got were groans. He'd gotten used to waking early for his training; something that they hadn't joined him in, preferring sleeping in a little longer.
"Too early." Hermione managed to protest before gripping his breast more firmly.
Harry rolled his eyes then grinned and faked a panicked voice. "Professor McGonagall? I can explain."
"Eeeeeeeeeeek!" Hermione bolted upright clutching at the sheets, looking around wildly. "Professor, it's not what it looks like... Professor?"
Hermione was still looking around as Ginny was sitting up sleepily. "Wazz goin' on?"
Hermione turned to see Harry struggling not to laugh. "You prat."
Harry ducked her first swat but her follow up was lower and set his breast bouncing furiously. "Oww, that hurt."
"Sorry I got you so hard but that was mean scaring me like that." Hermione protested.
"You remember that I added my own wards right?" Harry reminded her. "She can't get in unless we let her."
"Oh, yeah." Hermione ducked her head. "You're still a prat."
"Well if you'd let me get up in a morning..." Harry teased.
Hermione pouted. "I just find you so warm and cuddly to snuggle into."
"Nice to know my breasts are useful for something." Harry rolled out of the bed. "Come on. Let's get moving, I'd like to get out workroom started before breakfast."
"Okay. Want to share the shower?" Hermione grinned.
"Sure. Come on Ginny, you have to get up too?" Harry looked at the still waking red-head.
"Yeah." Ginny yawned and stretched. "A shower will wake me up nicely."
Ginny stumbled after the older pair into the bathroom as Harry turned on the water. Hermione was rummaging in their things and pulled out their shower products.
"Harry." Hermione tossed a box of tampons to him.
Harry caught the box and headed to the toilet stall. "Thanks. It's not so heavy today so I should be finished in a couple of days."
"Bet you can't wait for that." Hermione teased.
"Yup." Harry's voice came out of the stall.
Ginny was awake enough to chuckle at that.
"You okay Ginny?" Hermione asked the younger girl quietly. "This will be your first time in a shower with us. Would you prefer to wait?"
"I know, I should be okay. I've been thinking about this for a while. I think this is the best way; I can get used to being naked with you both without the added pressure of intimacy." Ginny replied just as quietly. "I'm not asking you two to actually wash me and the shower is big enough that we won't be crowded.
"Don't be afraid to change your mind." Hermione told her. "There really isn't any rush."
"I know, I think I'm ready for this." Ginny hesitated. "Just don't touch me, and don't get carried away with each other, not today anyway."
"Sure." Hermione nodded. "We'll keep it down."
Ginny smiled in relief and watched as Hermione stripped off her panties as Harry reappeared and washed his hands.
"Ginny?" He asked in surprise.
"You don't mind if I join you right?" Ginny got a little nervous with Harry's gaze on her.
"If you're ready to." Harry assured her. "No pressure okay."
"I know, you never pressure me about this." Ginny smiled as Harry's panties joined Hermione's.
Harry turned his back and opened the door to the shower, giving the nervous girl a little privacy to undress. Ginny appreciated it as she pulled off her own panties and camisole. She followed the older pair into the shower and got under one of the heads to shower by herself.
Ginny focused solely on her own shower, not the pair behind her who were enjoying washing each other. Hermione kept her word and the pair exited with minimal hanky-panky. Ginny finished rinsing off and opened the door. Immediately a towel was handed to her allowing her to cover herself before exiting.
Ginny appreciated it; she wasn't quite ready to parade around nude like Harry and Hermione were. She did admire their confidence and comfort as they towelled each other off though.
They dressed and got to work on the workroom, unpacking the trunks and moving the furniture into the spare bedroom. Harry carefully laid out the armour he had been working on and his notes and equipment for enchanting them. Hermione and Ginny used a corner to set up a pair of potion brewing stations, leaving the ingredients in the trunk to save room.
"I think we've made good progress." Harry said as he looked around. "Breakfast?"
"Please." Ginny nodded. "I'm hungry."
"Same." Hermione agreed. "We can finish up tonight."
They needed no further prompting and headed out the door and along the corridor to the stairs.
The Great Hall was busy, their time setting up their workshop had made them a little later than normal. They waved to their friends at the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables and exchanged discrete nods with Daphne and Tracy as they moved to the far end of the Gryffindor table, Harry lagging behind the two girls to hide a little.
Breakfast was the usual Hogwarts feast and they didn't look up until Professor McGonagall stopped by to pass out their timetables.
"Well, you three have some extra time in your schedules." Minerva looked at the trio sternly. "I trust I don't have to find things to fill your extra time?"
"No, we have plenty of stuff to do." Harry grinned. "You won't hear a peep out of us."
"Glad to hear it, and congratulations again on getting your NEWTS and OWL. I expect you to keep up this high standard of work." Minerva finished with a quick glare before giving then a brief smile before moving on.
Harry checked his schedule. "Well, I'm free first up then Herbology."
"I have Transfiguration then Potions." Ginny said.
"Arithmancy, then Herbology." Hermione said. "Let us know what Professor Slughorn is like please."
"Sure." Ginny nodded. "Well, I'm finished here. I need to get my books."
"Same." Hermione stood. "Coming Harry?"
"Yeah." Harry nodded. "I might study some new spells to practise until Herbology. There's the DA to plan as well."
"Okay." Hermione nodded. "Let us know how we can help."
"I will." Harry replied. "I believe I'll have something for you to think over at lunch."
Hermione nodded happily and the trio headed out.
"Wait up." Ron hurried after them. "Do you have free periods first up?"
"Just me." Harry replied.
"Want to play some chess?" Ron asked.
"Sorry, later." Harry apologised. "I've got other stuff to do."
"Oh." Ron huffed. "Where are you staying? You weren't in the dorm last night."
"I've a room off the Common Room." Harry replied. "I can't stay in either dorm."
Ron had to admit to himself that the busty red-head that was now Harry couldn't really stay in the boy's dorm anymore, not that he would have objected.
"How can you have anything else to do? We haven't even started classes yet." Ron asked, confused.
"I've got some DA stuff to prep if I'm going to start it up again." Harry explained.
"Yeah, of course." Ron nodded eagerly. "Let me know if I can help. Maybe chess tonight."
"I will." Harry promised. "I'll let you know about chess."
Back at the Gryffindor Dorms Harry headed straight for his own room, pulled out some parchment and began making some notes. He needed to make sure that if he taught the DA how to fight then they wouldn't turn it against him. He jotted out some notes so that Hermione could work out a new contract. Once Harry got some clarity to his notes he pulled out some advanced spell books and set to work.
Herbology was Harry's first class of the day and his first real exposure to the rest of the school. Even at breakfast and dinner the previous night he had some protection with his friends providing him some distance from the rest of the school and both their stares and whispers, plus he wasn't in the dorm anymore and had avoided his House-mates, and the majority of the rest of the school, both that morning and the previous evening. Their quiet movements and blatant ignoring of the others around them had helped too.
Now he was out and having to interact with everyone directly. At least it was the Hufflepuff's he was sharing the class with and not the Slytherin's; as much as he would have liked seeing Daphne and Tracy there were too many others in that House that could prove troublesome to deal with.
The stares were nothing new, after five years of chaos he was used to that, but the direction of their stares was new; they were normally at his forehead or face, now they were aimed almost universally at his chest. It made him a little uncomfortable and he pulled his robes to give himself more cover.
It was an interesting view point, Harry realised. He had been surprised, and a little annoyed to see how much the school robes covered over the summer with having the girls beauty unveiled, but now he was grateful for them and the coverage they provided.
Susan looped her arm with his as she joined him. "Hey Harry. How are you this morning?"
"I'm okay. I'm just feeling a little more stared at than usual." Harry replied. "You?"
"I'm good." Susan smiled back.
"So am I." Hannah appeared on his other side.
"Hi Hannah. Sorry, I didn't see you there." Harry smiled at the other Hufflepuff.
"I know you didn't so it's okay." Hannah nudged him gently. "Ready for class?"
"I guess." Harry said. "The stares are getting to me a little."
"I thought you could handle them." Hermione made her presence known. "You normally do fine."
"Yeah, but they're not normally directed at my chest." Harry grimaced. "And guys didn't stare at me like that before either."
"I know what you mean." Susan had full sympathy for him. "It's the one thing about these robes I actually like."
"Some of us don't have that issue." Hannah sniffed and faked a pout.
"I don't recall seeing any issues with yours over the summer." Harry grinned at her.
Hannah blushed a little. "Thanks, but keep your voice down, you don't need to share that with everyone."
"Relax, no one's that close." Susan chuckled. "But he's right."
Susan pulled Harry with her as she ran ahead, leaving a blushing Hannah behind while Hermione laughed.
"Come on." Hermione said when she calmed down a little. "You can get her back later."
"You bet I will." Hannah growled.
The two Hufflepuff's paired with Harry and Hermione in the greenhouse as Professor Sprout began the lesson. Ron glared at them briefly before joining the other three Gryffindor boys.
Professor Sprout had a bit of a rough time when Harry first raised a hand to answer her question. "Mr Potter, Miss Potter... Umm, do you have a preference on how you want to be addressed?"
"Mr Potter is fine." Harry carefully maintain his composure. "All changes aside I'm still the same Harry Potter that's been in your classes for the last five years."
"Very good Mr Potter, I'll pass that on to the other teachers. Now, you had an answer for us?"
"Yes..." Harry was glad to get the focus back on the lesson.
"Why'd you work with them?" Ron snapped at Harry after the lesson.
"Because I feel a little more comfortable that way." Harry replied. "I was getting enough stares before I got something for guys to ogle at and until you learn to look above my chest I don't feel that comfortable around you, you still keep staring at them. And I know what Dean and Seamus are like behind closed doors, I don't need them gossiping either."
"You know," Ron stopped and faced him, "it's almost like we aren't friends anymore."
"I haven't stopped being your friend Ron." Harry sighed. "It's just hard with you having such a big problem with some of my other friends and the way you look at me sometimes. I've got so much to worry about at the moment and I really don't need you adding to it."
"Then when are we going to hang out like we used to?" Ron pushed.
"We can play a round of chess tonight, but give me some time to get some homework done." Harry replied.
"You know, spending all summer with Hermione hasn't been good for you. You should have come to the Burrow; it would have been heaps more fun."
"Actually, I doubt that." Harry smiled at his memories of the summer. "And even if it had, I would be nowhere near the level I am now."
"I feel like I've been pushed out." Ron sighed.
"No, but you haven't shared our experiences over the summer."
"I promised to help, I meant it."
"I know and you will but your role will be different to mine. Not less important, just different." Harry assured him.
"Okay." Ron backed down. "So, what was it like spending the summer with a bunch of girls? Can't have been that great."
"I'm not going to blab private stuff." Harry warned him. "But I suppose I can give you something."
"Please." Ron looked hopeful.
"You remember seeing them in their swimsuits on Ginny's birthday?"
"Yeah, I have to admit, for a Slytherin, Greengrass is pretty hot."
"They wore swimsuits for most of the summer." Harry grinned.
"Damn." Ron nearly stared drooling. "You lucky..."
"Yeah, but were spend most of the summer studying one thing or another." Harry reminded him.
"That ruined it for me." Ron grumped. "Hey, do you understand girls any better now you are one?"
"Sorry, but I was wondering if you could explain something to me." Ron hesitated. "It's Lavender, she's been acting a little odd."
"Well, she keeps smiling at me." Ron paused. "She seems more giggly than normal around me too."
Harry paused to consider. "I don't know. None of the girls I spent the summer with is the giggly type. Lavender did show up with Parvati on the odd weekend, they followed Padma, so I got to know her a little better, but only a little. She's a nice girl. Maybe she likes you. You could try talking to her."
"Really?" Ron perked up. "You think she might like me?"
"It's possible, you aren't a troll after all so it's not out of the bounds of possibility." Harry teased.
"Hey." Ron protested.
Harry laughed. "Why don't you have lunch with her and just talk to her; get to know her a little better. Just a word of advice?"
"Mind your manners eating. Hermione and I might put up with it but you aren't trying to date us. If you want to impress her then you have to eat properly. I'm not saying you can't be yourself, in fact you should be, but you still have to be on your best behaviour."
Ron nodded. "Okay, I might do that. Thanks."
"No problem." Harry grinned. "Now, I'm hungry."
"Me too." Ron stated the obvious.
Harry was glad things were getting better between him and Ron, they had been friends since the train ride to Hogwarts in their first year, he didn't want to lose that friendship. It would have to change though and Ron probably wouldn't like it. Harry hoped he was right about Lavender, it might be what Ron needed to help him adjust to the situation.
Harry frowned suddenly as he approached the Great Hall, something was wrong. He looked around but couldn't see anything. Harry kept up his alertness as he entered the Hall, checking on each of his girls. Daphne and Tracy were at their table filling their plates. Hannah and Susan were with Hermione a little ahead of him. Padma was at the Ravenclaw table. Luna and Ginny were missing.
No, Luna had just entered by a far door. That just left Ginny unaccounted for. Harry focused on the feeling and found himself looking towards the door Luna entered through. He hurried over and met up with Luna.
"Was Ginny with you?" Harry asked.
Luna nodded. "Yes, we just had a class together. Is something wrong?"
"I don't know." Harry admitted. "I've just got this feeling."
"She was stopped by one of your year mates to talk." Luna added. "Dean I think his name is."
"Right. Thanks." Harry headed towards the door.
"I'm coming too." Luna hurried after him.
It didn't take long for Harry to track Ginny down in a side corridor with Dean.
"I'm sorry Dean but I've made my decision." Ginny was saying, her tone indicating her waning patience.
"So that's it." Dean snapped as he shrugged angrily.
"Yes." Ginny snapped back. "I only said I would think about it. I never made any promises. The situation has changed since last year. I'm sorry, but that's just how it is."
"You must have picked someone else. Who is it?" Dean sounded very accusatorial.
"That isn't really any of your business." Ginny turned away. "I hope you find someone, but it isn't going to be me. I've got to eat. Bye."
Ginny smoothly moved past him towards the Great Hall but Dean caught her arm.
"Let go." Ginny ordered.
"I want to know who you threw me over for." Dean was getting angry.
Harry was about to leap in but Luna touched his shoulder and shook her head.
Ginny's eyes narrowed sharply as she growled. "I said let go."
"Not until you tell me who you picked over me." Dean demanded.
Ginny rotated and got into a position where leverage was to her advantage so she could trip the older boy and push him to the floor. "You ever try a stupid stunt like that ever again and you'll regret ever being born."
"Why you." Dean started getting up.
Harry decided to intervene. "You okay there Ginny?"
"Hi Harry. I'll be just dandy as soon as I get away from this git." Ginny fired back as she stormed away from Dean towards the Great Hall.
Harry let her past and gently nudged Luna to follow her as he watch his year mate.
Dean glared at Harry, his fists clenched in anger.
"You don't know just how lucky you really are." Harry commented lightly.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Dean snarled.
"She has six older brothers who would be more than happy to protect her plus there's what she's capable of herself. You got off easy."
Dean snorted. "You really think she can beat me? Or you? Especially right now, your tits would get in the way."
Harry blurred and Dean was slammed against the wall hard. "You'd better hope so, because if someone was to hurt her then 'I' would get angry."
Dean gulped at the intensity of the green eyes of his former dorm-mate. He'd never seen this side of Harry before. "Right. I get it."
"Good." Harry stepped back, his apparent anger vanishing as if it had never been there, and walked away. "Later."
Dean staggered as he was released. Harry just walked away casually, ignoring the boy behind him.
Harry returned to the Great Hall and sat between Hermione and Ginny. "So, how were your classes Ginny?"
"Good. You didn't do anything to Dean, did you?" Ginny glanced over her should to where Dean had finally entered the Hall.
"Not much." Harry shrugged. "Just reminded him of a couple of things."
"Okay." Ginny nodded and began to talk about her classes in more detail.
Harry only had Transfiguration after lunch and enjoyed his new abilities in learning spells as he raced Hermione and the Ravenclaws they were sharing the class with in being first to learn the spell. Harry won with Hermione a close second and Padma third, well ahead of anyone else.
The break between the last class and dinner was used to visit the library. Harry was pleased to see the whole group there and took the time to get close to each of the others, very subtly in the case of Daphne and Tracy, to give them the same message.
"Check out the books you need and we can head to my room."
Harry was never more glad of the Marauders' Map as he led the group away from prying eyes to his room and let them in, sharing the password with them as he did so.
"Welcome to my room." Harry gestured grandly. "We've begun the set up of a work room over there."
"And the other rooms?" Hannah asked, curiously."
"My room, spare room, bathroom and Gryffindor Common Room." Harry pointed in turn.
"Ooh, we can finally see what your Common Room looks like." Daphne teased faking a move towards the door.
"If you want, I already know what yours looks like." Harry shrugged. "I wouldn't mind seeing the others though."
"I think we can organise something." Susan said.
"I'll show you the Ravenclaw one anytime." Luna added happily.
"Now, the DA." Harry picked up the parchment he had written on. "I had some ideas for a new contract and the first lesson. I want to make sure I set the right theme for what we'll be teaching this year."
"We?" Daphne 's eyebrows rose as she reached for the parchment.
"We." Harry stated. "You all are my team. We'll teach them together. As much as possible anyway."
"So you're going to let Slytherin's in too." Hermione looked both pleased and apprehensive.
"It will be open to all students who sign the contract." Harry clarified. "I was thinking of everyone leaving their house badges and trimmings by the door."
"That's a good idea actually." Hermione nodded. "It should cut down on tensions."
Daphne passed the parchment on. "I like it. I think you're on the right track. It'll take a few days to get the wording of the contract right but that'll be fine."
"Are you serious about this 'demonstration' though?" Hermione looked worried.
"Yes." Harry was determined. "They have to understand what to expect and this is the best thing I can think of."
"Okay." Hermione relented. "I understand. I think you may be right but it's pretty harsh. Of course it's nothing like our experiences so... No, ignore me. It's a good plan Harry."
"I never ignore you Hermione. But thanks. Let me know when the contract is ready." Harry smiled at her.
Ginny pulled Harry aside. "How did you know Dean was getting at me?"
"I could feel something was wrong but wasn't sure who with. You were the only one who wasn't in the Great Hall so I came to check on you." Harry explained.
"Thanks." Ginny smiled gratefully. "And thanks for not just barging in."
"You should thank Luna." Harry admitted. "I would have stepped in sooner if she hadn't stopped me, but she was right. You can look after yourself, but it's better to have support nearby and not need it."
Ginny nodded. "Yeah."
"I am impressed though." Harry complemented her. "You handled him really well."
"I know." Ginny looked proud. "I would have hexed him before this summer but now I didn't feel I needed to. If he had pushed it any further I would have but I... felt more in control of myself, of my temper. I like it."
"Glad to hear it." Harry turned to guide her back to the rest of the group. "I don't mean to be rude but your mother sets a bad example in that regard."
"She does." Ginny agreed. "I'm really glad I can see that now, I'd actually hate to be like her in that regard."
"I have to say it might've made you a little hard to live with." Harry teased.
Ginny pouted and gave him a playful shove.
They unpacked their books and got some homework done before dinner.
Harry joined Ron in the Gryffindor Common Room for a round of chess after dinner.
"How was your lunch with Lavender?" Harry asked.
"It was pretty good actually." Ron sounded surprised. "She's pretty smart despite her love of Divination."
"You could sit with her in that class." Harry suggested. "But I wouldn't broadcast that we just made up everything."
Ron laughed. "Yeah, probably not. But why wouldn't I sit with you?"
"I switched to Ancient Runes."
"Huh? Why? That's way harder." Ron looked confused.
"I found some of my Families Books over the summer." Harry explained. "They were heavily into Wards. I need Runes to understand what they were doing. I would have taken it from third year if I had known."
"I suppose that's a good reason." Ron admitted. "Which year are you joining?"
"NEWTS with Hermione. She worked me hard over the break to get me up to speed and I managed to pass my OWL in it a few days ago." Harry answered. "Ginny even managed to do it with me."
"That must have been an insane amount of work." Ron looked horrified. "Did you have any fun at all this summer?"
"Yeah I did." Harry smiled at the memories. "Hermione might be a hard taskmistress but if you put the work in she can be a lot of fun too."
"Scary is what she is." Ron snorted.
"She gets that from her Mum's side." Harry chuckled. "Her Granddad can make Moody look soft and fluffy if he wants."
Ron gulped. "Remind me to be somewhere else if she ever invites me to meet him."
Harry laughed. "I doubt he'll treat you worse than me. That went so bad at the start that Hermione hexed him; he was spewing slugs for an hour."
Ron paled. "Remind me not to annoy Hermione either. It was bad enough the first time."
"It's not like you hadn't been warned. Neville in first year and third year when she decked Malfoy if you remember."
"I'll never forget her punching Malfoy, it's right up there with the Bouncing Ferret." Ron grinned. "Checkmate."
"Like that was in doubt." Harry gathered up his pieces. "I've got work to get done. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Not so fast Potter." Katie interrupted. "You two still on for Quidditch?"
"You bet." Ron bounced to hit feet in anticipation.
"I think so, but I don't know how many practises I can make." Harry said. "Or games."
"You might need to work on training your replacement then, just in case." Katie sighed. "I'd prefer you though."
"I know, but I have other priorities." Harry stated. "I hope they won't conflict too much but Quidditch will go before some of my other stuff."
Katie nodded tiredly. "What about Ginny?"
"Probably in the same boat as me." Harry replied. "But you can ask her."
"She's not here or in her dorm, is she in the Library." Katie looked around to check the room again.
"She might be in my room, we can check that first." Harry stood.
Ron frowned as Harry opened the door. "I tried that earlier but it wouldn't open."
"It needs a password and I added some extra wards so only the door will only open for specific people." Harry explained.
"And I'm not one of them?" Ron protested.
"Duh." Katie swatted the back of his head. "You don't get access to the girls dorm after all and Harry's close enough at the moment."
"But, we're best friends." Ron couldn't seem to grasp that.
"Ron, what would Ginny do to you if you caught barged into her room at the wrong moment?" Harry asked.
Ron gulped and paled at the thought of a thoroughly enraged Ginny.
"I'd be worse." Harry held Ron's gaze firm.
Ron felt his knees buckled and he stumbled back. "Right. Okay Harry."
Harry's mood shifted from serious and slightly threatening to cheerful. "Glad we're on the same page mate. Ginny, Katie wants to see you."
Ginny looked up from her work and nodded. She got up and joined Katie to talk.
"What now?" Ron frowned as he looked around the room of studious girls.
"I have work to do and I think you do too." Harry pointed out as he grabbed his books that he still had laid out from before dinner and sat down to work.
"You've really spent too much time with Hermione." Ron turned and left the room.
Hermione shot a glare at Ron's back until Harry got the final word.
"He says that like it's a bad thing." Harry caught Hermione's eye. "I have some very good memories of you from all the time we spent this summer."
Hermione blushed heavily but smiled back. "And I have some wonderful memories of you too. Now, stop distracting me so I can get my work finished and focus on your contract."
"Yes ma'am." Harry grinned at her before focusing on his books.
Everyone would retire to their own Dorms in a couple of hours and Harry pushed himself hard to perform more of the enchantments on the armour. He then staggered to bed and fell asleep in seconds.
Harry had Ancient Runes for the first time the next day and the few other students, other than his girls, were very surprised to see him sit down between Ginny and Hermione. The professor gave him a bit of a grilling to make sure he was up to speed before relaxing and welcoming him to the class.
Harry found the class enjoyable, much more than he expected. He did have one complaint that he voiced to Hermione and Ginny after the class.
"You know as much as I enjoyed that class, it wasn't as fun as having you all teach me over the summer." Harry commented.
Hermione and Ginny both laughed. Harry got a poke in the back and a quick glance told him Daphne had heard as well and her face her was back in its icy mask but her eyes were bright with internal laughter.
Harry and Hermione had a free period next as the other Gryffindor's shared Charm's with the Ravenclaws. Padma quickly found them and They followed Harry up to the seventh floor.
"What's the plan?" Hermione teased Harry a little.
"You mean you don't have one?" Harry fired back before pacing in front of the painting.
The door appeared and Harry opened it to check the contents. Grinning with success he pulled the door wide and gave a bowing gesture for the two girls to precede him into the room.
"Oh, nicely done." Hermione looked around.
"Yes, Harry. You've done really well." Padma added her own complement.
The room was much bigger than normal, even for use by the DA last year. There was a wide clear strip around outer edge of the room. The centre of the room was filled by several familiar devices.
"We need somewhere to exercise and with Winter coming we can't do it outside very easily." Harry explained his reasoning. "Here is a little easier to hide, especially with a few wards on the corridor to discourage visitors and hide the room."
"What about the DA?" Padma asked.
"I think I can rework the coins to link in so they'll only come here when summoned." Harry replied.
"That's actually really impressive." Hermione said. "But do you really want to prevent everyone from being about to use this room?"
"I think so." Harry nodded. "I think this room could be abused by some people and I want to make it off limits. At least until the war is over and people are learning to respect each other better."
"Fair enough." Hermione agreed. "So, are all of us being dragged here every morning?"
"Yes." Harry stated firmly. "I'm sorry but none of us can risk you holding us back in the field. We've learnt that lesson already."
"I know." Hermione relented. "But you know exercise isn't my thing."
"I know." Harry gave her a sympathetic smile. "And you can stop as soon as Voldie and his Death Eaters are dealt with."
Hermione smiled back teasingly. "I can't wait, so hurry up about it, it's cutting into my study time."
Harry and Padma stared at the girl and, with nothing more than the barest shared glance, leapt at Hermione and began tickling her mercilessly.
Harry offer Padma an arm and they left Hermione in a giggling heap on the floor and headed to the door.
"Wait up." Hermione protested as she finally manage to stand on unsteady limbs.
"Yes, we should check the room while we're here." Padma remembered.
"True." Harry pulled his wand. "Let's see how this goes."
He cast the detection spell and his eyes shot open. "I got a response, faint but nearby. There is definitely one here."
"Well it's not here." Hermione was totally serious. "Try outside."
Harry nodded and the trio left the room. Harry cast the detection spell again and frowned.
"No, nothing here." Harry pondered. "It must be inside the room. Let me think a second."
"It must be have been stored in another section of the room." Hermione reasoned.
"So, if we can figure out the correct trigger then we can find it." Padma added her thoughts.
Harry's eyes shot wide and he began pacing. When the door reappeared he lunged for it and yanked the door open.
"You figured it out already?" Hermione gasped as she hurried after him.
"Umm." Padma was looking around. "Where do we start?"
The room was filled with piles and piles and piles of random things.
"It's in here." Harry said. "I got a strong response from the detection spell this time. It's over that side."
"How did you figure it out?" Hermione asked.
"I just asked for the room with the Horcrux in it." Harry answered.
Hermione palmed her face. "Well, isn't that blindingly obvious."
Padma was looking equally impressed and frustrated. "We could have spent weeks trying to work it out if you hadn't thought of that. So what's all this other stuff?"
'I don't know." Harry looked around more carefully. "I would guess that this is the other stuff that was in the same room. I had thought that we'd just get horcrux, not all this other stuff."
"Perhaps this is the Lost Property room?" Hermione suggested.
Harry looked at her. "You might be right. And a store room as well, look, there are chairs and tables over there."
"Lost Property room?" Padma asked.
"Non-magical places, like hotels, airports, and schools, have a place where things people find and hand in get stored." Hermione explained. "They have them all in one place so that if the owner comes looking they can check much easier."
"Ah, but I'm guessing that no one knows about this place." Padma looked around again. "Which would explain why there is so much stuff here."
"Yeah. Well, not to be able to use it properly in any case. People do find it occasionally but usually only the once." Harry sighed. "I think we are going to have to get the others to help. It's going take ages otherwise."
"At least we found another one." Hermione tried to reassure Harry. "And once you ward the corridor then you know that it'll stay here until we find it."
Harry nodded. "Yeah, but I'm going to block the corridor rather than simply discourage visitors. Until we take out the horcrux it's too dangerous."
"What if Dumbledore complains?" Padma asked.
"He can stuff himself if he thinks I'm going to risk losing a horcrux when one is so close." Harry snapped.
Padma nodded but was otherwise silent, aware that Harry's ire was directed at the aging Headmaster and not herself.
Harry marched out of the room and began warding the corridor to prevent access, even going so far as hiding it from view at both ends.
"That should do it." Harry said once he finished.
"And then some." Hermione looked over his handiwork. "You weren't holding back."
"No." Harry shook his head briefly. "Not when we're so close. There aren't many left."
"You, the locket, Hufflepuff's cup, the ring, the diary and this one. "Padma counted. "That's six. Given Daphne's research stated that he would need to retain one then that's all seven."
"Unless he didn't know that I was one and created another." Harry prompted. "We need to get that information from Dumbledore and soon. We're so close and I refuse to let anything get in the way, especially him."
"We're seeing him next week." Hermione rubbed his shoulder. "We have this one sorted by then. All that'll be left is to ensure we have gotten them all and then we can hit the Death Eaters with everything we've got."
Harry nodded and leant into her hand to draw calm and comfort from her attention. "Thanks. Come on, we should go. We'll have class soon."
The other two nodded and they headed off.
"You found another one?" Daphne stared at him in shock. "Just like that? There go our plans for the weekend."
"Yeah, sorry about that." Harry shrugged. "We'll think of something else to do. We still need to have a better look at the Chamber and you wanted to see the Shrieking Shack too."
"True." Daphne admitted. "But you don't need to be there for the Chamber, Tracy should be able to open it now."
"Hey, yeah." Tracy perked up. "The only Slytherin in the school who can. I wonder if I can run with that."
"The Heiress of Slytherin." Ginny giggled. "Don't think we're going to start bowing to you or anything."
"Aw." Tracy pouted. "There goes that idea."
"Well, you could look at our transport problems." Daphne returned to the previous conversation. "We're going to have to get in and out of the castle on a regular basis without anyone knowing."
"True." Harry nodded. "I'll see what I can do. Now, it's dinner time and then we have a horcrux to hunt down."
"Just another day at Hogwarts." Hermione stood.
"No actually." Harry replied. "We don't normally deal with dangerous artefacts until after Christmas."
"Yeah, that's right." Hermione remembered. "It's the dangerous creatures that show up early."
"You have no idea about the rumours Parvati shared about you three over the years." Padma commented. "I never expected to be in the middle of one of your 'Save the School' quests."
"Sorry about that." Harry apologised to the Ravenclaw. "Probably not the sort of thing you signed up for."
"If it makes you feel any better, we are at least on top of things this year." Hermione added. "We're normally running around trying to find out exactly what's going on before figuring out how solve it."
"I think I'd prefer that part of it." Padma admitted. "I prefer puzzles to combat."
"That's fine." Harry assure her. "Maybe you'll make sure we have time to prepare for any fighting that may occur."
"I'll do my best." Padma promised.
"What a load of junk." Daphne complained as she looked around the crowded room.
"Tell me about it." Harry tossed her a brief grin. "Think there's anything useful in here?"
"Not impossible actually." Daphne replied as she looked around. "It might be worth a look."
"We'll need some help." Hannah suggested as she looked at how much stuff in there.
"Ron, Neville." Harry pondered. "Think Lavender and Parvati would help too?"
"Possibly." Padma replied.
"Would it be safe?" Luna asked. "They haven't had our training."
"I doubt there is anything too dangerous in here and we can get Tonks and Hestia to join us too, if we have any doubts." Hermione answered. "Despite everything, this is still a school. We just need to get the horcrux out first."
"Then let's get that horcrux out of here." Susan rubbed her hands together in anticipation.
"Daphne, want to do the honours?" Harry looked over.
Daphne nodded and began casting. "Over that side."
"That's what I got too." Harry nodded. "Now, to actually get to that side of the room."
"This way I think." Hermione pointed.
The group began threading their way through the piles of random things that filled the room. They found their way blocked a few things. Once they managed to shrink the offending items and pass but other times the precariously piled items were too unstable and they had to find a different path. It took over an hour to find themselves next to a cabinet that their spells were pointing towards.
"That was a pain." Hannah huffed. "How far are we from the door? Thirty feet?"
"About that." Hermione nodded as she looked back, trying to gauge the distance.
"Nearly an hour and a half to walk thirty feet." Hannah complained. "What a pain."
"I agree, and we have to walk back again." Padma pointed out. "I don't think we're going to make curfew."
"Sorry about that." Harry apologised. "It's my fault for insisting that we go tonight."
"Forget it." Susan told Harry as she shot a glare at Hannah. "This is more important. We might crash in your room though. That'll be better than us all running thought the corridors back to our Dorms."
"And we've missed our alone time together." Daphne added with a smile.
Harry flushed a little and focused hard on the cabinet. "I'm not sure how to handle this; its enchanted not warded."
"Could you shrink it and take it with us?" Ginny asked. "We can get Bill to help."
"Good idea." Tracy complemented.
"Yeah, very good." Harry added. "Shield me please, just in case it reacts badly."
Five wands were pulled and five shields sprang into life. Three were positioned to cover Harry while the other two protected the rest of them behind him. Harry pushed his magic and tried to shrink the cabinet.
A shockwave of dark energy exploded from the cabinet and crashed into the shields. Two of them collapsed under the force but they did their job, abating the magic enough that the third held. There was a cacophonous flood of noise as the wave dark magic hammered into the surrounding objects.
Harry cracked an eye open when the noise finally came to a end. "That was a little close."
The others, safely behind the other two shields shared a look.
"Yeah." Ginny gulped. "Are you okay Harry?"
"Yeah." Harry stood. "Didn't touch me."
"Good thing too. Look at the damage it did." Susan was looking around.
The shockwave had shattered many of the objects around them and toppled the precariously stacked towers. Before they were looking up at all the piles of miscellaneous items and now the piles were flattened. Only the odd stack behind them had managed to remain standing, some having been knocked over by flying debris.
"Oh great, getting out of here really isn't going to be easy." Daphne sighed as she surveyed the mess. "Any suggestions?"
"Umm." Hermione looked around. "I'm thinking."
"How about our animagus forms?" Luna suggested. "We might need to lighten some of them but they'll be able to traverse that mess much easier then we can."
"That's a really good idea." Hannah replied.
"Yeah, but what about the cabinet?" Daphne added.
"Harry can bring it using his wandless magic." Luna answered as if stating the obvious.
There was a pause and then everyone turned as one to look at the one male of the group.
Harry was staring at the tiny blonde girl. "You know, she might have a point. I've never tried using my magic in any of my animagus forms but there's no reason why I couldn't."
"Try it." Hermione suggested interestedly. "We'll shield you again."
Harry shifted into his white tiger form as the shields reformed and stared hard at the now much smaller cabinet. The cabinet shifted then slowly rose into the air.
"Nice work Harry." Daphne rubbed the great cat's head. "Wait a sec while I lighten you then we can head out. Hermione can you lighten me once I change?"
"Of course. Ginny, Padma, I'll do the same for the both of you as well." Hermione replied. "Susan, Hannah, do you think you'll need it as well?"
"Umm." Susan pondered. "Yeah, probably better to be on the safe side. Tracy, you Luna and Hermione will need to lead the way."
They nodded and Hermione lightened the other girl's forms before shifting herself and springing atop the nearest pile as Luna flew past to scout ahead. Tracy's snake from slithered through the nearest gap and began climbing atop fallen junk. The larger forms, now lightened, sprang forward and began following their friend's lead back towards the door.
Harry was near the rear of the group making sure to follow along a safe path as he levitated the shrunken cabinet along with him. Ginny and Daphne were ensuring his path was stable and were having a few slips in the process. Nothing major but enough to cause them a few irritations as the various junk shifted under their paws, their weight, even reduced as it was, causing things to settle further.
Still, it was a much faster trip as they went over all the obstacles instead of around them and Harry was immensely grateful. Sustaining the levitation spell wandlessly for such a long time was draining, especially in his animagus form; it was not something he had done before after all.
Harry sprang out the door and Hermione shut it after them. Setting the cabinet down Harry returned to his human form and slumped to the ground.
"That took a bit of work." Harry commented.
"I bet." Susan commented as she sat next to him. "We'll take it from here, you just take it easy."
Harry nodded and pulled the Marauders Map from his robes. "Here Hermione, you guide us back."
Hermione nodded and activated the map. "We're clear. Think you can keep up, Harry?"
"Yeah." Harry nodded and let Susan help him to his feet. "But I'm going to bed as soon as we get back. What time is it anyway?"
"After curfew." Tracy answered. "We need to get to your room. We'd better hurry, we don't want to be caught."
The group headed out. They easily dodged Flitch and his cat took one look at them before vanishing at high speed.
"Think she could smell the great cats on us?" Ginny laughed.
"Probably." Daphne chuckled. "Crookshanks is wary around us and he knows we won't attack him."
"Actually, I think that's mostly Hermione's rant at him." Harry smiled. "I think she scared eight of his nine lives out of him."
Hermione flushed at the memory of that incident.
They made it back to Harry's room and stored the shrunken cabinet in their workroom before the tired group retired for the night.
They owled Bill and Fleur about the cabinet, the couple replied back saying they would visit over the weekend and to let them know a place to meet up. Bill was more than a little nervous about the suggestion of the Shrieking Shack but agreed to meet there with Remus.
Friday afternoon was a time of relaxation. All their classes were done with by soon after lunch and there was plenty of warm sun to enjoy. Hermione needed little encouragement to take her books outside with them and they relaxed by the lake with a light ward to discourage observation or interruption.
Harry lay back on the blanket and stared contently up into the sky. It wasn't Hogwarts that was home anymore, it was the company of these amazing young women.
"Daydreaming?" Daphne nudged his foot.
"A little." Harry replied. "Just enjoying the company."
"Glad to know we're appreciated." Daphne smiled happily. "It's so nice to actually be able to relax at school."
"You're not having any trouble in your dorms are you?" Harry sat up.
"No." Daphne shook her head. "But people are on edge. It's making it harder to see if anyone is acting out of the norm."
"If anyone can spot something it's you and Tracy." Harry nodded.
"Oh, hush." Daphne swatted at his foot. "You'll make me blush."
That got a laugh from everyone and Harry relaxed back.
Harry gave a silent grump as he forced himself to focus on doing something. He just couldn't be bothered sitting up. He didn't need to sit up to look at the school's wards he reasoned and pushed his senses gently in that direction.
The wards were as powerful as he first thought when he got to the school. The number of wards, having been added to by various Headmasters and staff over the centuries, was immense and Harry was struggling to make them out.
Harry rolled to his feet suddenly as he focused in on a single ward. That wasn't right. If he pushed it a little it would clash with that other ward and collapse them both. The shockwave from that would...
"Harry?" Ginny was watching him carefully. She just got a hand wave for her to wait in reply.
Harry rubbed his temples as the strain of studying the immense mass of wards set in. "Hermione?"
"Yes?" Hermione was already giving him her full attention.
"Lots of the Headmasters added to the school wards didn't they?"
"Yes. It specifically states that in Hogwarts, a History to illustrate how strong they are."
"Does it say how many of them were Ward Masters?"
Hermione frowned as she searched her memory. "No, it doesn't. I think a couple may have been but very few."
"I figured." Harry let out a groan.
"Oh crap." Daphne figured it out first.
"Huh?" Tracy asked her friend.
"They stuffed the wards up didn't they?" Daphne spoke to Harry but her words answered Tracy's question.
"Yup." Harry looked back at the group. "There's a section here that could be collapsed in seconds. It may even be enough to disrupt the whole lot."
"So the most powerful wards in England are actually tissue paper thin." Hermione gulped. "That's scary."
"Can you fix it?" Hannah asked.
"I don't know." Harry looked worried. "It won't be easy. It might be better to replace the whole ward scheme."
"No." Daphne shook her head. "It would open up Hogwarts to attack and new wards won't have the same impact as the legacy of these ones. That has to be a last resort."
"I might be able to weave them properly but it's going to take a lot of work." Harry looked around one last time. "A lot of work, and preparation. I might be able to key us into them in the process though; we could apparate in and out easily then."
"That would be cool." Susan nodded. "And great for working out of the castle."
"Yeah." Harry sat back down. "This is really going to take a lot of planning to get it right though. It might be best to get professional help too; I really shouldn't try to do this on my own."
It was a slightly smaller group that reunited in an out of the way side passage after curfew that evening. Harry and Ginny were the first to arrive and they watched the map to see Daphne moving up from the dungeons with surprising speed, Susan and Hannah leaving their Common Room a short distance away and Luna and Padma coming down from the Ravenclaw Tower.
"They should all be here in a few minutes." Harry said as he checked things over. "I can't see any anyone in their way, they should all have a clear run."
Harry checked the map again. "Daphne's moving really fast."
"Animagus." Ginny guessed.
She was proven right a few minutes later as the black panther silently emerged from the darkness and transformed back into the Slytherin girl.
"Hi, nice idea for getting around." Ginny greeted her friend.
"I thought so too." Daphne smiled back as she gave them both a quick hug. "How far away are the others?"
"Few minutes." Harry replied. "They look to have clear runs too."
"All four. Luna must be dragging Padma down."
Daphne stifled a laugh. "Poor girl. Luna's great but hard to go against when she gets an idea in her head."
Susan and Hannah bounced up a couple of minutes later to hug everyone, grinning in anticipation of their jaunt. Luna and Padma were a minutes behind them and surprisingly Padma, though very nervous, was leading the way.
"Okay, everyone ready?" Harry asked once they had finished greeting each other.
Everyone nodded and Harry lead the way, transforming into his white tiger form as he went. Luna quickly shifted and flitted to land on his neck and carefully latched on with her talons.
The quartet of great cats shot across the grounds with the two dogs bringing up the rear, struggling a little to keep up with the much faster cats. Harry paused a short distance away from the Whomping Willow to make sure the group was together and ready. He shook his head gently to dislodge Luna and sighted in on the knot that would calm the temperamental tree.
Harry pushed his magic and shot forward to pounce on the knot before the tree could even detect his presence and pointed out the tunnel hidden in the exposed roots at the base of the tree. Ginny was the first to react and the others were close behind as they all ran into the tunnel after Harry, following the dim view of the white striped tail through the dark tunnel.
Finally they reached the shattered remains of the door blocking the far end of the tunnel and Harry pawed it open and led the way inside, pushing his senses to ensure there was no one else around before transforming back.
"Welcome to the Shrieking Shack." Harry waved in a grandiose gesture.
"You take us to such romantic places." Daphne teased as she looked around the shattered building. "Werewolf you said?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah. I get why everyone is scared of them but it's only during a full moon and do you know how much pain they go through when they change?"
"No, most people try to avoid being that close." Daphne admitted.
"Fair enough." Harry shrugged. "But it's a lot. You can hear their bones snapping as they reform."
There were a lot of winces as they girls imagined what that would be like.
"This place is more depressing than scary really." Padma commented as she looked around.
Hannah nodded. "It's like a metaphor for werewolves really; uncared for and abandoned."
"Public perception is against them, and the ones like Greyback don't help." Daphne commented. "Still it's wrong to judge them by Greyback's example. Imagine us being judged by V...Voldemort."
"You make a good point." Susan nodded. "Professor Moony is a good example of what they can be. Harry did everyone a big favour when he put Greyback down."
Harry shuddered slightly as he recalled his first deliberate kills. "It's a pity the Ministry was so incompetent that it fell to me to take care of it."
"I agree." Susan nodded vigorously. "I've barely seen Auntie because she has to put so much time into fixing everything the Fudge let fall apart."
"We need to do our bit too." Padma added. "We need to help her push competence into the Ministry and follow up on her work."
"So you really are trying to make me Minister of Magic aren't you?" Harry quirked an eyebrow as he looked around the assembled girls.
"That's more of an Administrative position, you'd be better as the Head of the DMLE." Daphne replied.
"Hermione or Padma would be better for the Minister position." Susan added. "The other would be their Senior Undersecretary."
"Can we call that position something else?" Padma protested.
"Yeah, it does really conjure a visual of a pink toad doesn't it." Harry got everyone laughing. "Come on, let's start heading back."
That weekend may not have been a Hogsmeade Weekend but it didn't stop the trio of Harry, Ginny and Daphne from running the tunnel to the Shrieking Shack on Saturday morning as they headed to meet up with Bill and Fleur.
Sneaking out had cost them a little time and they found the others had already arrived.
"Hi Bill." Ginny had pounced on him before transforming back. "Hi Fleur."
"Hi Ginny." Fleur stooped to hug the younger girl on her brothers chest.
"Get off Gin." Bill finally managed to push her off. "You're way too heavy to be doing that."
Bill jerked back suddenly as Ginny had her wand pointed at his nose faster than he could comprehend.
"Did you just call me fat?" Ginny growled.
"Honestly Bill, you know better to say that to a girl." Fleur swatted his arm firmly. "Especially your own sister."
"I didn't say that." Bill protested, shooting a glare at the laughing werewolf. "But the last time you were sitting on me like that you were three. You've grown a bit since then. And don't get me started on your animagus form; as impressed as I am that you managed to achieve it, it must be half a ton of solid muscle."
Ginny gave him a final warning glare before relaxing and poking her tongue out at him teasingly.
"So, where is this dark artefact you wanted me to look at?" Bill quickly changed the subject.
"Back in my room." Harry replied. "It's safer there than dragging it around the castle."
"Fair enough." Bill nodded. "I guess that's a tunnel to the castle you came down."
"Starts at the Whomping Willow." Harry confirmed. "The tunnel is a little messy though."
"We can live with that." Fleur shrugged. "Bill can help me clean up afterwards."
"Well that was more than I really needed to know." Daphne commented. "We should get moving."
"Yes." Harry nodded. "Sorry but I really want that thing dealt with."
"I understand." Bill agreed. "Lead on."
This trip was slower; the tunnel was a little small for adults to move freely. As such the return trip took much longer. On the castle grounds proper Harry used his map to avoid everyone and got his guests to his suite without anyone else the wiser.
"Nice place you got here." Bill looked around. "I'm a little jealous; the Head Boy's dorm isn't this nice."
"Well, you could've had this, you just needed to be turned into a girl." Harry teased.
"Don't think I would be with you if you did." Fleur commented. "I don't think you'd make a pretty enough girl to make me want to 'switch teams'. 'Arry on the other hand..."
"I wasn't even considering it." Bill shuddered, ignoring his girlfriend's teasing. "Now, where is this cabinet?"
"In there." Harry pointed to the workroom. "We've cleared everything else out for the moment and I've warded the room heavily, it should contain anything that thing decides to unleash."
"Good. Let's get started."
It took Bill an hour to complete his scans of the cabinet. "Damn, that's nasty. You were lucky there weren't any protections on moving it around; he focused on spells that would actively affect the cabinet not passive or miscellaneous effects. I guess he was concerned about someone actually doing something to it rather than just working around it."
"That makes sense." Fleur commented. "Make the protections too sensitive and you draw attention to them unnecessarily. This way no one would notice unless that actually tried breaking into it."
"Exactly."Bill nodded. "It won't react to a basic unlocking spell but the locking spell on it is far too strong for just an alohamora."
"Even one from Harry at full power?" Daphne asked. "If it won't trigger the traps then would that be a way around it? Or is there a trap that will be triggered if the locking spell is broken?"
Bill cast another series of spells. "Not that I can detect. You might have just found a loop hole."
"It makes sense." Ginny commented. "Tom is arrogant is his power and will think that his work can't be overcome so easily."
"So, I'll try that then?" Harry pulled his wand. "Want to set up some shields just in case."
"Always." Bill stated firmly. "NEVER take any unnecessary risks. Fleur wait outside for a minute."
"Oui." Fleur stepped out and shut the door behind her.
"In case we get hurt, she will be fine and can look after us and get help." Bill explained. "Shields now."
A trio of shields sprung up between Harry and the cabinet; Ginny's and Daphne's were quickly in position while Bill's took another few seconds.
"Go Harry." Bill ordered.
Harry nodded and focused his magic hard, building it up before releasing it in one large burst. "ALOHAMORA!"
The spell hammered into the cabinet with enough force to set it rocking but there was no other reaction for a few seconds, then the cabinet's door popped open a little causing them all the jump as the click of the latch was amplified but their nervous and the silence of the room.
"I think it worked." Harry grinned.
"Yeah, it just scared us half to death in the process." Ginny breathed deeply.
"Given the level of destruction last time, I think we'd be forgiven." Daphne replied.
"So, who want's to open it up and see what's inside?" Bill looked around the trio of girls.
The door opened and Fleur cautiously looked inside. "Ah, bon. You are all alright. Did it work?"
"Yup." Bill grinned. "The door has been unlocked. Now to see what's inside. Now, where's my dragon-hide glove... ah, here it is. Ladies and, whatever you want to be called Harry, if you will step aside."
Bill rechecked the cabinet door and gingerly nudged it open. "Whoa, that's not something you see every day. It's impressive to say the least."
"What is it?" Fleur asked.
"A tiara. A very expensive one." Bill replied. "Just let me check a few things before we pull it out."
Bill reran his checks before using the dragon-hide glove to remove the jewel encrusted headpiece and placed it on the floor well clear of everything.
"It's not a tiara, it's a diadem." Fleur pointed out. "But you're right; it is magnifique."
"Pity we have to destroy it." Harry sighed. "Who gets this one?"
"I think Hermione should." Daphne said. "She's earned it."
"Yeah." Ginny nodded. "I'll send her a message."
"I just hope this is the last one." Harry sat against a wall. "The longer it takes, the more chance Voldie has to figure out what we're doing and counter. He knows we have to go after them so he can layout traps first. Right after moving them."
"We know." Daphne sat next to him and slid her arms around him. "We'll beat him Harry. You'll take him out and we'll carve a path through his followers to get you there."
"You bet we will." Ginny joined him on the other side. "You've trained and inspired us, no pathetic Death Eaters will stop us."
"Thanks." Harry perked up. "Sorry this keeps getting to me all the time."
"It's okay." Daphne gave him a kiss on his cheek. "We know it's because you're worried about us."
Harry gave her a small smile back.
The door burst open. "What happened? Your call sounded urgent."
"Hi Hermione." Ginny greeted her. "We got the horcrux out. Want to destroy it?"
"Horcrux?" Ron had followed Hermione, Tracy and Padma in.
"Hide that Ron." Harry shot to his feet. "You've been learning Occulmency; hide that word in the deepest recesses of your mind and forget about it."
"Huh? Why? What are they?" Ron was confused.
"Evil is what they are." Ginny snarled. "Forget about them Ron. You should leave now."
"No." Ron shouted. "I've been kept out of everything over the summer, I'm not letting you push me out now."
"It's better for you if you don't know Ron." Harry stated calmly. "What you don't know can't be tortured out of you."
Ron gulped. "Torture?"
"This isn't a game Ron." Harry stared him down. "Can you take this to the grave without divulging it? It's not just your life on the line here but everyone's."
Ron paled. "Maybe I'll just step out for the moment."
"Good choice." Harry nodded once.
They waited until the door had closed behind him before returning to the important task at hand.
"There it is. The horcrux." Harry pointed to the diadem.
"Wow, it's so beautiful." Hermione gasped. "Why does that fiend have to destroy so much beauty."
"I don't believe it." Padma gasped. "It can't be... It was supposed to be lost since the time of the Founders."
"What is it?" Tracy asked.
"Proof you were on the right track." Padma knelt to look closer but didn't touch the headdress. "That is the Lost Diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw. There's a model of it in our Common Room."
"A Founders Relic." Tracy gasped. "Another priceless heirloom ruined for all time. Why did that monster have to do that."
"Do you think it's possible to recreate it?" Hermione asked. "I know we're talking about a legendary item but surely we have the brains and power between all of us?"
"I don't know." Padma sat back on her heals and stared at her Gryffindor friend. "But that would be something really amazing to try."
"Count me in, if you need me that is." Harry chuckled. "Anyway, Hermione, this one is yours. If you want to."
Hermione looked at him and turned back to stare at the magnificent piece of jewellery. "I... I... I can't. I can't destroy this. I've read about the Ravenclaw Diadem, I can't be the one to destroy it; no matter how much it needs to be. Tracy was the one who suggested the Founder's Relics, do you want it?"
"Not really, but I understand why you can't." Tracy gave Hermione a firm hug. "I'll do it."
Padma sat on the floor next to Hermione and they held each other tightly as Tracy drew her basilisk fang knife and took a deep breath to plunge the blade into the diadem and jump back fast.
They watch the familiar black smoke spill out and vanish.
"I always feel like a shower after that." Daphne shuddered.
"I know what you mean." Ginny agreed. "Are you okay Hermione?"
"Yeah." Hermione looked over with tears forming in her eyes. "It just feels a little too much like book burning."
Padma was crying as well. "It's such a tragedy for it to have to be destroyed. Even more that Hufflepuff Cup. Harry, make sure you kick that bastard's arse for using such a priceless artefact for something so twisted and evil."
"I will. I promise." Harry nodded. "Go get cleaned up. Bill, what do we do with the cabinet? It can't be safe to leave lying around."
"I know. I'll need a storage box to move it to a safe place to destroy it though." Bill answered. "That means a trip to Gringotts."
"Can you get Tapstone to come back with you?" Harry asked. "I think I'll need his help."
"The Hogwarts' Wards. They are a mess and on the verge of collapse. The castle is vulnerable until they're fixed and I'm just not experienced enough to do it alone." Harry looked out the window, studying the wards only he could see. "I think we'll need a whole heap of temporary ward stones or something too."
"It's really that bad?" Bill gasped. "But the Hogwarts Wards are legendary for their power."
"There is plenty of power there, but what happens when wards are setup next to each other incorrectly?"
Bill palmed his face. "They can clash and take each other out. That's what's happened, hasn't it?"
"Yeah." Harry nodded. "But it's really hard to tell because there is so much power and so many wards that they drown each other out."
"Right. I'm on it." Bill shook his head as he quickly left the room.
Padma sighed and turned away from the darkened remains of the once bright diadem. "Come on Hermione, let's go and start planning how to replace it."
Hermione nodded. "Okay. See you later everyone."
"Sad really." Daphne grimaced a little. "So much damage to our society and history just because he has a giant ego and thinks he has the right to rule over everyone."