"I cannot believe you went that far," Blaise said to Draco as the pair made their way to the bar in the ballroom. "I know I said to make sure you won the bid, but that was wild."
"You don't have to pay half," Draco offered. Even though he and Blaise had decided they would half the cost of winning the bid, he wouldn't hold his friend to their deal when he'd bid so much.
"I'll pay," Blaise answered. "It was worth it to see the look of horror on Potter's face when he realised he couldn't match you."
"I'm sure he could have, but I doubt his wife would have been happy with him," Draco replied. "As it is, my wife isn't too impressed by the bid."
"You'll talk Hermione round, you always do," Blaise laughed. He'd lost track of the times he'd seen Hermione mad at Draco for something, and his best friend always managed to charm his way out of trouble.
"It's a talent," Draco smirked.
Shaking his head at his friend, Blaise leant on the bar and grabbed the attention of one of his most loyal employees. "Connor, I want you to do me a favour." Slipping a small vial from his pocket, Blaise slipped it into the barman's hand. "I want you to slip that in Ron Weasley's drink."
"You do know who Ron Weasley is, don't you?" Draco checked.
"Of course," Connor replied. Everyone knew who Ron Weasley was considering he was a war hero.
"Let me know when it's done," Blaise said. "But until then, we'll have two firewhisky's, a glass of champagne and a glass of non-alcoholic rosé wine."
After receiving their drinks, Draco and Blaise made their way over to their wives. The vial they'd just handed the barman contained veritiserum. The pair had slipped away after dinner to retrieve the potion as Draco was determined to prove that Weasley was the liar, not Hermione. Hermione and Daphne had no idea of the plan, as while they'd slipped out for a while, Hermione had been resting up in one of the bedrooms and Daphne had been keeping her company.
"I hope the pair of you are pleased with your purchase," Daphne remarked as the men sat down at the table they'd quickly grabbed upon entering the ballroom. "Fifty thousand is an awful lot to go and meet a quidditch team."
"But the boys will love it," Blaise argued. "It's a unique opportunity for Alex and Scorpius. When else are they ever going to get a chance to fly with professional quidditch players?"
"I guess it will be something for them to remember," Hermione conceded. "And of course, it'll keep you two big kids happy."
"Of course," Draco replied with a grin. "It'll be fun for us as well."
As the conversation drifted onto the rest of the auction, Draco and Blaise kept an eye on the bar. They didn't want to miss Ron receiving the veritiserum and lose the chance to get him to admit the truth. Fortunately they both spotted Connor speaking to Ron at the bar, and when the redhead departed the barman gave them confirmation he'd slipped him the potions via a nod of his head. Draco was just wondering how to suggest they go and speak with Hermione's former friends, when Blaise nudged him in the side. Turning his head, he couldn't help but smirk as he saw Potter and Weasley approaching with their wives. George and Angelina were also with the foursome, but neither of them looked very happy with events.
"Hermione," Ron greeted as he arrived at the table. "I would like to talk to you."
"Talk away," Hermione said, making no move to get up.
"In private," Ron said, throwing a dirty look Draco's way.
"Anything you have to say, can be said here," Hermione replied. "I have no secrets from my husband and best friends."
"Before he says anything, I want to say that Ange and I don't agree with anything he's about to say," George said hastily. "We have no problems with you Hermione, and we're just sorry Ron's about to make a fool of himself."
"I am not going to make a fool of myself," Ron insisted. "I'm merely looking out for someone who I used to be close to."
"I don't need to be looked out for," Hermione said snappishly. "Especially not from you."
"I know our friendship didn't end well, but we all still care about you, Hermione," Ron said. "I just want you to answer me one question. Are you being coerced to be with Malfoy in any way?"
Hermione laughed out loud at Ron's absurd question, until she realised he was deadly serious. He genuinely thought something had happened to her and she wasn't with Draco of her own free will.
"I am not being coerced in any way," Hermione said seriously. "I'm with Draco because I love him. He's hasn't got me under any spells or potions, if that's what you're thinking. We simply fell in love."
"You seem to be aware of what you're doing," Ron admitted reluctantly. "Although if he was controlling you, you wouldn't be aware of it."
"No-one is controlling anyone," Draco said, wrapping a protective arm around Hermione's shoulders. "Our relationship is genuine."
"See, I told you," George crowed triumphantly before turning to Hermione. "Sorry Hermione, I tried to tell him he was being ridiculous, but he wouldn't listen."
"And why were you so keen on thinking I was being used?" Hermione asked. "Are you feeling guilty about what happened all those years ago? Are you feeling bad for lying and making me out to be a jealous cow?"
Draco and Blaise exchanged victorious grins when Hermione started asking Ron questions. With the veritiserum in his system, he would have no choice but to answer with the truth and finally his lies were going to be exposed.
"Yes," Ron replied, a look of horror appearing on his face as he realised what he'd said. He'd meant to scoff at Hermione's suggestions, but he was unable to control the real answer that slipped from his lips.
"Ron," Ginny gasped. "Are you saying you were the one lying all those years ago?"
"Yes," Ron answered again, his frustration growing as he was again forced to answer the question with the truth. Suddenly he understood what had happened and glared accusingly at Hermione and the Slytherins. "You've slipped veritiserum in my drink," He accused.
"We did," Draco answered. "We're not going to abuse it, we just want to know the truth."
"I'm not going to stand here and be questioned by you," Ron announced, turning to leave.
"No, you don't," Harry said, catching his friend's arm and turning him back around. "It's time you told the truth Ron."
"Did you really kiss Hermione during the final battle and tell her you would wait for her when she went to Australia?" Ginny asked her brother.
"Yes," Ron admitted, the words spilling from his lips even though he didn't want them to. "The answer to both is yes. Yes, I kissed her and yes, I said I would wait for her."
"Why didn't you?" Hermione questioned. She now believed that her relationship with Ron would never have worked, but she still wanted to know what had made him suddenly change his mind about her.
"You were gone and Lavender was there," Ron answered. "I'd intended to wait for you, but I had a drink with Lavender and remembered what fun we used to have together. I realised that I wanted fun, I didn't want boring and serious."
"You thought I was boring?" Hermione asked, feeling far more hurt than she'd imagined she would be by Ron's revelations.
"Yes," Ron whispered. "I'm sorry Hermione. Lavender represented fun, and after everything that happened, I wanted fun. I still cared about you, but I realised we were better off as friends."
"Why did you never just tell me that?" Hermione asked quietly. "It would have hurt, but I would have understood. Why did you have to tell those lies and say you never promised me anything? Why not just be truthful?"
"I don't know," Ron confessed. "I had planned to just tell you the truth, but then your turned up unexpectedly and found me with Lav. When you started yelling at me, I wasn't thinking straight and it just seemed easier to deny anything had ever happened between us. If I'd admitted the truth everyone would have hated me for not letting you down gently before moving on with Lavender."
"Instead you let people hate me for lying," Hermione said sadly. "Things could have been so different Ron. People might have been upset and angry at the way you handled things, but it would have all been sorted out. You never know, we might still have been friends."
"I'm sorry Hermione," Ron said. "I wish I could change things, but I can't."
"You could have come clean at any time," Draco pointed out. "Even tonight, you could have had the decency to admit you were in the wrong. Instead we had to dose you with veritiserum in order to get the truth. You're not sorry for what you put Hermione through, you're just sorry you got caught."
"I am genuinely sorry," Ron insisted, although it was clear no-one believe him.
"I can't believe you've done this, Ron," Ginny hissed at her brother.
"Sorry," Ron repeated yet again, before turning on his heel and fleeing the room. Lavender hovered unsurely for a minute, before she turned and took off after her husband.
"Hermione, I don't know what to say," Harry said, turning to his former friend. Hermione could see the guilt swimming in his green eyes, but it didn't move her the way she often thought it might do if her friends ever apologised. "We're so sorry for believing Ron. We never should have taken sides."
"I appreciate your apology," Hermione said. She wasn't going to be petty enough to reject Harry's apology when she could see he genuinely meant it.
"I'm sorry as well," Ginny said sheepishly. "Harry's right, we made a big mistake in throwing our friendship with you away."
"But this isn't going to make a difference, is it?" Harry asked quietly. "We're still not going to be friends, are we?"
"Too much has happened for us to go back to the way it was," Hermione replied. "I genuinely appreciate your apologies, but it doesn't change the fact you just stopped being my friends. I never asked you to choose between me and Ron, and I'll admit that it really hurt when you dumped me. I didn't expect to lose everyone I'd ever cared about in the space of a few hours."
"We understand," Harry said solemnly. "We're pleased you're happy, Hermione. You deserve it."
"Thanks." Hermione smiled at Harry before she impulsively stood up and pulled him into a hug. "I'll never forget you Harry, and I'll always cherish the friendship we once shared."
"So will I," Harry replied, hugging Hermione tightly for what he knew would be the very last time. "And I will always regret throwing that friendship away."
With an air of sadness the two former friends parted. Hermione sat back down next to her husband, while Harry said a final goodbye and left with Ginny. George and Angelina stayed long enough to make sure things were still okay between them and Hermione, before they said goodnight and headed home.
"This has been one eventful night," Hermione said, resting her head on Draco's shoulder.
"And it's not over yet," Draco said. "Your parents still have Scorpius until tomorrow afternoon, so we have the house to ourselves."
"I really don't know if I can be bothered with anything like that," Hermione confessed. Even with an hour's rest after dinner, the evening had felt particularly long and she was getting increasingly tired with every passing minute.
"Let's go home and I'll run you a soothing bath and give you a nice massage," Draco suggested. "Then we can see if you fancy a bit of fun. I bet by the time I've had my hands all over you, you'll not be able to resist me."
Hermione laughed, knowing Draco was most likely right. She may be tired now, but by the time her husband had given her a sensual massage, she would be more than ready to jump him. She never had been able to resist Draco, and she didn't plan on starting now. It wasn't often they had the house to themselves and with a second child on the way, it would soon become an even rarer occurrence so they really should make the most of it while they could.
Saying goodbye to Blaise and Daphne, Hermione and Draco found Lucius and Narcissa to say goodbye to before heading home. Once at home, Draco ran Hermione a soothing bubble bath complete with candles lighting up the bathroom. When she emerged from the bathroom she found the bedroom was also alight with romantic candlelight, and climbing onto the bed, Draco proceeded to give her a very relaxing, and very sexy massage. By the time Draco was finished, Hermione felt fully invigorated and they spent the remainder of the night making love.
When their lovemaking was over and they were settled down together in bed, Hermione thought about events of the evening. She hadn't expected to see her former friends, but in the end she was pleased that she had. It may have been too late to reignite their friendship, but at least she had some closure. She now knew why Ron had lied all those years ago, and even though it didn't really matter much anymore it felt good to know Harry and Ginny knew the truth. At least now her former friends didn't think she was a liar, and that was something that pleased Hermione. Her life may not include her friends any more, but at least some sense of peace had been restored. Now when she thought about them, she could remember the good times and wouldn't have to dwell on how their friendship ended.
A/N – Thanks to everyone who supported this story. As always, the support I receive for my stories is greatly appreciated and very humbling. I hope people enjoyed the end of this story. I felt that everything was wrapped up nicely between Hermione and her former friends, and the story had come to a natural conclusion.