A/N - Sorry for the delay in posting, but I was without internet yesterday. Thanks to all the people concerned about my absence, and enquiring after me, but I can reassure you all that I'm fine. I also want to thank people for reading and reviewing this story. I hope you enjoy the final chapter.
Ron had gone down to Hogsmeade, convinced that by the end of the day he would be the laughing stock of the school. Even though he'd had a week to talk to Hermione and try and persuade her to go on the date with Draco, he'd hardly been able to talk to his friend as she was virtually ignoring him. So with no chance of persuading Hermione to help him out, Ron had been forced to admit defeat and he'd prepared himself to brave whatever forfeit the Slytherins had come up for him.
When Draco had insisted on waiting until one o'clock, before accepting that the bet wouldn't be honoured, Ron became convinced that the blond Slytherin was just heaping on the humiliation. For nearly an hour, he'd seethed about the Head Boy, deciding that his recent change of heart about the Slytherins had been wrong. Over the course of the year he'd decided that the Slytherins weren't too bad after all, but sitting in The Three Broomsticks knowing everyone was just waiting to see what his forfeit was, Ron decided that he'd been right all long and that the Slytherins were pure evil and not to be trusted.
"I've had enough of this," he muttered to his friends shortly before one. "I just want this over and done with."
"Good luck," Harry called as Ron headed off to concede defeat to Draco. Only this time he wasn't going to accept any more stalling, and like it or not Draco would have to accept that he wasn't going to get his date with Hermione.
However, just as it looked as though Ron was finally going to find out what his forfeit was, Hermione made a surprise appearance. Ron was still stunned at his best friend's arrival when Ginny hustled him away from where Draco and Hermione were about to have their date and back towards the other Gryffindors.
"Well that is a surprise," Harry remarked as Ron re-joined them and Ginny settled down with them. "I never expected Hermione to turn up."
"I think she's been planning on turning up all along," Ginny confided. "She was just angry at certain people," she added with a pointed look at her brother.
"I know, I screwed up," Ron said apologetically. "And I swear, I will make it up to Hermione."
"Maybe you already have," Neville suggested.
"What do you mean?" Ron asked with a frown.
"She seems to be enjoying herself," Neville said, nodding towards where Hermione was sitting with Draco.
Turning his attention to his friend, Ron realised that Neville was right and Hermione looked perfectly content with Draco. As time passed, she continued to look as though she was enjoying herself and Ron spotted her laughing several times.
"Is it just me, or is Hermione flirting with Malfoy?" he asked Harry.
"She's definitely flirting," Harry said with a nod. "But isn't that the idea of a date?"
"But I didn't even know she fancied him," Ron protested. "I knew he fancied her, which was why I suggested the date in the first place as I knew he wouldn't be able to resist the chance of going out with Hermione. But I didn't realise the attraction ran both ways."
"I think almost every girl in school fancies Malfoy," Ginny said.
"Including you?" Harry asked.
"Just a little bit," Ginny admitted with a smile. "But on a whole, I think Blaise is more my type. I prefer tall, dark and handsome, to tall, blond and mysterious."
"I didn't think Malfoy would be Hermione's type," Ron muttered.
"What makes you think that?" Ginny asked. "He's about the only wizard in school who's as smart as she is. He's also not the type to be intimidated by her. I think they're a good match."
"Look on the bright side Ron. Hermione can't be too mad at you if she ends up with a boyfriend at the end of all of this," Harry said.
"I guess not," Ron said, cheering up slightly at the prospect of getting out of trouble with his ferocious best friend.
By the time Hermione and Draco finished their lunch and headed off into the village, Ron and almost every other person in the pub were convinced the seeds of romance were blossoming between the pair.
"So how do you feel about Hermione possibly getting with Malfoy?" Harry asked Ron as they left the pub.
"It's strange, but since I sort of arranged the date, I can't really complain," Ron admitted. "What do you think?"
"I agree with Ginny, I think they could be a good match," Harry replied. "Although at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is that Hermione is happy. And if Malfoy can make her happy, I think that's great."
"I'm just happy as long as she forgives me," Ron said. "I hate it when she's mad at me."
"Yeah, being in Hermione's bad books is no fun," Harry agreed. "With any luck, Malfoy can charm her and all us this will be forgotten in a few days."
"Do you really think it'll work like that?" Ron asked.
"We can hope," Harry said. "Now come on, let's see if we can see Hermione and Malfoy and see how they're getting along."
Unfortunately, wherever Hermione and Draco were, Harry and Ron couldn't find them. In the end they ended up reuniting with the other Gryffindors before heading back up to the castle. By the time they reached Hogwarts afternoon tea was being served in The Great Hall so they settled down for something to eat. They'd only been back in school for just over half an hour before Hermione and Draco entered The Great Hall together.
The arrival of the Head Students brought an end to most conversations in The Great Hall, and everyone was watching with anticipation as the pair approached the table where Ron and the other Gryffindors were sitting.
"I hope you're not going to try and say I didn't fulfil my end of the bet," Ron said, eyeing the blond warily. There was no expression on the Slytherins face so he had no idea what he was thinking.
"Oh no, the bet is paid in full," Draco said with a smirk.
"So you had a good time?" Harry asked Hermione.
"It wasn't too bad," Hermione replied.
"Not too bad?" Draco questioned with a frown. "And here I am, thinking I'd charmed you."
"I might have been slightly charmed," Hermione admitted with a small smile.
"Only slightly?" Draco frowned.
"Fine, I was very charmed," Hermione amended. "Happy now?"
"Not quite," Draco replied. "You know what I want, Granger."
"Indeed I do," Hermione replied, stepping closer to the blond wizard. "Thank you for a perfect date, Draco."
Hermione then surprised the whole of The Great Hall when she wrapped her arms around Draco's neck and pressed her lips against his. In an instant, Draco had his arms wrapped around Hermione's waist and the pair were indulging in a heated kiss. Within seconds the Slytherins were whistling and cheering as the Head Students put on a very public display of affection.
"Who kisses like that on a first date?" Harry asked loudly.
"They've done that before," Ginny stated.
"What?" Ron questioned, turning to face his sister. "How do you know?"
"Just look at them," Ginny snorted, gesturing to where the pair were still wrapped in each other's arms. "That is not a first kiss."
"Of course it is," Ron insisted, reaching out and shaking Hermione's arm, putting an end to her kiss with Draco. "Tell them Hermione. Tell them you've never kissed Malfoy before."
"Actually, I have," Hermione admitted.
"You mean you've already kissed this afternoon?" Ron questioned.
"That was our first kiss of the day," Draco said. "In fact it's the first time we've kissed since she found out about the bet."
"I don't get it," Ron frowned as Draco's friends rose from the Slytherin table and came to join the group at the Gryffindor table.
"Are you telling us, you two are already a couple?" Blaise asked, grasping the situation quicker than Ron.
"Yes," Draco replied with a nod. "Since earlier this year."
"Weasley bet you a date with your own girlfriend?" Theo laughed. "That's just priceless."
"I did think it was rather amusing," Draco admitted with a smirk.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Harry asked.
"At first I didn't know if you would approve," Hermione said. "And I didn't want to fall out with my best friends. But then I guess I was putting off telling people as it was rather fun having a secret romance."
"But you were so mad at the bet," Ron pointed out. "Why were you so mad if you were already with Malfoy?"
"It was the principle of the thing, Ron," Hermione said. "You had no right to use me as a bargaining chip in a foolish bet. Even if you were bartering me off to my boyfriend."
"At least it all worked out in the end," Ron said with a hopeful smile.
"I guess it did," Hermione agreed with a laugh. "But just for the record, I'm still very unimpressed with all of you. And if any of you ever put me up as a bet again, I will personally see to it that you will never ride a broomstick in comfort again."
"How will you do that?" Blaise asked.
"You really don't want to know Blaise," Hermione replied with a wicked smirk. "Just don't do this again, and you'll be alright. And if you're really good, I'll keep your middle name a secret."
"You told her?" Blaise hissed at Draco, his eyes widening in panic.
"I had to, she's my girlfriend," Draco said with a serious nod of his head.
"What is it?" Theo questioned. "He'll never tell anyone. We all think it's something stupid."
"Put it this way, it's not as bad as your middle name," Hermione chuckled.
"Please say you didn't tell her," Theo pleaded, turning to Draco in horror.
"Don't worry Theodore, I won't tell a soul as long as you behave," Hermione said with a smirk.
"We'll be good," Blaise and Theo vowed together.
"Isn't power, fun," Hermione laughed. "I take it you two are also willing to behave," she said, turning to her two best friends.
"Even though you can't threaten us with our middle names, we'll behave," Harry said.
"And we will never bet you on a quidditch match again," Ron promised.
"And are you both okay with me and Draco?" Hermione checked.
"I can hardly say no when I threw you on a date with him," Ron said with a shrug. "Besides, I never thought I would say this, but he's not all that bad."
"Why thank you, Weasley," Draco returned with a slight roll of his grey eyes. "I don't suppose you're that bad either."
"You don't mind either, do you, Harry?" Hermione asked.
"Go for it, I say," Harry answered with a grin. "In fact, why doesn't Malfoy and his friends join us for tea?"
"I've never sat at the Gryffindor table, but there's a first time for everything," Blaise said as he dropped into an empty seat next to Neville.
"I always said this would all work out," Draco whispered to Hermione as Theo also sat down at the Gryffindor table.
"You were right," Hermione said with a smile. "Although I will miss the secrecy of our relationship. You have to admit, it was pretty hot being together on the quiet."
"I'll think it'll be hotter still being together out in the open," Draco replied. "It means I can kiss you whenever I like."
As if to prove his point, he pulled her back into his arms and gave her another searing kiss. When they parted for a second time, they laughingly joined their friends and toasted to a new beginning between the two sets of friends. Who would have thought that a bet over quidditch and a secret romance was the key to achieving house unity between the two rival houses?