Author's Note: And so we come to the end.  Thank you everyone for reviewing this fic.  Sorry Joyce for taking so darn long to complete the challenge.  Hope you enjoy the chapter!


Harry came back down the stairs after changing into some dry, comfortable clothes.  Hermione was not down yet, so he sat down and contented himself with stirring up the fire in the common room.  He heard a soft padding behind him and turned to see Hermione coming around the couch, teapot and cups in hand.  His lips twitched when he saw her footwear.

"Bear claw slippers, Hermione?  I never would have thought it," he said amusedly.

Hermione blushed but said firmly, "First off, they're lion claws and secondly, they're a gift from my parents.  They knew my feet get cold sometimes, especially in a castle with stone floors and they very kindly bought these for me after third year.  And besides, I think they're cute."

Harry surveyed them and flashed her a grin.  "They are."  He patted the space on the fluffy rug beside him.  "Sit down and set up the teapot.  I've got the hot chocolate packets and the rest of the food."  He pulled the food out of the basket and set it up as Hermione muttered a spell over the teapot, poured the now hot water into both cups, and mixed the packets into the water.  Harry had just finished setting out the food when Hermione handed him a cup. 

"Cheers," she offered with a smile and they clinked glasses.  They both raised the cups to their lips and took a sip.

And tried not to choke.

"Bloody hell, that's awful!" Harry wheezed.  "Are you sure that's hot chocolate?"

Hermione squinted at the packets, trying to see through the tears in her eyes.  "Yes, it's hot chocolate…good heavens, I think this packet expired in 1957!"

Harry snatched up his packet.  "They had powdered hot chocolate back then?  For the sake of my stomach, I wish they hadn't."

Hermione looked glum.  "Well, I suppose this answers the question if powdered hot chocolate is as good as real hot chocolate."

She looked so put out at the combination of being wrong and the possible workload hot chocolate orders would put on the elves, Harry felt compelled to say something.  He slid a hand up and down her back and smiled encouragingly at her.  "Now, you know this wasn't a suitable test.  I mean, using hot chocolate packets from 40 years ago is hardly fair, is it?  Listen, why don't we run to Hogsmeade tomorrow and buy some packets from Honeydukes, as they have to have something like that there, and then we'll go to the Three Broomsticks and compare it to the hot chocolate there.  It'll be fun and educational!"

Hermione looked at him and smiled.  "Harry, are you asking me out on date?  To compare hot chocolate recipes?"

Harry was a bit taken aback.  Asking her out?  Of course he wasn't.  He was just going to take her for a quick trip to a local town, buy her a drink and try to cheer her up.  That wasn't a date.  It was just…a date.  Sort of.  "Well, I guess I am," he said sheepishly, looking at her nervously.  "I mean, Ron can come too and we can make a whole day of it if--"

Hermione put a finger over his lips.  "Thank you, Harry, I'd love to go."

Harry's eyes widened behind his glasses and his mouth formed an "O" in surprise.  She agreed?  She wanted to go with him?  On a date?

Hermione smiled at him.  "I think we would have a lovely time."

Harry just nodded silently as her finger was still over his mouth.  He grabbed her wrist and pulled her hand down.  "Uh, great.  We will.  Have a nice time, I mean.  Yes.  We can go to Flourish and Blott's if you like in Diagon Alley.  We can look at books.  Or Madam Puddifoot's in Hogsmeade.  Scrivenshaft's has some very nice quills I'm told.  Honeyduke's is always an option, although we might get sick and you don't like it that much so I suppose we shouldn't go there.  The Hog's Head is out I suppose since it's not the best place for a--"

Then he stopped talking because he realized something very important had just taken place.  He physically could not speak.  Hermione's lips were covering his.  That was the very important part.

Never let it be said that Harry was a dull boy.

Just as he figured out to lean into her kiss, Hermione pulled back and gazed at him with a smile on her face.  Harry regarded her with some surprise.

"You kissed me," he said accusatorily. 

"Yes, I did," she laughed.  "I'd never thought I'd say this, but you talk to much, Harry.  You very sweetly asked me for a date and then you wouldn't stop talking about it.  It seemed a good as way as any to quiet you.  Besides, I've wanted to do that since this afternoon." 

Harry looked suspiciously at her.  "This afternoon?  With the snowballs?  Why didn't you, then?"

Hermione rolled her eyes and launched into an explanation.  "Because I thought you were going to do it, you git.  You certainly looked like you were going to, but then you got up and we went over to Ron, and nothing was going to happen there, I knew that, so I went about my business and then you got hit with your playing the hero bit and I thought, right, this might be a good time for that, and you still didn't and then we went down to the kitchens and I said to myself that it was really very silly to wait for you to make the first move as I was decidedly capable of doing such a thing and why did I have to conform to some antiquated notions of the men doing the chasing as I am a perfectly healthy and normal female and if we both wanted to, and I knew you did, why shouldn't I--"

Then Hermione stopped talking and she realized something very important had taken place.  And Hermione had never been accused of being dull in her entire life, so she responded admirably to the situation and kissed Harry right back.

Harry pulled back slightly and leaned his forehead against hers.  "I kissed you," he said, smiling.

She grinned back.  "You certainly did."

"I'm going to do it again.  I'm a hero, you know.  Heroes get to do that sort of thing.  We have to do it, actually.  Very important.  Take away the hero badge if you don't kiss beautiful girls that are clever enough to outsmart professors and High Inquisitors and Death Eaters and heroes who talk too much."

"Good heavens, I'd hate to have that on my head," Hermione murmured.  "You'd better kiss me right away then."

So he did.  And they were both immensely clever at it and not dull at all.