Author: quixotic-hope (harrysev)
Summary: AU. Albus decides that Severus needs help finding a date and signs him up for the MTV dating show "Next." HPSS. COMPLETE.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and Co. belong to JK Rowling. "Next" belongs to MTV. I am making no money off this.
A/N: If you don't live in the US and/or are not familiar with the show "Next," don't worry about it. Neither is Severus. Everything will be explained.
"Albus, please, tell me you are joking."
Severus Snape stared at his boss and (now former) friend in horror. The man couldn't have said what Severus thought he said.
"What is there to joke about?" asked Albus Dumbledore in a mock-hurt voice. "I know you've been having a little bit of trouble in the romance department, and I thought that this would help you out."
"How is signing me up for some asinine TV show supposed to 'help me out'?" snarled Severus.
"Severus, this is a dating show," said Albus. "It's a show for people who want to find a date. Really, stop looking at me like I just killed your dog and go get changed. You're supposed to be at the studio in a little over an hour."
"I'm not going," said Severus stubbornly.
"You don't really have a say in the matter," Albus informed him. "You're already signed up."
"That doesn't mean I have to go. I signed nothing."
"Well, you see…about that…"
"Tell me again why I'm doing this?" asked Harry Potter as he was dragged into the MTV building.
"Because you love me," answered Draco Malfoy, dragging Harry up to the front desk to sign them both in.
"Do I?" asked Harry, perplexed. "And here I thought this was a purely sexual relationship."
Draco paused in his writing long enough to glare at Harry.
"Funny," he said, pushing the clipboard back toward the receptionist.
"If you'll go through the doors right there, someone will meet you and give you directions," said the receptionist.
"Thank you," said Draco, and he turned and once again started dragging Harry down the hall.
"Could you let go of me, please?" asked Harry, trying to yank his arm back from Draco.
"No," returned his friend simply.
"Because I know that the second I let go of you, you'll run away."
He has a point, thought Harry. Sighing, Harry walked up to a man wearing a headset and holding a clipboard. Three other people were gathered around him.
"Ah, our last two contestants are here," said the man. Harry read the man's name tag: Fred Weasley. "Now, the rules of this show are very simple. You'll all take turns going on a date with 'the Chooser.' If he decides he doesn't like your date anymore, he'll say 'Next'—"
"Oh, is that where the name of the show comes from?" asked Harry in mock-sincerity. Draco kicked him.
"—and the next person will go out," continued Fred. "For every minute you last on the date, you'll get one dollar. At the end of the date, if he likes you, the Chooser will ask you out on a second date. You then have the option of going out on the second date or taking the money."
"You didn't tell me there was money involved," said Harry, giving Draco an accusing look. "You wouldn't have had to pull on my arm so hard."
Draco once again scowled at Harry and turned back to Fred.
"Any questions?" asked Fred. They all shook their heads. "Good. Now, the order has already been determined. It's time for you all to get in the bus, and we'll get started. If you'll all follow me…"
They followed Fred outside and into a large black bus. The word "NEXT" was written in big letters on the side of it. Harry rolled his eyes and followed Draco onto the bus. Really, what was the point of this? Draco was the one who was so desperate to get a date. Why did Harry have to go?
"Because I didn't want to come by myself," said Draco as he took a seat next to a mousy-haired boy. Harry stared, and Draco smiled. "It's so obvious what you're thinking."
"Okay, here's the order: Justin, Seamus, Collin, Draco, Harry," said Fred. "Justin, you'll be getting out in as soon as we get there. Any questions?"
Once again, they all shook their heads.
"Alright, then we'll get started. Have fun."
Harry glared at Fred as the man got off the bus. Harry longed to go with him. How pathetic was it that he needed a game show to find a date? Well, he reasoned, at least he wasn't alone.
"So," said one of the boys. "I'm Justin Finch-Fletchley."
"Collin Creevey," introduced the mousy-haired boy next to Draco.
"Harry Potter," said Harry after Draco elbowed him.
"What do you think this guy's like?" asked Justin.
"I don't know, but I know he'll pick me," said Seamus confidently. "No one's ever turned me down before."
Which is why you need a TV show to find a date, thought Harry. Then he noticed that everyone else was saying the same thing, even Draco.
What have I gotten myself into? thought Harry
What have I gotten myself into? thought Severus as a man with red hair told him the rules of the game. He was to go on dates with five different people, and he was supposed to ask one of them out on a second date. Like any of them would pick the date. They'd take the money and run, and Severus knew it. He was going to make a fool of himself on national television. He sighed. Damn Albus.
"If I accidentally kill one of the contestants, am I liable, or are you?"
The redhead gave him a startled look, laughed, and walked away.
"I was serious," said Severus, scowling at the man's backside. Looking around, Severus noticed that he was in front of a large building with a sign reading "Weasley's Fun House" hanging over the door.
This is going to be nightmare, thought Severus.
"Well, looks like I'm up," said Justin as the bus came to a stop. "Wish me luck!"
"Good luck!" everyone but Harry chorused back as they clapped. Clearly Harry was the only one unfamiliar with the rules of the show. Belatedly and very unenthusiastically, Harry clapped.
"He'll last three minutes," declared Seamus as soon as Justin was off the bus. The others immediately jumped in and started bashing Justin. Harry raised his eyes, shook his head, and stared down at his watch. How much longer did he have to waste here, again?
"Hi, I'm Justin."
"Severus," nodded Severus, shaking the boy's hand. "Are you ready to go in?"
"Sure," answered Justin, smiling widely.
Oh dear God, thought Severus. This one is way too happy. Can I say "Next" yet?
The two of them walked through the "fun house." Severus could not fathom why anyone would want to spend any time here.
Justin, however, seemed to be enjoying himself. He quickly found the fun house mirrors and was having a grand old time looking at the odd shapes they made his body look like. He laughed and beckoned for Severus to join him.
"Isn't this fun?" he asked.
"Not really," answered Severus in a bored voice. "You seem to be enjoying this far more than I am. Next."
The smile fell from Justin's face. He looked depressed.
"Fine," he snapped. "Your loss."
Severus simply shrugged and watched as the younger man stalked off. One down, four to go. Maybe he should just say "Next" to all of them really quickly and get this whole ordeal over with.
"You were in there for like five minutes!" laughed Seamus when Justin walked back onto the bus. Justin simply scowled at him.
"Yeah, well, it's not my fault he's a grumpy old git!" he answered. "Seamus, you're up next."
"Alright," smiled Seamus proudly. He looked at Harry, Draco, and Collin. "Get comfortable, because after me, he won't even give you three a chance."
"If that's true, then I wouldn't want to meet him anyway," returned Harry as Seamus stepped off the bus.
"Can't you at least pretend you're having fun?" asked Draco.
"Now where would the fun in that be?" asked Harry.
"Hm…sounds like you two would get along well," said Justin bitterly.
"Really?" asked Harry. "Did someone force him into this as well?"
"Most likely," answered Justin. "He seemed pissed to me."
Harry smiled. This might not be so bad after all.
I've never seen anyone with an ego this large, thought Severus as he and Seamus walked out of the fun house.
"Next!" said Severus. Seamus looked at him, startled.
"You heard me, or do you not understand the rules of this game? I say 'Next,' and you leave. I didn't think it was that complicated."
Seamus looked highly affronted. "You just passed up the best person on that bus. I hope you know that."
"If you're the best person on that bus, then tell the others to go home now. It'd save us all the trouble."
Seamus glared at him and stormed off.
Two down, three to go.
"Oh, did his royal majesty get turned down?" asked Harry as soon as Seamus got back on the bus. He really didn't like that boy.
"Fuck off," answered Seamus. "That is the most miserable old man I have ever met. How dare he turn me down! He's not even remotely attractive!"
"I guess it's no loss, then," said Harry.
"Collin, you're next," muttered Seamus, glaring at Harry.
"Hey. I'm Collin."
"Nice to meet you."
"Wish I could say the same."
Collin looked visibly affronted. Then he tried to force a smile.
"So, what are we going to do today?"
"We're going to look at snakes."
The forced smile flickered on Collin's face.
"Did I stutter?" asked Severus pleasantly, knowing full well that this "date" wasn't going to last much longer.
"N-no. I just, well, I love snakes!" lied Collin. Severus grinned maliciously.
"Good. So do I."
Severus had been tempted to say "Next" as soon as the boy stuttered to save himself time (and to keep the boy from getting too much money), but he decided to amuse himself and watch the boy play with the snakes.
Severus led the way over to the snake pit. The man in charge explained about the different types. Severus quickly found the largest snake and picked it up. Collin looked pale.
"You know, Collin," started Severus, trying to keep his sadistic side from showing, "I love the adventurous types. Would you like to hold the snake?"
Collin audibly whimpered. "S-sure."
Collin stepped forward. Severus could see him visibly shaking as he placed the snake around the boy's neck. The snake began to move, and Collin screamed.
"Get it off me! Get it off me!"
Collin started freaking out, and the animal controller quickly stepped forward to remove the animal.
Collin was still shaking as Severus said, "Next!"
He really was starting to enjoy this.
"That man is insane!" cried Collin as he clambered back onto the bus.
"What happened to you?" asked Justin, laughing at Collin's disheveled appearance.
"Snakes!" screamed Collin. "Giant snakes."
"Sounds like fun," said Harry. Collin ignored him and sat down.
"Draco, you're next."
"I have no problem with snakes," said Draco. "This'll be a piece of cake. Harry, you don't even have to worry about getting up, since I know you didn't want to be here anyway."
Harry groaned as Draco got off the bus. Where the hell had Draco's arrogance come from? If only he could have been this arrogant before: Harry might not have had to come here in the first place.
Although this Severus did sound like the was amusing.
At least this one's relatively good-looking, thought Severus, even if he did prefer darker-haired men. The two made their introductions.
"The last guy didn't appreciate snakes. Do you?"
"Of course," answered Draco smoothly as he reached down to pick up the nearest snake. "Snakes are marvelous creatures."
"I quite agree," said Severus. Maybe this date wouldn't be so bad. "However, I've had quite enough of them for now. I'm feeling rather hungry."
"Food is always good," said Draco, and he followed Severus to a nearby restaurant.
"So why did you decide to come on this show?" asked Severus.
"Well, it seemed like a good way to meet someone," answered Draco. "Besides, I always wanted to be on TV."
Severus said nothing; he simply sipped on his soda.
"What about you?" asked Draco. "Why did you come on here?"
"A coworker forced me to come," said Severus.
"Oh," said Draco.
"So, what do you look for in a man?" asked Severus.
"Well, I want someone attractive," said Draco. "But he needs to be smart, too. I want someone that my friends will see and be jealous of, you know?"
Severus was starting to not like this date.
"What do you do in your spare time?" he asked the blonde.
"Well, I like to go surfing. The beach is a great place to go out, don't you think?"
"I'm not one for the outdoors," admitted Severus. "Perhaps you would be better off with someone more like yourself. Next!"
Draco looked shocked and a little hurt. Remembering that he was on TV, he quickly regained his composure.
"Fine. You're too pale, anyway."
Severus rolled his eyes. If that was really the best the boy could come up with, then Severus was glad he said "Next." He decided to go ahead and get the next date over with as quickly as possible so that he could get back home and plan a way to get back at Albus.
"He turned me down!" whined Draco as soon as he got back on the bus. "Simply because I said I liked to go to the beach! Harry, it's your turn. You might stand a shot. He seems as pissy as you."
"Um…thanks," said Harry, standing. This was so weird. He was actually going to go on a date with a man on TV. God help him.
If Draco was attractive, then Harry was beautiful. Severus had never seen eyes that green before. And Harry had black hair, which was definitely better than blonde.
"So, Harry, I'll ask you the same question I asked the last guy. Why did you decide to come on this show?"
"Draco dragged me down here," said Harry honestly. He saw surprise flash across Severus's face. "What about you?"
"My boss decided I needed help finding a date," said Severus.
Harry laughed. "Oh good, then neither one of us wanted to be here. That's good to know."
"What do you look for in a man?" asked Severus, hoping Harry's answer would be better than Draco's.
Harry thought about it for a moment. "Well, someone with a sense of humor, and someone who can appreciate mine. I'm not always the nicest person, you see."
"That's one hell of a way to promote yourself," said Severus, amusement flickering through his eyes for the first time that day.
Harry shrugged. "No point in lying about it. Then again, from what I've heard on that bus, you're not the nicest person in the world either."
"What have you heard?" asked Severus as the waitress placed a basket of fries in front of them.
"Well, let's see…Justin said you were a grumpy old git. Seamus said you were a miserable old man. Collin said you were insane (though I'd have loved to see the look on his face when he first saw those snakes), and Draco couldn't understand why you turned him down because he said he liked the beach."
"I don't have a very good reputation on that bus, do I?"
"I wouldn't say so," replied Harry, grabbing a handful of fries.
"What else do you look for in a man?" asked Severus.
"Well, intelligence is very important. If I can't have a normal conversation with a person, that relationship won't last very long. Um…attractiveness is important, but I think that a person grows more or less attractive the more you get to know him."
"Describe the people on the bus for me."
"Why?" asked Harry. "You met them; you already know what they're like."
"Yes, but I want to hear you describe them."
"To see how similar our opinions are?" asked Harry.
"I would have thought that was obvious."
Harry laughed. "Alright. I think Justin is nice, but far too happy all of the time. Seamus is perhaps one of the most arrogant people I have ever met in my life. Collin was also nice, but he seemed rather boring to me. Draco…he's a good person, really. I just think he cares a bit too much what others think of him."
"What about me?" asked Harry, reaching for another fry.
"What would the others say about you?"
"They'd say I was the most annoying person on the bus. Draco says you're just as pissy as I am."
Severus laughed. Harry decided he liked the sound. Just then the waitress showed up again.
"Are you done with that?" she asked, pointed to the completely empty basket in front of them.
"No, I was planning on eating the plastic," he said dryly. The waitress forced a laugh, grabbed the basket, and stormed off.
"You weren't planning on ordering any more food, were you?" asked Harry. "If so, I'd advise going to a different restaurant."
"No," laughed Severus, standing up. "I'm done here."
Harry stood up as well. This date wasn't so bad as he thought. The last time Harry had done that to a waitress, the guy he was with threw a fit and demanded that Harry apologize for his rudeness. Harry was glad Severus had found it amusing.
"Now what?" asked Harry.
"Do you like coffee?" asked Severus.
"Best drink in the world," answered Harry. "Well, best non-alcoholic drink in the world."
The two walked around the corner to Starbucks.
"What do you want?" asked Severus.
"Regular coffee's fine with me," replied Harry.
"Two venti coffees, please," ordered Severus.
"Would you like room for cream?" asked the cashier.
"Yes, please," said Harry. Severus nodded as well.
Taking their coffees, Harry and Severus walked over to the sugar table. They both poured some half and half and a little bit of sugar into the coffee and sat down.
"So, tell me a little more about yourself…"
"What the hell is taking so long?" demanded Seamus. "There's no way he'd pick Harry and not me."
"I don't know," said Justin. "Harry seems more his type."
"What, a complete ass?" asked Seamus. He thought about it. "I guess you're right.
"Hey, Harry's my friend!" said Draco, although he had to admit they had a point.
"What do you think they're doing?"
"Eating the fries that I ordered," complained Draco.
"Can we get food on here?" asked Collin.
"I don't think so," said Justin.
"So, Harry," said Severus, sipping down the last of his coffee. "You've been on this date for forty-five minutes, which amounts to forty-five dollars. You can either take the money, or you can go on a second date with me."
Harry finished up the last of his coffee to save himself from having to answer the question right away. He really liked Severus, but what would Draco say? Wouldn't Harry be betraying his friend by going out with the same person who turned down Draco?
Then again, Harry reasoned, Draco had forced Harry to come along. He should have realized that there was a chance that Severus would pick him over Draco. This hadn't been Harry's idea in the first place, and was therefore not Harry's fault. Besides, Severus was definitely much more Harry's type that he was Draco's.
"Severus, I'd love to go on a second date with you," said Harry.
Severus smiled he had been prepared for Harry to reject him after the young man had been silent for so long.
"Um…now what?" asked Harry, unsure of how the show was supposed to continue from here.
"The two of you need to kiss," said Fred Weasley, jumping out from behind the nearest camera.
"What?" asked Harry and Severus at the same time.
"We're trying to promote a TV show here. Give us a little tongue, would you?"
Harry blushed and turned to Severus. Severus looked down at Harry and raised an eyebrow.
"Well, I guess we're going to have to kiss," said Harry.
"Your observational skills astound me," smirked Severus as he leaned closer to Harry.
"Just to let you know, I don't usually kiss on the first date," said Harry as he, too, leaned in more. "But I suppose I can make an exception this once."
Severus gently pressed his lips against Harry's. Harry quickly opened his mouth to allow Severus's tongue in. The kiss quickly turned passionate as each man forgot about the cameras and focused solely on the kiss.
Neither paid any attention to the director's "Cut!" or noticed a shocked Draco and an amused Albus standing in the background.
Note: I hope you all enjoyed this. I was watching "Next" the other day, and suddenly I thought about what an interesting story that would make. The story was much funnier in my head, if that helps at all.
Please review and tell me what you think!