Title: The Whole Dating Other People Thing

Author: quixotic-hope (harrysev)

Rating: R (M)

Genres: romance, angst, fluff

Warnings: adult language, OOC-ness at times

Characters/pairings: HP/SS, LM, RW, HG, past SS/OMCs

Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all relating characters/settings/etc. belong to JK Rowling. I am making no money off this.

Important Author's Note for anyone who is reading "One Stupid Person": I promised several people that I would update OSP by today if my beta did not respond. I changed my mind. I now have a few new betas, and I shall update whenever I get the next chapter fixed up. Rest assured that I have not abandoned this fic. The rough draft is completed and typed up; all I have to do is make sure that it actually makes sense. Thanks for all your patience!

Unimportant Author's Note for anyone who is reading this story: The last names of the people that Severus previously dated were taken from members of the golf club I work at. I can just imagine the looks on their faces if they found out what kind of story I used their names for. LOL.

The Whole Dating Other People Thing

Young people these days…no sense of decency at all, thought Severus Snape angrily, watching the young couple at the table next to him make out. Sneering at them one last time, Severus turned his attention to the task at hand—Harry Potter.

Severus was in love with the younger wizard, and Harry had certainly shown interest in Severus. Some people might find that news to be flattering. Others might even go so far as to call it fantastic. Sadly, Severus was not other people and did not find the news all that great. Yes, Harry was interested in him, but how long would that interest last?

When he was in school, Severus had only had one serious boyfriend—Adam Scofield. Adam had dumped him after a few weeks, claiming that he was young and wanted to date around, which was something Severus did not want to do.

After the war was over, Severus tried dating another man—Jonathan Henzlik. Severus thought that now that he was older, he would be able to have a serious, committed relationship with someone. However, after a few months of dating, Jonathan broke up with Severus, saying that Severus was "too clingy."

Now Severus didn't know what to do. He wanted to be with Harry, but he was afraid of pushing Harry away just like he had pushed away Adam and Jonathan. They both had grown tired of him after a while. Harry was sure to do the same. Severus loved Harry more than he had ever loved anyone else, which was rather unfortunate since Harry was bound to get bored of him, as well.

Severus sighed. He really didn't want to do this, but it was the only way he could get to be with Harry for a long time. Now all he had to do was see if Harry would agree.

xxx

"You want us to what?" asked Harry in disbelief.

"I want us to date but, at the same time, date other people. This way, neither of us will have to worry about the other growing tired of him. What do you think?"

What did he think? He thought Severus was out of his mind. Why didn't he just go ahead and call Harry his fuck buddy? After all, if they were to be dating other people, Severus clearly didn't want a real relationship with him.

No, Harry didn't like the sound of this whole "date other people" thing, but what was his alternative? Demand that Severus see only him and then cry for a month when Severus dumped him for someone who would let him date around? What if he demanded a monogamous relationship, and Severus decided he didn't want to date Harry at all?

No. The best course of action to take was simply to go along with Severus's idea and hope that Severus would stick around for a little bit longer.

"It sounds like a great idea," lied Harry cheerfully.

Severus tried to look happy that Harry was so thrilled about the idea. He had half hoped that Harry would hate the idea, but he should have known better. Of course Harry would love the idea—that was why Severus had thought of it.

"Are we going to have set days when we see other people, or are we just going to make it up as we go along?" asked Harry.

Severus started. He hadn't thought of that, and he didn't which option Harry would find less…clingy.

"Which would you prefer?" asked Severus.

"Set days," answered Harry immediately. He didn't like the idea of going down to the dungeons to visit Severus only to find him with another man. He would rather know when to simply stay away.

Unbeknownst to Harry, Severus was having the same thoughts as he inwardly sighed his relief.

"All right," nodded Severus. "Which days?"

Harry frowned, thinking. He didn't want any days. How many was he supposed to say? Severus had said "days," so Harry knew he had to pick at least two. He supposed one of them should be a weekend day. Since both Harry and Severus were teachers, those were the only days they would really be able t meet people.

Harry pointed this out to Severus, who nodded.

"Very well. Fridays can be one of our 'away' days. Saturday morning is to be spent recuperating from the night before. What other days would you like?"

Days? They weren't down to day yet? Harry figured he'd better go ahead and name two days quickly before Severus decided the entire week should be spent "away."

"Uh…Monday and Wednesday," said Harry, naming the first two days to come to his head.

Severus nodded at Harry's choices, glad that those weren't big "date nights."

The two finished their meal in silence, neither as happy to be dating his love as he should have been.

xxx

"So, let me get this straight," said Ron later that day. "Severus finally asks you out, and then he says that he wants to date other people, and you're okay with that?"

"What would you like me to have done?" snapped Harry, taking his frustration out on Ron. "I'm sorry, Severus; I know you just said how great this plan is because it would keep you from growing tired of me, but I don't like it. Please, grow tired of me and leave me heart-broken instead!" Harry scowled. "Yeah…that would've worked out really well."

"He did not say that he would grow tired of you," admonished Hermione.

"He said we would grow tired of each other," conceded Harry, "but he meant that he would grow tired of me."

"How do you know he's not doing this to make sure that you don't grow tired of him?" asked Hermione. "After all, you are the younger half of the relationship."

"Yeah, and it's always the older one who cheats because he wants someone younger," retorted Harry.

"Not when he's already dating someone half his age," pointed out Ron.

"Look—I don't want to talk about this anymore. Maybe Severus will eventually decide that he doesn't want to see other people. Maybe he won't. Either way, I don't care," insisted Harry, wishing he felt half as uncaring as he tried to sound.

xxx

For the next several months, Harry and Severus both pretended to see other people on what Ron called their "off days." Harry spent his time alone in his room or with Ron and Hermione. Severus spent his time alone in his room or with Lucius Malfoy. They each longed for a committed relationship with the other, but neither would admit it to said person.

One Friday night, Lucius convinced Severus to accompany him to the Three Broomsticks.

"You look like shit," commented Lucius absently, taking a sip of his chardonnay.

"You could have insulted me in my own rooms," replied Severus. "You didn't have to drag me here to do so."

"You looked like you needed a break. Besides, you don't have to baby-sit Boy Wonder this evening, so I figured—"

"Lucius, don't," chided Severus softly. "If you brought me here to criticize my relationship with Harry—"

"You don't have a relationship with Harry," cut in Lucius before assuming his light, uncaring tone once more. "And as a matter of fact, I brought you here to get your mind off Harry. Clearly that didn't work as well as I had hoped."

Severus glared at the mock-innocence he heard in his friend's voice.

"Seriously, Severus, we have drinks two to three days a week. I figured if we continued at the pace we were going, we—and by 'we' I mainly mean 'you'—would drink up all of your good liquor by December. This way, we can drink all we want and not have to waste our own alcohol."

"The rate we're going, combined with the rate this place charges for drinks, is going to drain more of money than buying a new bottle every other day would."

"True," conceded Lucius, "but the drinks here are much better."

"So the whole bit about not wasting my good liquor…?"

"That was just my way of trying to make you believe that you had good taste in something," said Lucius, eyeing Severus's glass of scotch with distaste.

Severus muttered something under his breath. Lucius's drink disappeared. Lucius scowled. Severus laughed at the childish look on the ex-Death Eater's face.

"This is not funny!" snapped Lucius. "You just threw away perfectly good chardonnay. Now you must buy me another one."

Smirking, Severus muttered something else, and the drink reappeared.

"Really, Lucius…you call yourself a wizard?" teased Severus, taking a sip of his own drink.

"How was I supposed to know which bloody jinx you used?" demanded Lucius, taking a sip to make sure his beloved drink was potable. "Besides, I would have much preferred to see you go buy me another one."

"No doubt you would have," murmured Severus, a flash of messy black hair appearing in his peripheral vision. Severus turned, sighing in relief when he didn't see Harry. He didn't know what he would have done if he had seen Harry there with a date.

"You know, Lucius," sighed Severus, his joking mood over, "I spend so much time with you, it's almost as if we were dating."

"Yes," agreed Lucius. "The only thing is that were we dating, I would never allow you to go gallivanting off half the week with Merlin knows how many men doing Merlin knows what. If we were dating, I would make you decide—either me or them."

Severus winced at the harsh and very direct statement.

"What am I going to do about Harry?" asked Severus sullenly. "I know this whole seeing other people thing isn't working as well as I had hoped, but Harry seems to be enjoying it. How I am I supposed to tell him I want to end it, particularly when I'm the one who started it?"

"It's not exactly difficult," said Lucius. "Set him down and say, 'Harry, I love you. I don't want to see other people anymore. Actually, I've never seen anyone else. I've been in my room bothering the hell out of Lucius every time I was supposed to be out—"

"Alright! Alright! I get the point!" interrupted Severus. "I know what to say, it's just…what if he doesn't want a relationship with me? What if still wants to date around? What if he says I'm to clingy?"

"What if the Dark Lord comes back to life and decides he wants Potter all to himself?" asked Lucius sarcastically. "Really, Severus, you have to take a chance sometimes. If he says no, wouldn't you rather hear it now, before you get too attached?"

"I'm already attached!" snapped Severus. "I let him date other people so he'll stay with me. I don't sleep with other people because I can't stand the thought of cheating on him. I spent my nights drowning myself in alcohol because I can't bear the thought of anyone else touching my Harry—How much more attached can I get?"

"Well, how the bloody hell should I know?" asked Lucius, looking confused as to why Severus would think he knew the answer. "That's what they always say in those damn movie things that Draco keeps making me watch."

"I told you Granger and Weasley would be a bad influence," muttered Severus, sighing. "I know you're probably right, but I can't do it. I came up with this idea because I couldn't stand the thought of never being with Harry. I still can't imagine that."

"But—"

"I'm going to get some sleep," Severus interrupted, downing the rest of his drink in one sip. "I'll see you on Monday."

xxx

As soon as he saw Severus enter the bar with Lucius, Harry regretted letting Ron and Hermione drag him there. The last thing he needed was to see Severus out on a date. Thankfully, from his seat across the room, Severus couldn't see that Harry was there, but Harry could see Severus.

Harry saw Severus laugh and immediately felt a wave of sadness and jealousy. Severus never laughed that way with him. Severus clearly had more fun with Lucius than he did with Harry.

Excusing himself, Harry made his way over to where Severus and Lucius were sitting. He had to know if the two were dating or if they were simply two friends out for a drink.

"You know, Lucius, I spend so much time with you, it's almost as if we were dating. "

Was it Harry's imagination, or did it sound like Severus wanted to date Lucius?"

"Yes. The only thing is that were we dating, I would never allow you to go gallivanting off half the week with Merlin knows how many men doing Merlin knows what. If we were dating, I would make you decide—either me or them."

There was no mistaking the directness in Lucius's voice. From his hiding spot, Harry saw Severus wince. Lucius was upset that Severus was dating someone else—was dating Harry. What was Severus going to do?

"What am I going to do about Harry?"

Severus's question answered Harry's. He drew away from the table and left with a quick "goodbye" to Ron and Hermione. He couldn't stand to be in the same room while the man he loved tried to think of a polite way to get rid of him.

As Harry walked back to his rooms, he thought of what he had just overheard. What am I going to do about Harry? It was so obvious. Severus wanted to date Lucius, but Lucius wouldn't date Severus until Harry was out of the picture, and now Severus didn't know how to get rid of Harry.

Harry supposed this was the part where he was supposed to prove to Severus why he was the better choice or come up with some overly complicated plan to get rid of Lucius, but Harry was too tired. He had agreed to the whole dating other people thing in the hopes that Severus would grow to love him. Clearly, that was never going to happen, and Harry refused to be one of those annoying, stalker-type people who never seem to get the hint (or the restraining order). Therefore, he knew what he had to do.

He had to break up with Severus before Severus broke up with him.

xxx

The next day Harry debated with himself over when would be a good time to tell Severus. He was torn between wanting to spend one more night with Severus and fearing that tonight would be the night Severus broke up with him. Eventually, Harry's desire to be the one to do the actual breaking up won out, and he agreed to tell Severus before that night.

Harry considered waiting until he saw Severus at lunch, but he was afraid that he would lose his nerve if he didn't do it now. Severus might be upset that Harry interrupted his Saturday morning, which they had agreed was meant to be spent "recuperating," but Harry didn't really care. Lucius would probably be happy to hear the news as soon as possible, anyway, so what did it matter if he was there when Harry dumped Severus?

Taking a few deep, supposed-to-be-calming breaths, Harry knocked on Severus's door.

He heard nothing for a moment, then the sounds of someone stumbling for the door. Merlin, did he hope Lucius didn't answer it.

To Harry's immense relief, Severus answered the door, and he was fully clothed…from the night before. He looked tired, and Harry felt bad for waking him up. Then he remembered what he had gone there to do, and he tried to rid himself of guilt.

"Harry…what are you doing here?" asked Severus, his mind not fully functioning at the early morning hour.

This was it. This was the moment that Harry would break up with his true love in order for the man to be happy. Harry had thought about what he would say all night. He had rehearsed and made sure that he sounded intelligent and as if he didn't care about Severus at all. As a matter of fact, he was going to pretend that he had found someone else, so that Severus wouldn't feel guilty for having hurt him (and so that Severus would think that someone else did find Harry worth loving).

All of those hours of preparations were for naught, however. As soon as Harry opened his mouth to deliver his goodbye speech, he forgot everything. He forgot his cool, calm, uncaring attitude. He forgot that he was supposed to have someone else waiting for him upstairs. He forgot that he was here to show Severus that he didn't him. He forgot that the older man meant nothing to him.

"Harry?" asked Severus again, concern beginning to show on his face. "Are you okay?"

Seeing the concern on Severus's face almost brought Harry to tears. It also pushed him to say what he hadn't planned on saying, but what he had been thinking since last night.

"I want you to date Lucius Malfoy."

"What?" Severus looked completely shocked and confused.

"I overheard you two talking last night, and I know that you'd rather be with him than me. I know that he wants you to choose between us, and you didn't know how to break it to me, and I figured I'd go ahead and do it for you because I want you to be happy, and if I can't make you happy, I want you to be with someone who can."

Harry said all of that in one breath, leaving a very confused Severus trying to mentally rewind and figure out what the hell Harry had just said.

"Would you like to come in?" asked Severus, deciding that the hallway wasn't the proper place to have this conversation.

"I don't feel like talking to Lucius right now, all right?" said Harry.

"What are you talking about?" asked Severus. "Lucius isn't here."

"He's not?" asked Harry, surprised. Then he realized that he shouldn't be surprised. After all, last night Severus had still technically been dating Harry, meaning that Lucius wouldn't have stayed the night.

"Come in," repeated Severus, a little firmer this time. Harry nodded his head and walked inside. Severus led them to a table and offered Harry tea. Wanting something to do with his hands, Harry accepted.

"Okay, start from the beginning. I didn't catch anything after 'I want you to date Lucius.'"

"I overheard you two talking yesterday," said Harry in a small voice.

Severus paled a little, but Harry, intent on looking at the brown liquid as opposed to Severus, didn't notice. "How much did you hear?"

"I heard you say that you saw so much of Lucius it was almost as if you were dating. Then I heard Lucius say that if you wanted to be with him, you'd have to stop seeing everyone else. Then you asked what to do about me. I figured you didn't know how to politely break up with me, so I figured I'd do it for you."

Severus was silent for a moment, trying to understand what Harry was saying. Harry thought he, Severus, wanted to date Lucius. Harry was breaking up with him because he thought it was what Severus wanted.

"I'm assuming from your statement that you did not stay to hear the rest of the conversation?"

Harry shook his head, unwilling to admit how upset he had been.

Severus sighed. He hadn't planned on confessing his feelings, but if Harry was going to leave anyway…what did it matter?

"You should have stayed. It would have saved me the embarrassment," muttered Severus, mainly to himself. Then he looked up into Harry's sad eyes. "Harry, I have no interest in dating Lucius Malfoy."

Harry immediately looked puzzled. "But I heard you! He said that he wouldn't date anyone who was dating someone else—"

"I'm sure he wouldn't," agreed Severus. "However, he was not saying that he wanted to date me, and I certainly did not say that I wanted to date him. You see, I'm already in love with a rather extraordinary young man."

"Oh," said Harry, his eyes filling with tears that he tried to hide. "So Lucius was trying to convince you to stop dating other people and to only date the person you're in love with."

"Correct," said Severus, seeing the tears that Harry was trying to hide. He wasn't sure if Harry knew the whole truth now or not, but it was too late to go back now. "Harry, the person I love is—"

"It doesn't matter," said Harry suddenly, getting up to leave. "I hope you and he are happy together. If you'll excuse me…"

"I hope he and I are happy together, as well," said Severus, standing up and preventing Harry from walking out of the room. "Unfortunately, he has yet to tell me if he feels the same way—"

"So, what, you want to fuck me until he admits his feelings for you?" asked Harry, trying to mask his pain with anger and failing miserably.

"Harry, you are the man I'm in love with!"

Silence.

"W-what?" asked Harry, blinking. There was no way in hell he had just heard that correctly.

"I love you," said Severus, looking deeply into Harry's tear-filled emerald eyes. "You were the one Lucius was trying to get me to confess to. I didn't know what I was going to do with you. I was in love with you, and yet you seemed perfectly content with the whole dating other people thing, so I didn't want to tell you."

"But…you can't…love me, I mean…"

"Why can't I love you?" asked Severus sincerely.

"Why would you suggest dating other people, then?" asked Harry.

Severus sighed. "I was afraid that you would grow tired of me and leave. I figured if I pretended I had no problem with your dating other people, you would stay with me. Rather pathetic, really…"

"I'm pathetic, too, then," said Harry, his tears finally stopping. "I never wanted to date other people, but I figured maybe you would grow to love me, so I went along with it."

"You didn't want to? Why didn't you say something?" asked Severus in disbelief.

"You seemed so happy about it," said Harry defensively. "You said it was so that we wouldn't grow tired of each other, but I was sure you thought you would grow tired of me, so I didn't say anything."

"That doesn't even make sense," said Severus, deciding not to mention that his own logic wasn't much better. "If I had worried about growing tired of you—which I could never do, I might add—I could have simply cheated on you. Why would I say that I wanted you to cheat on me if I hadn't been worried that you would leave me?"

Now that Severus mentioned it, that did make sense. However, Harry had been too concerned with his own doubts and insecurities to worry about why Severus did anything.

"Why would you think I would grow tired of you?" asked Harry.

"Because that's what people seem to do," said Severus suddenly, turning his back on Harry for the first time since admitting his feelings. "I have been told that I'm too clingy…that young men need space to experience others. I knew it would only be a matter of time before you left like they did…"

"Severus, I would never leave you," said Harry.

"You came here to break up with me," pointed out Severus.

"Well, yeah, but that's only because I thought it would make you happy! I didn't want to break up with you! I love you!"

"You do?" Severus looked around at Harry, who was standing before him, love and hope shining in his eyes.

"Very much," whispered Harry, walking slowly toward Severus. When he reached him, Harry wrapped his arms around Severus's neck and pressed his lips to the older man's. "I've been in love with you since before we started dating."

Severus was floored. "I've been in love with you since before you started working at Hogwarts."

Harry smiled. "So all this time, we were dating other people when neither one of us wanted to?"

Severus felt his insides squirm. "I never actually dated anyone else," he confessed. "I spent most of my time with Lucius, as you've undoubtedly noticed."

Harry smiled and kissed Severus again. "I never dated anyone, either. I spent most of my time with Ron and Hermione."

Severus looked down at Harry before bursting out laughing. Harry stepped back in shock.

"It wasn't that funny."

Severus shook his head and pulled Harry into his arms again. "I know…I just can't believe how much alcohol I wasted for nothing."

"You didn't become an alcoholic because of me, did you?" asked Harry, scandalized.

"Don't be stupid," said Severus in mock-serious voice. "I was an alcoholic before you were even born."

Harry hit Severus's arm playfully. Severus grabbed the hand and kissed it. Then he brought his lips down to Harry's and wrapped his arms around the younger wizard. Harry gave up control completely, letting the feelings wash over him.

"I love you," Harry whispered when they broke apart.

"I love you, too," Severus said in a voice just as soft.

xxx

three years later…

xxx

Harry and Severus were sitting in their favorite restaurant, enjoying a meal. It was rare that they went out, and Harry was thoroughly enjoying himself. They had just ordered desert when Severus cleared his throat.

"Harry, these past three years with you have been the best years of my life. I can't believe that I lived without you for so long. I don't know what I would have done if I had lost you because of some stupid plan I had…"

Severus stood out of his chair and walked over to Harry. Then he got down on one knee and pulled out a small velvet box. Harry felt his breath catch and his eyes start to tear.

"Harry, I've never loved anyone half as much as I love you. I can't imagine my life without you, and I don't want to try. Harry, will you marry me?"

"Yes! Oh, yes! Of course!" Harry cried, flinging himself at Severus.

Severus chuckled at Harry's enthusiasm before sliding the ring on Harry's finger. Harry looked down at the beautiful ring and then up at Severus.

"I love you!"

"I love you, too."

Harry kissed Severus, gently at first. The kiss grew more passionate as Severus shifted his weight to hold up both himself and Harry.

An old man at the table next to them scowled at their public display of affection. Sneering, he muttered to himself, "Young people these days…no sense of decency at all…"

fin

Note: I hope you all liked this! Please review and tell me what you think!