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It could be a lot of fun or a great big disaster

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Harry spent the night in a numb state of shock, wracking his brains trying to work out what had happened. He couldn’t make sense of it all. He knew that Severus had been struggling with something, but he’d had thought it had been something outside of their relationship. Harry could have kicked himself for not realising that he was unhappy with their relationship. Perhaps if he hadn’t been so complacent in his trust that they loved each other, he might have realised the other man was going to leave him. It just made no sense though; Severus had told him only yesterday morning, as he was leaving for work, that he loved him. Though as Harry considered it, perhaps it was just an automatic response to Harry’s own declaration.

He’d spent the night pouring over his actions. Had he been too dominant and possessive with him? Or on the other hand not enough? Perhaps the other man had finally had enough of being submissive to someone who was so inexperienced, and realised that Harry could never truly give him what he needed. On the flipside, Severus had mentioned that he was concerned about how submissive he was to Harry. Perhaps he hadn’t paid enough attention to his concern? Or maybe he’d pushed the other man too far too fast. The worst thing was, he had nobody that he could talk to about this, as his friends didn’t know the type of relationship they had, and he’d never betray Severus’ confidence; he still had a responsibility to him in that manner. 

He sighed tiredly, as he stared into the fire. He’d lit it because he’d suddenly felt freezing cold, although the fire hadn’t really seemed to help. He was exhausted trying to work out what had happened, but it was easier to think than to feel. He was desperately trying not to let the despair overwhelm him. He knew that he had to deal with it sooner or later, but it was far too scary at the moment. It was like an ominous cloud hanging over him, threatening to burst at any moment. He worried that if he let go the pain would be too much. Intellectually he knew that he would eventually get over the other man, but right now he couldn’t imagine living a day without him, far-a-less his entire life. That thought alone, the possibility that he’d have to live every day of his life without him, made him want to throw up. He also knew that people would tell him that it was only hard now because Severus was his first love, and everyone thought their first love was ‘the one’. But Harry didn’t feel like most other eighteen year olds. He didn’t have the same intentions, and he seriously could see himself growing old with Severus. He was also frantically trying not to dwell on the fact that perhaps Severus had left him for his own first love. The thought of the other man leaving him for someone else was devastating. Had Severus really cared for him so little that he could so easily toss him aside for someone else? Someone that he hadn’t even seen in twenty years?

He lay awake on the couch the entire night, driving himself crazy with his thoughts, and then floo’d over to Ron and Hermione’s at first light. They were sitting on the couch eating breakfast, and he’d barely made it out of the fire before he was spilling out the bare essentials, sobs breaking through for the first time.

“Oh God, Harry I’m so sorry”, Hermione told him, her voice full of sorrow. She walked over to him hurriedly, pulling him into a hug. He let go in that moment, despair pouring out of him. He felt another pair of arms go around him as he cried, and that only made things worse.

When he finally pulled himself together, Ron made him some tea, and they lay huddled on the couch together, a big sandwich of people. Hermione pulled covers around them and they put on some movies, agreeing that they would stay holed up in the house for the day. Harry finally fell asleep in the comfort of their friendship, and when he awoke in the late afternoon, they ordered pizza, and remained curled up together.  When he finally felt together enough to talk, he told them everything that he could.

“I really don’t understand”, Ron declared, “I thought you both were so happy.”

Harry shrugged, thinking exactly the same, “I don’t know why” he sighed, feeling defeated. “I guess he just wasn’t happy. I mean he’d clearly been unhappy for a couple of weeks, and he definitely started becoming more distant, pretty much from the moment Larkin returned. Maybe he was already concerned about the relationship, and then Larkin was just more appealing.”

“Do you really think Severus would leave you for him?” Hermione asked, clearly unconvinced. Harry shrugged, unsure what to think. “It’s hard to imagine Harry. It’s pretty clear Severus loves you”, she paused, “actually”, she began contemplatively, “I don’t want to upset you but I would have said he adored you. I can’t imagine him throwing all that away for a man he hasn’t seen in twenty years.”

“First loves can hold a lot of power”, Harry stated, “Imagine you and Ron split up and then in twenty years he comes back into your life saying he wants you back. Don’t you think you would at least consider it?”. Hermione said nothing, which told Harry everything.

“Do you want me to kill him?” Ron joked, and Harry couldn’t stop himself from snorting.

“I definitely have a few ideas of where to hide the body”, Hermione cut in, smirking.

Despite how awful he felt, it was good to know he wasn’t truly alone. He’d always have true friends to help him through these things. He was grateful for Ron and Hermione, they were loyal and he couldn’t imagine more supportive friends.

Harry smiled at her, but it didn’t last long, “Despite how I feel about him right now, I do want him to be happy, and I know you started to see him as a friend. Unfortunately, I will be forced to see him again at the order meetings, and I don’t want you to feel like you have to cut him off. Just be normal with him”.

They both nodded, “If that is what you want mate, we will, but you will always come first, so if there is anything else we can do, just say”. Ron replied.

“Thanks”, he smiled half-heartedly, “though if you do end up seeing him or find out any information about him just don’t tell me about it right now. I need some space from him to try and sort my head out”, he told them, knowing that was the understatement of the century. He sighed, and then his face fell as he realised something, “Oh God, Severus teaches on the Auror course. I’m going to be forced to spend time with him.”. He let his head fall into his hands, and he felt his friends pull him backwards on the couch into another hug.

He ended up staying with them for a week, floo’ing to work and back, unwilling to go home and face the emptiness of a place that had become so full of life and energy, and would provide constant reminders of his ex. However, eventually he decided he needed to start to get some semblance of a normal life, and steeled himself for the trip home.

It was almost worse than he expected. The house was silent; oppressing in its emptiness. Deciding that he wasn’t going to be defeated by it, he put on some loud music, and set about cleaning up, though it was heartbreaking when he came across a present Severus had given him or one of their ‘toys’. He deliberately didn’t open their chest, as he knew that the duck paddle was in there and he couldn’t face seeing it. The worst thing had been a random photobook/scrapbook that he had started making to give to the other man at Christmas. He’d kept hold of the most random things, and despite how disgustingly sentimental it was, he had been really enjoying making the present. He couldn’t stop himself flipping through it, and seeing the random pictures, both muggle and wizard. In most of them Severus’ face was blank, or he had narrowed his eyes and sneered when Harry had forced him to take the picture. But he had also managed to get at least two where the other man looked genuinely happy, and in one of the wizarding photos he was laughing and shoving a grinning Harry playfully. Forcing himself not to cry again, he shoved them all away in a box, shrunk it and put it at the back of a rarely used drawer. He’d read that you needed to give yourself space for a while, and that meant putting out of sight, as much as possible, all the reminders of the other person.

He couldn’t, however, stop his thoughts being consumed by his ex. It didn’t matter how much he tried, he couldn’t seem to go longer than ten seconds without thinking about him. Harry had been sure that he would realise his mistake quite quickly, and then, as the days passed, he had convinced himself that Severus just needed some time to work things out in his head. But over a week had now passed, and he was becoming angry that Severus hadn’t even checked on him. He hadn’t even sent him a message. Keeping hold of their communication parchment had positively been the worst thing he could have done, because he had wasted hours of his life staring at it, sure that Severus would send him a message. He didn’t understand how it was so easy for Severus to just cut him out; when every second of every day it was hard for Harry to even breath; like there was a weight crushing his chest.

His floo flared to life later that Saturday evening, and for a moment Harry was sure it was going to be Severus. His stomach flew into his throat as he answered the call.

“Harry” Sirius beamed at him as his head entered the fire, and Harry’s stomach sank in disappointment. His Godather’s smile dropped as he looked at him. “What’s up Harry?” he asked concerned.

Harry shrugged, “Doesn’t matter” he stated, not really wanting to tell the man, who clearly hated Severus, about their breakup.

“C’mon Harry, talk to me” he insisted.

He sighed, a slight bite creeping into his voice, “Look Sirius, I appreciate you trying to help, but it’s about Severus, and I’d rather not have you disparaging him at the moment”.

“Harry” he replied, his voice comforting, “I promise not to say anything that might hurt you, just talk to me”. So, Harry did. He was pleasantly surprised by how much the other man deliberately didn’t try to provoke him, instead focusing on supporting Harry’s feelings. It had been a long time since he felt anything positive towards the other man, but he had to admit that he did feel a little better after talking to him.

Harry managed to survive the next two weeks with a combination of throwing himself into training, spending his free time with Ron and Hermione, and regular random chats with Sirius. His godfather had provided him with a shoulder of support, and had made him laugh when no others had. Albus had been sympathetic with him, but had eventually asked him, with a hint of concern, whether he would be willing to have at least once weekly defence training sessions with Severus. Harry didn’t remotely feel strong enough, but he knew that Voldemort wouldn’t wait for him to deal with his broken heart and he had agreed. So now, here he was, three weeks after breaking up with the man he loved, walking down the old halls of Hogwarts on a Monday night, about to face him for the first time. It was late in the evening and there were no students or staff hanging around so no-one interrupted him as he talked himself into thinking that tonight would go well. Reaching the classroom door, he didn’t wait for the nerves to hit, and immediately knocked.

“Come in” the voice shouted.

Harry opened the door, and Severus looked up from his desk. On first glance the other man looked tired, and for a moment there was something in his expression, but it was gone before Harry had named it, to be replaced with his usual blank mask. For some reason, this just pissed Harry off, and despite the fact that he was hurting beyond measure, he suddenly felt strong enough to be able to cope with this.

“Are you ready for practice?” Harry asked him, unwilling to try to make small talk.

Severus nodded, “I have created a space for us a few classrooms along”, he intoned, rising from his desk. “Shall we proceed?” he asked, and Harry nodded. The elder wizard led them down the hall. “I thought we could practice your shields this evening. However, I believe it might be best if tonight we focus on you trying to break through my shields. That way you can get a feel for how strong they can be, and what they feel like. Next week we will reverse, and you can try to block me.” He hesitated for a second, “Is that appropriate?” he asked. If Harry hadn’t known any better he would have assumed that it was his submissive asking permission. Shaking his head of these thoughts he looked at the other man and nodded his agreement. Severus flipped into teaching mode immediately, and within moments Harry was flinging spells at him.

“Put some effort into it Mr Potter” Severus shot at him, after the first few minutes, and Harry was suddenly angry. Now he wasn’t even Harry to him anymore? He channelled the rage, throwing spell after spell at the shields. It was impossible to break through Severus’ shields but he knew instinctively that at least once or twice he had given them a fair dent. At times the elder wizard was sweating with the effort of maintaining the shields, and in a small way this made him feel slightly better.

“I think that’s enough” the older man stated eventually. He looked drained, and Harry suddenly felt a little guilty for how much he had pushed it. “Your spell work has certainly improved recently” Severus acknowledged.

“Thanks” Harry stated, unsure what else to say. “So, shall we meet again next week?” he asked, unwilling to try to be social. Severus nodded, and Harry turned to leave.

“Harry” Severus intoned softly. He turned back questioningly. “How are you doing?”, the elder wizard asked.

Harry looked at him, trying to work out what he wanted, but Severus was giving nothing away. “I have been better” he admitted, shrugging in embarrassment.

Severus looked away, “I am sorry, I truly didn’t mean to hurt you”, he replied, before looking back at him, his face expressionless. Harry nodded, unable to reply. He almost wanted to beg the other man to take him back in that moment, confess how much he was struggling without him. Thankfully Severus used that moment to open the classroom door and walk out into the corridor, saving him from the embarrassment. The elder man turned to him, nodding, “Next week Mr Potter”, he acknowledged, before striding up the corridor. Harry watched him go, his stomach twisting as he was reminded once again that Severus’ wasn’t his, and wouldn’t ever be again.

That night had been hard for Harry, his stomach twisting and turning, forever on the edge of tears.  Their meeting had only served to reinforce how much he missed the other man. He knew it would take time for the pain to stop, but he honestly didn’t know how long he could put up with this. The not knowing was also killing him. They had been so happy, completely caught up in the honeymoon stage of their relationship, where they still couldn’t seem to get enough of each other, or ever feel close enough to each other, no matter how hard they tried, and then suddenly it was over. No warning, no explanation. If he could have at least been provided with a real reason for the ending, then he might have been able to put things into context and allow his brain to make sense of it all. He didn’t sleep at all, and his sorrow was made only worse when he found one of Severus’ Quidditch magazines. Harry couldn’t stop himself from replaying the memory in his head, feeling a mixture of sorrowful amusement, tenderness, and crushing bone-deep pain.

“Go and get your paddle Severus”, Harry had ordered him, smirking. The other man had been teasing him for a while, pretending to be ignorant of the fact that every movement he made, and sentence he spoke was designed to deliberately provoke his Dominant.

“Can’t”, Severus had replied innocently.

“And why not?”, Harry asked, furrowing his brow.

Severus looked suddenly sorrowful, “It’s gone. I think you must have thrown it away”, he returned seriously.

Harry had laughed at the display, “If I go into that room and find that paddle, you are going to be very sorry”, he’d told him, amusedly.

“I’m telling you it’s gone”, his submissive returned, his face still serious.

Laughing, Harry had gone into the room, and begun searching about for the paddle. Opening a random drawer on the bottom of the cabinet, he’d come across a giant stack of magazines. Pulling one out he’d sauntered back through to the Living Room, where Severus was waiting with a smirk on his face.

Harry smiled darkly, “Severus, what is this?”, he asked, holding up the magazine. The other man’s face fell immediately. Harry couldn’t stop himself from laughing, “Oh Merlin, you’re a Quidditch fanatic”.

“I am not”, the older wizard returned indignantly, “They were left here by an ex”, he spluttered.

“Oh yeah?”, Harry ginned evilly, “Well if that’s the case, I think we should probably just throw them away, I’ll just go and get them”, he began to turn and Severus jumped up from the couch.

“Ok, ok”, he stated frantically. He paused, blushing, “Yes ok, they are mine”.

Harry laughed, “Most people are embarrassed about having their porn stash discovered, you on the other hand have a secret stash of Quidditch magazines”.

Severus glared at him, “Yes very amusing. I cannot help my sickness.”

Harry smiled again, “Why have you kept this hidden, what is so embarrassing about Quidditch?”.

“It’s hardly a sophisticated pastime”, he grouched.

Harty walked over to him, pulling him in for a kiss, feeling rather tender towards him in that moment, “So you are worried about your reputation?”, he laughed softly in good humour.

Severus crossed his arms again, “I just don’t believe people need to know I have such a hobby”.

Harry smiled, finding himself feeling oddly affectionate towards the other man’s embarrassment that people might find out he was actually a normal human being, “Well, when we can finally tell everyone we are together, you will be able to go to as many games as you wish and blame it on being dragged along by me”.

Severus’ eyes lightened at that, “I’ve always wanted to go to the world cup”, he pronounced, “There is one next year”. Harry had never seen him so excited about something, and he couldn’t stop himself pulling him in for another kiss.

“Now, I’m sure I was looking for a paddle”, he pronounced, “I think you should undress and bend yourself over that couch, just on the off chance that I find it, or”, he continued darkly, “something else which may be just as effective”. Severus glared at him in pretend annoyance but immediately began unbuttoning his shirt. Just as Harry was turning to walk away he thought of something, and turned back towards the other man grinning, “What’s your favourite team Pet?”.

“The Chudley Cannons”, he replied offhandedly, and Harry couldn’t stop himself from laughing. Wait until Severus found out he had the same favourite team as Ron Weasley.

It was painful to relive the memory, but he couldn’t seem to stop his brain from doing that on a consistent basis, with every little thing that reminded him of his ex. He forced himself to put the magazine away with the other mementos. The memory had only served to remind him of the things he really missed about the other man, and the fact that they shared so much intimacy, and knew so much about each other. Severus had shared so much of himself with Harry, and entrusted him with things he had never told anyone else. That memory had been barely two weeks before they split up. It was difficult then to understand why, in the space of only a couple of weeks, he had changed from talking about their future together to wanting to end it completely. Harry slumped back onto the couch and sat brooding for the rest of the night.

Despite how hard it had been, however, by the morning he realised that, he had coped. It gave him hope that he would be able to claw out of this pit in time. Deciding he needed to not deal with his emotions right now he threw himself into helping out with a case at work. This kept him fairly distracted during the week, and his training also meant he had little time to ruminate. He also decided to finally get around to decorating his house, deciding to turn one of his spare rooms into an office. He went for dinner at Ron and Hermione’s on Saturday night, and Sirius joined them, and for the first time in nearly four weeks he found himself laughing. Sirius regaled them with stories of his younger days, and whilst there were mixed emotions, Harry found himself laughing along. He couldn’t fully push aside what Sirius and his father had done to Severus, but another part of him knew that his Godfather was the only connection he had to his family, and he selfishly needed some sort of grounding right now, even though it did make him feel quite guilty.

On Monday, Harry steeled himself again to face his ex. They practiced with maintaining Harry’s shields, which the other man managed to break through on a number of occasions, however Severus stated that he was doing very well, and that his defences would continue to increase if he kept on in this manner. Harry was exhausted by the end of it, barely able to put one foot in front of the other.

“I would advise that you have some hot chocolate before you leave”, Severus informed him, and, despite his desire not to be social around the other man, Harry was exhausted, so he nodded. 

The elder man summoned hot chocolate and tea, and they sat for a while. The conversation was initially stilted and awkward, and was made only more difficult when they accidentally brushed hands as they reached for their cups. The atmosphere was heavy, and charged, and the spark between them was almost palpable. They eventually fell to conversing about defensive skills, and they laughed when Harry told him about some of the antics of his school days with Ron and Hermione, and their endless quest to solve everything themselves.

“I better get going” Harry stated eventually standing. He was slightly unwilling to leave. It had almost started to feel like old times.

Severus nodded, standing also. “I would like, next week, to also start thinking about survival skills, particularly water and fire” he began “would that be amenable to yourself?” he asked. There was no mistaking it this time, there was definitely a hint of submission in the other man’s address.

“Yes, I think that would be appropriate” he smiled.

Severus smiled for a second and then narrowed his eyes, and crossed his arms, “I am, however, letting you nowhere near my Gillyweed”, he joked, and Harry laughed. The other man smiled warmly at him, and Harry could feel the air becoming heavy with anticipation. He knew that his feelings for Severus hadn’t lessened in the time they had been apart, and there was no mistaking the continued connection between them. Severus was so close to him, and Harry leant forward, his breath quickening as he moved his face towards the other man, who was leaning towards him with eyes that were hooded.

Just as he was about to connect their lips Severus stood back, leaving Harry standing alone and humiliated.

“Harry”, Severus began, apologetically, “I’m sorry, but…”, he paused for a second, glancing away, “ I’m seeing someone else”, he told him awkwardly.

Harry’s entire world rocked in that moment, and he felt like there was nothing solid beneath him to keep him upwards. He couldn’t tell whether to laugh, cry, or punch something. It was like a ball of ice had suddenly lodged itself in his chest.

“Seeing someone?” he asked, in barely a whisper, and the other man nodded. “We’ve only been split up a month, how could you? Did I mean so little to you?”.

“I’m sorry”, was all his ex replied, his blank mask firmly in place.

“Is it Larkin?” he asked him, suddenly, desperately, needing to know.

Severus looked away, appearing to grimace, “I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss this”.

For a moment, Harry just stared at him, finally realising he had lost the other man. A part of him had held onto the belief that Severus would come to his senses, and that they would eventually get back together; he’d still thought of him as his one. But Severus was seeing someone else, and his clear indifference to him was like a punch in the gut.

“Ok” he replied uselessly, desperately trying to hold himself together, “I’m going to go”. Severus nodded and Harry stood from the couch, walking over to the floo and grabbing some powder. “Look” he began, turning back “I need a bit of space”. It was humiliating to admit his feelings to someone who had already moved on, but for his own sanity he needed away from him. “I know it’s important that I get some more training but there has to be someone else who can do this, at least for a while. I’ll speak to Kingsley tomorrow”.

The older man nodded again, his face devoid of any emotion, “I am sorry Harry”, he muttered, and for a moment there was a hint of sorrow breaking though his mask.

“Yeah well”, Harry shrugged, unable to deny it and not knowing what else to say, he turned away, and threw the powder into the fire. He entered the floo, and didn’t look back as he walked away from the man he loved.

Harry didn’t sleep at all that night, which was becoming an almost constant affair for him recently. By the morning, however, the bone deep pain had given way to a sort of blank numbness, and a pervasive anger. How could Severus have done that to him? How dare he? Harry had given everything of himself and he had not only been tossed aside with little more than a ‘see you later’, but he hadn’t even been respected enough to stop the man from jumping straight into another relationship. Harry could never have done that to him. If Severus could so easily forget him, then Harry really wasn’t worth much at all, was he? The way he was feeling right now, he couldn’t ever imagine trusting someone again. He’d trusted Severus completely, and he’d been betrayed and left broken. Harry felt bitter and angry that he could be used in such a way. He vowed in that moment that he’d never let anyone hurt him like that again. He’d never give anyone that much power over him.

He was sitting on the couch in the early morning, his eyes closed, trying to will himself to sleep for at least an hour before getting ready for work, when his floo rang to indicate a call. He frowned, reluctant to answer a call when he felt like this, but, despite his anger, a part of him was desperately hoping it was Severus. For a moment, he fantasised that the Potion’s Master was calling to tell him it was all a lie, and that he’d never meant any of it. Unfortunately, and as he realistically expected, the head that popped into the fire, once he answered the call, was not his ex, but Ron.

“Hey mate”, Ron beamed, but the moment he saw Harry’s face the smile fell away. “What’s wrong?”

Harry shook his head. There was no way he could open up now. He needed to keep a tight lid on his feelings or he’d never get through work. “I can’t, sorry. I need to get ready for work”.

Ron nodded, “Ok, why don’t you come over for dinner tonight”.

Again, Harry shook his head, “Tuesday’s are my teaching evenings. I won’t even get home until about nine.”

“Well come and sleep at ours. You don’t even have to say anything tonight. You can just come and sleep,”

Harry was about to say no, but he knew that he always felt just a little better being with his friends. It helped him to fell less alone and less worthless. “Ok”, he nodded, not even attempting to plaster a smile on his face.

Somehow, he managed to drag himself through the day, and through the teaching evening. He’d become quite friendly with Ipsum over time, who knew about his break-up, but Harry kept everything to himself for the time being. It helped somewhat, forcing himself to act normal. It helped him to at least get through the day. He floo’d to Ron and Hermione’s after teaching, and he was so exhausted he fell asleep within an hour. It was a fitful sleep full of dreams of his ex, but at least he slept. His anger was still at the forefront. It kept him fuelled, and energised through the day, and kept the feelings of despair from being all pervasive. On Wednesday night, he agreed to go back to Ron and Hermione’s, and his anger gave him the ability to confess to them what had been going on, without breaking down.

“That Bastard”, Ron fumed, and Harry could see him clench his fists.

“You know”, Hermione chimed in at that point, “I was watching a documentary that said there is a poison that can kill someone without being detected. I’m sure I could find out how to make it”, she smiled sweetly, and Harry wasn’t quite one hundred percent sure she was joking.

He couldn’t stop himself laughing, “Remind me never to get on the wrong side of you”, he told her, his eyes wide. She grinned, but in a way that look slightly manic rather than comforting.

“Seriously, how dare he”, Ron seethed, getting up from the couch and pacing over to the fire, “You are worth so much more, Harry. Don’t let him convince you otherwise”.

Harry smiled at him, “Thanks, you big softy”, he teased.

Ron looked at him in confusion, and then he laughed, the tension releasing slightly from his body. “Look, you can stay here as long as you want, or you can just floo over whenever you need to”.

“Thanks guys”, he stated meaningfully, feeling a little better about himself knowing that he had friends to support him.

They talked for a while longer, but Harry just found he was repeating things he had already twent over a million times in his head, and after a while he needed to change the subject. “Hey, what did you fire call me for yesterday?”, he asked.

“Oh, there is a small business event on Saturday.”, Ron began, “I’ve been thinking I might help my brothers to expand their business, or even set up my own, so I wanted to go and start to get some info to think about. I wondered whether you wanted to come with me. It’ll not exactly be fun, but I could use some backup”, he smiled self-depreciatingly.

Harry assessed him or a moment. He could see Ron being good as a business owner. He’d really come into himself in the last year. He was passionate but level-headed with it, and he had the dedication to make things work. He agreed to go to support his friend. It was the least he could do, considering how much they had supported him recently. He went for drinks with some of the other trainees on Thursday night, and went to see Sirius on Friday night, so between that and work, he didn’t have the chance to really become despairing. He was really starting to enjoy spending time with Sirius, and Lupin had ended up joining them for the evening, so for the first time in a while, he found himself laughing, and for a few minutes at a time completely distracted from thoughts of the man he still desperately loved.  On Saturday, he met Ron near to the event. It was in a large building and was sponsored by Gringotts bank, as there would be representatives there to discuss the potential for loans.

“Whoever thought you’d be thinking about starting your own business?”, Harry stated, slightly in awe, as they were walking through the entranceway.

Ron snorted, “I know, I really want to, but then at other points I don’t think I’m grown up enough for it all. I mean I still like to watch my cartoons on a Saturday morning whilst I eat my chocolate frogs”, he whispered conspiratorially, and Harry laughed, “I don’t suspect I’ll be able to get the funding anytime soon, but I’d like to start thinking about what I would actually need, to make it a success when I am ready”.

“Hey, I’d be willing to invest in your start up”, Harry told him seriously.

The redhead turned to look at him seriously, “That’s an awful risk”, he stated meaningfully.

Harry shrugged, “I know money is important, particularly if you don’t have it, but I’ve never been motivated by it. As long as I have enough to be somewhat financially stable, I am satisfied. I came into my inheritance, so whatever I gave you wouldn’t be taking away from my stability. It is extra money that I would be willing to risk”.

“Wow thanks, I mean we’d have to discuss it all seriously, but…”, he trailed off, suddenly baring his teeth in anger.

Harry looked at him confused, “What’s wrong”.

Ron was pulled away from whatever he was looking at, and gazed at Harry with a hint of panic, before masking it with a smile, “C’mon let’s come back later. I wanted to buy Hermione something. She’s been hassling me for a week, so let’s go do that and have lunch and then come back after”. His voice was slightly high pitched, and Harry was confused.

He turned to see whatever was causing this sudden change in Ron and suddenly his heart was in his throat. Of all the places he had hoped never to see his ex, this had certainly never featured as an option. Harry was about to turn back to Ron, and agree that they should hastily exit, when Severus looked up from peering at a leaflet, and their eyes met. Harry’s stomach lurched. He had absolutely no idea what to do. Should he smile? Should he pretend he hadn’t seen him? Should he pretend that he was completely over him, and saunter over to make a joke? Should they be pretending that they still hated each other, considering the threat from the Dark Lord? It was all very confusing, so instead he just stood there like an idiot, not making any kind of decision. Thankfully, Severus seemed to be having the same issue, and they both just stood staring at each other across the hall for what felt like an eternity, though couldn’t have been more than a second or two. Their staring was broken when a man suddenly put his hand on Severus’ shoulder, and the Potion’s Master turned his eyesight towards him. Harry was too far away to hear what was being said, but it was clear that they were friendly. The man laughed, shoving another pamphlet into Severus’ hands. Harry felt physically sick. He wasn’t ready to deal with this yet. He didn’t want to meet Severus’ new partner, or know anything about him. He wanted him to remain a faceless non-entity, that Harry could convince himself wasn't real. This was all too much too fast.

Ron grasped his shoulder, “C’mon, I’m desperate for cake”, the red head stated sofly, turning him away gently.