It was Christmas. Or very near, anyway. Lily was sitting in a remote part of the castle. A place she often visited. The room was very open, with many windows, which at the moment was not the best, because it was very snowy outside, and extremely windy. But Lily was comfortable, wrapped tightly in a red and gold scarf. Next to her, held down by her abnormally heavy Transfiguration book, was all the homework she had been assigned over the break, and she intended on getting it finished as soon as possible. This part of the castle was an especially nice place to work, because it seemed to be the one place no one else (and by that she meant Potter) could find her, especially as she had decided to stay at Hogwarts over the break this year due to the fact that Petunia was becoming more unbearable than ever.
So far, Lily had finished her Potions homework, as well as Charms and she was currently halfway through the thirty-six inch essay Professor McGonogall had given them on the last class of the term yesterday. She worked for another half an hour, before the cold became too much, biting at her fingers, numbing them and making it hard to hold her quill. She didn’t want to leave, until she almost knocked her ink bottle onto her almost-finished essay trying to dip the quill into it.
As she walked along the corridor she notice someone had put clumps of mistletoe at regular intervals along the ceiling, and took careful consideration in her attempts to avoid it. The last thing she needed was to be caught under the mistletoe. She half expected James to jump out from behind every corner.
When she finally returned to the common room, she realized that James was nowhere to be seen. She knew that he and his friends decided to stay for the holidays, be he wasn’t in the common room. It was unlikely that he and his friends had gone to bed, as it was only eight-thirty, and everyone else seemed to be packed into the altogether to-small space that, at the moment, was the Gryffindor Common room. Maybe they had gone to visit Remus, who was in the Hospital Wing. She looked out at the full moon glowing in the night sky, and reflecting off of all the metal surfaces in range of the light, and her mind wandered upon the short, simple question: why did she care? What was it to her where James Potter and his friends were at this particular moment in time? She pushed all those thoughts to the back of her head, and pulled out her homework again.
This time, away from the quiet isolation as well as the absence of a constant wondering about the presence of the “Marauders”, Lily found it very hard to concentrate, and after only half an hour of trying and failing to progress any further on her Defense Against the Dark Arts homework, Lily threw her hands up in frustration, and left the common room, muttering curses in the general direction of several frightened first years. She marched up the girl’s staircase, and flopped down on her bed in her dormitory at the top of the tower.
Alice was giggling loudly and rather obnoxiously, jerking Lily from the state of sub consciousness she was currently occupying. She looked up in a mix of confusion and annoyance to study Alice through her hair.
“What’s wrong with you?” Alice asked.
“Me? Why are you giggling like you’ve been caught under the mistletoe?”
“Because I have.”
“Frank.” Groaning, Lily flopped her face into her pillow.
“And so again, I ask, what’s wrong with you?”
“I don’t know.” Lily sat up, and looked into Alice’s curious eyes. “Do I have a crush on James?”
“I don’t know, I keep thinking about him… It’s strange.”
“Lily! How long?”
“Just today. Well… and I guess yesterday too, and the day before, now that I think about it…”
“Lily! Oh, my God! You have to tell me everything.”
“There’s nothing to tell. There is no way I have a crush on Potter.”
“If you say so… Goodnight, Lily.”
“Goodnight.” Lily pulled the curtains of her four-poster shut and rolled over, thrusting James as far out of her mind as she could. Of course the minute Lily drifted to sleep, she began to dream about the very person she was trying to keep out of her mind.
Lily knelt to retrieve the books that had been forced out of her arms when she had run into James Potter. James stooped beside her to help her pick them up.
“I don’t need your help, Potter.” James put the books he had picked up in her arms, and stood, but did not heed her silent order of dismissal. Lily stood up as well, glaring at James, but her heart was racing, and her hands were sweating slightly for being so close in proximity with James Potter, the Quidditch star. The stuck-up prick more like. She realized she was staring at him, and she looked up.
She caught sight of something hanging above them, and she shut her eyes quickly looking down and muttering under her breath, “Please, no, please, no.” James looked up in confusion. Slowly, Lily opened her eyes and looked up again at the mistletoe hanging above their heads. She looked back down at James. His eyes were fixed on her, and he looked shocked, like he couldn’t have found himself in a better situation on a Saturday morning.
“Get it over with Potter,” said Lily, closing her eyes and preparing for the worst. James took her face in his hands and he was there, his lips on her mouth. It didn’t have to be a long kiss. It wouldn’t be, right? But she knew James would linger a second too long. And when he did, she was prepared to push him off of her. But then he didn’t. He began to pull away, and Lily’s books cascaded from her arms, because he can’t. How could he? Her empty arms wrapped around his neck and forced him against her.
And then it was James who was pushing Lily away. He looked at her. What should have been delight in his eyes was… anger? Lily looked down.
“I’m sorry, James. I shouldn’t have done that.”
“No, you shouldn’t have.” Suddenly, James was yelling. “You think you can just do that to me? You think you can play with my emotions like that? What are you doing? You say you hate me and then the next moment you’re kissing me? Well you know what, Evans? I hate you—” Lily Evans sat bolt upright, breathing heavily. A chink of sunlight streamed through the crack in the velvet curtains surrounding her. Alice peaks through the crack, blocking the sun.
“You a’righ’ Lil?” she asked groggily.
“I’m fine.” It was just a dream. She had been dreaming and she was fine. But her chest hurt with the sting of James’ rejection. Quickly she ripped back the curtains, and changed. She grabbed her book bag, filled it with the mountain of homework, and muttered quick goodbye to Alice, who looked half asleep with her arm draped artfully over her face and one leg hanging off the bed. Alice’s only response was her less-than-graceful snoring. Sighing, Lily left as quietly as possible.
She kept her head down as she scurried down the stairs. It was Christmas break. There was hardly anyone in the castle, but she didn’t want to look at any of them or risk the chance that one of them might be— she collided with someone equally distracted and her books spilled across the ground.
“God, sorry, I wasn’t—” the voice yawned “I wasn’t looking where I was—Lily!” Lily didn’t look up. She knelt to pick up her books and didn’t look up at him. And he knelt beside her and helped and Lily almost said, “I don’t need your help, Potter.” Instead she stood up and said, “Thanks.” Before she could stop herself, she looked up. Dreading. Hoping. Looking slightly concerned, James looked up too. But there was nothing there. Shoving her books back into her bag, Lily looked back at the ground and began to walk away. “Bye, James.”
“Lily!” James called her back. She paused and turned around, looking at his shoes.
“Are you alright? You seem a little…” he didn’t finish the sentence and Lily realized how strange she was acting. She cleared her throat.
“I’m fine, James, thanks for the concern.” She still couldn’t bring herself to look at his face.
“You called me James.” Her eyes snapped to his.
“I—” But Lily didn’t know what to say. Her gaze slipped back up to the ceiling, and there it was. The mistletoe. She looked quickly back at James. He looked exhausted. Suddenly she wondered if he was alright. She realized she was staring.
“Lily?” taking a deep breath, she looked pointedly up at the ceiling again. James’ brow furrowed, so Lily pointed. It was a short movement, but James followed her finger to the mistletoe above their heads.
He blushed. Lily glanced back down.
“If we both take a step back we can pretend this didn’t happen.” James chuckled awkwardly. Back up to his eyes. She felt something stir in her chest but she couldn’t place it. Disgust? Disappointment? Longing, relief, general Confusion?
Courage. Impulsively she reached up a hand to his neck and placed a slightly sloppy kiss on his lips. She hoisted her bag over her shoulder and, blushing furiously, walked as quickly as she could back up the stairs. She didn’t dare to glance back at James who seemed rooted to the spot. As soon as she was out of earshot she ran. All the way up to the top floor. All the way to Gryffindor tower, she threw the password at the Fat Lady who opened her portrait and Lily flung herself up the girl’s staircase. She heaved open the door to her dormitory, turned and slammed it shut, bolting it behind her. The noise woke Alice. Lily backed away from the door until she tripped over the end of her bed and fell on her butt on the blankets.
“Lily? What happened?” asked Alice.
Lily didn’t take her eyes off the door. “Mistletoe.”