Chapter 1 : Operation Mistletoe
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The sun shone brilliantly off the snow outside. A couple of people could be seen from the windows of the Gryffindor Common Room, walking lazily through the grounds, but for the most part the students at Hogwarts were still comfortably ensconced in bed, or in the case of James Potter and his friends, comfortable armchairs around the fire in the Common Room.
“Give it a rest Mooney,” one of them was saying with a dramatic roll of the eyes.
He had addressed this to a boy with a mop of brown hair who had just pulled out a textbook and a roll of parchment.
“We’ve got to keep up with our NEWT work, our futures could depend upon it,” he replied without looking up. “You’d do well to study a bit more yourself Sirius.”
“Already know where my future is going,” Sirius said casually. And then with a sideways glance at the other dark haired boy in the seat next to him added, “Well, more of an idea than Prongs here who has decided there is no future without Evans.”
“Hey! It’s good to have a goal to work towards,” he said easily, kicking his feet up onto the table. Moony scowled silently and moved his books out of the way.
“It’s more of an obsession really James,” squeaked a small mousey boy who made up the last of their number.
“Wormtail’s got the right of it,” grinned Sirius. “Your dream hasn’t exactly been going to plan.”
“It’ll work out soon enough,” James assured them in a confident voice, though his hand ran through his hair agitatedly as he said this.
“You think this year will be different?” inquired Moony looking up from his book with a mixture of curiosity and exasperation.
“It’s nearly Christmas, she’s bound to feel more relaxed at this time of year,” James said.
“Hate to point it out, but it hasn’t exactly been working well for you for the past 5 Christmas’ mate,” Sirius pointed out cheerfully. “Not even with Mistletoe hanging from half the arches in the school.”
“I never see her near any,” James pouted.
“Not that you’d have any luck even if you did,” put in Wormtail helpfully. “She’d be long gone before you got close. You’d need to direct her under it without her noticing somehow.”
“Hmm…” mused James staring thoughtfully at Wormtail. “You may just have an idea there Wormtail.”
“Oh? Do explain please,” asked Sirius intrigued.
“Well, a simple levitation charm could provide some subtle movement to the Mistletoe, invading safe areas…”
“Please tell me you are not going to chase Lily Evans around the castle with Mistletoe!” demanded Moony cutting in.
When James just grinned back at him, he slammed his book shut.
“You’re going to torment the poor girl just so you can force a kiss?” he asked, voice rising.
“Oh come on Remus, it’s just a bit of fun. Holiday spirit and all that,” put in Sirius soothingly.
“It’s completely immature and you wonder why she doesn’t fancy you!” Moony replied angrily.
“You’re going to stop us?” asked James with an eyebrow raised.
Moony just glared at him before storming off back to the dormitories.
“Poor guy, must be that time of the month,” Sirius said sympathetically as Wormtail laughed.
Sometime later James and Sirius were making their way back through the corridors from breakfast. They were in high spirits due partly to having full bellies and partly due to the fun they’d had testing out their levitating Mistletoe. They’d even managed to entrap their friend Peter under it with a 7th year Hufflepuff and had fled the Great Hall choking on their laughter as he’d glared at them over his cereal bowl, cheeks inflamed.
James was sure this idea would work. There was no way Lily would be able to maintain constant vigilance and he’d finally get that kiss he’d so desperately wanted. It might not be how he’d imagined it, but it was a start. He’d do anything for that glorious moment.
He stopped suddenly as Sirius elbowed him in the ribs, James’ hand flying instinctively to his hair.
“Hey Evans,” Sirius drawled. “How you going?”
“Fine,” she nodded curtly and made to step past James, stopping dead when she saw the Mistletoe attached to the ceiling. Then, carefully retracing her steps, she slowly edged past Sirius on the other side who was doubled over with laughter. Then she was off and sprinting down the corridor before James could even whip out his wand.
“She’s a wily one,” wheezed Sirius, trying to regain control and almost losing it again at the sight of James who was staring wistfully after her. “She’ll bolt if she sees you anywhere near Mistletoe, you’ll have to spring it on her.”
“The Common Room!” grinned James excitedly. “She’ll have to pass through the door eventually.”
Sirius nodded slowly.
“It might actually work,” he allowed, returning the grin. “But you’ll have to make sure it’s hidden and you bring it out at the right moment or you’ll end up kissing all the Gryffindors.”
But when Lily finally returned from breakfast, she didn’t prove so easy to ensnare as they’d hoped. Upon seeing James and Sirius loitering suspiciously outside the portrait of the Fat Lady, she beat a hasty retreat and disappeared down the other end of the corridor. Sirius patted him sympathetically on the shoulder and climbed into the Common Room chuckling. James wasn’t about to give up just yet though, he had a feeling he knew where she would be.
He wound his way down to the library where, sure enough, he spotted her at a table with Remus Lupin. He ducked back out, located a nearby sprig of Mistletoe and subtly levitated it into the library, careful to avoid being seen by the librarian. As he carefully approached, Remus stood to grab another book from the shelves and James took the opportunity. He was almost at the table when Lily spotted him and jumped out of her chair startled. Looking around wildly she spotted the Mistletoe and fled. James chuckled and let her run.
“James, what are you doing?!” hissed Remus returning.
“Just passing through and thought I’d say hello,” said James innocently.
Remus looked up and saw the Mistletoe. He groaned.
“Oh, fancy that!” said James following his gaze. “Bit strange to put one in the library!”
“And I don’t suppose you have anything to do with that?” asked Remus disapprovingly as he returned to his seat.
“Not a clue,” James said with a straight face.
“Well it wasn’t there before,” said Remus sighing.
“It’s like magic,” James agreed with a grin as he headed back out.
Dinner rolled around and James had had no luck. He hadn’t even seen Lily after the library and was telling so to the others at the table.
“Why don’t you just use the map to locate her?” suggested Wormtail.
“It’s mysteriously vanished,” said James, glaring at Remus who had developed a sudden keen interest in goblet.
Sirius laughed, which caused James to turn the glare to him.
“Aren’t you supposed to be on my side?” he grumbled.
“I am!” exclaimed Sirius. “But it is amusing, you have to admit.”
James didn’t respond.
“There has to be some way,” he complained.
“How about this,” said Sirius straightening up. “You go down the dungeons straight after lunch and I’ll tell Lily that’s where you’ve gone. She will of course refuse to believe me and assume that you’re lying in wait in the other direction. Therefore walking right into your clutches.”
James looked at him dubiously but was forced to admit that he had nothing better to try.
“May as well give it a shot,” he said.
“Right, that’s settled then!” said Sirius. “Then maybe afterwards I can beat you at Wizard’s Chess.”
Remus Lupin sighed and concentrated on his plate, as the two began bickering about who was the better player.
The plan happened just as Sirius said it would, to James’ pleasant surprise. Having left lunch early, Lily hurried down the corridor, looking over her shoulder, as James stepped smoothly out from an empty room and grabbed her arm. She jumped in shock.
“Oh, it’s you Potter, what do you want?” she asked impatiently.
“Just to tell you how beautiful you look today,” he answered smoothly.
He thought he saw a faint tinge appear on her cheeks but it vanished almost immediately.
“Flattery will get you nowhere,” she said annoyed.
“On the contrary,” began James, trailing off and looking up.
She followed his eyes and gasped as she saw the Mistletoe directly above them.
“Let go of me Potter,” she spat, trying to free her arm.
“But it’s tradition,” he smiled pleasantly back at her, as if they were discussing the weather. “Just the other week you declared that we must respect our traditions as a way of connecting with our heritage.”
She looked temporarily thrown that he’d memorized her words and James pressed his advantage.
“Very soon, this corridor will be filled with people leaving lunch,” he told her. “You can kiss me and this will all be over quickly and privately with no fuss. Or you can protest and be kissed in front of half the school.”
He smiled at her. She’d stopped struggling and seemed torn about what to do, clearly reluctant to kiss him at all but even more fearful of it being public.
“James, please…” she began.
Suddenly the doors burst open at the end of the corridor and people swarmed through. Conversation lulled as the other students caught sight of them, and then burst up again in a flurry. It was no secret that Lily had spurned his every advance.
Lily looked mortified.
“James, please let me go,” she whispered furiously at him.
“It’s only one small kiss,” he replied placidly. “Doesn’t even mean anything as it’s under the Mistletoe.”
“James, please don’t make me do this!” she begged.
He stood there unmoved. All his dreams were about to come true. He was about to kiss Lily Evans and everyone would know it.
“James! Please!” A hint of panic had entered her voice.
He stopped and for the first time that day, stopped thinking about himself. He looked at her. Her eyes were wide with distress. A hint of tears was forming and helpless fury. He steeled himself. It was only a quick kiss. She’d get over it.
“James…” her voice quivered slightly.
He was never going to forgive himself. He let go of her and stepped back.
“Next time Lily,” he called with a smile he didn’t feel as he pushed through the crowd back to Gryffindor Tower. Behind him, Lily Evans stared blankly after him.
James spent the rest of the night kicking himself. He’d accomplished his plan, had her finally at his mercy. He was so distracted that Sirius beat him spectacularly at Wizard’s Chess. Nobody commented when he declared he was having an early night shortly after the game, though Remus gave him a sympathetic squeeze on the shoulder on the way past.
Sleep eluded him however as he lay awake, tossing and turning as he listened to Peter’s snores. He finally decided to get back up and he headed down to the Common Room where he pulled up a chair and stared into the remains of the fire.
He’d been so caught up in his chase of Lily that he hadn’t thought about what it must be like from her perspective. Not really. He knew she found him arrogant and annoying but he honestly hadn’t meant to humiliate her. He saw now what Remus had meant by his immaturity and wished he’d listened earlier. Thought a bit more about how it would impact others.
As he tried to make sense of these thoughts, muffled footsteps approached across the floor. He looked up as they stopped next to him. Looked up into a pair of brilliant green eyes. There stood Lily, looking more beautiful than ever, with her hair down and wrapped in a warm jumper. They stared at each other for a few moments, and for the first time, neither saying anything. Then Lily shuffled her feet awkwardly.
“I… I just wanted to say thank you. For earlier. The whole situation was… Well, I felt…”
“It’s alright,” he cut in quickly. “I’m sorry I created the scenario in the first place. It was supposed to be harmless fun.”
She smiled at him. It was only a small one but it was sincere.
“Did you really mean what you said earlier?” she asked abruptly. “About me looking beautiful?”
“Of course,” he said, taken aback.
Her smile widened marginally and her nervousness transformed into determination, as if she’d decided on something.
Before James knew what was happening she leant in and kissed him.
“I owed you that from earlier,” she smiled as she turned and walked back to her dorm, James staring speechless after her.
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