Disclaimer: Not my characters, nor my universe. And am not making any money from this!
Prophet of Love
"They say it's meant to be hearts."
"Well," said James Potter, trying to sound reasonable about it, "the heart is the metaphor for love. That's true of wizards and Muggles alike."
"Yes," agreed his best friend, "but according to the book, Muggles give each other hearts as proof of their love."
James considered this. At thirteen, he was already versed in quite a few things that most wizarding boys his age wouldn't even have imagined – he was close friends with an actual werewolf, and for the last year had been working on an advanced Transfiguration spell, though thus far unsuccessfully. Nonetheless – and despite the fact that he was taking that new course, Muggle Studies – the Muggle world was very much a closed book to him.
"All right," said James, "which book did you use? I know it's not in our text, and some of the old-fashioned books in the Library are quite racist."
"I looked it up in the seventh-years' text," said Sirius miserably. "They're studying Muggle Folk Rituals this term, which is how I heard about it in the first place."
He pulled a piece of parchment out of his robes. "I copied this down exactly. 'On the 14th of February, many Muggles celebrate the feast day of the prophet Valentine, who fulfills the same function in Muggle society as does Eros in the wizarding world. In celebration of the prophet Valentine, Muggles who are in loving relationships give one another hearts. While it is common for parents to give hearts to their children, the primary celebrants are romantic partners. Each partner is expected to consume the heart presented by the other partner. This prophet is so important that some Muggle relationships disintegrate if one party or the other fails or refuses to participate in the ceremony.'"
"Right," said James. "That's disgusting. Actual hearts?"
"That's what the book says."
"Well, you know, Remus is only half-Muggle. Maybe he doesn't care. You can just give him a gift at the celebration of Eros."
"See, that's the thing," said Sirius worriedly. "I asked him – you know, just like I was joking a bit – 'Say, Remus, did your mum ever give you a heart to eat for Valentine's feast day?' And he was so excited! He told me how his mum used to give him candied hearts to eat, and little cards shaped like hearts."
James scratched his head. "It just doesn't sound like Remus to eat candied hearts," he said.
"But he's done it," said Sirius. "And he takes a lot of Muggle holidays very seriously, like Christmas."
"That's the one at the winter solstice, right? At Yule?"
"That's the one," confirmed Sirius. "I don't want Remus to break up with me because I won't give him a heart to eat! And what if he gives me one? Then what do I do?"
James took the parchment from Sirius, and studied it. Certainly the threat seemed real. A few months ago, he might not have minded; it had taken him a while to wrap his brain around the idea that the two boys could be in love with each other. But now he was not only used to it, he rather liked the idea. They were very happy together, and Sirius was still his best friend.
"What are you thinking?" asked Sirius. "Have you got a plan?"
"Yes, but not a good one," said James. "I'd like Evans to notice me, you know, and this seems to be a really important feast day. I can't believe it's really this gross."
"Neither can I."
"So the book must've left something out, then. Or it's got something wrong. I can't picture either Remus or Evans eating candied hearts. We're missing something."
"But what?" asked Sirius.
"I've no idea," said James. There was a note of grim determination in his voice. "But I know a way to find out."
He'd waited until he was pretty certain that she was studying by herself in the Library. There was nothing for it: he would have to approach her, and ask.
She barely shot him a glance. "What, Potter?"
"I have to ask you something."
She glared at him. He sat down next to her. "It's about Remus," he said, and her expression softened.
"What is it?"
"Well, see, there's someone who fancies him," said James. "And this someone wants to give him a present for the feast of the prophet Valentine."
"And this really is for Remus?" Lily asked.
"Yes, I swear."
"And this someone is wizardborn?"
"Yes. How could you tell?"
"Because it's Saint Valentine," she said. "Not 'prophet'."
James smiled broadly. "Ah, there," he said, "I knew that the book had to be wrong."
"The seventh-years' Muggle Studies textbook. It said that Muggles celebrate the feast of the prophet Valentine." He handed her the parchment.
"It's worded oddly," she announced. "But it's essentially correct."
He stared at her. "Muggles eat hearts?"
She rolled her eyes. "Not actual hearts, idiot." She drew on the bottom of the parchment. "Chocolates and other sweets, shaped like this."
"That's not what a heart really looks like," observed James.
"Congratulations," said Lily sweetly. "I'm sure you'd get top marks in Human Anatomy at a Muggle school."
James grinned, a little foolishly. "So, that's it then? Chocolates shaped like this thingy?"
Lily regarded him for a moment. She could just tell him to get lost – but since it was for Remus…
"There's Cupid, too," she said.
She sighed. "Yes. Cupid is a little baby boy with wings who flies about naked."
James gaped. "Don't people notice?"
"No, because he's invisible. He's got a bow and arrows –"
"A baby? With a bow and arrows?"
"Yes," she said, a bit tersely. "Now quit interrupting. Cupid flies about – invisibly – and shoots people in the heart with his tiny arrows."
James didn't interrupt, but his eyes widened.
"They don't die," said Lily. "When he shoots them, they fall in love."
James thought about it. "So," he said carefully, "On the Valentine feast day, an invisible naked baby boy with wings goes around and shoots people in the heart with an arrow, and makes them fall in love. Then they give each other chocolates shaped like this." He touched her drawing on the parchment.
"Yes," said Lily, sounding pleased. "That's it."
"What happens if you don't get shot?"
"Well, you just have to wait until next year."
James sat quietly for a while, then folded the parchment back up and stuffed it into his robes. He stood. "Thanks, Evans."
"You're welcome," she said politely. She turned back to her book.
"Well, you see," he said. "I've noticed – I've noticed lots of Muggle holidays have special colors. Orange and black, red and green –"
"Red and pink for Valentine's Day," said Lily, not looking up.
"Red and pink, right," said James. He watched her read for a few moments. "So," he said as casually as he knew how, "Are you celebrating the feast day this year?"
"Yes, I have plans, thank you," said Lily airily.
"Oh. Well, good. Good for you."
"Yes, good for me."
He nodded at her, and hurried out of the Library. He smiled; he was beginning to think she liked him.
Remus, three-quarters asleep, rolled over in his bed, and collided with a warm body. He quickly went to being half-awake; then, as he inhaled and recognized a pleasantly familiar scent, he became three-quarters awake. Still with his eyes closed, he nuzzled into the other body. Sirius stroked his hair.
"C'mon, Remus, wake up."
Remus opened a single eye. It was still a bit blurry, but nonetheless Sirius was clearly wide awake, and holding his wand.
"C'mon, sleepyhead," urged Sirius. He dropped a kiss on Remus' forehead, and Remus instantly raised his chin, catching the last of Sirius' kiss on his mouth.
"I have something for you." Sirius' voice was teasing and playful. Remus opened the other eye as well.
"Watch," said Sirius, and he flicked his wand toward the top of the four-poster. A ball of pink light formed, then suddenly exploded; dozens of little paper hearts and Cupids floated down in all shades of red and pink. Remus laughed and struggled to sit up. He caught several of the hearts in his hands. Another flick of Sirius' wand summoned a small package. Remus opened the red string and pink tissue wrapper, and found chocolates inside.
"Oh, Sirius," he whispered.
"Did I get it all right?" asked Sirius. "The shapes, the colors?"
"It's perfect," said Remus. He wriggled onto his boyfriend, and laid his hand flat against Sirius' chest, over his heart. "Perfect," he said again, kissing his boyfriend.
It was late; the end of the last class of the day. As Lily Evans packed up her books, James Potter suddenly lurched in front of her, a worried look on his face. He threw something on top of her books and ran off.
Lily picked it up. It was a large pink-and-red handmade card, and it had seen a bit of wear, probably from being stuffed into Potter's bag all day long. A chocolate, half-melted inside its wrapper, was pinned to the outside. She looked up – Potter was long gone. She opened the card, and started to giggle. It was definitely a keeper. She closed it again, and smoothed out the crinkles. She smiled as she made her way to dinner, thinking about the message inside.
Dear Evans, I hope an invisible naked baby with wings shoots you through the heart. Potter.