A/N: I got attacked by a plot bunny. What can I say? Also, this is for my livejournal friend Catheo--Happy 17th and I'm sorry that I'm so late! I would have gotten you Roberto but sadly under law I'm not allowed to give him to you as your belated birthday present. Something about people not being property grumbles so here's your next best thing throws confetti and sings the song whilst Cath reads her fic:
Disclaimer: I own nothing, I'm not that special
The Birthday Wish
James Potter thinks that Muggles have the stupidest traditions in the world.
And that is why he celebrates them.
Don't get him wrong, he's not prejudice against Muggles in any way at all. He just loves their nonsensical traditions more than anything.
For example, the mistletoe thing. When he was about five years old and first heard of the Mistletoe-Kissing-Tradition, he couldn't wait to try it out. Although, he still thought that girls were icky back then, but in a distant corner of his five year old mind he knew that one day he wouldn't think that at all. He knew that one day he would want to kiss a girl just like mommy kissed daddy underneath the mock mistletoe that was hanging in the parlor doorway.
Little James wondered why they even had a muggle mistletoe in his house in the first place. He once asked his mother and she smiled, explaining wistfully that Daddy gave it to her when they were at Hogwarts.
James, as a five year old, was perfectly fine with being oblivious to the whole details of that story. He is still perfectly fine with being oblivious to that story.
Now he was sixteen. The Mistletoe was the first muggle tradition he was introduced to and since then, he had learned approximately 540 others including holding your breath when going underneath a bridge and past a cemetery, making a wish at 11:11 P.M. and decorating a Christmas Tree with baubles.
James liked the baubles tradition. He liked baubles in general. They were shiny. Remus has since given him a bauble for his Christmas tree every time his birthday rolls around. His birthday is right by the holidays, so this works out quite nicely.
Yes, James was big for tradition. It wasn't that he liked every single thing to be planned out, but traditions were nice to celebrate. It made an occasion feel even more momentous than it already was. It made you feel like you had something to look forward to.
And thus, James looks forward to the Christmas baubles every single time his birthday—December 20—rolls around.
Although, what was a birthday without a cake? Sirius normally bakes James' cake, although he insists that James not know about it or participates in the baking of any sort. He says that this ruins the surprise and he wants James to be surprised.
This doesn't exactly work because Sirius always asks James for money to buy the baking ingredients, although Sirius likes to pretend that James doesn't know about the cake and so James acts surprised whenever Sirius presents him with the finished product.
Last year, Sirius even managed to make it resemble a cake. If you squinted a little bit, you could even see the round shape that Sirius said he was going for.
So once Sirius is done baking the traditional birthday cake, the four Marauders have a piece, decide it tastes like feet, and order the house elves to make a new cake from scratch.
The elves agree and all is good with the world.
It was December 19 and James' seventeenth birthday was only a day away. He had already received his bauble from Remus, Sirius gave him his Honeyduke's candy and Peter had given him a sweater that looked about two sizes too small for him, but Peter said he knitted it himself, so James threw the sweater on so as not to hurt Peter's feelings.
Sirius was slightly disgusted to find that Peter knitted things, and then demanded to know why he had not received such a special sweater when his seventeenth birthday came in November. Peter had stammered that he had given Sirius an Elvis costume because Sirius had requested the costume so he could perform "Jail House Rock" the next day and look like the King himself. Sirius had then chuckled fondly at the memory of Peter, James and Remus dancing on the Gryffindor House table at breakfast in prisoner costumes whilst Sirius performed "Jail House Rock" (also on top of the breakfast table) until they were yelled at to get down. McGonagall had spoiled the fun, Sirius remembered, because Dumbledore had ended up dancing with Madam Pomfrey through it all and applauding them at the end.
Peter was then let off the hook for not getting Sirius a sweater. Sirius had in fact laughed at James and bragged smugly about his Elvis costume, insisting that it was so much better. It had certain flair. Sirius liked things that had flairs.
James was satisfied with Peter's present, though. Peter had knitted it himself and that meant more to James. Although, like Sirius, James was a little uncertain of Peter's masculinity after finding out that he and his grandmother enjoyed the same hobby.
The birthday cake didn't come without a candle though. This was one of his favorite muggle traditions, though. The Birthday Candle.
James enjoyed the idea that he got to make a birthday wish. He used to wish for a new broomstick or a material item that normally showed up in his Christmas or Birthday gift piles. But ever since he turned fourteen, James has started wishing for something different.
He never told anyone his wish. He believed in birthday wishes. He believed it wouldn't work if he told.
It hasn't worked so far, but James also believed that things took time—as if they were on back-order. This idea amused James: a short supply of wishes. What a thought.
This bothered Sirius greatly. He felt left out whenever James wouldn't tell him his wish.
This year, he was determined to get the secret out of him.
Sirius slumped in the chair by the fireplace (conveniently not noticing that said chair was already occupied by a small first year) and frowned.
"You owe me."
"I don't." James continued to twirl the Christmas bauble that he got from Remus around so that it sparkled in the light of the common room fire. He was always amused by the sparkliness of the baubles. This year, since is was James' seventeenth birthday, Remus got him a bauble with a sparkly number 17 on it. James enjoyed this greatly. He took it upon himself to find a tree—the beech tree by the Great Lake in fact (one of the saddest looking Christmas trees ever in Sirius' opinion)—and decorate it. However, since his birthday wasn't until tomorrow, he would wait and play with the bauble before hanging it on the tree.
"Yes you do. You owe me every wish you've ever wished for since you turned fourteen. That's—" Sirius paused to count the number of wishes on his fingers "four wishes Mister! You're in serious debt! And why are these chairs so bloody lumpy all of a sudden?" Sirius shifted his weight from one buttock to the other causing the chair to squeal with discomfort.
"You're sitting on a midget," James took his eyes of his shiny bauble to watch Sirius' struggle.
"Oh, am I?" Sirius got off the chair to confirm with his own eyes that he had indeed been sitting on a midget. The terrified and traumatized first year shakily got off the chair mumbling about "Stupid seventeen year olds" and wobbled out of the Portrait hole.
"Do you know, I've never seen one walk like that," Sirius scratched his head and sat down on the chair once more.
"Probably because you crushed its legs with your fat arse," James answered. Sirius looked appalled.
"Are you implying that I'm fat, Prongs!"
"I'm implying that you look pregnant and about six weeks overdue." James grinned at his own joke. Sirius pouted.
"If you didn't have the protection of a birthday, I would smack you."
"And that, my friend, is why I am insulting you now." James put down his Christmas bauble and yawned. "I'm off to bed."
"Wait! Don't think I forgot the fact that you owe me your birthday wishes!"
"I don't owe you anything!"
"I bake your cake!"
"You eat my cake. My cake is a slice by the time it is given to me and it tastes like feet."
"But I'm Padfeet! This way you always remember who made it!"
Sirius watched James go up the stairs and close the door to his dorm. He sighed. He would get the wishes out of James…eventually.
Lily knew it. The whole castle (or whoever stayed for the holidays) knew it as well. Tomorrow was James Potter's birthday.
There was a part of Lily that was almost dreading the celebration. Because, she knew that ever since they came to Hogwarts, the day of a Marauder's birthday was the day for an all-our prank fest.
James was the biggest for tradition. She had never seen anyone so headstrong about traditions in her entire life. She also knew that he wouldn't give up the pranking-tradition if his life depended on it.
However, maybe this year he might just have a quiet birthday. Maybe this year she wouldn't have to issue him a detention. Because, the fact of it was that James had grown up. Lily had noticed—everyone had. He was giving more detentions than receiving. He had finally matured.
It was weird for her. She still saw him as the fourteen year old boy that pranked everyone he saw.
But he wasn't that boy anymore. He had changed. Maybe that was a good thing. He showed her that he could change. That was really all she needed.
She bought him a birthday present. On impulse more than anything, but it was sitting up in her dorm nicely wrapped at the bottom of her drawer. She had made out the card Love, Lily because that was just the way she signed off on things. She wrote Love, Lily to people she didn't even like. She hoped he wouldn't take it the wrong way. She liked the way things were going—she liked being friends with him. It was so much easier than bickering all the time. She didn't want to screw things up now.
He'd grown on her. She liked him. He was mature, but he kept his boyish charm. She didn't know anyone that could do that—still keep their childlike innocence but be mature at the same time. She thought it was impossible.
Maybe it was.
But he could do it.
James smiled to himself. He was in bed and had woken up. He didn't even bother to open his eyes yet…his birthday was today. And thus, it was a good day.
He expected to be woken up by an amusing alarm of "Happy Birthday" and an extremely hyper Sirius jumping on his bed waiting for him to open the rest of his presents.
However, after waiting about 5 minutes like that, it clearly was not meant to be that way.
"Guys, you are given permission to sing now," James called out. To an empty room. Why was his room empty?
He opened his eyes and shoved on his glasses. The dorm room was indeed empty. He sat up, quite startled. This wasn't the way to begin a birthday. No, no, no. This just didn't work.
Where was his cake? Where was his bloody cake and the annoyingly off-tune singing? Where were his friends? Where was his tradition?
He hopped out of bed and dressed quickly. He went into the bathroom to grab his toothbrush and found a note scrawled on the bathroom mirror
You wouldn't tell me your birthday wish. That saddens me greatly, I must let you know. I feel like I'm not trusted and believe you me, I have cried over this—well, they were manly tears. Now I'm not going to be a six year old about it and refuse you your birthday celebrations until you do decide to be man enough to spill the secret, but dammit Prongsy I wanna know! So, you are being refused your birthday celebrations until you decide to be man enough to spill your secret. Until then, enjoy your totally average day with no cake.
P.S. Moony would like to say that he had no part in any of this and is insisting that I, the almighty Padfoot, stop acting like a five year old. To which I say, I am six. Here, I'll underline the aforementioned age. SIXXXX
P. P. (harhar peepee!) S. The Almighty Padfoot would like to note that he is sticking out his tongue at Moony. Bite me you furry fiend! Except I hope you don't because you have the weirdest little werewolf fangs and they hurt.
James finished reading his…birthday note. Great. Bloody Sodding Great.
He had such good friends.
"Hey Lily Flower," Sirius strutted into the rather empty Great Hall. It was about 9 o'clock and there were only a few students that decided to stay over the holidays and took the empty seat next to Lily. Lily buttered her toast with a new found urge to finish her breakfast quickly.
"I thought I told you not to call me that, Black."
"Old habits die hard, eh Lils?" Sirius nudged Lily and took an apple from the pile of fruit in the center of the table.
"Where's Potter, Lupin and Pettigrew?" Lily quirked an eyebrow at him. He was rarely ever alone—Lily thought that at some point they would realize that it'd be easier just to share one giant shirt since they're practically joined at the hip anyway.
"Well Moony's upstairs in the library."
"You're not with him because…?"
"I'm hungry, number one, and number two, I was kicked out of there in my fifth year."
"There's a shocker."
"Anyway, Peter's…" Sirius paused for a moment and scratched his head "…somewhere," he finished lamely, looking around as if to spot Peter lurking in some random corner as if he was playing a game of Hide-and-Seek and people had just stopped looking for him.
"And Potter?" Lily asked about the fourth component.
"Isn't it his birthday today?"
"And you're not celebrating with him because…?"
"Because he's being a bloody child." Sirius pouted and threw his half-eaten apple behind him, allowing it to hit a nameless third year on the top of the head. The third year looked up at the ceiling, pondering whether or not it had just started raining half-eaten fruit.
"Why, what's he doing now?" Lily asked, smirking slightly.
"He's not telling me his birthday wishes." Sirius whined. "Look at me, Lily. I'm sulking. Sulking is not good for me. It contorts my naturally good-looking features."
"That's a very large word for you, Sirius."
"No, sulking. But yes, contorts as well."
"Har bloody har, Lily. I've been using Moony's Word-of-the-Day Toilet paper. You learn a lot whilst you're on the crapper. I think I've expanded my vocabulary in just one sitting."
"Isn't it, though? Anyway Lily, you're the girl whose got his heart, why don't you do me a favor and find out what it is?"
"No." Lily got up from the table and began to walk out of the Great Hall. Sirius, being the obedient puppy dog he was, followed her.
"C'mon Lils, why not?"
"A person's birthday wish is a very personal thing. If Potter wants to keep it a secret, that's his business. Besides," she paused at the doorway and turned to face him "wishes don't come true if they're told."
"Ah crap, you believe that too? That's bollocks and you know it."
"It's not bollocks, its just…tradition." Lily rounded the corner and walked out of sight.
"Lilyyyyyy, have you found out , yet?"
"No, Black, and I'm not going to."
"Oy! Evans! Found out?"
"No Black, and I refuse to do it!"
"Talked to Jamesy today, Lily?"
"Why must you follow me?"
"Because you keep avoiding me."
"Black, is there a sign in there anywhere?"
"…Not that I can recall…"
"Of course not."
"Lilyyyy have you--?"
"Bloody hell, Black! Get OUT of the girls bathroom!"
"Lilyyyy please I am begging you put me out of my MISERY!"
"ALRIGHT! Damn, Black, just go AWAY!"
"Stupid Black always getting what he bloody wants. Lily do this, Lily do that. Why am I listening to him? I never listen to Black." Lily was mumbling incoherently all the way down the hallways. It was quite frightening, she was beginning to get those "looks" from people as she passed. Apparently talking to yourself is the first sign of insanity or something of the sort.
Unfortunately, mumbling is a skill that takes ones full attention. And thus, Lily should not be blamed for bumping into someone.
Into James Potter, if we're naming names.
"Ah, sorry James." Lily tried to help him gather his books.
"No don't worry about it," he took his books out of her arms and offered her a hand. She took it gratefully and he pulled her up.
"Are you headed somewhere important right now?" she asked him, casually. James looked surprised for a moment and then he shook his head.
"No, not really. Just thought I'd study a bit. You know, Charms isn't my best subject in the world and we have that exam the day we come back from holiday break…"
"Oh well if you'd rather study then I suppose…"
"No, no," James quickly interrupted her. "I'd rather hang out with you."
Lily smiled warmly. "D'you want to go for a walk?"
"So then Sirius said that it wasn't a Hippogriff and that just sent the whole thing into flames," James finished his story between breaths of laughter. He and Lily had walked slowly along the grounds and were by the edge of the Great Lake, leaving paths of footprints in the clean, white snow. It was just about dusk and the winter sun was slowly setting, leaving the sky a radiant pink.
"He didn't," Lily smiled. "You're lying."
"I promise, he did. Kettleburn was so angry with us," James laughed even harder along with Lily at the memory. When they finally stopped to catch their breath, they settled down by the beech tree on the shore of the Great Lake.
"Happy Birthday, by the way," Lily said, while tracing her finger in the snow to make a figure eight. James smiled.
"Thanks," he said quietly. "That's the first time I heard it today."
Lily looked at him, surprised. "Really?"
"Sure. Sirius is punishing me for not telling him what my birthday wishes are."
'What are they?" Lily wasn't doing it for Sirius anymore. She got curious extremely easily.
"Now, Evans, you can't spoil my fun. If I can't tell Sirius, what makes you think I'm gonna tell you?"
"My good looks and charm?" she asked hopefully.
"Would've worked in fifth year, but I'm afraid it doesn't cut it anymore," James said with mock regret.
"Ah damn. I missed the cut," Lily shook her head. Suddenly, she felt bad that he hadn't heard 'Happy Birthday' today. Everyone should have a decent birthday, right? They should at least get a decent present, right? She wanted to make his birthday better instead of the crappy one it was turning out to be. So she did it again. She acted on impulse.
"You know, I do have a present for you, if you want it. Especially because you haven't gotten anything today."
"Yeah, gimme!" James reminded her of a five year old the way that he perked up. Lily laughed and got up.
"I'll be down in a second," she told him and went back to the Castle.
She didn't think what she was doing was right. She didn't know what she was doing. And yet her feet kept carrying her in the direction of her dorm where the present was.
She bought it, but she didn't actually plan on giving it to him. It would kill everything they've worked for. It would send him signals. Did she want to send him signals? Is that what this was about?
She shook her head. That was ridiculous. This whole thing was ridiculous. It was a harmless gift in light of the season.
Her mind was clouded with worry. What would he think it means? Would he even like it?
Finally she sighed as she reached the drawer, in which was James' birthday gift. She opened it cautiously as though the box would bite her if she made any sudden movement.
Screw it she thought. Impulse has gotten me this far.
James watched her leave. He vaguely wondered what his gift was, but wasn't that anxious to open it. it was probably a Quidditch jumper or something like that. Every year when he opened his presents he never got what he wished for.
James leaned back against the beech tree. He knew it wasn't off of a birthday candle or anything special, but he figured it was worth a shot. If it didn't work this year, he decided, he wouldn't waste his time on it anymore.
He closed his eyes and wished one last time.
"Are you dead?"
"That's good." Lily returned with a small box in her hand. She sat down beside James as he opened his eyes to receive his present. "It's not much, but I figured that since you were into traditions and all of that…"
James took the box and unwrapped it carefully. He slowly opened it and gasped.
Inside was a small mock mistletoe.
James stared at it for a moment.
The mistletoe seemed to stare back.
Lily sort of stared between the two of them.
"Oh you hate it." she decided finally. "It was a stupid thing to buy, I'm sorry, I'll just—" she tried to grab the box out of his hand, but he wouldn't let it go. They played the game of tug-of-war for a while until James, still keeping the tight grip on the box, took the mistletoe from the box and tied it on the nearest branch of the beech tree. Lily watched him, puzzled as he took her hand and positioned her so that she was underneath it.
He then leaned down, and beneath the mistletoe, James kissed her.
When he pulled back, he smiled at her. "It was exactly what I wished for."
"You see, Moony, I told you."
"Fine, you were right. Sirius can we get out of this damn tree? I'm freezing."
"No. I want to see the birthday snogfest."
"How did you know that he wished for it anyway?"
"For what? Mistletoe? Because I know my Jamesy too well."
"You can read his lips whenever he wishes, can't you?"
"Like a book. He's got to work on subtly. Anyway after the third year of wishing for the same thing, I just decided to step things up a notch."
"So you manipulated Lily into trying to find out James' birthday wish for you even though you already knew it , and then you figured out that she would feel bad for him and give him the present, thus making his wish come true?"
"…okay, I didn't understand what you just said there, but you're normally right my Moony friend so yes, that's what I did."
"How did you know her gift would be mistletoe?"
"That my friend will remain a mystery."
"You went through her underwear drawer again, didn't you?"
"She told you to stay out of there."
"…Si.rius, where did you get those binoculars?"
"Now that will remain a mystery."
"You went through my underwear drawer again, didn't you?"
"I told you to stay out of there."
"I know. Shh, you're making me miss the birthday snogfest. Moony do the charm now, make the fireworks!"
"This will set the tree on fire, you know that, right?"
"Not if you aim well."
James remembered a few things about that birthday. He remembered not getting a birthday cake or a candle. He remembered watching his friends interrupt what Sirius would later describe as a "birthday snogfest" by falling out of a tree that was partly on fire. He remembered Sirius forcing Remus to perform a charm that made fireworks explode in the sky saying "Happy Birthday Prongsy Poo."
He remembered learning that wishes were worth waiting for.
A/N: happy birthday again. and i heart reviewrs by the way :-)