Christmas was Lily's favourite time of year. It meant gorgeous snow, briskly cold days, but most importantly, it meant going home. Lily loved Hogwarts, but she missed her parents terribly. Her mind paid less and less attention to the classes she had as the days before the Christmas Holidays fell away and if it had been something different from any other year, her professors would probably have gotten worried. But it was normal, and as such, there was little worry when a professor had to repeat a question for her.
She was glad that professors didn't bother to assign homework due the last week before the holidays, even for the seventh years and the stress of NEWTs. It gave her time to watch the snow fall gently to the ground, time for her, Alice and Emmeline to head out and play in the snow like small children.
It also gave James the uninterrupted time to just watch her. It wasn't the stalker kind of watch that he was often ribbed about, but a contemplative one, especially recently. He hadn't heard her every word in the Hospital Wing, but he'd heard enough for hope to spring in his chest. Maybe she was coming around to the idea of dating him. Nevertheless, he'd take his time. He wasn't going to risk upsetting her obviously churning mind because he had hope.
Lily sighed as she watched the snow fall gently. Her parents had sent her a letter not two days before notifying her that Petunia would be at her boyfriend's house for the holidays. It was a blessing and a curse really, for Petunia hated what Lily had become. Not that Lily really blamed her. The sisters picked a fight with each other almost every time they were in the same place at the same time. Lily was glad there was a chance for her parents to have a calm Christmas, even if it was without Petunia.
She felt more than heard James come up behind her.
"You've been staring out there for hours," he said, a hint of teasing in his voice.
Lily smiled. Things had continued to shift between them and his close proximity was nothing new anymore. "The snow is beautiful."
James could only chuckle. Sharing a dorm with the redhead had brought out a number of her quirks he hadn't known about. Like her obsession with snow. "It's just frozen water."
The back of her hand made contact with his abs. "That's too simplistic. Water makes things dirty because it soaks things," she said, the pout obvious in her voice.
"And so will the snow when it melts come spring," James replied logically.
Lily sighed. "Can't I enjoy my snow in peace?"
"The train leaves in 45 minutes."
She raised an eyebrow at him. "And I bet you're not even packed."
"And you are?" Procrastination was his middle name, a middle name he still took pride in.
"Of course I am. Everything I need for Christmas is all sealed in my trunk. I've been packed for hours."
James shook his head. "Then what are you doing in here? If you love the snow so much, why aren't you out there in it?"
"Because my friends procrastinate just like you. But maybe I can speed them up a bit."
James watched her leave, shaking his head in amusement. Lily Evans was a predictable enigma and had been since that day in the Hospital Wing. She treated him differently, even more so than she did when they began the year. It was that friendship - dare he call it that - that gave him the hope of eventually something more. But from the sounds of it, he still had to bide his time, still had to wait for her to come to him.
Maybe after Christmas.
Lily enjoyed home. Being away for four straight months gave her a completely new perspective on her life with her family and everything she loved and valued most in the world. It was important to her to get these two weeks with her parents. Usually it was two weeks with no contact with the wizarding world. She kept it that way for her parents, to ensure that they didn't get any unwelcome surprises.
But when James' owl swooped through her bedroom window depositing a piece of parchment on her desk, she knew she couldn't fault the boy for it. He didn't know. Her mind almost immediately moved on to analyzing the parchment. It couldn't be Head business, she reasoned, because it was the holidays. And if he was asking her out again…
But the letter was simple.
I thought I'd write to see how your holidays were going. Good, I hope, and peaceful. I overheard Emmeline saying your sister wasn't going to be around. I'm sorry to hear that. I hope everything is okay.
Lily had to read the letter over three times to fully comprehend that there was nothing particularly flirty or rude in the letter. On the other hand, it was short, concise and friendly.
So Lily picked up a pen and started with her own.
James sighed as he looked over the snowy grounds of Potter Manor. He was bored. It was no surprise, since Sirius was passed out, never to be woken - a natural place for him to be - and Remus and Peter were busy doing "family things".
Really, he was anxious. He'd debated sending a letter to Lily for the better part of the first three days of the holidays. Then Sirius had told him to write the letter or he'd lock him out of the house. And since both boys were prank masters in seventh year, it wouldn't have come to a surprise if Sirius really could. But he had no idea how Lily - or if Lily, for that matter - would respond.
He knew he hadn't given her much time. Nevertheless, it was not news that James Potter was impatient. All he wanted was something he didn't particularly care if it was a hateful letter or a Howler, just so long as something acknowledged that she'd gotten it in the first place.
He sighed, moving away from the window and pacing the length of the living room for what felt like the hundredth time. His mother sighed from the couch, putting down the book she was reading to regard him through thin-rimmed glasses. "James Potter, what on earth has gotten into you?"
"I'm sorry, Mum," James answered. "I'm a little impatient."
Katherine Potter snorted. "Sweetheart you came out impatient. Three weeks early, in fact. What's making you impatient. I'm sure you can think up some way to get Sirius up."
"It's not Sirius."
"Then what is it? You're going to drive me batty if you keep pacing."
James sighed again, plopping down beside her. "I sent this girl a letter."
That caught his mother's attention. James was rarely worried about his place with girls. "And?"
"That's the problem."
Katherine nodded. "I see."
"What am I supposed to do?" James groaned.
"Do about what?"
Katherine smiled at her husband. "Harold, dear, I think James is in love."
"Well, my boy, this is good news! Katie, can you believe it?"
"Stop, Harold, you're embarrassing him."
James felt his cheeks heat. "I never said I was in love."
"This is the first issue you've had, James. Of course you are," his mother replied with a dismissive wave of her hand.
James dropped his head in his hands, snapping it up at the tap on the window. He wasn't sure if he was excited to see the mail or absolutely terrified. Since neither of his parents moved to let the owl in, James did, more than willingly. He recognized Lily's neat writing as the owl dropped the letter into his hands. Before he knew it, he was ripping it open, throwing the envelope to the floor.
Your letter was a surprise. Not an unpleasant one. In fact, I'm not really sure what it was.
You're right, my holidays have been peaceful. Quiet, non-magical. It has always been a good break from school.
How about yours?
James grinned at the letter. She'd written back and though she hadn't sounded necessarily ecstatic about receiving his letter, she didn't sound all that depressed either. And she had asked him how his own holidays were going.
"Mum, Dad, I need to go write a letter."
Lily was shocked when the next owl came carrying with him a small package. She and James had struck up a correspondence over the course of the holidays and Lily had found that their letters had grown longer and longer as the days went on. They'd been out of school for seven days and had better conversations over those four days than they'd probably ever had face-to-face.
The gift was still a surprise.
I've had this for you for ages and no, you're not allowed to give it back or argue. It's yours, and I promise there's no conditions attached. Happy Christmas.
Lily unwrapped the little package slowly, gasping upon opening the velvet box to find a beautiful lily necklace. Almost immediately she prepared to wrap it all back up and return it to him. Then she remembered the books in her room, books she'd picked up in Hogsmede the last time they were there. If she had been honest with herself at the time, she would have easily admitted she'd gotten them with James in mind.
Her heart flipped. Why was he doing this? He had to know she'd be apprehensive about taking the necklace, and yet he sent it anyway. The letter was unassuming, but the fact that they'd had many more throughout the span of the holidays spoke to their growing relationship. And she'd been looking forward to each any every one of them. In fact, she'd been down right antsy the last couple of times.
Then it hit her. She missed him. She actually missed arrogant, frustrating, drop-dead gorgeous James Potter. James Potter with the annoying habit of running his hand through his already messy hair. James Potter, who could probably name on one hand the girls in fifth year and above he hadn't snogged. And yet, Lily missed him. Terribly.
And she had no idea what to do.
James grinned at the owl that came flying through the window, a grin that was wiped off his face when the package the owl was carrying almost decked him. Instead, the package ended up in the middle of the already paper-strewn living room. Sirius, his mother and his father all looked at it in curiosity.
"Looks like its from Evans."
James almost pounced on it at Sirius' words, managing to find the letter attached before Sirius did.
I almost sent the necklace back. It's gorgeous and above anything I could have ever thought of giving you. These will have to do. I hope you can make use of them.
James tore open the paper to find a leather bound book. The bottom right had corner had J. Potter embossed in gold lettering and as James flipped through it, he realized it was a book to record all of his quidditch plays in.
The other book was almost more precious. To most, it wouldn't be anything special, but to James, it was a collectors item. Plays through the Ages was almost like a sequel to Quidditch Through the Ages, but it depicted the most famous plays of the top teams in the league.
James was grinning. Both gifts were remarkably thought out. Sure, it was no surprise he loved quidditch, but there were a million different pieces of equipment she could have given him, or magazines and popular books about the sport. Both books, however, screamed Lily Evans in their usefulness and practicality.
And the flame of hope flared that little bit more.
First Day Back - Kings Cross Station
James was not surprised to find Lily seated comfortably in the Heads' compartment at the front of the train, a book propped in her lap. What did surprise him, was the way she continued to sit calmly when he plopped down beside her so their sides were touching. Instead, she closed her book deliberately.
"Happy New Year, Lily," James answered with a huge grin. "Those books were thoughtful." If his grin could get wider he was sure it would when she blushed prettily.
Lily felt her hand stray up to the necklace, a piece of jewellery she hadn't taken off since Christmas morning. She couldn't put her finger onto why, but decided it wasn't worth analyzing until later. "I'm glad. Will they be useful?"
James laughed. "Of course they will." He had to do a double take when he realized she was wearing the necklace he'd given her. "You liked your gift?"
She smiled self consciously. "Part of me still feel s like I should take it off and give it back to you."
"It's yours," he reiterated. "I wouldn't take it back even if you tried."
Lily sighed. "I figured as much."
They were close, almost closer than they'd ever been and neither of them seemed to be willing to be the first to move away. James could feel the usual tug he felt when around her, the need to touch her, to kiss her. He felt himself moving closer before his brain fully registered what he was doing.
She knew what was happening, knew what was going to happen, and really wasn't sure that she didn't want it. She let him keep moving, hovering over her, mouth so close to hers. She could feel his arm vibrating from where it was supporting his weight.
Lily jumped away so fast she was sure she was lucky she hadn't toppled over. She looked to James, heat warming her cheeks when she realized he looked upset at the interruption. What was she doing? It wasn't like a quidditch injury and a couple of letters, not to mention a gorgeous necklace, could completely change her mind!
Why didn't she want to date him again?
"Sorry Prongs, I wasn't aware you were… busy."
James glared at Sirius. "I'll be down in a minute. Our meeting starts as soon as the train starts moving."
Sirius shot him a wink as he turned and left. James ran his hand through his hair in exasperation. "Sorry 'bout him."
Lily nodded, twisting her hands in front of her. "Sure."
"Don't. Please don't. I can't… I don't… I have no idea what is going on with me. I mean, I hate you, don't I?"
"I think your letters proved you don't," James pointed out logically.
"I can't… This is… I need time."
"Go out with me, Lily. One date. See where it goes." He was walking closer to her, invading her personal space, backing her up against the wall.
"James, really. I need-"
The kiss that cut her off was gentle, not much more than a simple brush of lips, but it froze Lily where she stood. Sure, she'd been kissed before, and she'd kissed back, but she'd never had the paralyzing shock that rocked her system when James kissed her.
"Go out with me, Lily."
His gaze was genuine and serious, no trace of a joke, a prank or anything other than a true want to try it. And she had to admit, her heart was screaming the same thing. Her mind cleared, her answer ready. For the first time when he asked the question, Lily Evans nodded.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is done as it stands. In fact, tis done in general! My goal was to make the very last line the same as the chapter title. Thus, there will be no more written on this story. I was going to do another chapter, but I like where this ends off and then it gives them a good 6 months at school to build their relationship before they graduate and head their separate ways.
Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed every chapter. This was fun to write and it's always great to get responses from people. I'm glad you guys have enjoyed at least some of it.