A/N - Merry Christmas, one and all! Hope you've all bought your presents by now, and they're waiting to be opened under the tree! I randomly got the idea for this two days ago, as I was sitting at my computer, wishing I could go out, but not able to because I'm ill. Luckily I'm Jewish, so I don't celebrate Christmas, but it still sucks to be ill around this time of year because the atmosphere is amazing.
So, technically the first day of Christmas is Christmas Day (surprisingly enough!), but this takes place before it. As I wrote it out, I was thinking it was the day before Christmas, but as I re-read it, I realised that it seemed more like a few days before. So you decide when it is, as long as it's during the holiday :)
Hope you like it!
On the First Day
Lily hated Christmas. She'd hated it since she was a mere four year old, when her parents decided that because her birthday was so soon after Christmas, she didn't need presents, but Petunia, whose birthday was in November, needed as many as she could get. They showered her sister with money (that she didn't spend), clothes (which Petunia tried to give to Lily, and then burned), sweets (which she gave to the poor boys who lived a few doors down), and, as she grew older, perfumes and make-up, which Petunia thought made her look dull and smell like their grandmother, and so threw them all out. Petunia never gloated that their parents liked her more than Lily. In fact, she resented them for it. But even though her sister was lovely to her, Lily still hated Christmas. It was about the presents, it was the feeling she kept getting. She felt insignificant. Lonely.
And all her friends had gone home for the holidays, leaving her completely on her own. Well, not completely; the Marauders were still here. Lily liked them more than she had this time the year before, but spending the whole holiday with them didn't seem like such a nice idea at first. Yes, Remus was nice, but he did tend to be a bit quiet around her, and, okay, Peter was sometimes funny, but he was too much of a follower for Lily to take a shine to him. Sirius had been a lot nicer lately; she and him had been partnered in Potions and he wasn't as stupid as he always pretended to be, in fact, he was rather bright, and actually made the lessons with Slughorn bearable, something her best friend, Kalei Ellen, had tried to do from first year until the end of their fifth year, when she'd (gratefully) given it up.
So Christmas with at least three of the Marauders wouldn't be so bad, Lily mused. It was the fourth one she was worried about.
Oh, she wasn't worried that she and James would start screaming at each other like they did last year; they hadn't done that in several months, and Lily didn't see them doing it again for a long time. James had grown up – and that was what scared her. She already liked him. Lily was terrified that it might end up being something more.
Lily jumped, startled from her reverie and she fell off the windowsill on which she'd been trying to sit – and not succeeding much, considering its width was half her size.
"Ow," she mumbled. The person let out a chuckle, and walked over to her, holding out a hand to help her. She reached out and, with James' help, hoisted herself up.
"Hey, you," James smiled, his dimples appearing on his cheeks. Lily tentatively smiled back. "You alright?"
"As alright as I get," she replied, nodding. James' dimples deepened.
"You want to come downstairs? It's been snowing so we're having an inter-year snowball fight, and we need as many seventh years as we can get. Everyone's down already but Sirius sent me up here to get you. He would've told you himself, but he 'wanted to start building the fort and he also didn't want to interrupt your daydream'. His words, by the way."
Lily looked behind her through the window. Indeed, a sheet of snow covered the grounds. She shuddered. She hated snow.
"No thanks," she replied, turning back around. "Snow's not my thing."
She realised with a blush that she was still holding James' hand. She quickly let go, ignoring the way her palm felt like it'd been burned.
"You don't like the snow?" James asked, his eyebrows raised in surprise. "Wow. I'd always imagined you as a snow person. Though I guess now I know why you've never come outside in your free time when it's snowing."
"I guess you have," Lily said, smiling at him as she walked around him and over to the sofa by the fire. James followed her, taking off his scarf and adjusting the hat on his head. He flopped down next to her, leaning against the armrest and closing his eyes. Lily looked at him. James wasn't the best-looking boy in the school – his hair was too messy, his skin too pale and he was quite skinny – surprisingly so for the Captain of the Quidditch team – and yet he was one of the most popular – if not the most popular boy. Lily had always wondered why, but she had realised that he wasn't all bad. He was very confident and charismatic, but Lily had a feeling that it was all just a show, and behind that facade was a shy little boy who just wanted to be loved.
Of course, Lily had also been told several hundred times that she had an overactive imagination.
"If you could have one thing this Christmas, what would it be?"
"Huh?" she said intelligently. James had sat up straight and reopened his eyes. He was looking straight back at her now, his hazel eyes boring into hers.
"If you could get one thing this Christmas – a present, an emotion, whatever – what would it be?" he repeated. Lily blinked again.
He shrugged. "Just wondering."
Lily thought about it for a second.
"I want...um...probably...not to feel lonely," she said quietly, blushing. James frowned slightly.
"You feel lonely? At Christmas?" he asked. Lily's defences immediately went up.
"Yes, I do," she snapped. "Not all of us have a million relatives to keep us company."
A spot of red appeared on each of James' cheeks and he looked away from her.
"Sorry," he mumbled, "that was a bit tactless of me. I was just surprised, is all."
Lily stared at him. He looked back at her, the red on his cheeks getting darker.
"What?" he asked. Lily shook her head.
"You apologised," she said quietly. James smiled slightly, the red slowly slipping away.
"I'm not as horrible as you think I am," he replied just as quietly.
"No, you're not," Lily agreed. The red came back. Lily laughed. "You look cute when you blush," she told him. She clapped a hand over her mouth when she realised what she'd said, and her whole face turned beet red. James laughed back at her.
"So do you," he countered. Lily turned ever redder. James grinned.
"Shut up," Lily mumbled weakly, but she smiled at him. They sat in silence for a few moments while Lily's blush faded away.
"What would you get?" she asked him. He shrugged.
"I'd tell you, but we've both been embarrassed enough today, I think," he replied. Lily rolled her eyes, but left it. If he didn't want to tell her, he didn't have to. She probably didn't want to know, anyway.
The silence came back, and then James tapped her gently with his foot.
"Why do you hate me so much, Lily?" he asked her. Lily looked at him, her eyes confused.
"I don't hate you," she said. James shook his head in disagreement.
"Yes you do," he said, his voice...sad? "I've seen the way you look at me; the way you talk to me. You can't bear the thought of being nice to me."
Lily frowned. "You can't know how I feel. And I'm being nice to you now," she pointed out.
"You'll regret that tomorrow," James mumbled, closing his eyes. Lily bit her lip. Was that guilt gnawing away at her insides?
"I...don't hate you," she repeated hesitantly. "I just...I guess I just feel...insecure with you."
James' eyes snapped open. "What d'you mean?" he blurted. Lily looked away.
"You know...you've been asking me out since second year..." she said slowly. She felt James fidget impatiently when she didn't continue.
"I guess...I just...I wanted to believe you when you asked me out, but I just...couldn't," Lily admitted. James let out a noise of disbelief.
"Why?" he asked.
"Because...well, people have been pretending all my life!" Lily said, years of pent-up frustration suddenly appearing, in her voice, in her expression. "People have been pretending to love me and care for me, only to throw me away as soon as they had me! My family doesn't even love me; Petunia's left me with parents who hate me to be with a man she doesn't even love, just so she can get away from them! My grandparents, up until the point they died, they told me how I was behaving wrongly and how I should act more like darling Petunia, and how I'm disrespectful of my elders when I haven't even done anything wrong!" she cried, raising her arms above her head. She felt the hot tears sting her eyes and then fall down her cheeks. A stunned silent followed her rant.
And then James was by her, turning her face towards him.
"You were scared that I would throw you away," he whispered, his thumb tenderly wiping away a tear. He wasn't asking her a question. Lily sniffed.
James let out a quiet laugh.
"That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard," he muttered, and she looked at him, surprised. Her eyes widened as she saw how close his face was and the expression in his eyes. "How could I ever throw you away? You never believed me when I told you I loved you; you thought I was joking, but I wasn't. I love you Lily, I love you more than anything. I'd do anything for you. And if you'd let me have you, I'd never throw you away, ever. I care about you far too much. Call me selfish, but I don't think I'd be able to live if I hurt you."
Lily let out a breath. Neither of them spoke, just looked at each other. Then –
"Can you ask me again?"
James' surprised expression appeared for only a second before it vanished.
"Lily, will you go out with me?"
"Can I kiss you?"
And he did.