Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the amazingly talented J.K Rowling. I'm only borrowing the characters and world that she has so brilliantly created.
"The Valentine's Day Gift" One-Shot!
It was not often that James Potter found himself lacking creative ideas. He prided himself on being able to concoct brilliant schemes at merely a moment's notice. In the past, his quick thinking and keen mind had helped him and his friends get out of several bad spots with Filch, not to mention the Slytherins.
James's creativity had also served him well in his attempts to persuade Lily Evans to go on a date with him. Whatever else Lily had thought him to be in those days, she had always admitted that he was indeed creative. But that was all in the past, and James could now proudly say that Lily Evans was his girlfriend of three months.
But in this instance, Lily being his girlfriend was actually the root of the problem. Valentine's Day was less than twenty-four hours away, and James had yet to buy her a gift. In past years, James had sent her presents of chocolates, sweets, and flowers. He had even sent her school supplies such as quills and ink. He had composed a poem in her honor and had intended to send it before Remus had denounced it as complete and utter rubbish. He shook his head ruefully at the memory of that Valentine's Day.
James had vowed that this year would be different. After all, it was their first Valentine's Day as a couple, and he wanted it to be special. This year, he was going to buy Lily something nice, something that she would love and treasure.
He looked to his right where Lily was sitting next to him at the Gryffindor table, carefully spooning yogurt on to her plate. He stole a quick glance over at his friends who were attempting to build a tower of sausages just across the table from him. James decided that they weren't paying attention.
"Lily?" he asked, feeling a bit nervous about he had to ask her.
"Hm?" she asked through a mouthful of yogurt. James made a mental note to work on his timing.
"Is there anything in particular you'd like…you know, for Valentine's Day?" he asked, attempting to sound nonchalant about the whole affair, though he felt anything but nonchalant.
The sausage tower collapsed, and several links rolled on to James' plate. He was certain his friends were now curiously watching his exchange with Lily, but he did his best to ignore them and instead concentrated on her answer.
"You don't have to get me anything, James," Lily told him, smiling gently in his direction.
James felt his jaw drop. "Of course I do!" he exclaimed after he had regained use of his vocal chords. "It's Valentine's Day!"
How could Lily possibly say that he didn't have to get her a gift? Gifts were an essential part of Valentine's Day. Not giving your girlfriend a gift on Valentine's Day was like committing relationship suicide, and that was not something he planed on doing. Not now, not ever.
She laid her free hand on his arm in reassurance. "Really, it's okay," she told him.
James shook his head stubbornly. "This is a trick. As soon I don't get you a gift, you'll be cross with me."
Lily laughed lightly and took a sip of her apple juice. "I won't, I promise. I don't mind in the least. You've given me more than enough gifts for Valentine's Day in past years. I even still have some of that amazing color changing ink."
James glanced across the table and caught Sirius' eye. Sirius quickly shook his head and made a slashing motion in front of his throat.
Lily narrowed her emerald eyes. "I saw that, Sirius."
L … J
"Too gaudy," James muttered to himself, and moved away from the shop window. He had snuck out of the castle and gone to Hogsmeade with the hope of finding the perfect gift for Lily. So far, he had not been successful. Nothing he had seen so far seemed like the right thing for Lily.
A soft meow drew his attention to a scrawny cat sitting near his feet. Judging from its appearance, the cat was a stray. The poor thing looked as though it had seen better days. It had the appearance having recently lost weight, and it's once fluffy, soft grey fur was beginning to mat. On the whole, it was a rather pathetic looking cat.
James smiled down at the cat, but paid it no mind. Moving to the next shop window, he peered inside. It was a bookshop. Lily loved books, but he was rubbish at choosing the kinds of books that suited her. He'd given her a book for Christmas that he was certain had ended up in the bottom of her trunk after one reading.
James sighed and glanced down at the street, and as he did so, noticed that the cat had followed him. "I don't suppose you would know what to get someone for Valentine's Day?" he asked the cat, almost wishing that it could reply.
Leaving the cat sitting on the step of the bookshop, James wandered in the direction a small shop full of trinkets and jewelry. He was just about to open the door when he noticed that once again, the cat had followed him. It seemed to be eyeing the shop with a look of disdain.
"Jewelry doesn't seem right, does it?" he consulted the cat, which twitched its whiskers in answer. "We've only been dating for three months. I don't want to seem too serious too soon. I mean, I am serious about Lily, but I don't want to scare her off."
The cat seemed satisfied with this response, so James stepped away from that particular shop and moved further along the narrow street. Behind him followed the cat, its doleful green eyes staring up at him.
Together, they walked up and down the street, peering in windows. If anything in the window looked promising, James went inside to further investigate while the cat waited patiently outside on the cobblestones. After several more shops, James still hadn't found anything for Lily. He was growing increasingly frustrated after each shop proved as unfruitful as the last.
At the very last shop on the street, James looked in the window. Suddenly inspiration struck him, and he looked down at the cat sitting at his feet.
"I know what to get Lily," he told the cat, a smirk making its way on to his face as he reveled in his own brilliance.
L … J
The next morning, while everyone else was at breakfast, James instructed Lily to sit in a chair by the fireplace in the common room and told her to close her eyes. Taking the cat out of the basket he had carried it to the common room in, he carefully set it in Lily's lap.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Lily!" James told her, grinning broadly.
He stood back and waited for her to thank him profusely and exclaim her excitement over her new pet. Instead, Lily merely stared at the small animal in her lap with a shocked expression.
"You bought me a cat," she finally said, her voice filled with wonder.
James nodded happily, proud of himself for finding such a brilliant gift. "He seems to respond best to the name Edgar. You can blame Sirius for that one, but it's grown on me. And I think it kind of suits him."
"A cat…" Lily repeated, slowly, as she stroked the cat's soft fur. James had spent a significant amount of time the previous evening washing and brushing Edgar so that his once matted coat was now fluffy and clean.
Lily frowned at the cat with a thoughtful look on her face, and then, much to James's dismay, she started to laugh hysterically. James felt his forehead furrow as he watched his girlfriend laugh so hard that she had to clutch her sides, tears streaming from her eyes.
"Did I miss something?" James asked, scratching the back of his neck. "What's so funny?"
"Oh, James," Lily said once she was finally able to speak properly again. "I appreciate the gesture, but I think Mary Macdonald will want her cat back. He's been missing for two weeks now, and she's been worried sick about him."
"Wait…" James said slowly, the pieces coming together in his mind. "You mean Edgar's not a stray? He belongs to Mary?"
Lily nodded, giggling again. She held a hand over her mouth in a polite attempt to try to suppress her laughter, but failed. James had never felt more like a complete plank in his entire life.
Lily tenderly gathered the cat into her arms, and then stood up. "C'mon, Smokey, let's get you back to Mary," she told the cat. In response, Smokey purred loudly.
"I'll be right back," she told James as she made her way towards the girls staircase.
After she had disappeared up the stairs, James sank into the nearest armchair in defeat. He had given her someone else's cat, which meant that he hadn't actually gotten her anything at all. He was a failure, and he wouldn't have blamed Lily if she were cross with him for the rest of the day. He had completely ruined Valentine's Day for his girlfriend.
James let his head fall into his hands and he sighed heavily. He was still in this position five minutes later when Lily returned.
"I'm sorry!" he blurted, trying to make amends as best he could. "He kept following me around Hogsmeade, and I thought he was a stray, and he looked like he needed a good home, and I know you like cats…"
He realized he was rambling and quickly shut his mouth. He thought Lily would start laughing again, but instead she smiled fondly at him, then stepped closer and gently laid a hand on his chest. Leaning in, she pressed her lips to his in a tender kiss. James suddenly felt much better about the entire not-stray-cat-after-all ordeal.
She tasted of fresh toothpaste, and when he brought his hands up to play with her hair, the strands were soft, yet still slightly damp from her morning shower. James would have happily continued like this all day, but Lily pulled away.
"I think it's adorable that you tried to give me a stray cat," Lily told him, her fingers tenderly pushing the fringe out of his eyes.
James felt the corners of his mouth lift in a smile. "Really? You're not just saying that to make me feel better?"
Lily shook her head. "I would have loved a cat for Valentine's Day. Just not Mary's cat," she added with the hint of smile playing on her lips.
"Well, then," James said, taking her hands in his, "How about we go to Hogsmeade tonight and buy you one? That way you can pick it out, and we'll know it doesn't belong to someone else."
Lily laughed and kissed him again, making James' stomach perform summersaults and other acrobatic moves he had not known were possible before that moment.
"I take it that's a yes, then?" he grinned, as they broke apart. He really did have the best girlfriend in the world.
"Definitely," Lily replied, a smile lighting up her pretty features. "As long as I can choose the name. No cat of mine is going to be named Edgar."