A/N Hello! First off- No, OMTCYL is not going to be put to an end. Kathleen and I are just swamped in separate colleges and have not gotten a chance to write much recently (there's a surprise, right?)
But…in the meantime… I have written Kathleen (and all of you!) a Christmas present! Technically it was for last year, but like I said I don't get a whole lot of time to write, so that plan failed, plus it ended up being much longer than previously expected! So, I hope you all like it. Without further ado:
Of Mistletoe and Mischief
James Potter was bored.
Not just everyday-let's-prank-someone bored. He was a whole new level of bored.
He insisted he didn't know why he allowed Sirius to drag him to this stupid seventh year ball in the first place, but when he was being honest with himself he had to admit that he had come with the false hopes of getting the chance to dance with one Lily Evans.
But if he was even more honest with himself, he knew that wasn't going to happen.
He sat with the rest of the Marauders at one of the many round tables that had been placed around the edge of the Great Hall watching as Lily danced with her friends and the Ravenclaw prefect who had the pleasure of escorting her to the ball. Even more stunning than usual in a knee-length black dress, Lily was oblivious as James sighed to himself.
Or, at least he thought it was to himself.
Unfortunately for him, it had been quite an audible sigh and immediately grabbed the attention of the three Marauders sitting at the table. Equally bored, a plan to prank the Slytherins was in the works. However, a shared glance between his friends and the glint in Padfoot's eyes made James fear for where their pranking energy had just been redirected.
"What?" He asked, looking suspiciously at each of them in turn when no one decided to grace him with an answer. "Okay really, don't pretend it's nothing; I know that look." He paused. "Hell, I probably invented that look, so don't even try to play innocent."
Sirius looked at the others once more before turning his gaze back to James, his dark hair framing his face in a devil-may-care manner that only a Marauder could pull off. "Prongs old pal, you seem distraught. Why don't you share your troubles with your favorite Padfoot?" he said, placing a "comforting" hand on James' shoulder.
"Well of course you're his favorite Padfoot… you're probably the only Padfoot."
"I think that was his point Peter," James pointed out with amusement before attempting to respond to Sirius's inquiry. He found his hand going to his already ruffled hair in a gesture that was more habit than anything. "Well, Lily…"
"Isn't interested in being anything but your friend?"
"Is dancing with a bloke who isn't you?"
"Is looking simply ravishing?"
With an exasperated look in Sirius's general direction at the last suggestion, James regretfully admitted that all three suggestions were perfectly accurate.
"So what are you going to do about it?" asked Sirius.
"What do you mean?" he inquired, eyebrows raised.
"You can't tell me that the great James Potter is going to sit idly by while…"
"That's exactly what I'm going to do," interrupted James. He fixed Sirius with a pointed look, a stern finger pointed directly between Sirius's eyes. "I really don't want you to interfere with her night. We just recently became friendly; I don't want you to completely ruin it."
"Fine." Sirius began absentmindedly playing with the collar of his fine black dress robes, determinedly avoiding James' gaze.
"I mean it Sirius…What?" James did a double take when he realized what Sirius had said. There was no way Sirius would give up on what he probably thought was a brilliant plan unless… "Merlin's beard… you already did it, didn't you?"
James narrowed his eyes at his best friend. "Whatever it is that is going to ruin her night and probably make her hate me even more than she did in fifth year… you already did it." He hid his head in his hands and began seriously contemplating leaving before Sirius's plan started in full force.
"I already told you, Black, I'm not helping you spike the punch. Why the devil did you call me over here?"
James lifted his head out of his hands to see Lily approaching the table at Sirius's request. Doing so, he saw her up close for the first time that night and thus he was too distracted to see Sirius reaching into his pocket during the following exchange.
"Potter looks like he could use it though." Lily said with amusement.
"Something a little stronger than punch!" Lily said bemusedly, her emerald eyes dancing as joyfully as she herself had been just a few moments ago. "Honestly, it's not a bad idea since everyone is of age, but Professor McGonagall would probably have a cow." she finished, slightly to herself, gently biting on her bottom lip in thought. This certainly perked James up a bit. It wasn't every day that he got to see Lily acting carefree like this - it was a nice change.
Sadly, he didn't realize how soon that would end.
She gracefully turned to leave saying, "In any event, I should probably get back to my table, I-" she stopped midsentence and turned back to Sirius, daggers in her eyes. "Explain."
Sirius clasped his hand to his heart, feigning innocence. "Me? What could I possibly have done? I have been sitting here this whole time. Now, run along to your table like you said." He grinned mischievously at her, waving his hands in the general direction of her friends. James watched the scene before him in confusion. What had he missed in the past two seconds? She had seemed so happy and was suddenly full of anger.
"I. Can't," she seethed at him. "I tried, but it appears I can't. And so again I ask, what did you do?" she asked once more, her voice dripping with frustration.
"Mistletoe," Remus butted in helpfully. "He caught you two under mistletoe."
James was shocked. This was his plan? A tiny sprig of mistletoe? One quick, begrudging kiss later she would return to her date, leaving James feeling all the more lousy. Sure enough, Lily looked up and saw the mistletoe hanging above the two of them and shook her head with a grin. She put her small hand on James's shoulder, place a light kiss on his cheek, and walked away.
Or, at least she tried to anyway.
"Not so fast Lily," started Peter helpfully. "That isn't normal mistletoe."
"It's magical mistletoe," stated Remus in a rather blasé, as though it should have been obvious.
"Thank you, gentlemen, for clearing that up. Funnily enough, I had assumed it was magical which is why I wasn't able to leave until I had kissed him. Which I did."
Sirius pretended to cough, adding a not-so-subtle "You call that a kiss?" into the mix. Lily fixed him with a glare before continuing. "Whether or not it had your approval, a kiss is a kiss…so why can't I leave?"
"Because you didn't mean it," supplied Peter. He proudly clapped Sirius on the back as he explained. "You see, Padfoot, in his infinite brilliance, knew exactly what would happen if he placed normal magical mistletoe over you. So, he gave it a little oomph."
"You mean to tell me that I can't move more than 5 feet away from Potter until I kiss him and mean it?" Lily exclaimed. James wasn't sure how to feel about this exchange. If it got her to kiss him and mean it then great… but what if she truly could never do that? He couldn't force her to constantly be within a five feet radius of him… Surely there are certain situations where that could be incredibly problematic. He hoped he didn't have to use the loo anytime soon.
Sirius put his hand on her shoulder, stopping her from continuing her tirade. "Now do you really think I'm that daft? If that was all there was to it, the two of you would be stuck together forever."
Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence, James thought to himself, rolling his eyes.
"Firstly, it's TWO feet, and B) The spell wears off once the ball ends," Sirius said shrugging his broad shoulders. "So if you want to be free to dance with anyone else all night then you had better kiss James and mean it. But, if that's not possible then you'll just spend the evening with James and go back to some semblance of normality after the night has ended." The three Marauders high fived each other before retreating to the other side of the table, resuming their Slytherin pranking plans.
James thought this actually seemed somewhat reasonable. It seemed as though the worst that could happen was that Lily would not kiss him, but be free at the end of the night. And who knew - maybe after spending some time together, she would get to see that he wasn't a complete jerk.
Lily…didn't quite seem to agree.
Realizing there was nothing to be done, she let out a "harrumph!" before dejectedly slumping down in the chair next to James. "I can't believe this. There are three hours left to this dance. Three hours! How am I supposed to explain this to Chris?"
James raised an eyebrow and gestured back to Lily's blond-haired, blue-eyed date. "Chris? The prefect you came with? He hasn't even realized you're missing. You can't honestly tell me that he's your idea of a dream date."
Lily turned to look where James had gestured and found, much to her dismay, that James was right. While it was great that Chris didn't feel the need to cling to her in order to be happy, it would have been nice to turn and not see him dancing with the other Ravenclaw prefect as though Lily never came with him in the first place.
"Well, I was having fun dancing at any rate."
"I know." James paused, unsure how to accurately explain the situation so that the night wouldn't end up with his man-parts hung from the astronomy tower. Friends though they may be, he had learned early on one should never underestimate the temper of a red-haired witch. He leaned back on the table and passed his hands through his dark mop of hair before clearing his throat.
"Look, you may not believe me, but I'm sorry that this happened. And honestly, I didn't tell Sirius to do anything." Thinking he wasn't making his point strong enough, he added, "In fact, I told him strictly not to do anything, but he has a bit of a mind of his own."
Lily sighed at the predicament, but he could tell she was no longer angry. "I know you had nothing to do with it." She paused, glancing over at him with a smirk. "You should have seen the look on your face when Sirius explained what he had done," Lily teased with a smile, her eyes thankfully back to their bright and happy shade. "I thought your head was going to explode from so many emotions going on at once."
James grinned and asked, "Hmmm. Did it look something like...this?" James did an exaggerated impression of his own face which caused Lily to let out a very unladylike snort of laughter.
"Yes, something like that. Well, at least now we know how you get all of the girls to fall for you. One look at that face and there's simply no hope for them."
James picked up on her teasing nature, but secretly wished that it really was that easy to get all of the girls to fall for him…namely the one he was sitting with.
"Oh…darn…" James started with what he hoped was a disappointed tone.
"What is it?"
"Well…" he started conspiratorially, gesturing at her to move closer so he could whisper in her ear. "Now you know my secret. I'm afraid that's simply not allowed. I may have to modify your memory." He pulled back from her with a crooked smile. "Tsk. Tsk. Such a shame."
Lily chuckled at this before tucking a stray strand of her wavy hair behind her ear and stating, "You know, in the muggle world you would have just said 'I guess I'll have to kill you.'"
"Kill you? That seems a tad harsh, doesn't it? I wouldn't do that."
"But you would modify my memory?" she asked slyly, already knowing the answer.
"Of course n-," he stated, confused as to why she would even think such a thing. "Oh… got it."
She grinned at him. "Well, if it was such a powerful secret anyway, then why didn't you escort a member of your supposed fan club to the ball?"
James looked at her, certain that she must know the real answer. He wouldn't want to go with anyone but her. He knew he couldn't actually tell her this, so he gave a slightly abridged version. "I…uh…I wasn't even sure if I was going to come at first." Seeing the look she was giving him he hastily added, "I know, I know! We planned it and as Heads are expected to attend all school events…but I was still thinking of bailing. Sirius eventually convinced me to go stag." He chuckled inwardly at the much overused pun. Then, pressing his luck added, "What convinced you to take Pea-brain Prefect over there?"
Lily turned to look back at Chris who had returned to their table, but was still greatly enjoying the other prefect's company. He might as well have not even known she was missing. "Honestly, I'm not sure. He asked and no one else did, so I figured I would give him a chance." James wondered if that was all it really took. Maybe he should have sucked it up and asked her. Surely she would have chosen him over stupid Chris. He decided he wasn't about to ask her…just in case.
"And what?" Lily asked, confused.
"What's the verdict on the bloke?" James asked, picking at his fingers in an effort to conceal his personal opinions on the matter.
"He was nice enough. But if he still hasn't even noticed that I'm gone, I don't think we would ever work out. Plus, he and Emma seem to be hitting it off." James was hoping he was imagining the jealousy in her voice, before he realized the jealousy was directed not at Emma for dancing with Chris…but at Chris for dancing with her friends. He felt instantly guilty on Sirius's behalf for ruining her night with her friends.
"If you want to go back to your friends, then you know what you have to do," James suggested impishly, raising his eyebrows at her.
"You know I can't do that," replied Lily as though this fact upset her. He could tell it upset her almost as much as it upset him. Though of course, their dismay was for entirely different reasons.
James didn't really know how to respond to this statement, so they sat in silence for a short while. James sneaked a glance or two at Lily during this time debating what to do next. The way he saw it there were two options. They could sit here in silence for the rest of the ball and effectively destroy any chance that Lily would ever see herself being happy with James or he could make the best of having time with her and just forget about the possibility of a kiss. With that in mind, James broke the silence.
"Hmm?" She shook herself out of her silent trance and turned to look at him.
He paused, not sure why this was the first thing to come to mind before shoving his pride aside and asking, "Do you want to dance?"
"What?" she asked bemusedly, starring at him with confusion in her eyes. He wanted to dance? The great James Potter wanted to stuff his dignity and get on the dance floor?
"Dance. You know, that thing that people do where they move their arms and legs and other random body parts to the sound of music being played. It sometimes looks a little something like this." James stood up and did the most ridiculous and outrageous series of - could they really even be called dance steps?-that Lily had ever seen. The sight became even more laughable when James forgot about the magical mistletoe and did a turn that brought him over two feet away from Lily. He started the turn and was promptly yanked back by the magical plant, causing him to completely lose his footing and fall...hard.
To the sound of Lily's raucous laughter, James tried to gracefully untangle his limbs. Once he had managed to stand up, he gave a grand bow and offered his hand to her. "Well now that you have seen my insane dancing skills, perhaps you'd like to join me."
Lily tried to contain her giggles, but failed. "I'm not sure if I want to after that…lovely display," she said, teasing him. "I mean, I can hardly compete with that skill level." She looked back up at him, and subsequently dissolved into another round of giggles.
"Okay, okay. Laugh it up. I'll just wait," James crossed his arms and began to tap his foot impatiently. His face was turned up and away, but once he noticed the distinct absence of the Head Girl's laughter due to his "annoyance" he allowed himself to sneak a glance in her direction and couldn't help but winking at her to relieve her nerves. Her smile returned even as she playfully smacked his upper arm.
"You great prat…Do you really want to dance?"
In answer he offered his hand to her once again, and dipped his head in a smaller bow. After a brief moment of hesitation, she placed her hand in his and allowed him to help her to his feet.
The other three marauders had abandoned their prank planning about the same time James had started to "dance" -and were staring aghast at the pair of teenagers as they made their way to the dance floor.
"What exactly just-?"
They continued to stammer brief mutterings along those lines until Remus finally managed to get his wits about him enough to form a complete sentence while placing his head on his hands, bewildered.
"I think…I think James just got Lily to agree to dance with him."
"No, that can't be it. Maybe he put her under the Imperius curse."
"Pad, you know that's illegal…plus he probably would have just made her kiss him."
Sirius paused to consider this before deciding that didn't make sense either. "No, he's too bloody noble to do something like that."
Silence followed his words as the three young men stared openly at the two teens who were now dancing and laughing- with an emphasis on the latter.
"Guys… do you think… You don't think she might actually do it?"
Silence fell over the three lads at Peter's suggestions. Was it really possible? Obviously that was the hope of the whole thing, but none of them really thought it would ever happen.
They looked at each other briefly before shaking their heads together.
James smiled to himself as he wondered if Lily realized that she had not yet let go of his hand since he had offered it to her. They had just reached the dance floor and danced to the ending of a song, but just before she could start dancing to the next tune he shook his head saying, "Nope, not yet."
In response to the puzzled look she gave him, he simply pulled her hand so that she would follow him as he walked over to her friends. As much as he would love to dance with Lily all by herself, he knew that the main reason she agreed to dance with him was so she could also be with her friends. He brought her to where Emma was sitting, hoping that he would still get a chance to dance alone with Lily before the night ended.
He tapped Emma's shoulder gently to grab her attention and chuckled to himself as he saw the look that crossed her features as she took in the sight of Lily and James standing in front of her hand in hand.
"I believe this belongs to you."
"Lily!" Emma exclaimed, getting over her initial shock of seeing the pair together. "Where have you been? We've barely danced at all!"
Lily stole a quick glance at James before waving off Emma's query by stating that it was a long story. Emma looked at her suspiciously, which Lily responded to with a look of her own. If he lived to be one hundred and fifty, James would never understand how girls always seemed to be able to converse nonverbally. They really should teach their male counterparts how to do it; it would save such time and hassle.
"So," James started, hoping to end the silent conversation taking place in front of him, "are we going to sit here and raise our eyebrows at one another, or are we going to go dance?"
Lily smiled at him, while Emma convinced the rest of the table that it was time to dance.
"What?" he asked her as she continued to look at him with an appraising eye.
"Nothing," she said quickly, tearing her gaze away. "Just thinking, is all. Spaced out, you know."
As she quickly turned to follow her friends to the dance floor, he stood watching her curiously. What in Merlin's name was that all about? Just thinking? Not bloody likely.
Just thinking about me? That's more like it.
He was pulled from his thoughts when he felt his body being jerked forward by some invisible force. It took him a second to realize that Lily was attempting to move farther than two feet away from him. He smirked at her, noting the look of amused annoyance that crossed her soft features. It was clear that she had come to terms with their situation. Sure, it wasn't ideal, but she didn't seem to see it as the end of the world anymore, either. She extended her hand towards him, an offer which he accepted eagerly, and she pulledl him towards the dance floor.
James didn't know whether it was the look on her face that made it seem as though she was enjoying herself or the fact that she had willingly offered her hand that made him do what he did next, but he did it anyway.
Just before the dance floor, he stopped short causing her to stop abruptly ahead of him. She turned quickly, causing her red hair to flip onto one shoulder and gave him an inquisitive look.
He took a couple of steps towards her so that he barely had to extend his arm to tuck a stray piece of hair behind her ear. His gaze lingered there for a moment and he said quietly, "You really do look lovely tonight." He paused and allowed the hand not holding hers to fall to his side before continuing. "I'm sorry your night isn't going how you planned."
She smiled shyly at the compliment as she let go of his hand in order to use it to fix his tie. She waited until the tie was completely adjusted before formulating a response.
"My night may not be going as planned, James, but maybe I'm enjoying myself even more because of it." She grinned as his eyes lit up in response to what she had said; especially when she noticed how quickly he tried to hide his elation. "Come on," she said, pulling at his tie, "Let's dance."
His gait faltered only slightly in his haste to follow her. There was something extremely sensual about the way she had pulled him closer using his tie, but he couldn't quite figure out why. He decided there was no use worrying about it. He had actually gotten what he had hoped for, a chance to dance with Lily Evans, no use hoping for anything further. Ok, so it might not be under the exact circumstances that he might have hoped for, but he really couldn't complain. She was, with little to no complaint, dancing with him…and her friends…but him too and that was what mattered. He wasn't about to let it go to waste.
The band Lily had hired was playing an upbeat song, and there were several clusters of witches and wizards on the dance floor. Lily and James joined the cluster containing Emma and Lily's other friends and began to individually move to the music. James tried his best, but was not exactly used to this type of dancing. Having grown up in a pureblood party with lots of stuffy old folk had meant that he learned the waltz, and the foxtrot, even some salsa when his dad was feeling rebellious, but somehow his parents had skipped the lesson on modern teenage dancing. He watched Lily move her hips in time to the music, watched how her eyes lit up when she knew the lyrics and could shout along with her friends to the band.
He enjoyed knowing that she was having such a good time, and was glad that he could now be a part of it. He looked back to his table where Remus and Peter gave him the thumbs-up, as Sirius chatted up a pretty brunette.
"He'll never change, will he?"
He felt an elbow resting casually on his left shoulder and looked down to see that Lily had followed his gaze to where Sirius was sitting. Nodding his head at where her elbow was rested, he decided to push his luck, "Are you flirting with me, Evans?"
He almost laughed at how quickly she pulled her arm from his shoulder. Almost.
Despite her hasty retreat, she was still laughing as she said, "Yeah, keep dreaming. I was going to ask you to dance since they're finally playing a disco song, but if you're going to mock me, then maybe I'll go find Severus and dance with him; you can just watch from your convenient viewing distance."
James gaped at her until she threw her head back in laughter. "You should see your face!"
Having finally pulled himself together from the shock of what she had suggested, he grabbed her hand for the umpteenth that night and led her into a turn before pulling her back to say, "Now who's mocking who, hmm?"
She laughed, and they began their dance. Though disco was not his strength, James knew what to do. He was an accomplished lead and had no trouble telling Lily which way to go simply by applying the right amount of pressure on her back or by pulling her hand just so. He smiled to himself, thinking that she seemed to be impressed, or having a good time at any rate.
Seemingly effortlessly, they fell into an easy rhythm together. No words were needed, just two people dancing to the music without a care in the world. So lost in their dance were the two, that they had no idea that their friends were gaping openmouthed in their general direction. Most of the students around them went about their business, unaware that anything momentous was occurring.
To any outside observer, this was just a normal dance between friends. But to the well-trained eye, or anyone who knew the students involved, this was much more.
This was a boy realizing that he had been right all along.
This was a girl realizing that maybe; just maybe, there was more to this boy than she had first thought.
This was a boy having the best night of his life.
This was a girl thinking that it might surprisingly also be the best night of her life.
This was a boy dancing with the girl of his dreams.
This was a girl noticing that she had never been able to dance like this with anyone else. She had never been able to communicate with someone so effortlessly without words. And maybe, it wouldn't be so bad to kiss him when the song ended, and not because of the magical mistletoe, but because she actually found herself wanting to do it.
This was a couple. A couple of teenagers who were unknowingly going to change the world forever, and all because of the feelings caused by one dance… and one sprig of mistletoe.
A/N:Yay! You finished it! I know it's slightly cheesy, but I hope you enjoyed it and that it brought you a little extra holiday cheer! If it did, or even if it didn't, review and tell me what you think so I can be better next time!