Author's Notes: A bit of Valentine's Day candyfloss, dedicated to every single one of my superbly marvelous readers, all of whom I love and appreciate. =D
A Little Bit Futile
The small box of chocolates slides across the table and straight into her textbook, too slight a collision to budge her hefty tome from its place, but enough of an impact to prompt Lily into lifting her head from Mosbey's Seven Laws of Magical Linguistics and cock a questioning eyebrow at her boyfriend. James bypasses the chair next to her in favour of hefting himself up on the actual study table. His feet take residence on the vacant chair seat and he rests his elbows atop his bent knees. He grins at her, nodding down at the chocolates.
"Look. I got the crap fruit-filled ones you like—even against my better judgment, seeing as they are, obviously, crap."
Lily lifts the golden box of Honeydukes chocolates off the table. "Well, aren't you the benevolent soul?" She regards the small package with a genuine smile, happy to find that they are indeed the decidedly un -crap fruit variety that she favours and not the nut-filled type that James is so partial to and usually attempts to force on her. The uncharacteristically unselfish purchase causes her to narrow her eyes on him. "You haven't tampered with these, have you?" she asks. "And you know Valentine's isn't for another few days?"
"No and yes," James answers quickly. "But how fortuitous that you've brought it up. That's exactly what I wanted to talk to you about."
"Tampering with chocolates?"
She opens the box of chocolates and selects a morsel at random. She regards James questioningly as she bites. "What about it?"
He doesn't answer immediately, but Lily reckons she knows what he's going to say, anyway. Despite the impending closeness of the aforementioned holiday, they'd yet to make any formal plans. This doesn't much bother Lily, but she's learned over the past few months that James takes his holidays quite seriously. Even the tiniest ones are always acknowledged, usually with some less-than-subtle celebration. Finishing off the rest of her chocolate, Lily wonders what he has in mind for this particular festivity. Honestly, she's as wary as she is intrigued.
"Want?" She offers the chocolate box up to him.
He sneers. "Fruit."
Flipping over the box top, Lily quickly peruses the simply labeled diagram. "There's a caramel one at the top right. You like caramel."
"I tolerate caramel," James corrects, but Lily notices that he grabs the caramel chocolate and pops it into his mouth easily enough. She slips the box cover back in place, then looks up at him. "Valentine's? You were saying?"
James swallows his chocolate. "Right. About that—"
"Please, James, nothing too daft—"
"—I don't really do Valentine's."
Eyebrows shooting up to her hairline, she regards him with surprise. "Sorry?"
"Valentine's," James says again, as if qualifying the holiday were the issue at hand. He gives a jerky shrug. "I don't subscribe."
"It isn't a magazine, James."
"But it's all the same thing!" he cries, plucking a stubby quill off the study table and twirling it briefly between his fingers before he stabs the tip pointedly in her direction. "Valentine's Day is nothing but a commodity. Do you even know where the rubbish holiday comes from?"
"Saint Valentine," Lily answers automatically. "He married people in secret when there was a ban. Ancient Rome or something. He was killed—"
"Killed!" James echoes the sentiment dramatically, and Lily realises as he clutches at his chest that he's been waiting for just such a cue. She rolls her eyes, but he still continues, slapping his hands emphatically against his thighs. "Exactly! It's not a day of romance, it's a day of tragedy. Bloke's murdered, and what do we all do about it? Buy chocolates and snog!"
"I never knew you had a particular problem with either," Lily comments, leaning back in her chair.
James pulls a face. "It's not the chocolates and the snogging I have a problem with. It's the motivation behind them! It's just a load of codswallop, Lil. There's no genuine feeling behind any of it. I'd be buying you chocolates and lavishing you with flowers because it's expected, not because I'm actually inclined!"
"As opposed to you buying me chocolates because you needed a way to bring Valentine's Day into the conversation, not because you're actually inclined?"
James scoffs in offense. "Honestly, Evans. Do you know me at all? If I'd merely needed a conversation tool, I would have selfishly gotten the nut-filled kind. So obviously I was inclined."
"Oh, how terribly foolish of me." The sarcasm drips from her every word."Your loving gesture is very much appreciated now. Many thanks."
James grabs the box of chocolates from the table and taps her head with it. "No, it's not. But that's the point, see? Valentine's Day taints everything. It's all a heap of mass-produced, disturbingly artificial chaos. I've no desire to prance about like a dandy, making a fool of myself over you simply because some ponce holiday's told me that that's how I ought to be romantic. So if it's all the same to you, I'd rather not partake."
"And if it isn't?" Lily asks, grabbing her chocolates back and holding them possessively against her chest. "If I'd rather partake?"
The pained expression quickly mars James's previously easy features. "You don't even like holidays," he argues. "And you're hardly a dithering pansy like other girls. You hate that kind of sap!"
"I like holidays plenty!" Lily cries. "Just because I don't feel the need to celebrate every day of commemoration anyone's ever thought to put on a calendar doesn't mean I don't like holidays! And I may not faint and flutter about like some girls, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the occasional lavishing!"
The wolfish smirk sweeps instantly across James's lips.
"Lily," he says. "I think we both know I lavish you plenty."
"Oh, for Merlin's sake." Lily rolls her eyes towards the ceiling, but James is chuckling all lecherously now and she knows she's probably blushing. Honestly. Boys. "Don't you think of anything else?"
"I haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about," her boyfriend responds airily, cutting his smug chuckles off abruptly. The smarmy grin remains in place, however. "Here I am, commenting on all the compliments and affection I lavish you with, and somehow I get scolded for it. What did you thinkI meant?"
He clicks his tongue disapprovingly, his eyes twinkling gleefully at her. "Lily Evans, you naughty thing. My mother's warned me about girls like you, you know."
"Oh, quit it," she mutters when he starts wiggling his eyebrows at her, the leering smirk firmly back in place. He's got that look about him now, the one he tends to don only moments before he starts whispering all kinds of wicked things in her ear, so Lily shoves at him when he starts leaning closer. He laughs. She bites back a smile. "You're an arse," she scolds. "And a bloody depraved one at that! Don't you have Quidditch or something?"
"Practise," James confirms, and the reminder is enough to prompt his finally hopping off the study table, but only so that he can drop into the chair next to hers. He scoots it over, close enough to her to reach out and tuck a bit of hair behind her ear. His fingers play at her cheek for a moment. "But you're really not overly keen on the crap holiday, are you?" he asks. "You were just kicking up a fuss to kick up a fuss? You don't actually care?"
Lily grunts noncommittally, grabbing his hand and pulling it away from whatever distracting stroking he'd just been getting up to. She supposes it's not much better to have him threading his fingers through hers as he does, but she can't bring herself to pull away. His hand squeezes hers.
He's right, of course, though she doesn't like to give in so easily. She's never been the biggest holiday girl, and her practical nature positively cringes at the dim antics some of her mates get up to in the name of Valentine's Day. Truth be told, the holiday in question usually just gives her a slight feeling of indigestion. But it's the first time she's actually had a valentine—a proper one, not someone she's simply tagged herself to for the day—and some part of her was rather hoping for some kind of grand gesture. Or even a not-so-grand gesture. James is always so busy making a joke out of these things, he never quite gets around to being genuine about them.
But that could be a problem for another day, a less obvious and painfully cliché occasion. Lily isn't overly concerned by the lack of red hearts and baby cupids in her near future. If James wants to ditch the tradition, she's not feeling the particular need to complain.
It is, however, something she intends to fully milk.
Her exaggerated sigh and accentuated shoulder sagging might be bordering on overkill, but she indulges in them anyway, giving James a loud groan of resignation.
"Oh, all right. Fine! We won't celebrate Valentine's Day." She waits for the relieved grin to spread wide and delighted across his lips before adding, "But you bet your arse you owe me a good lavishing for it—two good lavishings!"
"Come to my room after practise and we'll make it three." He leans in quickly to press his lips against hers. The kiss is short, but thorough. A promise. Lily shivers. James hums appreciatively. "Maybe four."
"Lucky you." He moves in again, this kiss longer, firmer. Lily's hands go to his shoulders, her fingers curling around his shirt collar. He pulls away too soon for her liking, but at least it's done with a regretful sigh.
"Quidditch," he reminds her.
"Lavishing," Lily protests.
His lips brush hers again and for a moment she thinks he might be considering ditching practise, but he pulls away once more with a heated look and the gruff promise of, "Later."
Her insides tingle with anticipation, even as she sulks. James runs a quick hand over her hair as he stands, but it's a poor substitute for what she'd rather have those hands doing.
She grabs her box of chocolates and waves them threateningly at him. "I'm eating every single one of these in protest now. I hope you're happy!"
"Ecstatic," James says, and Lily expects him to leave on that, so she pops open the box and stuffs the first chocolate she touches into her mouth as a poor comfort and a point, suddenly less than enthused about returning to Mosbey's remaining three laws. She's still trying to chew down the orange crème when James leans over her, not having departed, his mouth suddenly against her ear. She jumps in surprise.
"I suppose the truth of it is, Valentine's Day just seems a little bit futile," he says quietly, nipping at her ear. "I don't need a holiday to remind me that I love you. I've known it all along. Just needed to wait for you to come around. S'later."
Then his lips are gone. He turns and leaves, just like that.
Had he just...
She chokes down the orange crème and is out of her chair in an instant.