Nightmare Before Christmas
Prompt for Jily October: It’s Halloween at Hogwarts but Lily’s already humming Christmas music on rounds and James wants to kill her.
also on FFN
It is a fact universally acknowledged that come October, people can be divided into two factions.
Those who live for leaf piles, pumpkin patches and Halloween.
And those who turn the calendar to October 1 and begin the 84 day countdown to Christmas.
Now, James Potter always paid particular attention to Lily Evans. Somehow though, October had always been an exception to this rule. Because James Potter lived for the bliss of cooler weather, the beginning of quidditch and planning the annual Halloween prank. In the month of October, James had other things on his mind thankyouverymuch and couldn’t be bothered to know what kind of October person Lily Evans was.
He knew, of course that her eyes sparked the most in the winter. She practically glowed in January, especially on her birthday week. He knew she was melancholy in March, whimsical in April and that she would take any dare she was given and make you regret it in July.
Through no fault of his own, James had missed the inaugural pronouncement of “84 Days until Christmas” on October 1st in their first year due to an unfortunate accident with the giant squid; missed the distribution of “pre pre Christmas cookie taste test” on October 11th their second year (detention); the Christmas tree catastrophe of their third year (quidditch); the Christmas knitting party in fourth year (quidditch); the mistletoe mishap of fifth year (holding a leaf in your mouth for a month sucks); and he was unaware of the failed 84 day advent calendar of sixth year (the giant squid really needed to give a man a break).
So when James picked Lily up for rounds he was taken aback when he heard her singing “Good King Wenceslas” in their office.
“Lily… are you ready? It’s time for rounds!”
As she flung the door open James swore he smelled pine, gingerbread and plum.
She responded with too much enthusiasm for a Tuesday, “Oh yes sorry! Lost track of time. Tis the season, you know?”
“Right. Well shall we take the usual route?”
“Of course!” She said with a overly cheery laugh and off they went.
Rounds were the usual banter and discussion of quidditch, classes and gossip. Near the end of the second hour however, Lily began to hum. Now, Lily always started humming when they’d run out of typical conversation and normally James enjoyed it. She’d introduced him to at least five new bands in the few months they’d been dating. But tonight, tonight surprised him. He swore he must be having some sort of auditory hallucination. At first it was “Good King Wenceslas” which he figured could be a tune that had a variety of lyrics. By the time they got to astronomy tower though, James was positive Lily was humming “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”
He racked his brain on how to approach this. They’d entered a tentative friendship at the beginning of sixth year and had fallen easily into something more than friends over the summer (a man can only stand being bested in Muggle poker for so long before he has to make a move). They hadn’t had a fight since they started dating and he didn’t want to start now.
“Hey Lils…what’s today?”
The humming stopped. “October 3rd- only..”
“28 days until Halloween I know”
“Right! I forgot! I was going to say only…”
But they were interrupted as was typical of rounds by an excited couple and the conversation was cut short. After losing rock-paper-scissors (14/25) James had to fill the appropriate paperwork, owl the heads of house and create the rounds schedule for the next two weeks.
He was halfway to the kitchens for a pick me up when he decided he needed to seek the advice of one Remus John Lupin.
The dorm was a mess as usual and he was unsurprised to find Remus studying, Sirius braiding his hair and Peter trying to beat himself in Wizard Chess.
“Ah ha!” Exclaimed Sirius “The prodigal Prongs returns”
“Did we have a meeting planned?” squeaked Peter as his knight destroyed his other knight.
“No, no. I just finished rounds.”
“And how were rounds?”
Sirius twisted his expression, “Interesting, what did you and Evans catch Filch and McGonagall in the astronomy tower or something and felt the need to tell us all the gory details?”
“No! God No…I just….” He can’t quite define why he is so bothered by the events that transpired so he starts, “Well rounds were great as usual… but then Lily starting humming”
“alas-“ exclaimed Sirius “not the humming! Not the waxing poetic ‘Pads I swear it feels like home’ humming!”
“How shall you survive the humming?” Peter agreed dramatically, following Sirius’ playful jest.
“I never thought humming could be beautiful until rounds with Lily Evans.” Sirius mimicked James’ voice and James frown deepened.
Peter clasped his hands like he was praying and said through snorts of laughter, “And I just keep thinking I could hear that humming to our child as she puts them to sleep.”
“Oi! I never said the bit about rocking a kid to sleep”
“Yes you did” was the chorused reply
“Right, well normally I enjoy her humming. But tonight she bloody well went through every Christmas tune known to man.”
The response was not what James had expected. He had expected protesting, outrage at the blasphemy and Sirius dramatically storming toward the head suite to have one of his “chats with Evans”.
He did not expect Remus to simply pick his book back up, Peter to laugh and Sirius to say “Right. Well- you know how Evans gets”
“No I do not know “how she gets”. It’s October 3rd. We are nowhere near the reasonable time to begin singing Christmas songs”
Remus shrugged, “I’m with you mate, but for Lily that timeline is different. I mean the girl begins knitting Christmas jumpers in July”
“I think the worst was in third year when she tried to teach me how to knit”
“Honestly Wormtail it isn’t that hard to cast off. Evans did turn your monstrosity into a lovely scarf”
“I do love that scarf” Peter said wistfully.
“Personally I think her worst attempt was last years advent calendar” Remus added, unhelpfully.
Just as the conversation was about to spin totally out of control James countered “What. The. Bloody. Hell. Are. You. Lot. On. About. I know everything about Lily Evans. I would know- I would have to know if she was a - a- “
He couldn’t finish his sentence so Sirius finished it for him, “Pumpkin abusing, Halloween skipping, heinous pre Christmasophile?”
“YES! How could I miss such a glaring flaw?”
“Lilytober” they chorused again
“Stop speaking all at once!”
“Remus you tell him” Peter motioned pathetically to James.
Calmly, Remus set down his book and started “Lilytober is the great and time honored tradition where one James Potter does not mention Lily Evans for 31 days because he is manically preparing for quidditch, the annual pumpkin carving contest and the Halloween prank. In his absence, Lily Evans pushes her pre Christmas agenda on all of us but we do not mention it because it’s a fair trade to have 31 days of rant free bliss”
“We, of course, knew that this year would be different since you finally got Lily to agree to go out with you” Sirius said, “Lilytober- may it live in our hearts forever and ever”
Ignoring this James said “So, you mean to tell me….everyone…..everyone in Gryffindor tower knows that Lily Evans is an absolute Christmas nutter who ignores the sacred month of October and all that autumn holds except me?”
“All of Hogwarts knows Prongs”, Peter added unhelpfully.
James pressed his fingers to his temples, “I need a drink. Or 5. Or to reevaluate the kind of woman I fall for.”
How there always seemed to be a stockpile of Firewhiskey in the dorm, James would never know but he was appreciative of Sirius and his ability to keep a constant and much needed supply.
On the 5th shot James had an epiphany , “I’ll just convert her!”
On shot number 6 Sirius responded “Convert her to what? You’re talking crazy mate”
“No, no, listen. I converted Lily from borderline hating me to being my girlfriend. Making her see that October is for spooky things and not Christmas should be easy. I just have to show her all that October can offer. Pumpkin carving, setting off explosives, scaring first years. Come October 31st we will never remember Lily unnecessarily singing ‘Good King Wenceslas’ on October Third Again”
“Good luck with that mate” Sirius said into shot number 7.
The next morning dawned bright and early and although they had planned a lie in to deal with their hangovers they were awoken by the smell of coffee and someone singing
“Good Christian men rejoice
With heart and soul and voice!
Give ye heed to what we say
Jesus Christ is born today!
Ox and ass before Him bow
And He is in the manger now
Christ is born today!
Christ is born today!”
Amidst the groans and complaints of “Fuck, Evans, it’s only Wednesday” James heard the love of his life respond “Wake up gents, I’ve got coffee and hangover potion and Minnie is already looking for you Sirius so you better get up and at them” before she kissed him on the head told him “see you in potions” and whisked out the door.
“How does Lily always know when we’ve been drinking?” Peter asked, pulling pumpkin pasty from nowhere and taking a large bite
“James never tells her goodnight on our drinking nights so she always prepares a ‘Hangover Cart’” replied Remus grabbing the sole cup of tea.
Sirius’ grey eyes looked at the hangover cure lovingly, “Moony, if I ever leave you for someone it will be that mad Christmas bird. We’d be dead without her”
James chucked his sock at Sirius playfully, “Oi! That’s my mad Christmas bird”
After a day of too many loud noises, bright lights and general discomfort, James decided that Operation Spooky Lily could wait until the weekend. He had much too much homework, his quidditch team was looking like rubbish and they didn’t even have a draft of the big Halloween prank. So it was on the way to Hogsmeade on October 7th that operation October went into effect.
As they walked down the path to the village James took Lily on a detour to Hagrid’s pumpkin patch.
“I thought we could skip Hogsmeade today and celebrate the beginning of October properly, by carving pumpkins and roasting seeds” James told her as he pulled her from the usual path.
“But James, I wanted to go to Madame Puddifoots and snuggle- we haven’t been to Hogsmeade since we became official” Lily whined, but with a twinkle in her eyes that made him retaliate with a slight pinch on her side.
“I don’t know why I started dating someone as sarcastic as my best mate.”
“Because your best mate was already dating your other best mate and Peter is just there as a cute accessory?” Lily guessed.
“I’ll have you know Peter brings a lot to our group dynamic.”
Lily just rolled her eyes, let go of his hand yelling “race you” before running to the pumpkin patch.
James Potter learned that afternoon that Lily Evans had never carved a pumpkin or eaten pumpkin seeds. After recovering from this shock, he promptly showed her “the proper way” to cut and gut her pumpkin (he was glad Sirius wasn’t around or there would’ve been a 4 hour debate). After two hours of carving, throwing slime on each other and catching roasted pumpkin seeds; they revealed their masterpieces to each other.
James had carved an elaborate black cat wearing a witches hat that looked suspiciously like McGonagall. Lily had carved a shape that looked suspiciously like Santa Clause.
“Lil- is that”
“Santa? You know him? I wasn’t sure if it was just a Muggle thing or-why are you looking at me like that? I know his beard is a little off but I think the hat is clear enough”
She looked so pleased with herself and worried about his approval, the rant bubbling up from his core died on his lips.
“It looks brilliant. Now let’s go drop them on some Slytherin’s heads”
After thoroughly checking off “pumpkin carving prank” on the Operation October checklist, James knocked out “haunted house” , “leaf piles”, “dying Mrs. Norris black” and “charming all the cauldrons into jack o lanterns” with Lily at his side in no less than two weeks.
Things were going so splendidly James often forgot there was an operation unless one of the boys asked. It was October, he was pretty sure he was in love and his Quidditch team had never looked better. Nothing could take James Potter down.
That was of course until the morning of October 21, the day of the Gryffindor/Slytherin match when his beautiful girlfriend came to breakfast, not in the agreed upon James Potter quidditch jumper she had worn to matches since February 6th year after an unfortunate accident at breakfast but a blinking twinkling jumper that had a red nosed deer embellished on it.
Taking a deep breath, counting to ten and trying to not curse James prompted “Lily, dearest…what are you wearing?”
“My October 21 jumper. It’s Rudolph the red nosed reindeer’s birthday and I wear it every year”
“Lily” James said through gritted teeth, “It’s a Quidditch day”
“You’ll survive one game without me wearing your ‘lucky jumper’”
“Rudolph will survive one year without you wearing a bloody Christmas jumper in October!!!”
Lily drew back, “James Potter I do not like your tone.”
This, for some reason was the last straw, “Look- if you’re not going to wear my jumper and insist upon wearing that blasphemy in October then don’t even come to the match, alright?”
“Fine” Lily said coolly, “but don’t expect me to show up to the post match party either”
And then she left. James watched her go.
Miraculously and despite his girlfriend’s absence and refusal to wear the proper attire- Gryffindor won. James was so thrilled (and trashed) he had completely forgotten why and what they had fought about until he asked Marlene “where’s Lily?” and Marlene started shouting about reindeer and birthdays and “if you can’t love October Lily you don’t deserve Summer Lily” and shouting until his head hurt.
His only response was “It’s bloody October and no reasonable person should even look at a Christmas jumper until November 1 and you can tell her that.”
The party died down soon after and James did not emerge from his room the next day. He was doing what any reasonable bloke in a fight with his girlfriend would do, hide and avoid.
This was going remarkably well. He only ate in the kitchens, arrived to all classes at the last possible second and left as soon as the bell rang. He even switched with Remus to do
Wednesday night rounds so he wouldn’t have to be alone with Lily that Friday. He was sure he could successfully avoid her until graduation even instead of Benji Fenwick waiting for him in the great hall, there in a hideous Christmas jumper stood one Lily Evans.
“I thought Remus had rounds” she said in her Best Head Girl voice.
“He did. We switched”
“If I was going to be stuck with one of your lot for rounds I wanted Remus”
“Your lot again, is it?”
“Let’s just do rounds I’m too tired to do this now.”
“Thanks. It’s my ‘two months till Christmas’ jumper”
Rounds had never been so awkward. Their interactions had never been so awkward. Total silence. So when Lily started humming James was almost relieved. That is until he realized what it was.
“Can you stop humming please?”
She did. Two minutes later however she started singing “Oh the weather outside is frightful”
“But the fire is so delightful”
“And since we’ve no place to go”
“Please.” he asked weakly.
“LET IT SNOW. LET IT SNOW. LET IT SNOW!”
“WOULD YOU BLOODY STOP. I don’t understand how the girl I’m dating could possibly sing that song on October 25.”
Lily crossed her arms and smirked, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud to all to hear!”
“it’s only -“
“I don’t care how many days it is till Christmas. I don’t care about your ruddy jumpers. I just care that Halloween is in a week and for no discernible reason you have decided that my favorite holiday should be besmirched with Santa and Rudolph!”
Lily tossed her red hair over one shoulder, “I just love Christmas. Christmas is my favorite”
“Christmas has enough! It has a whole church season! Halloween doesn’t have anything.”
Lily scoffed, “IT’S THE BIRTHDAY OF JESUS!”
Taking a step back, James said “maybe we should just- take a break until November”
“No,” Lily stated, “if we can’t even resolve this fight we should just end it. It was good while it lasted but maybe this is a sign.”
For the second time in less than a week, Lily left and James let her.
The next 7 days were transformative. It felt like 5th year again. Lily and James existing in separate bubbles. She was as good (if not better) than James at avoidance a fact he was more aware of because Sirius kept complaining of “that red-headed banshee trying to get out of our much needed ‘Chat with Evans’”
On Halloween morning, James couldn’t even be encouraged by their impending Best Prank Ever when the final nail in his coffin was delivered by Lily Evans flirting with Some Ravenclaw Bloke. Lily Evans who was a vision in some Christmas jumper that he was sure she called “her Halloween Christmas jumper”. Some Ravenclaw Bloke has just made her laugh and she was leaning over his shoulder to look at something. James realized he hadn’t looked at her in over a week and he had forgotten how lovely she was.
“That is it!” Sirius exclaimed.
Sirius threw down his bacon and stalked over to Lily, told Some Ravenclaw Bloke to “get bent” and dragged the redhead from the dining hall to what James was sure would be the most terrible “Chat with Evans” of all time.
As he started to imagine the lecture Lily was sure to get regarding Some Ravenclaw Bloke his thoughts were interrupted by Remus
“You know I hate to meddle Prongs but maybe you need to rethink this whole argument”
“It’s October Remus”
“I know but maybe this is Lily’s Thing.”
“The Thing you have to accept and then maybe try and understand. Lily didn’t get quidditch and was against it until she became our friend. She doesn’t like that you broke the law to help with my furry little problem but she respects it. You’ve got Things that she accepts about you.”
“She never told me she had a problem with any of that.”
Remus stared at James pointedly, “Because she loves you, you idiot, and didn’t want you to feel guiltier than you do.”
James swallowed deeply, “I’ve fucked up.”
Returning to his crossword, Remus said “I’d dare say you have.”
“What do I do Remus?”
“A grand dramatic gesture should do the trick.”
“The post feast party tonight. I’d say the actual feast but Lily is taking Samuel’s shift for rounds.”
“Who the bloody hell is Samuel?”
“The Ravenclaw she was talking to- he’s a prefect and wants to enjoy the feast with his boyfriend. Honestly, I thought you were head boy?”
After the realization that Some Ravenclaw Bloke was alright, James and Remus started plotting. Peter joined them after divination and at their lunch break in the kitchens Sirius arrived looking grim but smug.
“How was the ‘Chat with Evans’” Remus asked
“Bird is bloody stubborn. I also told Some Ravenclaw Bloke to leave my mates girl alone”
“who?” Asked Peter the same time James said “she’s not my girl”
“Samuel” Remus responded and there was a firm “Yes she is” from Sirius
“She won’t be if we don’t get the fuck to work” mumbled James.
The feast was excellent, the Best Prank Ever went off without a hitch and got a standing ovation from all the houses and professors. The fireworks were successful and didn’t catch anyone on fire. In the Gryffindor Common Room the Halloween Costume Party was in full swing. The Grand Romantic Gesture was all set up but the lady to woo was nowhere to be found. James felt absolutely ridiculous in his costume but Remus assured him it was the right choice. He was ready to abandon all hope when he heard a “trick or treat” from behind him.
He turned around to see the sexiest pumpkin of all time. Lily was wearing green tights and a ridiculous pumpkin costume. She was perfect and all James could say was “Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas” through his pull on beard. With these words all the floating pumpkins began to sing
“We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy Halloween!”
“I’m sorry” they said together
then, “I love you”
Lily said with a laugh, “Happy Halloween, Potter”
“Happy Christmas, Lily”
And then they kissed.
Once James took off the beard.