He was concentrating on the Snitch in his hands, tossing it back and forth. Sirius knew James; he was nervous.
"C'mon, mate, she's said yes. Nothing to it!"
Remus nodded. "She's probably waiting for you already. Didn't you tell her you'd meet her in
the common room at eleven?"
James looked up at them. He was tinged green, as though he'd swallowed Polyjuice Potion.
"She never wanted to go out with me. She's just saying yes as a pity thing."
"On New Year's Eve? Not bloody likely. Girls have a sentimental thing about this night," said Remus.
"Yeah! Girls love big holidays, you know," Peter chimed in.
Sirius took James by the shoulders. "Look, you'll just have to get used to the idea that maybe your charms finally worked on her. Now, go downstairs and quit acting like a prat."
Remus sighed. "But what?! You're not backing out, you've been in love with her for years, and...."
Remus looked at Sirius, who was trying to say it and couldn't. Peter saved them both.
"Muggles have this tradition, James. They kiss at midnight on New Year's Eve."
"Kiss?" James' voice had already changed, but the squeak that came out over that word would have led a casual listener to believe otherwise.
"Kiss." Sirius was trying not to laugh. "C'mon, you've snogged a Hufflepuff or two, I've seen you."
"But this is Lily," said Remus. "It won't be the same."
"Well." Sirius, Remus, and Peter all got behind James and shoved him toward the door.
"Get a move on!"
James walked downstairs, feeling a bit like he was walking the plank. Lily would expect something spectacular. Or she wouldn't let him. Or she'd laugh. Or not show up.
Or hit him.
He almost turned around.
The sound of female voices stopped him in his tracks. James didn't want to walk down there if there were others!
"Lily, it'll be fine." Probably Hannah.
"But you said wizards don't usually make a big deal out of New Year's Eve! There's no reason for him to kiss me at midnight!" Lily. James' mouth went dry.
"I thought you didn't want James to kiss you." He made a face; that was Alice, who hadn't forgiven James for putting a frog in her trunk second year.
"Well..." Lily was blushing, he could tell just from her voice.
Hannah said something in a low voice, and James thought it was something encouraging. It must have been, because in the next moment she and Alice were wishing Lily good night. And then it was silent.
Lily was down there waiting for him.
Lily wanted to kiss him.
James straightened up, and went downstairs.
Later that night, when Sirius waggled his eyebrows and pressed for details, all James would say was that it turned out Muggles had some very good traditions.