Under the Mistletoe

Under the Mistletoe


Maybe it’s the lightly falling snow, the candlelit windows, or that feeling of wanting to be warm and cozy—but the winter season has us feeling a bit romantic. In the spirit of mistletoe, we’ve compiled a list of literary kisses. Some are unsure first kisses, some are heartbreaking last kisses, but all have lingered with us long after the final page has been turned.

Warning: These kisses do contain spoilers.

Liesel Meminger & Rudy Steiner
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

She leaned down and looked at his lifeless face and Liesel kissed her best friend, Rudy Steiner, soft and true on his lips. He tasted dusty and sweet. He tasted like regret in the shadows of trees and in the glow of the anarchist’s suit collection. She kissed him long and soft, and when she pulled herself away, she touched his mouth with her fingers. Her hands were trembling, her lips were fleshy, and she leaned in once more, this time losing control and misjudging it. Their teeth collided on the demolished world of Himmel Street. She did not say goodbye.

Scarlett O’Hara & Rhett Butler
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

“Scarlett O’Hara, you’re a fool!”

Before she could withdraw her mind from its far places, his arms were around her, as sure and hard as on the dark road to Tara, so long ago. She felt again the rush of helplessness, the sinking yielding, the surging tide of warmth that left her limp. And the quiet face of Ashley Wilkes was blurred and drowned to nothingness. He bent back her head across his arm and kissed her, softly at first, and then with a swift gradation of intensity that made her cling to him as the only solid thing in a dizzy swaying world. His insistent mouth was parting her shaking lips, sending wild tremors along her nerves, evoking from her sensations she had never known she was capable of feeling. And before a swimming giddiness spun her round and round, she knew that she was kissing him back.

“Stop–please, I’m faint!” she whispered, trying to turn her head weakly from him. He pressed her head back hard against his shoulder and she had a dizzy glimpse of his face. His eyes were wide and blazing queerly and the tremor in his arms frightened her.

“I want to make you faint. I will make you faint. You’ve had this coming to you for years. None of the fools you’ve known have kissed you like this–have they? Your precious Charles or Frank or your stupid Ashley–”


“I said your stupid Ashley. Gentlemen all–what do they know about women? What did they know about you? I know you.”

Cal ‘Callie’ Stephanides & Clementine Stark
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

The rims of Clementine’s eyes were inflamed. She yawned. She rubbed her nose with the heel of her hand. And then she asked, “Do you want to practice kissing?”

I didn’t know what to answer. I already knew how to kiss, didn’t I? Was there something more to learn? But while these questions were going through my head, Clementine was going ahead with the lesson. She came around to face me. With a grave expression she put her arms around my neck.

The necessary special effects are not in my possession, but what I’d like for you to imagine is Clementine’s white face coming close to mine, her sleepy eyes closing, her medicine-sweet lips puckering up, and all the other sounds of the world going silent — the rustling of our dresses, her mother counting leg lifts downstairs, the airplane outside making an exclamation mark in the sky — all silent, as Clementine’s highly educated, eight-year-old lips met mine.

And then, somewhere below this, my heart reacting.

Not a thump exactly. Not even a leap. But a kind of swish, like a frog kicking off from a muddy bank. My heart, that amphibian, moving that moment between two elements: one, excitement; the other, fear. I tried to pay attention. I tried to hold up my end of things. But Clementine was way ahead of me. She swiveled her head back and forth the way actresses did in the movies. I started doing the same, but out of the corner of her mouth she scolded, “You’re the man.” So I stopped. I stood stiffly with arms at my sides. Finally Clementine broke off the kiss. She looked at me blankly a moment, and then responded, “Not bad for your first time.”

Katniss Everdeen & Peeta Mellark
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


“Don’t die for me. You won’t be doing me any favors. All right?”

I’m startled by his intensity but recognize an excellent opportunity for getting food, so I try to keep up. “Maybe I did it for myself, Peeta, did you ever think of that? Maybe you aren’t the only one who…who worries about…what it would be like if…”

I fumble. I’m not as smooth with words as Peeta. And while I was talking, the idea of actually losing Peeta hit me again and I realized how much I don’t want him to die. And it’s not about the sponsors. And it’s not about what will happen back home.

And it’s not just that I don’t want to be alone. It’s him. I do not want to lose the boy with the bread.

“If what, Katniss?” he says softly.

I wish I could pull the shutters closed, blocking out this moment from the prying eyes of Panem. Even if it means losing food. Whatever I’m feeling, it’s no one’s business but mine.

“That’s exactly the kind of topic Haymitch told me to steer clear of,” I say evasively, although Haymitch never said anything of the kind. In fact, he’s probably cursing me out right now for dropping the ball during such an emotionally charged moment. But Peeta somehow catches it.

“Then I’ll just have to fill in the blanks myself,” he says, and moves in to me.

This is the first kiss that we’re both fully aware of. Neither of us hobbled by sickness or pain or simply unconscious. Our lips neither burning with fever or icy cold. This is the first kiss where I actually feel stirring inside my chest. Warm and curious.

This is the first kiss that makes me want another.

Hermione Granger & Ron Weasley
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

“Hang on a moment!” said Ron sharply. “We’ve forgotten someone!”

“Who?” asked Hermione.

“The house-elves, they’ll all be down in the kitchen, won’t they?”

“You mean we ought to get them fighting?” asked Harry.

“No,” said Ron seriously, “I mean we should tell them to get out. We don’t want any more Dobbies, do we? We can’t order them to die for us —”

There was a clatter as the basilisk fangs cascaded out of Hermione’s arms. Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth. Ron threw away the fangs and broomstick he was holding and responded with such enthusiasm that he lifted Hermione off her feet.

“Is this the moment?” Harry asked weakly, and when nothing happened except that Ron and Hermione gripped each other still more firmly and swayed on the spot, he raised his voice. “OI! There’s a war going on here!”

Ron and Hermione broke apart, their arms still around each other.

“I know, mate,” said Ron, who looked as though he had recently been hit on the back of the head with a Bludger, “so it’s now or never, isn’t it?”

Quentin ‘Q’ Jacobsen & Margo Roth Spiegelman
Paper Towns by John Green

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She raises her fingers to her lips, as if concentrating, or as if hiding her mouth from me, or as if to feel the words she speaks. “You’re pretty something,” she says finally. She stares at me, my eyes and her eyes and nothing between them. I have nothing to gain from kissing her. But I am no longer looking to gain anything. “There’s something I have to do,” I say, and she nods very slightly, as if she knows the something, and I kiss her.

It ends quite a while later when she says, “You can come to New York. It will be fun. It will be like kissing.”

And I say, “Kissing is pretty something.”

And she says, “You’re saying no.”

And I say, “Margo, I have a whole life there, and I’m not you, and I-” But I can’t say anything because she kisses me again, and it’s in the moment that she kisses me that I know without question that we’re headed in different directions. She stands up and walks over to where we were sleeping, to her backpack. She pulls out the moleskin notebook, walks back to the grave, and places it in the ground.

“I’ll miss you,” she whispers, and I don’t know if she’s talking to me or to the notebook. Nor do I know to whom I’m talking to when I say, “As will I.”

Nicola Lancaster & Battle Hall Davies
Empress of the World by Sara Ryan

“You’re so beautiful,” I say. She blushes.

“Don’t lie,” she says.

I grab her shoulders and stare into her face. “You are.”

“You have been drinking!” she says.

I want to say “I love you,” but I’m scared to. So I kiss her instead. Then we have more wine.

The wine makes it easier. Everything we’ve been awkward about, all those steps we haven’t taken yet, all of it gets blurry and soft until all that’s left is sensations: cool night air on skin, hands and mouths moving over each other, the scent of pine mixed with lavender, the sound of breath.

Noah Calhoun & Allie Hamilton
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

Then I reach across and gently touch her face, soft like powder. I stroke her hair, and my breath is taken away. I feel wonder, I feel awe, like a composer first discovering the works of Mozart. She stirs and opens her eyes, squinting softly, and I suddenly regret my foolishness, for I know she will begin to cry and scream, for this is what she always does. I am impulsive and weak, this I know, but I feel an urge to attempt the impossible and I lean toward her, our faces drawing closer.

And when her lips meet mine, I feel a strange tingling I have never felt before, in all our years together, but I do not pull back. And suddenly, a miracle, for I feel her mouth open and I discover a forgotten paradise, unchanged all this time, ageless like the stars. I feel the warmth of her body, and as our tongues meet, I allow myself to slip away, as I had so many years ago. I close my eyes and become a mighty ship in churning waters, strong and fearless, and she is my sails. I gently trace the outline of her cheek, then take her hand in mine. I kiss her lips, her cheeks, and listen as she takes a breath. She murmurs softly, “Oh Noah…I’ve missed you.”

Another miracle-the greatest of all!-and there’s no way I can stop the tears as we begin to slip toward heaven itself.

Ennis del Mar & Jack Twist
Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

They seized each other by the shoulders, hugged mightily, squeezing the breath out of each other, saying, son of a bitch, son of a bitch, then, and easily as the right key turns the lock tumblers, their mouths came together, and hard, Jack’s big teeth bringing blood, his hat falling to the floor, stubble rasping, wet saliva welling, and the door opening and Alma looking out for a few seconds at Ennis’s straining shoulders and shutting the door again and still they clinched, pressing chest and groin and thigh and leg together, treading on each other’s toes until they pulled apart to breathe and Ennis, not big on endearments, said what he said to his horses and daughters, little darlin.

Henry DeTamble & Clare Anne Abshire
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

My apartment is basically a couch, an armchair, and about four thousand books.

“How lovely,” says Clare. She gets up and reseats herself on the sofa. I sit down next to her. There is a comfortable moment when we just sit there and look at each other. The candlelight flickers on Clare’s hair. She reaches over and touches my cheek. “It’s so good to see you. I was getting lonely.”

I draw her to me. We kiss. It’s a very . . . compatible kiss, a kiss born of long association, and I wonder just exactly what we’ve been doing in this meadow of Clare’s, but I push the thought away. Our lips part; usually at this point I would be considering how to work my way past various fortresses of clothing, but instead I lean back and stretch out on the sofa, bringing Clare along with me by gripping her under the arms and pulling; the velvet dress makes her slippery and she slithers into the space between my body and the back of the sofa like a velvet eel. She is facing me and I am propped up by the arm of the sofa. I can feel the length of her body pressing against mine through the thin fabric. Part of me is dying to go leaping and licking and diving in, but I’m exhausted and overwhelmed.

Don’t miss any of the New Year’s countdown! See all of the stories here.

This article originally appeared on Zola Books.

Kelly Gallucci
Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of Bookish.com, where she oversees Bookish's editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors like Leigh Bardugo, V.E. Schwab, and Sabaa Tahir. She's just coming off of moderating an author panel at New York Comic Con. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and binging Netflix with her pitbull. She is a Gryffindor.