Hi there, Violet! ^.^
What a sweet story you've crafted here! It's very fluffy and romantic and adorable, which is rather perfect for a Valentine's Day inspired challenge, but it's also got an undercurrent of the darker times ahead of them! And it also happens to be James/Lily, whom I adore. Yay!
The opening paragraphs were both really great; my two favorites of the entire story, I think. Without overdoing it, you managed to remind us of how different the world these days is and how scary and uncertain all things are in regards to the future. You remind us of just how young James and Lily are, having only just left school, and wishing still for the extra bit of safety that life at Hogwarts under Dumbledore's watchful eye once provided for them. This line in particular is a stand-out: "She made him want to fight for a future where they could live free from the persecution of those that hated people like Lily simply because of her magical origins." You remind us with that line of what exactly this war is about and the importance of fighting for equality and fairness.
You've done a great job at balancing both the romantic and the nostalgic, with a light sprinkling of the uncertainty that lay beyond due to impending war. It made for a rather simple story on the surface, but with a much more complex undertone to it. That can be tricky to pull off, but I think you accomplished it without any signs of struggle. :)
I really enjoyed the foundation of this story, being James seeking out Lily on what could very well be a final day of decent weather and walking her around her hometown, knowing that soon enough they'll be moving and she'll be leaving this place possibly for good. It's a very kind gesture on James' part to appreciate what she's giving up to be closer to him and to the Order.
The inclusion of Petunia was great, even with just the small glimpse we get to see of her. I love the idea of her having the ability to frighten the sun away with her face alone! Bahaha Too funny. You really captured her distaste of James and his relationship with Lily without spending too much time on the subject, keeping the focus where it should be - on James and Lily.
This probably seems like a really arbitrary detail to be pointing out, but this line here: "The leaves crunched beneath his feet with an audible crack as he walked closer to her door and he relished the sound that brought him back to happier days." - it really stuck out to me simply because that small description about the crunching leaves just gave the story an extra layer of realism and sense of environment, in my opinion. It's the small details in writing that culminate together to create a good story, and so these seemingly insignificant moments are actually really important in the overall effect a story can have. I just really loved the line. :) There were some other moments too, like the way the red and gold leaves kick up around them as they rush out of the house, or how James' glasses slide down his nose a bit as he spins Lily around, and she gently slides them back into place. Just little touches that make a big impact.
I like how you switched POV's! It gave us a look inside the head of both of them, and I'm hoping it's something Maelody has done with her own piece as well! I loved getting the chance to see Lily's hometown through her eyes because it allowed for a very poignant sense of nostalgia to surface. We get a little glimpse at her favorite places, some references to her relationship with Snape, and just a sense of what it is exactly that she's leaving behind. As someone who had to leave my childhood home a few years ago, I was very touched by the moments of revisiting significant places. Very sweet. :)
I've only got one very minor critique, which you can absolutely ignore, as it really is a very tiny detail! It's quite simply the fact that I noticed there were a few places in which you would say or use similar words or phrases really close together so it would feel a bit repetitive. Here's an example: "He had come today to *surprise her and take her out for the afternoon on the *surprisingly warm autumn day..." - Like I said, super minor, but I think the sentence would read nicer if you replaced one of the variations of the word 'surprise' with something else. There were some other small occurrences, but it's a really nitpicky thing to be pointing out anyway. :-p
hehehe The ending is very cute. I like the idea of James being the type of person who doesn't care about making a fool of himself dancing in public without any music, and that he can influence a slightly more reluctant Lily to follow his lead. ^.^
Overall, this story was really cute and thoroughly enjoyable. I'm excited to see how Maelody's will reflect your own! The description you wrote about on the forums about the two stories connection(s) was really intriguing and I look forward to seeing the similarities in the next chapter! Also, congratulations on finishing this lovely story on time for the competition! It was a seriously hard challenge, right? haha Great job, Violet!