Lily Evans groaned as she walked down the corridor to Charms class as quickly as she could, ignoring the greeting. She heard pounding footsteps behind her, and walked even quicker, if that was possible. She was so close to the classroom! SO CLOSE, COME ON--
James Potter grabbed her arm and spun her around. "Red, didn't you hear me call your name?"
"My name?" Lily said disgustedly. "My name isn't RED."
The irritating yet attractive boy smirked. "Yes, I know. It's Lily Marie Evans, but--"
Lily's cheeks flushed red, and James's smirk, if possible, got even wider. Lily quickly caught herself and spat, "What, do you STALK me, then, Potter?"
"No, of course not." This time, it was James's face that heated up a bit, and Lily smiled triumphantly, wrenching her arm out of his. He had been gripping it tightly and it hurt a little.
"I'm sure that's the case, Potter," Lily said a bit coldly. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have Charms class to attend." She stepped around him gracefully and he gaped at her flowing red hair that fanned out behind her. His friends, also known as the Marauders, quickly caught up to him and shook their heads at his stunned expression.
"Oy, just give it up, Prongs," Sirius Black, his best friend patted his back. "It's not worth it. You've been chasing her for what, 3 years now?"
James sighed. "3 years and 2 weeks, but who's counting?"
Peter Pettigrew, another one of his friends, laughed. "You are, apparently."
"Come on, we'll be late to class," their friend Remus Lupin said worriedly, and they followed him to the Charms classroom where Lily had disappeared just moments earlier.
During class, James couldn't help but stare at Lily's hair. It's red, he repeatedly told himself. Who is she kidding, thinking it's auburn? Isn't that basically the same?
A few seats away, Lily was having similar thoughts. It's auburn! How can Potter not see that it's auburn! They're both very different. Ugh.
"Okay, class," Professor Flitwick, their Charms teacher, called out. "I've put you in partners for today!" Groans met this remark. "Oh class, it won't be that bad! Well, our first group will be Alice Prewett and Frank Longbottom!"
Alice was Lily's best friend, and Lily was sad that they weren't partnered up. However, she was pretty happy for her friend because Alice had a huge crush on Frank. Maybe this would lead to a new development between them! Alice gave Lily a sheepish look as she moved toward the empty seat next to Frank. Lily sighed disappointingly and zoned out for the rest of the names until suddenly she heard, "Lily Evans and James Potter!"
James could not believe his luck. Sirius gave him a high five. "Good luck, Prongs!"
On the other hand, Lily could not believe her misfortune. "Surely, Professor, there's a mistake!" she cried out.
"No, Lily," the professor peered down at his paper. "No mistake at all. There is to be no changing of partners, either. Move along, now."
Lily groaned and picked up her bag. She tentatively sat down in the seat next to Potter, and he was grinning like mad. She began to get quite frustrated at him, and said, "Look, could you please stop grinning?"
"I will if you'll go out with me, Red!" he replied cheekily.
"UGH! Just, ugh! Let's just get to work, alright? And don't call me Red! My hair isn't red!"
"What are you talking about?" James asked confusedly. "It's red! It's the color red!"
"I'll have you know that my hair has shades of brown in it! That makes it auburn, not red!" Lily retorted angrily.
"Well, who cares? It's still got red in it so it's red!"
"I think I would know the color of my hair better than you do, Potter!"
"Mr. Potter, Miss Evans! What is going on over there? Get to work, please!"
Lily, despite her great respect for her Charms teacher, huffed angrily. "I can't take it anymore!" she cried out. She stormed out of the room.
James gapingly stared at her retreating back. "I'm sorry, Professor," he said quickly. "If you'll excuse me." He ran out after her.
Lily Evans, the auburn haired one, she thought fiercely as she ran for her life, had just skipped out during the middle of class. Lily knew for sure that she would probably be in huge trouble if Professor Flitwick saw her again soon. She quickly ran out of the entrance and down to the beech tree next to the Black Lake, her favorite spot, and sighed. She sat down and hugged herself since it was a little chilly outside. Why does Potter always do this to me? She grabbed a handful of fall leaves. Auburn...auburn...
She spotted a red leaf and grabbed it. Was James right? Were they really both the same? No, a voice inside her said. Auburn has brown is it, doesn't it?
Another voice in her head replied, Oh, what does it matter? Lily began to crumple up the red leaf viciously.
A large hand covered the one which was crumpling up the leaf. "No, don't," a voice said softly.
Tears began to well up in Lily's eyes. "Why shouldn't I?" her voice cracked.
James sat down next to her, his hand still covering hers. He could feel its coldness and its stiffness. He started to rub his hand against hers to warm it up. She stiffened and drew her hand away. "No, don't," she said.
"Lily, what happened back there...I--" he began, but was interrupted.
"No, don't apologize," she said, looking down at the little red leaf in her lap. Lily took a deep breath. "It was my fault."
James didn't expect this, but he quickly covered the surprise on his face. "No, it's not. I kept on disagreeing with you and causing you trouble. I'm sorry." The words tumbled out before Lily could stop him.
"It--it doesn't matter," she shakily replied and picked up the leaf between her fingers. "No. It doesn't." It sounded as if she wanted to convince herself of that.
"Are you sure?" James gently asked.
Lily laughed a bit hysterically. Oh, she was so confused! "Of course I am!"
James didn't say anything, but took the leaf from her hands. So quietly, she could barely hear him, he said, "I don't think so."
She turned to him, gaping a bit. He continued, "It matters a lot. You want to be more than a "normal Lily". You want to stand out, but at the same time, you're a bit scared what people will think. And then, when I came along..."
Lily gulped. She was too shocked that James was so perceptive. He was a bit nervous to say anything else concerning him and Lily's...situation. But Lily wanted to hear more. No, she needed to hear more. "Go on," she whispered.
Holes in her shield....gaps in her auburn hair...
"Well, when I came along, you were afraid. You were scared to get hurt. You've seen the girls I dated before, their broken hearts. Here was your chance to stand out from the rest. You could..well, reject me. And it worked. The famous James Potter, rejected over and over again by the infamous Lily Evans!" He started to sound bitter at the last part.
"I'm so sorry...how could you..know...I didn't really know myself.." she murmured faintly.
"A change, isn't it," he stingily replied.
More tears filled her eyes. "I'm so, so, so sorry, James.."
He was brought out of his bitterness when she said his name. She said his name..his real name...James...
"But it's okay, Lily," he patted her shoulder. "It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter whether it's red, or auburn."
Lily raised her head defiantly up at them. "They're not the same."
"No, they're not," he agreed. "But they're close, real close." Lily didn't seem to get the double meaning in his sentence and he sighed disappointingly.
She wriggled out of his grasp. "Oh look," she cried happily, "An auburn leaf."
The shade was so close to the bright, fiery red of the other leaf, but Lily felt as if she needed to hold on to that last piece of her wall. It was all she had lived for the past 3 years and 2 weeks. "See," she told him, "this is auburn. Doesn't it look like my hair?" She held the leaf up next to her head.
He was tempted to say, "No, I still think it's red." But he knew that wouldn't solve this battle, so he simply said, "Yes, it does."
Lily was surprised too. "Oh.." she stuttered. "Good.."
"It's beautiful," he bluntly told her. She started blushing like crazy.
"James.." she began, and bit her lip. "Thank you."
He smiled. "You're welcome, anytime."
Her face broke out into a huge grin. "Well, in that case..I'd like to thank you in a special way."
James's face morphed into a confused expression. "What?"
Lily leaned in close. "Thank you," she said softly, stressing it one more time.
And then, much to his astonishment, she pressed her lips to his. When she released them, she hesitatingly watched his face for signs of a reaction. But it was still very shocked. Her face became pink and she got up and began to run away.
Somebody grabbed her arm and made her turn around sharply, though. James's face was beaming. "Lily, don't go."
He pulled her in again, and her wall finally came crashing down.
"Red or auburn?" he breathed when they broke apart.
Lily pondered this. "Both," she whispered. "They're both beautiful."