"Hurry Mum, we're going to miss the train!" cried an extremely agitated young woman of seventeen years.
"Lily dear, calm down," Mariah Evans said soothingly, sensing the obvious note of despair in her youngest daughter's voice. She tore her eyes away from the huge traffic jam that stood between their Chevy and King's Cross Station to meet her daughter's worried ones. Mariah couldn't help but allow a small smile to creep across her face. Looking at her dear daughter was like staring into a mirror. The reflection was nearly identical, except for the eyes. Lily's startling emerald green eyes flashed dangerously whenever she was angry...or frustrated, like now.
The young woman groaned from behind a curtain of thick, curly red hair that cascaded gently over her lean shoulders and slumped most un-ladylike in the passenger seat. Herma, her coal black owl, hooted angrily from her perch atop the black lacquered trunk currently taking residence of the back seat, reflecting the tense mood that had fallen on the car. For perhaps the thousandth time in the past hour, Lily questioned the other occupant of the car.
"Mum, why couldn't I just have Apparated to the station?"
Mariah Evans sighed and turned her attention back to the crowded London street that blocked their intended path. "Honey, you know my feelings about that."
Lily, having turned seventeen on June 24, was finally considered "of age" and had earned her Apparating license on her first try a week previously. She was quite skilled at the difficult magic, which was to be expected, for Lily Evans was the smartest witch in her year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In fact, only one person matched her grades and could even begin to challenge her intelligence; the arrogant, annoying, and (Lily grimaced at this particular thought) devilishly handsome James Potter. With his tousled black hair, beautiful hazel eyes, charming grin that made many of his admirers weak in the knees, muscular, toned, and lean body, and talent on the Quidditch field (not to mention his spot as Hogwart's #2 best prankster; second only to his best friend Sirius Black, who along with James and two fellow seventh years, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew, made up the "Marauders," the group behind all of the best pranks and jokes pulled at Hogwarts), it was no wonder that all the girls in the school swooned when the popular young man walked in their midst. All except for one, of course.
James Gerad Potter had made it his mission since his first year at Hogwarts to annoy the heck out of a certain beautiful redhead. And succeed he did. Why, one may be asking? Ah. This was where a matter of young James's heart came in. Ever since Lily Evans had walked into his life on that fateful day in August six years ago, she had stolen his heart. He was hopelessly, undeniably, passionately in love with her. Of course, as a clueless guy, the only way he knew of communicating his feelings was by relentless teasing. Unfortunately, Lily happened to be the one and only girl in the history of Hogwarts ever to refuse a date with him. The way luck would have it, she rejected him not once, but over fifty times (the number of times he had asked her out since the fifth year, but who was counting?) It was quite obvious that she strongly disliked James—or so it would seem to observers of the two's interactions with each other. In reality, however...
The redhead shook herself out of her thoughts, cringing as she realized she had wasted three whole minutes think about that James Potter, when there were much more important things to be pondered. Such as how she was going to catch the Hogwarts Express by 11:00, when, according to her delicate silver wristwatch (a birthday gift from her grandparents) it was already 10:50. Turning her attention back to her mother, Lily had just opened her mouth to pursue the earlier topic of conversation when she noticed her mother was smirking. Most unattractive thing for a women of thirty-five years to do, especially her own mother. Rolling her eyes, the young woman said sweetly, "Yes Mum?"
"We have arrived." her smirk widened when she caught sight of the surprised look on Lily's face when she realized that the Chevy was now indeed taking up a parking space very close to Platform Nine.
"May I ask what, or shall I say whom has been in your thoughts? Perhaps that Potter boy...handsome young man he is, and he fancies you!"
"Evil woman!" Lily muttered, not being able to control the slight pink tinge that was slowly rising on her cheeks at the mere mention of James Potter. The truth was, the two had been corresponding all summer (by owl, of course) and, as much as she hated to admit, her opinion of the raven-haired young man had changed slightly. Perhaps he wasn't an annoying, conceited git all the time; just 95 of the time.
The letter exchange had begun a week after their sixth year at Hogwarts had commenced, in the form of a plea of help from James. Lily had almost keeled over in shock when she viewed the contents; James Potter was actually starting his summer Transfiguration assignment two and a half months before it was due! Being the procrastinating, lazy git he was, it was quite rare for one to find the good-looking Gryffindor Seeker hard at work in front of the roaring fire of the Common Room, head bent intently over a piece of parchment and quill scratching furiously. Instead, he relied solely on his great intelligence, charm, and ability to whip up essays and assignments over breakfast to earn him top marks. And, as usual, James Potter excelled with flying colors, as he did in all aspects of life. However, one question had stumped the boy in Transfiguration; therefore he sought help from a certain redhead who he knew could never resisting helping anyone in need. Lily sighed as she hopped lightly out of the car, carefully gathered her belongings, and bid her mother farewell. Tears welling up in her beautiful green eyes, the witch walked briskly through the wall separating Platform Nine and Ten, still deep in thought.
What had started out as homework help had quickly progressed to a constant stream of letters flowing from Godric Hollow to 54 Bullfrog Lane. At first, Lily tried hard to deny the fact that her heart beat a little faster when she saw a piece of parchment clutched in Goldeye's (James's owl) talons, bearing the name Lily Evans in James's neat, cursive scrawl. Admittedly, she hurriedly tore open the envelopes each time, anxious to see what the contents would reveal. James was very sweet and polite in his frequent letters, talking about his summer and asking about hers, and even going as far as apologizing for his actions for the past six years and begging for her forgiveness. The memory of one particular letter still made heat rise on her cheeks; the one when he admitted that he had changed over the summer; changed for her. "I am hoping you will look at me with a different light this year, Lily Evans. I have changed drastically; for the better. For you. I know you despise me, or so it may seem, but I beg you, please give me a chance; give us a chance to become friends." As truthful and sincere it had sounded, Lily wasn't the smartest witch in Hogwarts for nothing; she wanted concrete proof of the supposed-metamorphosis. Until then, he was an annoying prat in her mind. After all, James Potter wasn't the most accomplished prankster and jokester at Hogwarts for nothing; his talent at lying had helped him squeeze out of many a tight spot.
So involved in reminiscing, Lily did not realize she had successfully passed through the barrier; that is, until she ran into something very hard and...muscular. "Hello, Lily." came the unmistakable voice of James Potter. Just hearing it made petite butterflies in her stomach begin to flap their delicate wings. "Just shock," she thought almost-desperately, "shock that he called me Lily instead of just 'Evans'." Removing herself from a most embarrassing position (her head was pressed against his quite firm chest, arms wrapped around his waist), Lily straightened her dark blue jean jacket, tucked a rebellious strand of hair around one ear and said quite casually, "Potter," as if she was quite accustomed to literally running into handsome men.
"Well, well, the Mudblood has found herself a boyfriend. My my, Potter, I though you could do much better than her," came the cold drawl of Lucius Malfoy, disgust and hatred etched into his face as he took in the scene. Within a split-second, James's wand was prodding Malfoy's neck; its owner, in the deadliest whisper imaginable muttered through gritted teeth, "You're going to regret that Malfoy."
Lucius, however, calmly ran one slender hand through his pale blonde hair and said smugly, "Now Potter, I'd strongly advise you remove your wand from my body, for..." (he continued with a condescending air) "as the Head Boy of Hogwarts, it would be my great delight to delve out the most unpleasant punishments to those who point wands at other students...", but he never got to complete his sentence, for the warning bell for the Hogwarts Express rang shrilly. Black robes billowing, the Slytherin turned on his heel and shouted over his shoulder icily, "Unlike you and that worthless Mudblood, I have matters of great importance to attend to." Throwing another dirty glance at the pair, he strutted arrogantly into the Prefects Compartment. James, wearing a look of the utmost loathing was literally shaking with barely-concealed fury, looking the every bit like he would murder Malfoy in a second if given the chance.
"Come on, James!" Lily yelled, dragging him by the hand to the train while quickly levitating her trunk. Warmth washed through her whole body as their fingers met, but Lily brushed it off. Reflecting back on this event at a later time the beautiful redhead wondered why she had grabbed Potter's hand and finally wrote it off as a moment of temporary insanity. "Non compos mentos," she whispered softly. Still, it was difficult to deny the fact that the brief contact had felt great...well, more than great. Bloody wonderful!
The pair boarded the train seconds before it began to pull slowly away from the station. "That was bloody close," James a bit breathlessly, running his free hand through his tousled hair while turning to look at the petite redhead beside him. It was only then that Lily realized she was still holding his hand...quite tightly, as a matter of fact. "Er, sorry," she mumbled, mentally cursing her tendency to blush easily as a red tinge slowly rose on her cheeks. "I must go to the Heads Compartment, I'll see you later..." she paused, deciding what to call him, "James." She walked very briskly in the opposite direction, but stopped dead in her tracks when she heard his response: "You know Lily; you're looking quite pretty today...would you fancy coming to our (the Marauder's) compartment when you're done with your duties?"
Lily, who had planned stalking away without the dignity of giving him a reply was quite surprised to hear the answer, "That would be great, James!" exiting her mouth.
"It's a date, Evans," the Gryffindor smirked, blowing her a kiss. Lily grimaced and continued her walk down the train. Perhaps he hadn't changed at all.