Written for Color in a Black-White World's colored roses challenge at HPFC.

A crimson rose for Lily. "I love you." From James, on each Valentine's Day at Hogwarts, starting with fifth year.

The first time she got one, Lily tore off the petals and threw them in his face. He treated it as a joke, saying he just wanted to see what she would do. She hexed him.

Next year, she glared at him and made some crack about how some people never knew when to give up. The rose, however, stayed intact after being hastily shoved into her schoolbag. She only got rid of it after it had turned brown and fallen apart from being moved around, screamed at, cried over, and generally battered.

In seventh year, Valentine's Day came during one of their good weeks. She accepted the rose with a cautious smile, and allowed it to peek out of her planner all day. After the fourteenth, it stayed wrapped in a piece of tissue paper in her trunk. She kept that rose until graduation day. After that – well, why would she need a rose that said I love you when James told her that every day?

A dark red rose for Lily. Unconscious beauty. From her friend Alice during their fifth year, right after James's first crimson rose. It was Alice's way of saying that everything was fine, that Lily would make it with or without James.

Lily never read the note. She tossed the flower into the fire as soon as she got it, assuming it was from James also.

Alice never understood why Lily never referred to that rose.

James never understood what Lily was talking about when she tried to confront him about it.

A pink rose for Lily. Appreciation. From Remus, in their sixth year. The day before, she had finished preparing a batch of wolfsbane potion for him, with an anonymous note attached – I hope this helps with your 'furry little problem'. From the furtive glances she'd been casting his way all that day, he knew who it was. He sent the rose anonymously to her – It did, and Moony thanks you from the bottom of his heart.

Lily left that rose on her bedside table until her dorm mates started questioning, wondering who'd sent it. There was no way to explain without telling Remus's secret, so she laughed the rose off and allowed one of her friends to chuck it into the trashbin while they were tidying the room.

A white rose for Lily. Secrecy. Petunia sent it to her fourth year, after she'd missed seeing Lily off because she'd gotten into one of her snits. At first, Lily didn't understand. But the more she thought about it, the more she realized:

It was a secret that Tuney wasn't really mad at Lily.

It was a secret that she was sending her anything at all.

It was a secret that she still cared.

Lily was elated when she figured this out. Immediately, she sent her sister a long happy letter, ending with I love you, Tuney. Write back soon, please, I want to hear what's happening away from school – I never get to hear about the Muggle world anymore.

Petunia never replied. After a month of waiting with baited breath for the owl post, Lily ran up to her dormitory, grabbed the flower, and took it down to the owlery. A real sister would have written back to me, she penned hastily, before attaching the note to a large barn owl's leg. As for the white rose? Lily ground it into the floor of the owlery with her heel, pushing it deeper and deeper into the muck until it was gone.

A blue rose for Lily. Unattainable. From Peter, the day before graduation. He'd scrawled her a note in his scratchy, uneven handwriting.

Dear Lily,

You are James's now. I know that, and I know that that is irrevocable. I still wonder, however, what might have been between us, if I had had the courage to tell you of my feelings.

I've been in deep … like …with you since our first day at Hogwarts. Maybe it was my way of trying to one up James. Maybe it was real. But weak little me always went along with what my friends told me. If they said James had dibs on you, then James had dibs on you. I never challenged that.

Now, I wish I had. Sometimes, I wonder how things might be different for me if I'd confessed my feelings to you back when you and James fought like cats and dogs. Would it be me you run up to from behind and grab onto, tilting your head back and laughing as he – I – toss you up in the air and kiss you? I'm not sure.

I am sure of one thing, though. You are my unattainable.

Lily had cried when she had read that note. She never could have gone out with Peter – that's what she knew now, anyway. But a few years ago, she might have, out of sheer desperation to get James to leave her alone. And maybe – just maybe – they would have fallen in love. Now, she would never know.

She kept that rose until moving in with James – it would bring awkward questions, and she wanted to keep Peter's revelation a secret. Early one morning, before James was awake, she sat on their window seat and gently, one by one, tore the dead brown petals off and scattered them into the front yard.

An orange rose for Lily. Desire. From Sirius, at some point during their sixth year – she knew it was after Valentine's Day, because she was still confused about her feelings for James after that crimson rose. As for Sirius – he'd just come out of a bad breakup, at least that was what Remus had muttered to her as he slammed his books down on the Potions table, that day, upsetting a cauldron.

Lily's first thought when she got the rose was, 'but who would desire Sirius?' In the next moment or so, she realized it was supposed to be her.

She couldn't get it out of her head during dinner. At the back of her mind, a thought was nagging – that they both needed love. Maybe they could get it from each other.

Late that night, unable to sleep, she got up and slowly, ghostlike, almost in a trance, drifted down to the common room. He was waiting for her, just like she knew he would be. When they came together in an embrace, it felt so right, and yet so wrong.

That night was the only time she ever wanted him. The next morning, looking at the flower on her bedside table, it repulsed her, made her feel unclean. After everyone else left for breakfast, she opened the window, threw it out at for as it would go, watching with satisfaction as it fluttered out of view.

A lavender rose for Lily. Love at first sight. James presented it to her with a flourish, the night he asked her to marry him. 'Even if it took you a while to figure it out, I always knew we belonged together.' She had laughed, thrown her arms around his neck, and fervently kissed him.

Because deep, deep down, she had known it too.

She had meant to keep that rose forever, to treasure it. In the whirlwind of getting ready for the wedding, though, her mother emptied the vase it was in, sending the flower to the bottom of the garbage heap.

A yellow rose ringed with red for Lily. Falling in love. James gave it to her the day she'd run crying into his arms when he got back from work, telling him she was pregnant, and she was so sorry, and she knew they hadn't planned it this way, and that she hoped he wouldn't be mad. 'How could I be?' James had murmured into her hair, running his hand over her cheek, wiping away her tears. 'Why would I be mad about something so perfect?'

She'd fallen asleep early that night. The next morning, beside her bed was the rose, a glass of orange juice, and a note.

My Lily,

Sometimes I tell you I can't possibly love you anymore than I do without bursting. Well, last night, watching you sleep, I realized how wrong I was. Each day, I think I fall in love with you a little more. And now, with us having a baby, I think I'm starting to fall in love with him or her too – it's crazy, imagining being someone's father!

Sweet dreams, and I hope you see this when you wake up.

Forever, James

Lily kept this rose for longer than she'd managed to keep any of the other ones, for almost a year. One day, however, it slipped off where she'd laid it, across a table, and right into baby Harry's chubby little hands. In seconds, it was wilted brown dust, and he was looking up at her, gurgling and smiling. It was impossible to be mad. But there were days when, nostalgically, she thought of that rose, and all the flowers had come and gone before it.

A black rose for Lily. Death. Severus knelt in front of her grave and laid it down gently, reverently. He stroked the earth covering her – could it really only be a few feet between them? With a gasping cry, he crumpled inward, curling into a ball as he let down his guard for the first time in years, weeping for his old friend, his one true love.

As the seasons changed, the rose lay there still. By summer's end, it was mostly brown, with a small, faint tinge of green on the far tips of the stem. After autumn, it had managed to make a circuit of the grave, and now lay where her feet would have been. And, when the snow melted and spring returned, it was in many pieces, but still there, a testament to Lily. The final remnants of it are there still.

Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine, the plot is.

A/N: Rereading this, it sort of made me think of a Mamma Mia type story, with Lily's 'relationships' with all of James's friends. I didn't want all the roses to be from him, so I had to invent a few things. But anyway, which rose was your favorite? Which section do you think I need to work on? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this fic, so please, review!