"Garrhrhrh!" James flung both arms into the air, and hit his forehead on the bathroom mirror several times.
He took a deep breath, took a few steps back, and assessed the situation. His hands gravitated toward his head, and his fingers wound through the atrocious monstrosity that now dominated his hairline.
Sirius was totally going to pay for this.
After fifteen minutes of trying to bewitch his hair back to normal, James sunk to sit with his back against the tub, and sighed. The porcelain was cold and soothing. But it did nothing to diminish the nervous knot that was growing in his chest.
A knock came at the lavatory door. James stood up, and flung it open.
"James!" Peter said, startled, his eyes growing wide. "Did you know you're hair is pink?"
"WhereisSirius?" James growled, "I need to have a word with him," He tromped through the dormitory and started down the stairs, while Peter muttered a quiet "Oh," and considered following him to see how the whole thing turned out, but decided that he definitely, urgently, needed to pee.
James rushed into the common room with the Bat-Bogie Hex on his mind. He scanned the room, which was nearly empty. Most of the older students were at Hogsmeade this weekend, and the younger ones were all in library, because it was one of the few places that James and his friends did not frequently spend the weekends booby-trapping. It was only seconds between his feet reaching the landing and when he began upturning the cushions of the chairs and couches. He stuck a foot in the empty fireplace.
There was a sudden commotion among the curtains, and James muttered a de-concealment incantation and shot the curtains apart with one swift movement to reveal Remus rubbing his arm and Sirius with a grin that was sinister, disappointed, and completely devious all at once.
"Why, hello, James, my quaint fellow!" He began to circle the fuming boy like the curtains of the Gryffindor common room was where he conducted all of his business. Suddenly, his eyes lit up.
"My, my. What have you done with your hair?"
"Sirius, I'm supposed to meet Lily in twenty minutes! I—I can't be PINK!"
"Not pink. There really is a difference. Pity more people don't take notice."
Sirius cocked his head to the side, and James poked his gut with his wand.
Meanwhile, a first year in an armchair was trying not to giggle at the sight of James, who was adorned with a crown of incredibly, undeniably, embarrassingly pink hair. It stood up completely straight, and formed a type of pyramid on top of his head. At the top was a tuft of lingering black. The length of the whole situation was rather a lot longer than when James had gone to sleep the previous night.
The first year put his hand over his mouth to stifle his laughter. A small bout of breath escaped through his fingers, and the three older boys looked over.
"Do you think something's funny, squat?"
The mop atop his skull bobbed as he walked. The boy was reminded of his parrot, back home, which he accidently de-feathered in a tirade of Muggleborn toddler anger and left the bird with only the down on his head and tail.
"Whatsit, then? C'mon, speak up."
"Give the kid a break, James." Remus said, and James turned to him, but stayed rooted to the spot, a few feet from the firstie. His body was beginning to boil with a mixture of anger and humiliation. Finally, Lily had agreed to spend the day with him, and his friends had gone and mucked it up!
"Sirius will have me looking like an idiot in front of Lily, and you let him, Moony. Thank you. So much."
Remus looked at him apologetically, and Sirius punched him in the arm again. James tore his eyes from their squabble when the first year boy coughed slightly and said,
"You look like a troll doll."
His face flashed hot. Then, suddenly, the tuft of black hair was on fire.
A string of obscenities escaped the lips of all the boys. The young boy stumbled backward, knocking over an unlit candlestick on an unoccupied table and tripping over a snag in the carpet. Sirius tackled James while screaming a battle cry that could rival the volume of a banshee.
Remus' wand was knocked out of his hand as Sirius and James fell to the ground in a smoking heap. The water from the spell showered over them and Remus tried to stomp on James hair for good measure. All three of them were soaked now. They lay on the common room floor, and Sirius commented on first year that had fled during the commotion. Staring at the ceiling, James lightly touched his singed hair, and muttered,
There was a moment of quiet reflection.
"What the hell is a troll doll?"
"S'a Muggle toy." Remus responded.
Sirius grunted in amusement, and ever, ever so slowly, they all started to laugh. It wasn't a boisterous laughter, no; it was the kind of laughter one can only laugh after their friend's offensively pink hair has spontaneously burst into flames. James was the first to get up, and he helped his friends rise to their feet, and they rid themselves of water.
"We're friends, but I will kill you."
"Learn to take a joke, Potter." Sirius retorted, but he performed the countercharms anyway. James ran a hand through his new short, black hair, and while it no longer resembled that of a troll doll's it was nowhere near neat, and that was the way he liked it.
The sound of footsteps echoed through the stairwell to the boys' dormitories. From it emerged Peter who was freshly showered and performing a few drying spells on his own head.
"Did I miss anything?" They all shook their heads in reply.
"Oh, 'kay then." He failed to ever notice the faint smell of burning hair that lingered in the hair. It stayed in the common room for the next few days.
More footsteps, but this time, they were coming from the opposite stairwell; the girls' dormitories. James immediately tensed, and before he could collect himself he was staring into a pair of bright, green eyes. They swept over his entourage, and returned to him with the slight raise of an eyebrow.
"Sorry I'm late."
"No, really, it's fine."
"Evans," Sirius said, standing at attention and saluting.
"Black," She mimicked, raising two fingers to her temple. "Will your gang be coming along?"
James shook his head quickly and nervously ran a hand through his hair again, but Sirius nodded feverishly, a lopsided, loopy smile taking over his face. His tongue stuck out a little, and he resembled a panting dog eager to be taken for a walk.
"Stay," James instructed, before slipping out of the portrait hole after Lily.
As the pair walked through the corridors, they fell into the rhythm of conversation.
"And Slughorn wants me to co-lead his new club or something, but I can hardly find the time, what with how I'm falling behind in History of Magic." She said and he murmured his understanding, dodging one of the staircases' vanishing steps.
James led her past the Great Hall which had its doors propped open. There were a few students dwindling from a late breakfast. A gaggle of third years talked excitedly about their plans for their first trip to Hogsmeade, and were fussily fixing their robes.
The entrance to the castle was flooded with the morning light, and as James and Lily stepped into the sun's embrace, the tired film of night melted into the stone steps.
"I think I'd like to know something about you."
"What do you mean? Haven't I been talking all this time?"
"Well, yes and no." He pulled her across the lawn to a bit of shade under a tree. They sat in the cool shadow for a few moments before he continued.
"I mean, what about you? Surely school isn't all you've got going for you. What's your family like? Or something."
"You don't want to hear about my family." Lily gave a small, sad smile, and picked at the grass by her feet. She leaned back against the tree, and the breeze picked up her hair, tossing it about in front of her face. It gave a strange impression that she was on fire. Without much thought, James grabbed a lock of hair and tucked it behind her ear.
There they were again, those green eyes.
The wind ruffled the forest, which chorused in protest, and James and Lily continued to look at each other, unmoving.
In this instance, Lily was very glad that she had accepted to spend the day with him. All the years she'd known him, he'd rather seemed like a jerk, but as the years progressed, so did his attitude. And, she had to admit, the way he was always trying extra hard to impress her was rather endearing, no matter how often she chastised him for being cocky. It certainly helped that he was cute. Besides, she was just having fun. Nothing would probably come of it anyhow.
James was studying Lily's features, trying to memorize them.
First, it was Lily who inched forward, drawn in by the intensity of his gaze, Next, James leaned in, and they both turned their bodies so that they were both sitting crisscross with their knees touching.
"We don't need to talk about it," He assured her.
James took her hand, and turned it over in his own. At first, she flinched self-consciously, and then settled again, leaning a cheek against the bark of the tree. It felt rough against her face, but in a pleasant, earthy way. It felt great to escape the castle. She pulled away from James to pick up a small twig some ways away. With immense concentration and a few flicks of her wand, it was transfigured into an apple. Sinking back into the grass, she took a bite and some juiced dribbled out, that she quickly wiped away, embarrassed.
She attempted to toss the apple away, but failed miserably. James retrieved it a few feet away, and hurls it into the forest and out of sight.
"Not even fair!" Lily squealed, "You're a Chaser. Chucking stuff is like, your life."
"Yes, I think that about sums it up."
She playfully hit him, and he gave her a small shove. Together, they sank back into the grass and James crawled around under the tree for a bit, looking for a rock to transfigure so he could show her a trick Remus taught him. Lily watched him, entertained by his meticulous search among the blades of grass. After a minute, he returned, a small pebble in hand, which with a few taps, exploded into a display of golden sparks that spelled out, "Cool, eh?" The letters imprinted in her vision and she smiled.
"Potter," She said, "There's something I need to tell you."
Lily leaned in, her chin brushing his shoulder, and lips poised by his ears, and whispers,
"You have Sirius's name written in pink on the back of your head."