Lily Evans had long considered the possibility of falling in love; falling in love with James Potter, to be exact. But until today, the last day of her seventh year at Hogwarts, the idea had seemed dreadful, appalling, terrifying, stupid...anything but pleasant.
But then she had seen something. Something she was sure she had not been expected to see.
James Potter, face pale and worn, leaning back into a corner of the common room, obviously trying not to be seen as he watched her pause before leaving the common room. She had felt his hazel eyes on her, and had turned just in time for their eyes to lock momentarily before James had looked away with a pained expression. Lily hadn't quite understood until a chance meeting with Sirius Black in the hall on the way to Transfiguration gave her some clues.
He had nearly knocked her over as he rushed past on his way to the Gryffindor dorms in search of his best friend, James having mysteriously disappeared from most classes. He then stopped to help her pick up the pile of homework he had caused her to drop.
"Hey, Evans," Sirius began, handing the collected stack of papers to her, "You know...James is feeling really miserable today."
"I noticed," Lily replied, "And you're acting as if it's all my fault."
"Well..." Sirius scratched the back of his neck, as he replied carefully, "He's feeling miserable because...all these years, he's been madly in love with you, and has never gotten a positive response from you, even when he forced himself to suck up criticisms rather than hex the criticizer...and you don't know how hard that is for James. He...Lily, he really feels as if he should have won your heart by now, and you don't even like him. He thinks he did something wrong."
Lily gave Sirius a skeptical look and said, "You're lying, aren't you? Black, I have no proof that you're telling the truth, therefore, I have every right to believe you are lying."
Sirius' face contorted slightly at being so easily disbelieved, yet he persisted, "Lily...James has loved you ever since he first saw you at Platform 9 3/4 for the first time nearly eight years ago. You've always despised him. Couldn't you please give him a chance? Look, I would not beg for anything but this, you've got to believe me. James loves you so much, he's changed himself only to please you. You haven't had a boyfriend in all your time at Hogwarts, surely you must think that's significant."
"I know, James scared off all the other boys. Well, I never wanted a boyfriend," Lily insisted, though Sirius' words were strangely moving. He seemed to truly care about his best friend.
"Look, please just give in...just once. You won't regret it. James will love you forever, Lily."
"I-I just can't."
And that's what you've reduced yourself to, Lily Evans. No logic, no thought, no smart comeback. Just a slightly over-emotional 'I just can't'. Sirius is probably already celebrating his victory.
But Sirius' blue eyes held nothing but desperation for his friend's happiness, "Lily, please."
That's when Lily broke. She threw her homework, which she and Sirius had just collected to the ground and burst into tears. Idiot, you've already fallen for him and it was Sirius Black who told you all of this. Stupid, foolish, idiotic Lily. Now you've just gone downhill way too quickly.
But the images in her head of James' pleading expressions, his desperate looks, his declarations of what he must have thought hopeless love. It had all been so real to him; but to herself, it had been nothing more than a prank of the Marauders. She felt like mentally kicking herself for being such a fool.
Great, now she was beating herself up about letting Potter down.
But he was heartbroken! Nearly eight years of chasing her, asking her out, begging to marry her, desperately hoping she would say yes to something besides hating him. And not once had she given him any hope. She had acted as if his pouring out of his heart was all a stupid joke, and now James had given up hope. He would probably be too scared to ever fall in love again...maybe he would stay hopelessly in love with her for the rest of his days.
Lily gasped suddenly and her face went pale.
No, he mustn't have to endure that! She had so suddenly fallen for him that seeing it all out there like that...it hurt. Loving her must have been one of the hardest things James had ever endured; yet he had done it...he had never stopped, no matter how much heartache he could have been spared.
Shoving past Sirius, Lily ran down the hall and practically flew up to the portrait where she choked out the password before bursting into the room, skimming it quickly until her eyes locked on James' forlorn face in the corner of the room.
"James!" She exclaimed, and rushed over to fall into his arms, which he barely had time to open to her before he felt her soft lips pressed against his own, and tasted tears in her tender kiss...the kiss he had so long wished for, and was now simply too surprised to return. But this didn't seem to faze Lily. She continued to kiss him, arms around his neck, eyes closed in sudden bliss, tears still flowing from under her eyelashes.
For a minute, James could only hold her there, feeling as if his mind was spinning out of control, and his heart had leapt to his throat. Lily Evans was kissing him! His Lily Evans was kissing him!
A few more moments passed, and then James snapped back to reality so suddenly that Lily almost fell backwards when he began to kiss her back, releasing all of the love, adoration, admiration, and obsession he had held for her all these years. He caught her, however, before she could fall backwards, and ran his fingers through her soft cascades of red hair and nearly giving himself a heart attack doing it.
James had loved her all this time, despite how much she had always seemed to hate him, but after this, he thought he might die being apart from her.
Lily, on the other hand, had never realized exactly how much James loved her until now. He was kissing her back! He was running his hands through her hair! Now he was cupping her face between his hands, still returning her kiss! This was what she had been so afraid of? This boy who was kissing her so tenderly was the same boy she had been sure would make her fall and then run off?
But he hadn't.
He had made her fall...eventually...but he had been there to catch her.
Subconsciously, Lily's delicate hands crept up James' face to caress his cheeks softly before running her hands through that naturally messy hair which he had stopped purposefully messing up for her sake.
Thinking of this, Lily fiercely messed up James' hair, and then, feeling it was all too soon, pulled back to see James' reaction.
His black hair had never looked so messy and untamed...his face had never looked so satisfied...his eyes had never looked at her so adoringly...his hands had never held her own so gently...
...Oh, no, they had never held her own at all...
Lily fell forward and sobbed into James' shoulder, wondering how he could possibly still love the heartless girl who had who had put him through so much, and never so much as ceased to utterly despise him.
"I'm sorry..." Lily sobbed.
James' arms tightened around her and he kissed her forehead softly, "Don't apologize, Lily...never apologize. I love you so much..."
Lily looked up into those loving hazel eyes behind the round-rimmed glasses. She knew she had to tell him now.
"I love you too, James...and, if your offer is still valid-" Lily began, but James cut her off by dropping suddenly to one knee and asking, looking up into her bright emerald eyes which still shone with tears, "Lily Evans, will you marry me?"
Some sound which was a cross between a sigh and a scream left Lily's lips before she sank down beside James and knocked him back against the wall when she crashed her lips on his once again. He still loved her after all she had put him through.
No one was even half as perfect as James Potter.
James pulled Lily down next to him and continued to kiss her, feeling his heart skip every time her lips twitched into a smile beneath his own.
It could have been only minutes...but it also could have been hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, millennia...before they finally sat up and looked at each other, both breathing rapidly and beaming from ear to ear.
"Is that a 'yes'?" James asked, hopefully.
"Was it not definite enough for you?" Lily inquired, allowing herself to be pulled in once more.
Loving James Potter was like breathing: necessary to keep her alive...even if it had taken her eight years to realize it.
All she could say after that was, "Never change, James. Please. Never ever change."