Too Late

She was too late. She had lost her chance. He had moved on, he had a girlfriend, and Lily Evans was in despair. For years, James Potter had chased her and asked her out constantly, and she had always rejected him. They had become Head Students together and were now friends, and then James had stopped annoying her and asking her out. Then, right when she realized she was hopelessly in love with him, he went and got a girlfriend.

Three weeks before, Lily had finally admitted out loud, to her best friend Alice, that she was in love with James. That same day she heard he was going out with Rachel Burke, and when she asked him about it he said it was true.

"I hate him!" Lily announced, as she slammed her dormitory door.

"Who? James?" said Alice, who had been sitting in Lily's swivel chair, flipping through the latest issue of Witch Weekly. "What did he do now?"

"He is down there with her, pawing each other on the sofa," said Lily, grabbing her pillow and throwing it at the door.

"Will you just tell him you like him? Do us all a favour," said Alice for the fiftieth time. She was growing thoroughly tired of hearing Lily talk about James and Rachel.

"No, he has a girlfriend now," Lily insisted, pushing the image of James and Rachel connected by the lips out of her head. "I just have to get over him. You know… forget that I love him."

"Yeah, let me know how that works for you," said Alice sarcastically, rolling her eyes as she scanned an article about healthy hair.

"I can get over him," insisted Lily.

"Sure you can," Alice said with an amused smile.

"I can and I am. I am over him and now… now…"

"That sure was quick," said Alice, not believing Lily for a second.

"Now I want to date… a Ravenclaw… yes, that is a splendid idea," said Lily furious that Alice was so unbelieving almost like she was mocking her.

"Give it up and just talk to James," said Alice, rolling her eyes at Lily.

"NO! I am totally over James Bloody Potter. I'm off to find a nice Ravenclaw to snog, don't wait up," said Lily, storming out of the dormitory.

"Oh Merlin, she has really lost it this time," Alice said to the now empty room. "Why do I have to live with a loon?"

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James was doing the Head patrols himself that night, since Lily hadn't shown up. It wasn't that unusual; sometimes she preferred to patrol herself or with a prefect. So James was wandering around the castle himself, making sure everyone was in their common room. He was on the fourth floor, when he heard a noise in one of the classrooms it sounded like someone had dropped something. He knew people used the classrooms to fool around at night, and interrupting them was not a perk of being a Head student. But James knew he had to walk in and dock points, otherwise Lily would lecture him on being too soft again.

He opened the door and the nothing could have prepared him for what he saw. Amos Diggory had his hands and mouth all over his Lily. It took a few seconds for Lily to realise that they weren't alone.

"James!" she gasped, pushing Amos away so hard he fell on his arse.

"Twenty points from Gryfindor and Ravenclaw. Get back to your Common Rooms!" said James coldly, not even being able to look at Lily.

"James let me…" tried Lily.

"I said get back to your Common Rooms or I'll give you both detentions. Separate detentions," he said and then he fled.

"James! James! Please stop," Lily called as she ran after him.

"What?" said James, stopping and letting Lily catch up to him.

"Let me explain…" she panted.

"Why? Who you… it's none of my business and it's not like I've never ditched rounds for a little bit of fun. I just… thought you had better taste that's all," said James, every word leaving a bitter taste in his mouth.

"James, please stop looking at me like that," whispered Lily. It wasn't the way he was looking at her, it was more like he wouldn't look at her face and he just had a disgusted look on his face and she couldn't bear it.

"I'm not looking at you," said James harshly. "I need to finish my rounds, Evans."

He was halfway down the corridor when he heard Lily.

"I love you! I'm so in love with you its scary," she said. James twirled round and saw Lily standing awkwardly where he had left her, she looking straight at him but he had no idea what to say to her.

"I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't be telling you this, not like this, but I do love you. But you have a girlfriend… I was stupid I thought that… what you saw would make me feel better. But it didn't and now you… say something, James," said Lily desperately. But James stayed silent just looking into the darkness behind her. "At least look at me."

"It's late, I'm going to bed," said James numbly. He had waited so long to hear Lily say that, and now that she had he didn't know what to say or even feel. Especially after what he had just saw, he didn't know what to do.

"I'm sorry," said Lily pathetically as she watched him leave.

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A WEEK LATER

James still hadn't so much as looked at Lily, let alone speak to her. She just stayed out of his way. She walked into the Common Room after rounds. It was late, so she didn't expect anyone to be there. But she was wrong, and the first thing she saw was James sitting on the armchair next to the fire, with Rachel in his lap cuddling into him. She knew she had no right to be upset but just the sight of the two of them being so comfortable and loved up brought tears to her eyes.

"Goodnight, Lily," said Rachel. They weren't great friends but they were in the same years and had spoken on occasion.

"Night," Lily choked out.

But what neither Rachel nor Lily noticed was James. He had noticed the look on Lily's face and the tears in her eyes, he had watched her all the way up the stairs. He felt awful, he never knew she cared that much. He had convinced himself that Lily wasn't in love with him. She just thought she did and he didn't want to be hurt by her anymore, especially if it would just be a fling to her.

Around 2 am James couldn't sleep, so he got up and pulled out the Marauder's Map. One dot stood out from all the others, mainly because of who it was. Lily Evans was out on the Quidditch Pitch, alone in the middle of the night. James only hesitated for a second before making his way out to the Quidditch Pitch.

He was standing on the edge of the pitch, and she was lying right in the middle. Then he heard her, she was crying. She was really crying, seriously loud heartbreaking sobs. He all but ran over to her, he was standing over her before he said anything.

"Lily… what are you doing out here?" he hadn't meant for it to sound like he was angry, but somehow it did.

"I'm a Head student too, I don't have to be in by curfew," said Lily harshly, trying to wipe her face. It was dark maybe he wouldn't notice that she had been crying.

"It's two in the morning, you are in the middle of the Quidditch pitch. Do you have any idea how dangerous that is?"

"Like you care."

"I don't want someone to hurt you," said James, his voice softening.

"No, that job is reserved for you," said Lily, then she ran off into the locker room, hoping to find a way back into the castle. She had heard a rumor that there was a tunnel to the Great Hall from it. James chased after her, and reached the door of the locker room before she did.

"Lily…"

"Leave me alone. Seriously, just go back to your girlfriend and leave me alone… you don't have to act like you care anymore," shouted Lily, trying to get past him, but he wouldn't let her.

"Lily…"

"What? What do you possibly have to say to me?" she screamed. "You haven't said a word to me since I told you I loved you. You can't even look at me."

"Lily…" said James, struggling to get his words out. There was something about Lily that made him so mad sometimes.

"What?"

"Damn it… just shut up," he said exasperated.

He twirled her round and pushed her against the locker room door. He leaned down and captured her lips with his. It took her a few seconds to realise what was happening, as soon as she did she responded feeling chills up and down her spine. He pinned her to the door by her wrists and caressed the side of her face as he kissed her tenderly. He only pulled away when oxygen became an issue.

"I… don't…" whispered Lily, looking up at him, asking for answers. James leaned in and started to kiss her again, this time she pulled away quickly.

"James… what are you doing?"

"You… you make me so mad sometimes… you're annoying, stubborn, persistent and for someone so smart in the classroom you are damn stupid at times," said James, still keeping a firm hold of her hands so she couldn't get away. "You don't think before you act, you don't think about the consequences of your actions. You lie in the middle of the Quidditch pitch during the night when there is a war going on. You made out with Diggory. You infuriate me more than any other person on this planet…"

"I get it…" Lily interrupted.

"No you don't," said James, holding her chin so she had to look at him.

"I'm an idiot, now tell me something I don't already know."

"I love you. I don't care about the rest of it. I love you," said James, looking Lily dead in the eye.

"But when I… you…"

"I was shocked… I saw you and… but tonight, did I make you cry?"

"Yes… but it wasn't your fault," said Lily. James just sighed heavily and pressed his forehead against hers.

"I'm sorry."

"It wasn't your fault."

"It was. I've been such an idiot. You don't chase a girl for six years, fall in love with her and then right when she says what you've been waiting to hear decide to pretend she doesn't exist. That was unforgivable and I'm sorry," said James sincerely.

"And I'm sorry for everything I ever did to hurt you. Turning you down for all those years, Diggory… everything."

"All forgotten," smiled James. "I love you."

"I love you too."

"Well now that we've cleared that up, do I get to kiss you again?" grinned James.

"If you dump your girlfriend, I'll certainly consider it," said Lily mischievously, then she lifted James' hands off her and walked away. James was too surprised to stop her.