By Your Side

So I look in your direction, but you pay me no attention, do you?

I know you don't listen to me, cause you say you see straight through me, don't you?

You know how much I need you, but you never even see me, do you?

And is this my final chance of getting you?

From the moment I wake to the moment I sleep,

I'll be there by your side, just you try and stop me

I'll be waiting in line just to see if you care

Did you want me to change? Well, I'd change for you

And I want you to know that you'll always get your way

I wanted to say

Don't you shiver.

I'll always be waiting for you.

It's you I see, but you don't see me

It's you I hear, so loud and so clear

I'll always be waiting for you

- Coldplay

Chapter One: Head Boy

"Going to hex me, Evans?"

She closed her eyes, counted to ten in her head, bit down hard on her lip. Recited Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration silently. Had it really come to this?

There he stood, hands in his pockets, with that maddening smile spreading across his face, not even bothering to reach for his wand, even while hers was aimed directly under his chin. Go ahead, he seemed to be saying, unconcerned, as if he was sure she wouldn't…

He's asking for it, Lily told herself, gritting her teeth.

But how had it come to this?

--

One month earlier

From the moment she woke up, Lily Evans had been determined to not have a horrible first day back at Hogwarts. However, her plan was hindered, firstly by the foul mood Petunia was in that morning, and even more so when the traffic was so bad that Lily was afraid she wouldn't get to King's Cross in time. Fortunately, she made it onto the train, and promptly changed into her school robes, pinning the "Head Girl" badge onto her front. It had come as no surprise that she was Head Girl; as a prefect and one of the top students in her year, Lily's friends had been telling her since 5th year that she would be the most likely candidate for it. Her parents, of course, had been proud, but they were somehow under the impression that it meant an even greater status in the wizarding world than it had for Muggles: "Imagine, being Head Girl at a wizarding school!" Petunia, of course, was another matter entirely. She'd looked down her nose at the badge, as if she was afraid it would fly up and bite her on the nose, and then had sulked throughout the celebratory dinner the family held for Lily. Determined not to let her unpleasant sister ruin the first day of her last year at school, Lily adjusted her robes in the mirror and walked out into the corridor of the train, wondering vaguely who had been picked for Head Boy.

Mary MacDonald, a Gryffindor in Lily's year who was her close friend, was the first person she saw. Noticing the badge pinned to Lily's robes, Mary drew her aside and whispered, "You'd better get to the prefect carriage, I just saw everyone else headed in there. Oh – Lily, you're going to be so shocked – the Head Boy—"

Their conversation was interrupted just then by a fight that broke out between several third-years. After everything had been settled again, Lily looked up questioningly at Mary, who merely smiled and shrugged. "Well, you'll see. Go on in," said Mary, her eyes twinkling mischievously.

Lily, who had been hoping it was Remus, or at least a fellow Gryffindor with whom she could get along, walked with some amount of trepidation into the prefect Carriage.

Her mouth dropped.

She had been prepared for anything, she thought, anything but this.

"James Potter!?"

There he was, standing and talking nonchalantly with Remus, with a shiny "Head Boy" badge on the front of his robes. Catching sight of Lily, James grinned sheepishly and raised his hand as if to run it through his hair, but let it drop hastily.

He opened his mouth and for a fleeting moment Lily thought wildly, If he says "All right, Evans?" I'm going to turn him into a giant slug, Head Boy or not!

But before James could say anything, Remus, noticing the disastrous turn this confrontation might take, stepped in and said politely, "Was your summer all right, Lily?"

Lily realized that she was now caught between demanding of James whether he had Confunded Dumbledore or perhaps stolen the badge, and choosing to answer Remus' question as politely as he had asked it. One or the other, she thought, and chose the latter.

"Oh… it was all right, uneventful as summers go," Lily answered through her teeth. "Yours was good, I hope."

"Wonderful," said Remus unconvincingly. "So, uhm. Now that all the prefects are here, I think you two are supposed to give us orders." He was now looking apprehensive again, steeling himself for any outbursts. He's right, Lily realized, what would it look like to the younger students if the Head Boy and Head Girl started dueling right in the corridor of the Hogwarts Express?

"All right," said Lily, surveying the students before her. "I'm Lily Evans, for those of you who don't know, and I'm Head Girl. This is James Potter. Head Boy." James simply nodded at her words, sensibily avoiding her gaze. "You'll be reporting to us this year. As for today, I've already broken up a fight, so it would be best if you each take a section of the train to patrol in groups of two, from time to time, to make sure no one acts up." She glanced at James to see if he had anything to add.

"What she said," James said with a smile, giving Lily a sidelong, measuring glance which she refused to return.

Dismissed, the prefects filed out of the compartment, Remus hurrying along with them to avoid being present for the unpleasantness he was sure would take place between the Head Boy and Girl.

"So," James said conversationally once they were alone, "I suppose this must come as a surprise."

"Surprise?" Lily repeated. "I must admit, I'm utterly shocked. I didn't think you had ambitions this high."

"Ambitions? Oh, I'm full of them," he said defensively.

Lily snorted. "Up until now, I was convinced your only ambitions were to irritate me as much as possible and try to impress everyone enough that they wouldn't care about how big of an overblown git you are."

"Wow, Evans, you've gotten friendlier over the summer."

"I just want to know how someone as lazy, irresponsible, immature, and reckless as you got to be Head Boy!"

There was a long pause, after which Jame said quietly, "I'm not sure either, but it looks as if you're stuck with me."

"It appears that way," Lily snapped. She couldn't believe her bad luck – the one person she truly couldn't stand, the one person who knew exactly how to infuriate her, the one person she could never get to leave her alone anyway, was going to share duties, responsibilities, and endless hours with her for the whole year. He would never leave her alone. He would be provided with countless opportunities to show off to her, ask her out relentlessly, and probably abuse his Head Boy status.

"Won't be that bad," James observed, somewhat optimistically. "At least we'll have Remus to keep you from killing me."

"At least," Lily agreed coldly.

--

But, as it turned out, not even Remus could subdue Lily's indignation. "Look, Lily, Dumbledore knows what he's doing," he told her when they were patrolling the corridor together. "I know you think it's a bad choice—"

"It just doesn't make any sense!" she interrupted. "James Potter is one of the worst troublemakers this school has ever seen. He's irresponsible, he's careless…"

Remus folded his arms and raised his eyebrows at her, making her voice trail off. "I know you haven't noticed, but James has changed, very much. I think it started last year, noticeably. Think about it."

Lily contemplated. "He still showed off just as much. He still expected everyone to worship him. He still went everywhere with that stupid Snitch and a crowd of dim-witted admirers."

Remus shook his head. "But how often did he hex someone, just for the fun of it, last year?"

"Severus, Mulciber…"

"Amateur Death Eaters, Lily, who hexed us a lot more than we did in return. Even you can't deny that you used a few good jinxes against them when they started attacking other students." He smiled somewhat ruefully. "But the point is, I think James was different last year, and you just didn't notice. I'm his best friend, after all, I think I'd know. Also, how many times did he try asking you out, last year?"

"Not many," admitted Lily. "He seemed a bit… I don't know. Discouraged."

"There, you see, he might be giving up on you, at last," Remus suggested, trying to keep a smile from spreading across his face at the absurdity of this thought. "I'm just trying to say, he's always been a bit of an idiot around you. That doesn't mean he's incapable of changing."

"But how," Lily wondered, "could someone whose greatest love is inflating people's heads and setting off dungbombs in Filch's office become Head Boy?"

Remus shrugged. "I don't really have an answer for that one."

--

"Evans!"

An all-too-familiar voice called out to her as she was making her way toward the Great Hall for the feast. Lily inhaled deeply, gathering all her patience, and turned to greet the speaker.

"Yes, Potter?"

He was smiling at her, the idiot – at least he wasn't still carrying that accursed Snitch around, thank goodness, but his hair was still too long and tousled, and she felt the usual urge to Conjure a comb and attempt to flatten it, just to see if it would work.

"Uhm, see… well… I guess this is probably a bad idea, but I just wondered, wouldn't you sit with Remus, Sirius, Peter and I tonight at the feast? I know you probably want to sit with your friends, but it's been a whole summer and we could, you know… catch up…" He trailed off, looking hopefully at her.

"Yes. All right."

"All right?" James repeated, sounding surprised. "You mean you will?"

"Of course," said Lily pleasantly. "Then, over dinner, perhaps you can explain to me exactly why you think you got that badge, and not someone else."

James' smile remained, but faltered slightly. "You don't think I deserve to be Head Boy."

"What I think," said Lily coolly, "is that there are a lot of students at this school who have worked much harder than you have, yet somehow you ended up with the badge."

"Oh, so just because I like to have a bit of fun means I don't work hard at all?" James snapped.

"A bit of fun?" repeated Lily with a touch of sarcasm. "Do you call hanging people upside down or giving them boils all over their bodies 'a bit of fun'? Do you call spending half the school year in detention with Sirius and Peter fun? You've got an awfully twisted idea of fun, James Potter."

"In case you were wondering," James said roughly, "I was just as surprised as you are. To be Head Boy. I thought it would be Remus, or that Ravenclaw bloke who won some award last year. I know you don't think I deserve it." He exhaled deeply. "There are a lot of things I'm beginning to think I don't deserve."

Lily eyed him thoughtfully, his downcast gaze and gloomy expression. James Potter – discouraged? She had never seen him this dejected before, and certainly never from her doing. She was beginning to think he was ill.

"I think it would be best," she said, not unkindly, "if we avoided each other as much as possible when we don't have duty together. That would prevent any… unpleasantness."

He didn't look up to meet her eyes, just nodded at the ground.

"Well," said Lily after a pause, "I'm going to go and sit with my friends. I'll see you later."

She turned her back and walked away quickly, hoping that he wasn't still looking at her.

--

A/N: so, as it goes, I got bored with my Remus/Sirius fic and launched into a multi-chaptered James/Lily which I'm actually really enjoying writing. Tell me what you think? Second chapter will be up soon. If you read, review! -Lua