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A Different Kind of Magic by unjellify

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Chapter Notes: Thanks to Soraya as always for whipping this chapter into shape! Also, I am not J.K. Rowling (in case anyone wasn't sure) and take no credit for her creations.

Lily lay in bed staring at the canopy above her four-poster for a long time that night. She knew that she could simply go and talk to James, as the founders hadn’t bothered to safeguard the boys’ dormitories against intruding girls. However, she couldn’t help thinking that it wouldn’t solve anything to wake James up in the middle of the night. As she knew from experience, he took a good ten minutes at least to become fully coherent.

She couldn’t remember when exactly she drifted off, but disappointingly soon, Marlene was shaking her. “Wake up, Lily!” she hissed. “You’ll miss breakfast.”

Lily’s eyes opened, although every pore of her body was begging her to go back to sleep. She had never been even a minute late to breakfast, let alone missed it altogether, and Marlene already had her robes on.

“Have you seen James?” Lily asked sleepily, rubbing her eyes. When she thought about it, she hadn’t seen Marlene outside lessons in quite a long while, since Lily had been spending most of her time with James or in the library.

“In our dormitory? No, I haven’t.” Marlene looked at her as if Lily had gone mad.

“Right.” Lily got herself ready in record time and followed Marlene down to breakfast at top speed.

“Where’s Mary?” she asked her friend as they rounded a corner, stumbling over the hem of her robes in her post-awakening, lingering stupor. “Already at breakfast?”

“Apparently she’s got her eye on Patrick Finn from Ravenclaw. For some reason, that means she needs to be early for breakfast, I suppose so that she can stare at him longer.” Marlene shrugged.

“Since when?” Lily asked.

“Patrick? Since last night. She was waxing poetic to me about his eyes for almost an hour in the common room.”

Lily nodded.

“Where were you, by the way?” Marlene asked, tilting her head to the side.

“In the library. Come on, we’ll miss breakfast, like you said,” Lily said, speeding up. It wasn’t that Lily didn’t trust Marlene, who had always been a good friend to her, but she wanted to keep to herself James’ kiss, which felt like a small flame warming her insides even now.

As Lily stopped short in the entrance to the Great Hall and walked more calmly to the Gryffindor table, she scanned its length but could not see James anywhere. Instead, Lily sat down next to Sirius, who had been talking to Peter but immediately cut himself off. Marlene, looking surprised, dutifully slid in next to Lily.

“Morning, Black,” Lily said cordially.

“Morning, Evans,” Sirius said, as if this was a daily occurrence. “How are you on this fine day?”

“A bit perturbed, and yourself?”

“Can’t complain.” Sirius thought a moment. “Wait, ‘perturbed’ is bad. What’s up?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Lily said, in a tone heavy with sarcasm. “Where’s your mate Potter?”

“What did he do this time? He hasn’t been ‘your mate Potter’ to you for a good two months now.”

“It’s more a matter of what he didn’t do, which is show up to breakfast this morning.”

“He’s gone,” Sirius said, the easy smile suddenly gone from his face. This was the closest to lost that Lily had ever seen him.

“Gone?” Lily repeated faintly.

Sirius leaned towards her until his lips were almost against her ear. “Don’t look now, Evans,” he whispered, “but you have a smudge of James-snogged-me-and-ran on your face. Best fix that straightaway.”

Lily consciously adopted a pleasant demeanor, noticing Peter’s look of surprise from across the table. “Did James tell you that before he disappeared, then?” she asked sweetly through her teeth.

“Tell me what?”

“You know, what you just said.”

“That? Lucky guess. You just had that look.”

“You recognize the look of girls whom James has kissed and abandoned?” Lily whispered suspiciously, cursing herself for confirming Sirius’ guess. Marlene whipped her head around, shocked.

“Yeah. It’s a bit weird, though,” Sirius mused.

“I’d say,” Lily said curtly.

“No, not that, it’s...it’s that he was always running towards you.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, you know James has been mad about you for ages. Anyway, since he was acting like a bloody monk while you barely gave him the time of day, I’d take him out with me to a pub or something every so often. I felt it was my duty as his best mate, you know? We’d both bring dates, things would be going well, and then all of a sudden, he’d disappear.”

“Disappear?” Lily said incredulously.

“He’s mental. Some of the Muggle girls I set him up with were absolutely gorgeous. I’d come back to his house and he’d be there. Every time, he’d just say he wished it was you and then go to bed. He can be a real tosser.”

“Lovely story, Black,” Lily said, “but where is he now?”

“I don’t know!” Sirius answered, stabbing his eggs viciously. “We woke up and he was gone with all of his things.”

Lily believed him, but one couldn’t simply disappear from Hogwarts. Anti-Apparition jinxes covered the grounds. Someone had to know where James was, but if his best friends didn’t, then who did?

“Evans?” Sirius said.


“How’d Potter finally manage to win you over?”

“I thought he actually cared for me,” Lily said, staring at her plate.

Sirius snorted, a most inappropriate response in Lily’s opinion. “Of course he does! He practically wants you to have his children, for Merlin’s sake! He won’t shut up about you.”

“Then why would he leave?”

“I dunno. Must be something important.” Sirius paused, and then said the only thing that could have made her feel worse than she already did. “So, things are over with Carl, then? You’re well shot of him, from what I hear.”

Lily let out a barely audible groan. Though she and Carl had fought terribly the night before and gone their separate ways without a word of reconciliation, it did not exactly constitute a breakup.

She had never done anything that even smacked of infidelity before, but the previous night, she hadn’t been thinking about Carl at all. She had been thinking about Tuney, about the letters and about the fact that her family simply didn’t want her anymore. Just for that night, James had made her feel worthwhile again, had driven Petunia’s proclamation that Lily was a freak completely out of her head.

In the silence, Peter said hesitantly, “James has been upset about something.”

“Thank you, Sherlock,” Lily snapped. Sirius and Peter both looked bewildered by the reference.

“I was just pointing out that his disappearance probably has to do with that, whether he left Hogwarts early or, I don’t know, drowned himself in the lake,” Peter continued.

“You don’t think he drowned himself in the lake, do you?” Lily asked. She hadn’t even thought of that.

“You must be really terrible at snogging, Evans,” Sirius snorted.

“Bit rude, Padfoot,” Peter said, “and not helpful at all.”

“Sorry. I’m sure you’re an excellent kisser,” Sirius said, patting Lily’s hand comfortingly.

“If he took all his things with him,” Marlene said hesitantly, “then he wouldn’t go and off himself.”

“Very true,” Peter said. “See, Sirius, that’s productive.”

“I said I was sorry!” Sirius said loudly. “All right, if it’ll make you happy, Lily is well capable of pleasing”” The rest of the sentence died in his throat as his eyes traveled to something above Lily’s head.

Lily turned around to see Professor McGonagall, who was standing with her eyebrows raised as if she were waiting for Sirius to finish.

“Lovely morning, isn’t it, Professor?” Sirius asked, flashing a dimpled grin at her.

“Indeed. Mr. Black, would you like to explain to me why Alice Wilkes, a model student, has suddenly been getting herself into trouble?” she replied with narrowed eyes.

“Maybe she’s just decided to let loose. Embrace her wild side and all that.”

“My office after breakfast, Mr. Black.”

“Will you bring the elderflower wine or shall I, Professor?”

Professor McGonagall fixed him with a look so withering that Peter, sitting across the table, flinched.

“Miss Evans, I actually came to speak to you,” Professor McGonagall said. “It was merely a fortuitous coincidence that Mr. Black was so near. Are you finished with your breakfast?”

Lily wasn’t very hungry. Her stomach was otherwise occupied with contorting itself in worry and she felt almost ill. She got up and then paused. “Where’s Remus, for that matter?” she asked.

Sirius and Peter shrugged in unison.

“Probably sleeping”” Sirius began.

“No idea,” Peter said at the same moment.

Lily stared at them for a moment before turning to follow Professor McGonagall, wondering what on earth Remus could be doing.


“Please sit down,” Professor McGonagall said. “Ginger Newt?” She held out the tin.

Lily took one absently. She sat down, and her Head of House surveyed her carefully. Lily knew that this was the wrong time to voice her worries, so she focused on her Ginger Newt, breaking it in half. As the silence lengthened, however, she couldn’t stop the words from bursting from her lips. Her disquiet overruled her discretion. “Professor, please, where has James gone?” she said, trying to inject curiosity rather than desperation into her tone.

“Miss Evans, Mr. Potter has been unavoidably drawn away from Hogwarts. I cannot discuss the particulars of his absence with you.”

Lily broke her biscuit into quarters.

“What I was going to ask,” Professor McGonagall continued, “is whether you can manage your duties as Head Girl alone until the holidays. It is a month, and I could assign one of the prefects to help you....”

“No,” Lily said quickly. “Thank you, Professor, but I believe that I can fulfill my responsibilities by myself.”

She didn’t need anyone bothering her during patrol. With so much to do, someone else would only slow her down, especially if that someone wouldn’t stop talking and making her laugh and giving her that crooked smile and acting all solicitous with so much concern in his hazel eyes.

“Miss Evans, would you like a napkin?” Professor McGonagall asked civilly.

Lily looked down and saw her biscuit crumbled to pieces in her lap. “Yes, thank you,” she said, chagrined. After brushing off her robes, Lily stood. “Is there anything else, Professor?”r32;

“That is all, Miss Evans, but are you””

“Yes, of course,” Lily said hurriedly. “I have to go, Professor. Thank you for your consideration.”

She rushed out of the room before she could destroy anything else. Something deep inside her, a chronic ache to which she had grown accustomed, had been rubbed raw afresh. Lily only felt like curling into a ball and sleeping for a very long time, but her sense of responsibility took over. Her feet carried her of their own volition to her first lesson, while her mind preoccupied itself with quashing the urge to return to her dormitory. Intent on this pursuit, she passed Severus in the hall and did not notice that he was smiling at her until he had already disappeared into the after-breakfast melee.


“What are you doing with those Hiccup Sweets?” Lily asked loudly, her hands on her hips.

The first-year, Flavius someone, dropped the bag of sweets he had been passing out and mumbled something about their not being Hiccup Sweets at all. He trailed off as one of his friends gave a loud hiccup.

“Expecting to skive off your lesson, are you?”

“No...” Flavius said.

“Ten points from Gryffindor!” Lily snapped, taking the sweets and dumping them into the trash.

“Lily,” Mary said softly, coming up from behind her.

Lily rounded on her friend. “What?”

“Don’t start on me,” Mary said, unfazed. “You’re doing a very good impression of a Hungarian Horntail, but it’s Friday night. Come and sit down and stop making these first-years cry.”

“I’m not”” Lily broke off, noticing one of Flavius’ friends had tears welling in her eyes. “I’m sorry,” she said anxiously to the girl. “They’re against the rules, you know that.”

Mary took her by the arm before Lily could return to her manic rule enforcement and led her to the corner where Marlene and Alice were sitting. “I can’t believe James would just leave without telling you!” Mary said, with her usual anvil-like subtlety.

“You told her?” Lily said indignantly to Marlene.

“We are your friends, Lily,” Alice reminded her gently. “It’s our job to care.”

“He really kissed you?” Mary said, ignoring the “cease and desist” looks from Marlene and Alice. “How was it?”

Lily buried her face in her hands.

“Rubbish, I suppose,” Mary said. If this was her attempt at comfort, Lily didn’t think much of it.

“I’ve heard he’s not bad,” Marlene said vaguely.

“From whom?” Lily demanded, raising her head.


“How would Sirius know?”

“Well, as you won’t tell us, we’ll have to go on Sirius’ authority,” Mary said, shrugging.

Sirius. Lily needed to talk to him as well, since he was another Gryffindor not known for prudence.

The boy in question was very nearly obscured by Florence, who was kissing him with enthusiasm. Lily crossed the room to where they were standing. Though she was prepared to wait, she cleared her throat pointedly after a minute or two, during which the pair showed no signs of stopping.

Florence broke away quickly. “Lily!” she said, obviously bewildered.

Sirius sad nothing, looking disgruntled.

“Can I have a word, Sirius?” Lily said.

“As long as you don’t make me cry while you’re taking away my Hiccup Sweets,” Sirius said, mouthing at Florence that he’d be back in a moment.

“I made them cry, didn’t I? I’ve never made anyone cry!” Lily moaned.

He patted her shoulder. “I was taking the piss out of you, Lily. Relax. They’re first-years. Other things that make them cry include spiders, essays, and ugly people.”

“I’ve had quite enough taken out of me for one day, thanks. I’m exhausted.”

“I wrote to James,” Sirius said abruptly. “I asked him where he had gone and told him how upset you were.”

“I cannot believe you!”

“If you must know, I asked him where he thinks he gets off. I’ve never seen you so upset, and I’m not too happy myself,” Sirius said. He did look restless, like a wild animal penned up.

“Why do you care about how I feel?”

“First off, if you’re angry, that means you’ll probably expel me from Hogwarts before the week’s up. Second, you’re James’ best shot at future happiness, and he’s screwing it up.”

Leaving Sirius’ irrational conviction that she and James were meant to be together, Lily remembered what she had wanted to say. “Sirius, I need you to keep quiet about the, er, thing that James and I did.”

“What thing?”

“You cannot possibly be that stupid,” Lily said. “I’m trying to be discreet, Black.”

“Oh, the thing!” Sirius dropped a huge wink. “The names kids have for it these days....”

“I’m serious. Carl and I”” there was no way Sirius would listen to her without her impressing upon him the graveness of the situation “”we’re still technically going out.”

“I guessed that,” Sirius said.

“You can’t have done.”

“I mean, just now, from the look on his face.”

Lily turned slowly and saw Carl heading towards her, scowling. Sirius backed away.

“Carl,” she said when he reached her, “I need to tell you something.”

“Too late, Lily,” Carl said, “but I’m flattered that you finally thought of telling me.”

“Don’t be like that, please. We had just fought and I told you I was upset about that letter””

“That doesn’t mean you go off kissing whomever you want!”

“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to, it just happened. I wish more than anything it hadn’t,” Lily said, trying to duck around him. Standing between Carl and the wall was only increasing her sense of agitation.

“Where are you going?” Carl said, grabbing her arm. “Do you think you can just apologize and then waltz off? Did you promise Black you’d snog him too?”

“I’m not a whore, Carl. I told you, I made a mistake,” Lily said, her temper rising.

“I know that. If you were, all I’d have to do is pay you to spend time with me,” he answered coolly.

Lily slapped him across the face. Carl pushed her away from him and she hit the wall with a surprised gasp.

“Oi! What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Lily looked up to see Sirius, who, without further ado, threw Carl into the wall.

“I wouldn’t get up if I were you,” Sirius warned, as Carl, dazed, tried to get to his feet.

“Black, what is wrong with you?” Lily said, looking around at the suddenly silent common room. “I would have expected that from James, but not from you! Why does no one think that I can take care of myself?”

“He was pushing you around! My father’s as much of an arrogant bastard as anyone can be, and even he taught me that no real man hits a woman. Besides, if Prongs was here, Smith would be in St. Mungo’s by now.” Sirius seemed more at ease than he had been before; he gave Lily a quick grin, punctuating his last words.

“Ten points from Gryffindor for disorderly conduct,” Lily said automatically, although her heart wasn’t really in it. As everyone turned back to their schoolwork and conversations, Lily added, “I had to,” almost apologetically.

“It’s an off day when I don’t lose House points, Evans,” Sirius said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, your friend Florence looks lonely.” He loped off towards her, and within moments they were again snogging as if they had never stopped, while Lily made a beeline for her dormitory.

“For a Head Girl, you certainly get yourself into the middle of things,” Marlene commented, just as Lily was about to reach the steps.

“It’s not me, it’s Sirius. He’s unbelievable.”

Mary looked over at Sirius. “He’s gone from zero to near fornication in three-point-five seconds. I can’t decide whether that’s absolutely disgusting or really impressive.”

“I was going to say that he’s a bit of a loose cannon,” Lily said.

“James is usually the one who is around to defend your honor,” Alice said fairly.

“My honor doesn’t need defending!” Lily said. “If anything, it’s in jeopardy because of James.”

“Why did you kiss him?” Marlene asked.

Because he sees all the good in me, Lily thought, but then she realized that wasn’t exactly true. It’s because I’ve wanted to kiss him for a while. She ran up the stairs without answering, panicked by the thought.

Until recently, Lily had never let her emotions run wild, but now that they were out, they were as devilishly hard to suppress again as pixies. Her well-organized life was collapsing into confusion, and she seemed powerless to stop it. She hated James and missed him at the same time. She still hadn’t managed to break things off with Carl. Remus, whom she could always count on to keep a clear head and approach problems reasonably, was nowhere to be found, while Sirius had bafflingly taken it upon himself to protect her out of some harebrained notion that she was James’ best chance at a blissful future.

Lily flopped down onto her bed. She knew what she wanted, but that only disconcerted her further. She wanted James. She wanted to scream at him, to ask him how he could dare to leave, but most of all she wanted him to hold her, with that earnest look in his hazel eyes, and tell her that everything was going to be all right.
Chapter Endnotes: Thanks for reading! In addition, please review with praise, criticism, or descriptions of interestingly shaped clouds (as Luna would). I really appreciate every one. Next chapter will show what's going on at the Potter household.