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A Different Kind of Magic by unjellify

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Chapter Notes: Wow. So, it's been an insanely long time since I've updated (real life, everyone), but if anyone has stuck with me, a million thanks. As usual, props to my wonderful, wonderful beta Soraya.

Like so many of Lily’s days now, this one began unremarkably. Sirius had returned a couple of days earlier, and he seemed just as friendly as before, but imperturbably calm--almost strangely so. In the past, he had been mercurial and mischievous, apt to release a Filibuster’s Firework during their N.E.W.T. Defense Against The Dark Arts class just to see what would happen. Then again, Lily welcomed the respite, since disciplining Sirius was much more difficult than taking points from a recalcitrant second-year.

She rose and went to breakfast with Mary, Marlene, Alice, and Florence. Friday, she thought. Tonight is the prefects’ meeting for the new term; I should write up an agenda for that. Lily had always been diligent, but during the hectic month of December, she had developed the habit of making a mental list every morning. What she really needed was a Remembrall, but she had devoted the previous Hogsmeade visit to buying gifts for everyone but herself.

The first lesson of the day was Potions, which meant that Lily could absorb herself completely in her work. She had always thought that whatever her career might be, it would involve Potions, but this would not be the case. Her choice was simple. She was a Muggle-born, and she would do anything she could to stop the Death Eaters from killing innocent people like her in the name of –purifying” the Wizarding world, even if it meant that she would be too busy dueling to brew a tricky Draught of Living Death.

–Excellent, Miss Evans!” Slughorn boomed, interrupting her thoughts.

So much for absorbing myself in my work, Lily thought, accepting the compliment with a duck of her head and an automatic smile. She actually might need to concentrate on this one. For the past month, she had been making difficult potions with ease because she had already brewed them with James. However, they had never got to the Draught of Living Death. No, Lily told herself. I’m not going to think about that night. We kissed, he disappeared, I got over him. She had repeated this sequence of events to herself thousands of times now, and yet sometimes she still needed reminding.

She was distracted through Transfiguration, which had never been her strongest subject at the best of times. They were supposed to be Transfiguring their partners into Labradors and then Untransfiguring them. Peter was fairly good at it, but Lily only gave him a tail and floppy ears before she promptly lost concentration. Luckily, Professor McGonagall’s attention was taken by Sirius, who was easily Transfiguring Remus and then returning him to his normal form. Since he usually devoted his talents to Transfiguring his classmates at random, the relative order in the room today no doubt made her suspicious.

Lily finally managed to collect herself before calling the prefects’ meeting. She talked coherently about how students would likely bring illicit items into the castle from Hogsmeade next weekend, and remembered the new passwords and the answer to Ravenclaw’s riddle without fault.

–Lastly,” she said as the undercurrent of restless mouths and feet began, –I’ve made the new patrol rota for you all. You will be assigned the same corridors as before, but on different nights. Seventh-years take Sundays and Mondays. Fifth-years, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Sixth-years, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, but--”

The door opened. –Am I late?” he said.

Lily stared. Should I say hello? she wondered. And of course he’s late; does he think he’s being funny? Should I ignore him entirely? But he’s been gone for weeks. He looks exhausted. Oh, there I go feeling sorry for him again. Doormat Lily. That’s it; I’m not going to say hi to him. I’m not.

But James Potter had already joined her at the front. –Lily,” he said quietly, in what could have been a greeting or a plea of some kind.

–James,” she said coldly. She closed her eyes for a moment and then opened them. –As I was saying, I will also be patrolling on weekends, so it’s not as daunting as it sounds. Seventh-years, please post the copies of the rota in your common rooms; they’re near the door. Have a good night, everyone.”

For the first time ever at a prefects’ meeting, several people seemed reluctant to leave. They kept eyeing Lily and James surreptitiously and turning to look under their chairs, as if they might have left something behind. Finally, only James, Lily, Remus, and Mary remained.

–You can go,” Lily said politely to Remus and Mary.

–But I think it might be better--” Mary began.

Remus gently took her arm. –Yes, we were just leaving.”

In a low voice he obviously thought Lily couldn’t hear, Remus said, –Give them their privacy.”

–But they’ll kill each other,” Mary hissed, throwing a last nervous look at James and Lily before Remus pulled the door closed.

James was gazing at her without saying a word.

Lily endured approximately two minutes of this before saying, –Well?”

–I forgot what you were like,” he said wonderingly.

Something inside Lily snapped. –Yes, you forgot all about me, didn’t you?” she said.

–No, that’s not what--”

–Don’t even try,” she said scathingly, making for the door. She didn’t know why she had stayed back with him. There was nothing he could say to her, and there was nothing that she wanted to say to him. She strode towards the door and wrenched it open.

James followed her into the hall. –Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen, I swear.”

–What didn’t you mean to do?” Lily said without turning around, her temper flaring again. –To kiss me? To leave afterwards without one word to anyone?”

James was silent.

She hadn’t realized she was walking towards Gryffindor Tower until they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady, James still a pace behind her.

–Mandragora,” Lily said to the Fat Lady, and the portrait hole swung open.

–I messed up, Lily. That wasn’t the right time to tell you how I feel,” James said quietly.

He reached out to help her through the portrait hole, but she slapped his hand away.

–You didn’t care about me. You don’t care about anyone but yourself. You kissed me because you wanted to, and then you left because you wanted to.”

–I had to go.”


James faltered, opened his mouth, closed it, and examined the floor.

–Oh, that’s a bloody good reason,” she said impatiently. –And I suppose you think you’re funny, interrupting the prefects’ meeting like that? I don’t need another reminder that I’ve been picking up your slack for a month and a half.” Her voice rose in pitch. Their group of friends drifted closer as it became apparent that her anger would not burn itself out anytime soon.

–Don’t expect anything else from him, Lily,” Sirius drawled as he reached them. –He’s a self-centered bastard.”

Lily was so surprised at the lack of irony in Sirius’ voice that she hesitated for a moment before continuing, –I didn’t mean to kiss you back, James. I knew you were arrogant. I knew you were selfish. I was stupid, though, stupid enough to think that I could trust you, that deep down, you were a decent sort of person.”

James said nothing. For the first time ever, he wasn’t refuting her criticisms, but this only encouraged her.

–Was it fun for you, James?” Lily said in a dangerously pleasant tone. –Do you flirt with everyone so shamelessly? Of course you do. You’re James Potter, Quidditch star. You can have any girl you want. Who’d you kiss the night before me, James? Was she pretty? Did she think you were sweet?”

–Lily--” he said weakly.

–Was she crying, too?” Lily asked. –Was her life falling apart around her?”

This time, Remus reached out a hand as if to stop her.

–Don’t be shy, James. You can brag,” Lily continued, ignoring Remus’ silent attempts to warn her that she was still speaking at top volume. She took a perverse pleasure in trying to provoke James. –I was just the next girl on your list. Did you think I’d be a good shag? Maybe you’d wait until my parents banned me from ever coming home again.”

–Stop,” James said forcefully. –I want to protect you, Lily. That’s all.”

–Well, it’s bloody hard to do that when you’re not here, isn’t it?” Lily said.

–Will you two please stop acting like you’re auditioning for a soap opera?” Marlene said reasonably.

–Give me another chance,” James said. –You wouldn’t be acting like this if you didn’t still care about me.”

–...Or not,” Marlene continued under her breath.

Sirius rolled his eyes, and peripherally Lily saw Marlene and Alice cringe in anticipation.

–You don’t know anything about me,” Lily said. –I never cared about you.”

–You kissed me back.”

–Well, I’ve got news for you. I can kiss whomever I want and it doesn’t have to mean ANYTHING!” Lily snapped.

Anger burning through her, blinding her, she spun around to face Remus and kissed him full on the mouth, knowing with vindictive certainty that James was watching them. Maybe he would understand now.

Remus pulled away. Lily’s anger was gone, and now she cursed her stupidity, worrying that she had ruined her friendship with him just to prove a point. She had only wanted James to feel that emptiness when something that had been there all along, before they ever started trading awful jokes during patrol, suddenly disappeared. Even when he had annoyed her, soaking her with an Aguamenti charm at merciless range or trying every item of Zonko’s merchandise in existence on her and her friends, he had always been a part of her life, and part of her in some way she hadn’t understood. She had always been part of his, too, helping him with his Muggle Studies work when she wasn’t retaliating in kind (although she had convinced him of the existence of –fellytones” after the Aguamenti incident). She had no idea how she would ever explain this to Remus, though.

As she studied Remus’ face now, however, she saw nothing except surprise rapidly overcome by pity. Perhaps, she thought, he already understands. He touched her arm sympathetically, and it was then that James punched Remus in the face.

Sirius grabbed James automatically. –How dare you?” James yelled at Remus, struggling.

–He didn’t do anything, James,” Lily said. –He doesn’t deserve that.”

–He deserves it because he’s a traitor.”

–Well, then, let me take a swing at you,” Sirius said darkly.

–Oh, Sirius, don’t!” Florence said, putting a proprietary hand on his back. She had been watching the drama unfold with rapt attention, and looked far too happy that the situation was getting out of hand.

–Prongs, calm down,” Remus said.

–You just touched her! Right there! And you let her snog you!”

–Think about this. She only snogged me because she’s pissed off at you and wants to make you jealous.”

–That’s not true,” Lily said automatically. –I was supporting a theory with a practical application. I’m really sorry about your nose, by the way. Episkey.”

Though Remus’ face was still bloody, his nose returned to its normal shape.

Only then did Lily notice that every Gryffindor in the common room was goggling at her and James, waiting eagerly to see what might happen next. The color rose to Lily’s cheeks immediately. James deserved what he had got, but Lily had been so angry that she hadn’t realized she was making a spectacle of them both.

–I’m going to bed,” she said abruptly, though it was only eight-thirty.

Everyone bade her goodnight without further comment, James looking dazed.

Lily took up her bag and ascended the stairs to the girls’ dormitory. She intended to finish her Transfiguration essay, but as she reached her bed, she found that she only wanted to sleep, and hope that everyone would forget about her outburst by morning. She had hardly known what she was saying as she was saying it--most of it hadn’t been true, at any rate--and had simply wanted to hurt James.

It was only a kiss, she reminded herself. It wasn’t her first kiss, or the furthest she had ever gone with someone, and yet it had hurt her so much when he left. That was her own fault. Over the preceding months, she had allowed herself to trust James far too deeply. She had forgotten to keep the distance she maintained with Carl and her friends and her parents because she no longer gave people the chance to be disappointed with the real Lily, or herself the chance to see their disappointment.

When she had told Remus that she felt unlovable, she had left it at that and he hadn’t pressed her. She had told James everything, given him her deepest, darkest secret, and he had left her with nothing, not even a reason for his absence. Hardly anyone could have risen to that kind of trust, though, least of all a teenage boy.

–Lily?” Marlene had come into the dormitory.

–Hi,” Lily said, clearing her throat.

–Are you crying?”


Though Lily hadn’t lied, she was remarkably close to doing so. Marlene chose not to pursue the subject. –Do you want to talk?”

–I don’t know.”

–If you don’t mind my asking, what exactly did James do to you? Yes, he kissed you and then went off to Godric-knows-where without telling you a thing, but you completely lost it tonight. That’s not like you.”

–It’s just...” Lily began. –It’s just that I’ve been so angry with him for the past month, so confused, and then he comes back and I feel this urge to act like nothing has changed. He showed up with one of his stupid, cocky lines and there was this part of me that just wanted to run over to him, to ask him how he was doing and tell him I missed him.”

–And you were disgusted with yourself.”

Lily nodded. That was exactly what James had done. He had come back and made her feel exactly the same way about him as before, even though he kept so many secrets from her, even though he had left her with twice the work as Head Girl, and even though she had felt so betrayed.

–Lily, that’s not so wrong. You can’t help how you feel,” Marlene continued.

–I want to hate him, but for some reason I still care about him. I couldn’t have told him that, could I?” Lily asked.

Marlene considered this for a moment. –I think you sort of did.”


It was eleven fifty-five the next night and Lily was waiting in the common room. She didn’t know if he would show up, or if he’d even remember that they had patrol on Fridays. She was sitting in one of the armchairs near the fire when she heard a cough and then a tentative, –Hi.”

For some reason, James had come through the portrait hole. –If you don’t want to come with me, I understand. I’ll go by myself,” he said.

–No, it’s my responsibility, too.” Lily had forgotten how tall and strong and so very, solidly there James was, and immediately she cursed herself for noticing it again.

They left Gryffindor Tower in silence.

–Why Moony?” James said finally.

–Why what?”

–Remus. Why did you kiss him?”

–After everything I said and did last night, that’s your question?” Lily looked at him disbelievingly.

James just waited for an answer.

–Proximity, mainly. I was just so angry and I wanted to make you feel just a tiny fraction of what I’ve been feeling.”

He sighed. –I know that it seems like I was messing you about, but I wasn’t. That was what I was trying to tell you. I couldn’t stand to see you like that.”

Lily didn’t say anything.

–My timing was absolutely bollocks,” he said.


They were silent for a while.

–Where were you?” Lily said. –Tonight, I mean. You didn’t come from the dormitory.”



–It’s not important.”

Another pause followed. Lily sighed, and said, –You know, we could have been good together, I think.”

James glanced at her. –Maybe we still could be. Not now, but someday.”

She hesitated, and then said, –I don’t think so, James. You’re all about secrets. You keep everything to yourself. I wasn’t angry because you kissed me and left. It was because I told you everything and you wouldn’t tell me anything, and you still won’t.”

He looked suddenly wounded. –I’m sorry,” he said quietly. –Lily, the reason that I had to leave...my mum was very sick.”

Lily stared at him for a moment, not comprehending. –Did she...is she better now?”

He shook his head, his jaw clenched tightly, and Lily immediately realized her mistake. –Oh my God. James, I don’t even know what to say.”

–I should go,” he said, turning away and mumbling, –...look like an idiot....”

–No,” Lily said firmly. –If anyone looks like an idiot, it’s me.”

Before she could talk herself out of it, she hugged James tightly, because that was what he needed, and maybe what she needed as well as he returned her embrace. She could not think of an adequate apology for everything she had said to him. His mum had died, and he had returned to school only to have Lily make him feel worse.

Maybe he’s not the problem, she thought. Maybe I am. I acted like a complete cow to him and he can still forgive me.

–I’m sorry,” she said to James. –I’m so, so sorry.”

–You couldn’t have known. You’re right; I’ve already ruined one of my friendships this way, with all these secrets, and I am a selfish bastard.”

–You’re not,” Lily said automatically, but her mind was shuffling her memories like cards in a deck. This was what always happened when Slughorn praised her for improvising in Potions, or when she had a particularly difficult number chart in Arithmancy.

She heard the voice in her mind even before she recognized whom it belonged to. –How could he? No--mention--what right does he--knew I would’ve given anything--”

–That’s why Sirius is angry with you, isn’t it?” she said. –You wouldn’t tell him where you went--”

–Not just where I went,” James said hollowly. –He was a part of our family for a full year, and I told him nothing about my mum. He’s got every right to be furious with me.”

–You’ve fought before,” Lily said.

–This is for real. You’ve got to understand, I don’t want to go around whinging about my mum, but...”

–...But you don’t have to keep everything to yourself,” Lily said gently. –That doesn’t mean you’re selfish.”

–Lily, my first question to you wasn’t how things have been going for you or how you’ve been feeling. I asked you why you chose one of my best mates to snog.”

Another mental voice spoke up. He still wouldn’t tell me where he was tonight.

Yes, Lily argued, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m creating problems that don’t exist.

–It doesn’t matter,” she said aloud. –I already told you how I’ve been feeling, and I wouldn’t blame you if you never wanted to speak to me again.”

–I deserved it, trust me.”

Trust me.

I do, Lily thought. Don’t I?

When they separated, James grasped Lily’s hand and squeezed it briefly before they continued patrol, in what might have been forgiveness or affection or simply a parting gesture. His proximity had always made her feel sure of everything, but now that he was finally here, she only felt more confused than ever.
Chapter Endnotes: Thanks for reading, everyone! Next chapter will be from James' point of view. Reviews of any sort would be absolutely lovely; I read and respond to them all.