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A Different Kind of Magic by unjellify

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Chapter Notes: I'm really sorry for the long interlude between updates, but it's back!
And, of course, the usual disclaimer: only the plot is mine, everything else is the incredible work of J.K. Rowling.

“So, any midnight magic happening with Evans?” Sirius asked James, grinning and downing a forkful of bangers and mash.

“I wish.” James rested his chin on his hand and snuck a glance toward the head of the Gryffindor table where Lily was sitting. She was twisting her vividly red hair around her finger, smiling as she talked to Mary.

Sirius suggested something that was unintelligible due to the quantity of food in his mouth.

“Sorry?” James said, turning back to Sirius.

He swallowed and tried again. “I said, why don’t you try going out with someone else? Make her jealous and all that.”

“That won’t work,” James returned at once. He wasn’t going to sink to that level, even if it would work, which it wouldn’t.

“Yeah? It worked with Claire, and that Muggle girl Diana I met last summer, and with Mary MacDonald, in fact.”

“You went out with Mary? I forgot that,” James said.

“Yeah, well....”

“No, that’s great. Would you fancy getting back together with her?”

“What?” Sirius looked at him as if James had gone mad.

“You know, then they’d always be hanging about and if Evans were there””

“I’m not getting back together with Mary; are you completely mental? I know love makes you daft and all that, but you remember what happened at the end of fifth year.”

“Oh, yeah, she was the clingy one, right?”

“Worse than a limpet. Fantastic body, though.” Sirius smiled reminiscently.

“I see your point. I’ll just have to think of something else, then.”

“Well, you don’t play guitar, write poetry, sing, anything romantic. I’m telling you, jealousy’s the way to go. Women thrive on it.”

“Not true,” Remus said, looking up from Advanced Potion Making.

Sirius and James both looked at him in surprise.

“To be honest,” Remus continued, “I’m a bit surprised that you didn’t ask me before Sirius.”

“Your dates consist of dinner and then a cozy trip to the library for some quality studying time. Sorry, Moony, but I wouldn’t say you’re an expert on the ladies,” Sirius said kindly.

“Yes, I go to the library a lot,” Remus said patiently. “That means that I talk to Lily almost every day. We’re rather good friends, actually.”

“Oh, yeah,” James said, the brilliance of this dawning on him. “Yeah, that’s right! Does she say anything about me?”

Lupin swallowed uncomfortably. “She knows you’re my best mate, so she won’t say too much, but she thinks you’re a bit egotistical.”

“I know that,” James said gloomily, remembering how she’d shouted at him in the corridor the day before.

“Anyway, what I wanted to tell you was that she told me that she likes how I sort of hang back and listen to her. Apparently most of her other friends talk too much.”

“Wait, she fancies you?” Sirius said, alarmed.

James contemplated breaking Lupin’s nose for just a second.

“No, she doesn’t like me like that!” Lupin said quickly. “I was just saying that if I were you I’d try listening to her and chatting with her a bit. You know, as Plan A. Then Plan B can be the manipulation and all that.”

James laughed. “All right, I’ll give it a go. Anything else?”

Remus looked reluctant. “Well, there is, but she wanted to keep it between us.”

“Aah, you can tell me. I won’t tell another soul. Has she got a furry little problem too?”

“No,” Remus said, grinning. “I’ll tell you...later.”

“Hey, that’s not fair,” James protested.

Remus gestured around them at the crowded Great Hall. James nodded to show that he understood. What could Lily possibly have told Remus that she doesn’t want anyone else to know? he wondered. He felt a sudden burst of envy. Though he knew that no attraction existed between Remus and Lily, he longed for Lily’s confidence, hungered to know everything about her.

“Wormtail and I are going to get some things from Hogsmeade for the first-week-back party,” Sirius said quietly to James. “You game to come with us?”

James shook his head reluctantly. “Nah, I’ve got that bloody Potions essay due tomorrow for Slughorn. Haven’t even started. Take the cloak, though, you don’t want anyone to see you.”

Sirius nodded. “All right. Don’t spend too much time studying. You’re already Head Boy. If you become boring on top of that, I don’t think I can associate with you anymore.” He smirked.

“No worries there,” James said. “This N.E.W.T. level Potions work is awful. I just want to get it over with.”

He took his copy of Advanced Potion Making, cursing Libatius Borage, Horace Slughorn, and anyone else he could think of, and walked to the library. Sitting down at a vacant table, he took out a parchment and began chewing thoughtfully on the top of a quill. Amortentia, he wrote, and underlined it. That was the easy part. Now he had two feet of parchment to fill, and he couldn’t think of anything. He described the characteristic spirals of the steam and the mother-of-pearl sheen, the effect”love”and then began on the ingredients. By then, his eyes had glazed over slightly, his concentration hardly helped by Borage’s pedantic style.

“Studying hard, James?”

James looked up to see Lily, her arms full of books, looking amused. “I’m doing that Amortentia assignment for Slughorn,” he said gloomily.

“Well, that only took me about an hour, maybe less.”

“That’s really fantastic for you, Lily,” James said, trying to keep the sarcasm out of his voice.

“I was going to offer you help,” Lily said in a slightly haughty tone.

“Could you? That would be amazing,” James answered fervently.

Lily sat down beside him. Does this qualify as wanting to spend time with me? James wondered, while simultaneously pondering the depths to which he would sink in trying to construe Lily’s every action as affection.

“James, are you listening to me?”

James had been otherwise occupied by willing his fingers not to smooth back the strands of hair that fell into Lily’s face. “Yeah?”

“I said, that ingredient is supposed to be Ashwinder eggs, not Acromantula venom. You want to cause desire, not death. I corrected that too, by the way.”

“Did I say Amortentia causes death? I know I’m rubbish at Potions, but honestly....”

“No, you said love. Amortentia causes infatuation or strong desire. Love is...nothing can replicate it.” Lily turned pink and fell silent but for the scratching of her quill.

James broke the silence by saying, “Thanks for doing this, by the way. You’re a complete lifesaver.”

“Oh, it’s no problem. I was just here picking up a few books for this week, and you looked like you were about ready to pass out.”

“Books for school?”

“No, just for myself.”

“What a coincidence! I like to read, too,” James said, perhaps too eagerly.

“You do?”

“Well, er, I like Quidditch Through The Ages, I’ve read that loads of times.”

“See, I’ve never really understood the appeal of Quidditch,” Lily admitted.

“Oh, it’s an amazing game,” James said, his eyes widening earnestly. “I just love the wind through my hair, the adrenaline, the freedom. I know Seekers get all the glory, but being a Chaser...it’s right in the center of the action. When you get to the goalposts, it’s just you and the Keeper. I really think you’d like it better if you played.”

“Maybe,” Lily said carefully. “When I’m watching, I’m always scared that someone will fall. It seems so dangerous.”

“It’s not really that bad. Like I always say, though, there’s no fun without a little danger involved,” James said. “Tell you what, I’ll take you flying sometime. If you don’t have fun, I’ll eat an entire jar of Cockroach Cluster.”

“Deal,” Lily said, laughing. “Sometime. Anyway, the rest of your essay is fine. You just need to write a bit more, and you’re done.”

“Any suggestions to kill space?”

“Well, you could discuss the scent, in general and in particular.”

“It’s whatever attracts you, right?”

Lily nodded, and James wrote that down, then thought, In particular? Does she want to know? No, she’s just offering me suggestions; I’m being ridiculous. James surreptitiously inhaled. Lily smelled like soap, but the overwhelming scent of her hair was something almost fruity. “What sort of shampoo is that?” James asked casually, sneaking a sideways glance at her.

Lily turned a brilliant shade of scarlet. “Strawberry,” she said quietly.

His hazel eyes met her green ones and they gazed at each other wordlessly for a moment. James was seized with an overwhelming desire to kiss her. He knew that would cross a line but at the moment he couldn’t think of any reason that crossing that line would be a bad idea.

“A-anyway, that should b-be enough,” Lily stammered. “I should go. I have, um, reading to do." She gathered up her books and almost ran toward Madam Pince's desk.

“You won’t get much reading done,” James said. “It’s the first Friday back; we’re going to have a bit of a party. Well-supervised by yours truly, of course.”

“That sounds fun,” Lily said over her shoulder, still looking stricken. She hurried out of the library, clutching her precarious pile of books, before he could respond.

James tipped his chair back onto two legs and sighed as she left. He had always thought that he would one day understand girls in a sudden, giddy rush of enlightenment. Now, however, he felt further away than ever from comprehending anything about Lily. He shouldn’t have asked her about her hair, but he was sure she had been flattered for just a moment. Nevertheless, they had been having a perfectly friendly conversation until he had ruined it.

He rubbed his temple. Maybe Libatius Borage had written a complete guide to women as well. James snorted at the thought. Maybe Lily was just utterly mental, and that was what she had told Lupin. This was equally ridiculous, but James resolved to find Lupin anyway, sure that a bit more insight into Lily’s mind could only help his cause.
Chapter Endnotes: Thanks for reading! Please review-I'd love some input on the story of any kind. The next chapter will be from Lily's point of view and hopefully with less of a wait.