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A Different Kind of Magic by unjellify

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Chapter Notes: This has been my favorite chapter to write thus far. Before you read this, I am not J.K. Rowling and am only playing in her sandbox. The chapter title comes from the lyrics to "Starlight" by Muse, which I felt fit this chapter well. Thanks to Soraya for her superb beta skills.

James had been finding it increasingly difficult to be alone in the past week. Granted, he couldn’t complain, since his increased popularity had come from the Gryffindor Quidditch team’s winning the Slytherin match the previous Saturday. However, he felt like a smile was plastered to his face at all times, and he hated it.

It wasn’t as if no one had noticed anything wrong”Lily kept casting him worried looks and even Sirius had asked him if he was all right”but James wished he could drop the façade for more than a few seconds. After all, he would have to maintain his stoicism when he went home as well; he didn’t want to make his mum and dad feel any worse than they already would.

When he found himself alone, he wandered about, restless. His feet urged him to go, to take off running and to not look back. He could stand almost anything except not knowing, not seeing for himself how his mum was.

He was enjoying solitude walking back to Gryffindor Tower early after dinner when Remus caught up with him. “All right, Prongs?” he asked.

“I should ask you the same question, Moony.” Remus looked even worse than James did, a difficult feat, and James realized he had completely forgotten that the full moon would rise that night.

“You know, it’s that time of the month,” Remus said.

James couldn’t stop himself from saying, “Well, I hope your PMS clears up.”

Remus shoved him good-naturedly. “Anyway, I wasn’t very hungry, so I went to the library instead. I have some, well, not good, but some news for you.”

“Yeah?” James didn’t think he could take any more not-good news.

“Carl and Lily were having a terrible row when I got there. Madam Pince gave them both the boot, although I suppose they had to leave for dinner anyway.”

“Really? What about?” James asked. This was the sort of not-good news of which he needed more.

“I dunno,” Remus answered. “Lily was saying something about how Carl always tells her what to do, and then Carl yelled something”told her what to do, I suppose”and then Lily started screaming at him.”

“Screaming?” James asked, his brow furrowing. “I’ll grant you she can be a bit sharp, but screaming doesn’t sound like her.”

“You’re right. Well, she’s obviously having a bad day. You know what they say: ‘Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,’” Remus answered, shrugging.

“You’re the only one who says that.”

“William Congreve and I both, Prongs.”

“It’s remarkable you don’t have more girlfriends. You can quote more poetry than anyone else I’ve ever met.”

Remus looked at him incredulously.

“You’re too sensitive about your furry little problem! That’s nothing when you speak the language of love,” James said, drawing out the last word.

“Shut up,” Remus said, but he was smiling wanly.

They had reached Gryffindor Tower just as the clock in the common room was striking seven. “Oh, damn it!” James said. “I’m supposed to be in the dungeons right now.”

“Well, get going. You don’t want to miss your date with Lily.”

“Trying to brew a Draught of Living Death is very sexy stuff, you know,” James said, straight-faced, before turning and slipping out the portrait hole. He stopped just as the Fat Lady’s portrait was about to swing back into place, faced Remus, and said, “Bye, Moony.”

It had hit him suddenly that was the last time he would be seeing Remus for quite a while.

Though he took the stairs two at a time all the way down, he had rushed for nothing. Lily wasn’t there. James sat down and waited for a few minutes. Then he got up and began to pace.

“Professor?” James asked, poking his head into Slughorn’s office. “Do you know where Lily is?”

“I do not, Mr. Potter. I feel sure that she is simply running late.”

Lily was nothing if not prompt, but James bit this response back. Instead, he returned to the Potions classroom and stared around at the walls for a moment. Where can she be? he thought. Suddenly, though it was, to say the least, a long shot, he knew.

He made more of an entrance into the library than he intended; Madam Pince looked up with the gaze she usually wore upon seeing him, as if she had just tasted something particularly acerbic. In all fairness, James had thrown open the door with a bang, so her condemnatory gaze was deserved this time. He had always suspected that usually she simply disapproved of his unkempt hair, and thus needed only a whisper from him in her presence to order him, “Out! Out at once!”

Being careful to make as few sounds as possible, James began the labyrinthine journey through the library’s shelves. He saw her at first as just a tangle of dark red hair; her head was down on a reading table, resting upon her arm, and she appeared to be asleep.

As he approached, however, he saw that her shoulders were shaking. “Lily,” he breathed.

She looked up. Her face was blotchy, almost as red as her hair in some places, and tears were still wending their way down her face.

“Go away,” she said flatly, retreating into her folded arms again.

“Was it Carl? That wanker, I’m going to kill””

“It wasn’t Carl. Go away,” Lily repeated, sniffling.

“Why was he yelling at you, then?”

“Why are you still here?” she countered.

“I’m not leaving.”

“Oh, lovely. Go ahead and be stubborn, James, because I’m sure that’ll help.”

“I will, thank you.”

“You’re impossible! You’ve been moping around for weeks, and you won’t let me have one good cry.”

“From the looks of it, you’ve already had one.”

“And insulting me, too! I feel so much better already.”

“You’ve stopped crying,” James pointed out.

“I hate you,” she hissed.

“See, that’s not true,” he answered, sitting down so that he was turned towards her. She didn’t immediately try to bash him over the head with one of the books stacked on the table, which he took as a good sign. While he hadn’t exactly expected her to do so, the vitriol in her voice had been quite frightening. Before he could stop himself, with a horde of cautionary thoughts in his head fighting to get out, he slid his arm around her and drew her close.

In a truly shocking development to him, Lily’s head dropped onto his shoulder. I will never understand women, James thought, but did not comment. His thumb traced slow circles into her arm.

“Tell me, Lily,” he said into her hair.

Wordlessly, Lily reached out for a tiny wad of paper that had been lying wrinkled in the middle of the table and unfolded it. The lump flattened into two sheets of Muggle paper, the one on top a typed letter. James took it with his free hand and read:

Dearest Lily,

Dad and I hope everything is well with you at Hogwarts. You are probably preparing for your salamander test already, so I’ll keep it short. Your father and I miss both you girls terribly, but other than that we are fine. He has been keeping busy with work.

Petunia has asked me to tell you that she has met a man at university. His name is Vernon Dursley. Petunia says he is dependable and very good to her. In fact, they have recently become engaged, and are coming here for the Christmas holidays.

If you feel that you should stay at Hogwarts over the holidays to better study for your exams, or if you are simply having too much fun with your friends, by all means do so. You should not worry about offending your father and me.

Lots of love,


James snuck a glance at Lily. “What””

“Keep reading,” Lily said, staring glassily at the note.

The one below it was handwritten on a sheet of Muggle notebook paper.


I hope that by now you have gotten Mum’s letter, or this may come as a bit of a shock. I am engaged to Vernon, as I hope she told you. We shall be very happy together. Fortunately, we agree on almost everything. We both want a house in the suburbs, a family, and a nice, normal life for ourselves. Unfortunately, Lily, that means that Vernon shouldn’t meet you, especially right off. We could hardly have you turning the roast into a frog, or whatever it is you learn at your school.

I have explained the situation to Mum, and she agrees with me that it would be best if you and Vernon didn’t meet for now. Of course, Mum and Dad have both decided that they want to have the first holiday with Vernon and me. I hope you understand. Happy Christmas!


James didn’t know what to say. Though Lily wasn’t sniffling any longer, tears were brimming over in her eyes and rolling silently down her cheeks, which was worse somehow. He had been dreading his Christmas holidays for so long now, but it was a small comfort he had never considered that his family wanted him home.

“I knew this would happen,” Lily said faintly.

“You couldn’t have done. This sister of yours is horrible; that’s all there is to it.”

“You don’t understand, James. I do this to myself all the time.”

“Lily”” James started, remembering what Remus had said to him, but she cut across him.

“I knew when I chose to go to Hogwarts that eventually this would happen. Do you know what Petunia told me the day I left? She told me that I was a freak. Of course my parents were proud at first, but last summer I could see it in their eyes. They’re worried, James, worried that they messed up with me somehow. They’ve realized that I’m never going to have an ordinary job, or live an ordinary life. I can’t blame them; I’d pick the normal daughter too,” she said bitterly.

She feels unlovable. He could hear Remus saying the words. James hadn’t believed them, not then and not until now. He opened his mouth, but Lily wasn’t finished. She continued with an almost crazed look in her eyes.

“That’s not all. I drive people out of my life, James. Whatever fondness they’ve got for me, it’s gone when they really get to know me. Take Carl. He fancied me, but now he’s jealous of you, and frankly I don’t know if he has a right to be. What I do know is that he can barely stand me now. When I finally needed him today, he told me to stop being so sensitive over nothing, and consider how someone else felt for a change, which was no less than I deserved.

“Then,” she finished, coming to the end of her litany in an almost triumphant manner, “there’s Severus.”

“He insulted you!” James exclaimed.

“He insulted me two years ago, and I haven’t spoken to him since. I pushed him away because I was ashamed of him, ashamed of the person he was becoming. I should’ve helped him when I still could. I should’ve made him see the good in himself, instead of the pathetic excuse for a boy that his father always told him he was. But I didn’t do that. We were best friends, James, best friends, and I know he would have stayed by me until the end, but he’s up to his nose in the Dark Arts now, and that’s because I failed him.”

“Lily, stop,” James said, his grip on her shoulder tightening as he pulled her around to face him. “Listen to me. First off, stop wishing you were normal. You’re the smartest, most beautiful, most amazing girl I know, and a great witch too. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.”

Lily looked into his eyes, transfixed, as if she had finally found the answer.

“You don’t push people away, either,” James continued. “That’s rubbish.”

“That’s sweet of you, James, but””

“I know,” James continued doggedly, “because right now I may know you better than anyone else at Hogwarts”” his conscience was telling him to stop, but he had kept the words inside him for too long, and they finally won the struggle “”and I’ve never been more mesmerized by you.”

He knew that he would hurt her that night far more than he would help her, and more deeply than he had ever hurt anyone else, but at the moment he was only thinking of her eyes. He could see her need for him at that moment, buried for so long in those green irises.

James kissed her. Her lips were swollen and salty from crying, and he lost himself in her taste, his fingers weaving themselves into her hair. As Lily pulled him closer, the restless fear that had kept him aching for home disappeared. He wanted to stay forever.


Moonlight poured in through the window of the tower, illuminating the contents of James’ trunk. Various schoolbooks had been tossed haphazardly atop an equally chaotic pile of clothes. James scooped up an errant pair of socks from the rug beside his bed and threw them into his trunk on top of the books, then looked around. Apart from his unmade bed, no trace of him existed in the dormitory. Sirius, Remus and Peter were out in the forest, no doubt feeling his absence in the way only animals could. Matthew Spinnet and Carl were sound asleep.

James looked out the window, hoping in vain to catch a glimpse of the dog, the rat, and the werewolf, and then turned and stared at the far wall. He wished he could see through it to where Lily lay, asleep. If I had explained everything to her, would it make any of this better? he wondered.

At precisely midnight, he walked out to the common room, carrying his trunk ahead of him with some effort. He could have used magic, but he felt some kind of self-punishment was necessary. Dumbledore was waiting there for him, and with a flick of his wand lifted James’ trunk into the air. “Are you ready, Mr. Potter?” he asked. “Your Portkey awaits.”

James didn’t answer. He thought of his best friends, still out in the woods underneath the full moon, and of Lily, who, unlike the Marauders, would not immediately realize that he was gone. Most of all, however, he felt the fear, returned and ever stronger.

Dumbledore gestured to an ancient, dusty book that lay on the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall. James stepped forwards and let the dread envelop him, let it grasp him and pull him away, because that was all he could do.
Chapter Endnotes: Thanks for reading! Next chapter is from Lily's POV. The line Remus quotes (“William Congreve and I both, Prongs”) comes from William Congreve’s The Mourning Bride, and is more commonly condensed into, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Also, thanks to all who have reviewed so far. For this chapter, I especially would like feedback. Loved it? Hated it? Please review!