Chapter 1 : I. God's Practical Joke
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James Potter. How does one begin to describe James Potter?
There is the obvious epithet hunk, but that’s… well, obvious. And obvious is no fun.
He isn’t technically the most attractive young wizard to grace Hogwarts’ halls, but that’s only because Teddy Lupin (or rather, Professor T. R. Lupin, thank you very much, as he is known these days) was there first. Not to mention Oliver Wood, Sirius Black, even the Dark Lord himself, before he, ahem, became the Dark Lord. But all contemporary sources suggest that James Potter is the most attractive young wizard who is currently a Hogwarts student, and you won’t find many opinions to the contrary. Who could deny it? His face is sculpted as exquisitely as that of any male marble Renaissance statue you care to name. Looking upon it is a blessing, guaranteed to lessen the burden of your worldly cares by its sheer beauty. A few years ago, some entrepreneurial Hufflepuffs tried to suss out whether he really was a measly student or if, in fact, he was some sick joke God played on hormone-ravaged adolescent witches in this desolate, remote corner of Scotland so He could watch them tear their hair and/or hearts out in sexual frustration.
All evidence gathered thus far suggests that he really is a student.
And yet, obviously, he isn’t just a student. He’s not even a very good student, if we’re being perfectly honest. He’s on the average side of intelligent, and he doesn’t focus enough on his studies to get the marks that would set Wizarding Exam Authority hearts aflutter. He does well in practicals, like in Defense Against the Dark Arts, to absolutely no one’s surprise, considering his name. It was through going to classes at all that he gained his initial traction amongst the young females who attended them as well; in third year, a vicious underground bazaar arose in which money and promises to bake puddings every week were exchanged just so a girl could achieve her dream of joining him in his elective classes. (You wouldn’t believe what would be traded mere years later, just before N.E.W.T. classes).
He’s both athletic and creative. He would have been named Quidditch Captain, but he graciously declined when offered the position because his teammate and friend Noel Graham had been on the team longer. He was something of a recording artist already, as he won the very sophisticated “Spring Talent Show” in fifth year by singing a Song Dedicated To A Special Someone Out There using the fabled panty-dropper the Acoustic Guitar. No one knew who the Special Someone was, but the ladies’ loos buzzed the next morning with gossip and the dulcet sounds of bootleg recordings of James’ performance, which featured lyrics as insightful and heartstring-tugging as Once upon a time it was you and me/But now it’s just me and the deep blue sea/And I wish I knew where I could find you.
More than all of these, he’s just an upstanding human being. He’s kind and generous, funny and charismatic. He can brighten cloudy days with a smile and a cheesy joke. He can lift spirits and bring evil to its knees, begging for mercy and his autograph. A good son, a good brother, a good(-ish) student, a good friend.
But a good boyfriend?
I’ve known James Potter for years now. I wouldn’t dare raise the ire of my fellow Hogwarts students by calling myself his best friend, and also, he has a lot of best friends, but we are still good friends. I would tell you a cute story about how that happened, but that’s played out and annoying, so no. Let me assure you, though, that I’m not the kind of witch that worships the ground he walks on or tries to fish his used tissues out of the rubbish bin to hug before bedtime instead of stuffed animals or, barring that, emotionally unavailable parents. Not at all. I don’t believe he’s all that and a bag of crisps. Attractive? Clearly. Good human being? Sure. But God’s cosmic joke on young hormone-ravaged witches? Hardly.
There is no easy way to say this, but James Potter is... lame. Outside of the physical trappings of attractiveness, he is endearingly unattractive at his core. He is a doormat. He has no sense of himself and is gently befuddled by the witches who fawn over him. Picture it this way: if the witches who love him so were a smorgasbord (I do mean a literal smorgasbord, of food), he would stare into the depths of the strange, beautiful dishes presented to him and crinkle his nose slightly and, in a dazed, confused voice, politely refuse to eat anything because he doesn’t know what these dishes are made of and doesn’t want to risk dying of a heretofore undiscovered allergy to… like, beets or something, even though he admits that he is rather hungry.
Essentially: even though he likes food, he doesn’t know what to do with it once he knows he could eat his fill of a smorgasbord.
This analogy relates perhaps uncannily accurately to James’ problem with girls.
Which, granted, is the point.
I know I said that I don’t believe all of what’s generally believed of James Potter. It’s true. But once upon a time, I did. (I also know that I said I wouldn’t tell you a cute story about how we became friends, and I swear I won’t. This is a different story entirely).
James has a horrible memory when it comes to people’s names, and faces, and birthdays. He forgot my fourteenth birthday, and he didn’t have a gift or anything for me once he realized that it was in fact my fourteenth birthday. Since he’d just taken up the guitar, he said that his gift for me was a song. (A totally platonic song.) It was actually one that he’d been writing steadily for the past seventeen hours, and it had nothing to do with our friendship, or me, but I appreciated the gesture nonetheless. I got up to hug him when he was done, and somehow, the stars went seriously out of whack and aligned in such a way that we managed to completely accidentally… eugh. Kiss.
I was totally upset by this. So was James, although in his typical fashion, he shrugged off the sheer mortification after a bit and went back to his normal oblivious self. I did too–or so it seemed. Because secretly, very, very secretly, I started fancying him. I was newly fourteen, for Merlin’s sake! He was even my first kiss, you know. My first utterly mortifying kiss (though not the last). But I kept my crush to myself until the very last day of school. I told him I fancied him a bit just before we got off the Hogwarts Express coming home for the summer holidays.
“Wha–you? Fancy… me?”
He’d stared at me, jaw gaping like some sort of mutant fish, and I blushed furiously to my very blonde roots and stammered, “I, er, yeah, I do. So… there. Bye, now! Have a good holiday!”
And then I scampered to my mummy and daddy, and didn’t set eyes on James for another two months.
As you may be able to tell, I was not the best at navigating the ins and outs of adolescent interpersonal romantic politics.
The next time I saw him, back on Platform 9 ¾ two and a bit months later, he seemed to have forgot what had transpired. I pretended to have done so as well, to save myself from–again–utter mortification. Then, while he and I roamed the train, looking for the trolley lady, he said, in his vacant fashion, “Hey, do you still fancy me?”
My eyes widened and I almost careered into a passing Ravenclaw. When I recovered myself, I shook my head violently and said, “Fuck, no. I could never stand to feel anything for you for more than three consecutive milliseconds.”
This put him at ease. He patted my shoulder very awkwardly and said, “Well, good.”
That was that.
An aside: the song James did not write for my birthday went on to be–you guessed it–his breakout record. (An aside for an aside: before you get any ideas, I wasn’t the Someone Special. That honour fell to his Cavalier King Charles spaniel, who’d run away over Easter break. His name was Sparky. James and his little siblings went home for his funeral when he finally washed up on the beach a week after the talent show. He said he’d arranged it so his little sister Lily could say goodbye, but Albus tells me that tears stoically ran down his brother’s cheeks for the whole ceremony).
So basically: James seems like a demigod. He is not. I know this because I am his friend. He and I do not have (significant) romantic history.
In fact, he has very little (significant) romantic history with anyone.
Which, as you can deduce, is a goddamn crying shame.
AUTHOR’S NOTE I… did not intend to post this so early. After a year of this sitting in my ???? folder being early. Because yes, I’ve been sitting on this since June 2012, got stuck, and let it languish. However, I liked this opening too much, and Augusta too much, and everything (except the original plot) too much to let it go to waste, so I’ve been diligently revamping this for a while now. This is my ‘fun fic’ that I work on when ~other things~ (intentionally cryptic!) are not working nearly as well, and I do find it a lot of fun. I hope you do too.
So for the first time in a long time I get to say: thanks for reading and I hope you continue to enjoy.