Author's Note: Thank you all for being unbelievably patient. I have revised most of this story and, as you can see, deleted all the chapters I had posted before. Since I have somewhat survived my first quarter in college (thank goodness), I am definitely going to get as much done as possible this next quarter. I've revised and written quite a lot for this story and I hope it meets (exceeds would be lovely) expectations. The entire thing is a bit different, so please start reading from here. I hope you enjoy it!
LIFE IN THE BREAKDOWN
Since the very young age of six, I wondered what it was and why it was so important to everyone. I first heard about "love" when my next door neighbor, Will Grussman, asked Paula Mackenzie if she would be his girlfriend. I asked him why he would do such a ridiculous thing and he gave me a strange look before saying, "I love her, stupid."
At the time, I wasn't quite keen on the concept of a "girlfriend," but being the competitor that I was, I told Jessica Thomas, my cousin's best friend, that I loved her and requested for her hand in marriage. She slapped me and declined, though my boldness earned me instant respect from all the other boys on the street.
Years later, after I had matured a bit, she became receptive to my charm.
It looked as if life was compensating me for that mortifying rejection suffered so early in my youth. Life just kept heaping on the rewards—dashing good looks, unmatched athletic ability, irresistible charm. I can't help the fact that the perfect combination of dominant and recessive alleles of my distinct parental figures resulted in the birth of none other than I, James Potter.
But that's another story entirely and I've been told that people don't enjoy diverting on tangents when being told a story.
No one really knew what love was at that age. I certainly didn't. The phrase, "I love you" meant nothing to me. They all used the word "love" to describe that queasy, fluttery, aching feeling in the pit of the stomach. I got that feeling whenever I ate Aunt Emma's cooking. That feeling was nothing but a myth meant to seduce the gullible dolts of society into a state of uneasy vulnerability and detachment from rationality. People were naïve and delusional, using adoration as quaint justification to reject reality. I would not push myself into the role of a lovesick villain, not James Potter.
I was determined never to get sucked into this foolish trend of searching the world for your soul mate. Besides, boys could not get their hearts broken—especially this one. I figured, love was overrated and no one would ever be worth the time I would have to sacrifice to find them and then convince them to fall in love with me.
Truth is, I stuck to my plan for years, drifting from one pretty girl to the next and letting go once attachment became imminent. Some cried, some pleaded, some spat in response, but I learned to separate myself from their reactions. It was better for the both of us and I had no regrets about defending my approach towards affection. That routine worked quite nicely for me until one girl came into my life— one crazy, intriguing girl. She changed everything.
"Potter, you are selfish, infuriating, despicable, rude, snobby, and cruel. I have more adjectives—all negative—to add to that list, but I will save them for later since I'm sure you will soon find yet another way to bother me. So I must conclude once again by saying 'bugger off.'"
Strange as it may be, it was Lily Evans' constant barrage of insults that caught my attention. I wasn't self-destructive or masochistic. I was interested and that was the bottom line.
She had always been pretty, even when she was scowling. Her eyes always flecked with darker jade whenever she was angry. It was the strangest thing to have eyes that changed depending on a person's mood, but Lily's eyes did it. That was only one effect my presence seemed to have on her. While her eyes darkened, her face would always turn red, which would cause me to chuckle, which would cause her to become even angrier and even darker and even redder. She had always been pretty. Had that been her only asset, I would've lost interest within the first month of pursuit. No, there was more to Lily Evans than "pretty."
Once, she told me that I was predictable. I remember how bothered I was by that. The next day, I did something absolutely ridiculous and asked, "How was that for predictable?"
She rolled her eyes, scrunched up her mouth, breathed deeply, and walked away. It wasn't exactly the reaction I was expecting. Lily Evans was truly unlike any other girl I'd ever come across. There was just something about her that I couldn't place my finger on, something about her that drew my interest. Sometime in fifth year, I decided that I wanted to make her fall in love with me. Ironically, it was I who took the first plunge.
I clumsily tripped over my own tangled emotions and fell quite hard for her. The worst part was that I didn't even realize I was in any danger of slipping until I was far too gone to ever be brought back.
That year, my friends and I thought we were at our prime. Since our arrival at school, everyone knew we were destined for greatness. The infamous Marauders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, we were called. We were notorious for causing trouble wherever we could, making complete fools out of ourselves, and being loved for it all.
Lily's public contempt towards the Marauders was a slight setback in my master plan of wooing.
She disapproved of everything we embodied—the risk-taking, the pranking, the taunting. She hated arrogance. Remus tended to gravitate to a higher maturity level than the rest of us and thus earned a bit more respect, whereas I seemed to be the recipient of her most revolted feelings. Perhaps it was because I had taken a sort of leadership role within the group, or perhaps my persona just didn't sit right with her. All that was certain was we were always at conflicting ends of an argument, no matter what. We butted heads at every instance and muttered curses under our breath without any resolution and any end.
That was the way it was for the longest time. Lily would become dreadfully angry at one thing or another that I had done, I would tell Remus what a twat she was being, Sirius and Peter would laugh at the entire situation, and Remus would somehow convince Lily that I was sorry. She would never actually forgive me, but at least she didn't dwell on the argument. After that, life would usually realign itself into a state of opposition and mutual dislike until the next time I tested her temper (probably the next morning or afternoon if I was behaving).
So, with all this history between us, the idea that we could ever be romantically linked seemed like a complete impossibility. Two people with no common threads except for an exchanged dislike were surely not a good match. It just so happened that my courtship of Evans began as a poke at my unfailing skill of upsetting her. The boys noted animosity between us and fancied taking advantage of it to humiliate me and get a few laughs. Truthfully, I'm glad they did because the day they began to taunt me was the day I started my gradual fall towards humility and love.
"Prongs, you've got quite a bit of a fan club with Evans, don't you?" Sirius joked as I sat down on the table, metaphorically battered and bruised from a particularly volatile confrontation in the corridor with Lily Evans.
"I don't know what's wrong with that girl. I haven't done anything wrong." I pouted, ignoring Sirius' choking. "She's a madwoman."
"You and Sirius convinced a couple of second years to dress up in funny medieval costumes and blow fancy horns to announce your arrival into the Great Hall. Then you both bowed, as if it was a show. From all that, I can only suppose she thinks you've made Gryffindor look like a joke, and through association, made her and the other Prefects look like jokes." Remus suggested as he took a sip from his flask.
"I'm on your side, mate. Oh, High and Mighty James Potter, master of all mischievous mayhem, instigator of immortal infamy, protector of perpetual prankhood. Brilliant, old boy."
"Oh, but let us not forget the Honorable Sirius Black, purveyor of pleasure and perfection, giant of good-humor and games, titan of trouble and tomfoolery."
"Of course we can't forget him, that devilishly handsome rogue. Job well done, I say. Too bad you had to risk the good opinion of your lady fair to do it."
"She is not my lady fair."
"Ah, but you knew who I was referring to, did you not?"
"Well, the lady"—I said that with sarcasm—"wants a word with you, a very loud word, I bet."
"Wonderful. I'm off to meet a gorgeous girl. Don't starve yourselves on my account." He yelled as he exited the Great Hall.
"Oh, believe me Padfoot, we won't." Peter called back as he stuffed a forkful of potatoes into his mouth.
"Well, I thought it was funny, a good way to start off the year. Dumbledore needed to add the excitement to his welcoming introduction." I muttered, scraping the remains off my plate.
"It was funny!"
"It was actually a pretty harmless prank, considering our history. Lily probably forgot the damage you are capable of, not to mention the fact that she is under a bit of stress in her first Prefect year." Remus decided, his glance moving from the nearly full moon towards the doors of the dining hall, where a smug Sirius and a livid Lily had just entered. "I'm sure it'll smooth over, though, things between you two always do. Anyway, I have to talk to Dumbledore about . . . you know. See you in the common room later."
He, as usual, was probably right. Lily Evans had always been destined to become a Prefect. She was the model student and everyone knew she would probably end up as Head Girl by our last year (which she did, in fact). The only person who never seemed to know was Lily Evans. To her, nothing was in the bag. Nothing was secure no matter how many times people had assured her that Dumbledore did not take away Prefect badges over a few escaped pranksters. She seemed convinced that whatever I did would jeopardize her status and reputation. Her mind must've been an absolute blur. Sometime between when I was thinking of Lily Evans' ridiculous insistence on control and the surely confusing state of mind, Remus left the table and Peter finished half of his meal.
Not much later, Lily plopped down next to her friends and immediately began ranting with furrowed brow and fixed scowl, occasionally glancing over towards Peter and I.
"What did she say?" I asked, probably too anxiously, as Sirius returned to his seat.
"Said she loves you. Can't get you out of her head. Fancies me too. Doesn't know who to choose. Told her you snore like a Ukrainian Ironbelly. Said she'll think about whether or not that is a positive attribute." He replied briskly before finishing the food on his plate and taking the extra bit of Peter's. "I told her it probably wasn't."
Sirius always did have the nerve to make fun of me. He had convinced himself that Evans and I were perfect for each other and would make suggestive comments all the time, just to prove his point. I hated him for it, but over time, he convinced me too. Looking back, I don't think Sirius ever did me a greater favor.
"You're an ass. You know that right? Oh and if your daft mind can absorb the information, I don't love Lily Evans. I don't even like her."
"Of course, it's what gets the ladies." He smirked, rising with plate and goblet in hand. "And I think you know you do."
With one of his cheeky grins, Sirius Black sauntered away, occasionally stopping to chat with some pretty girl who happened to catch his eye.
"I don't even like her." I mumbled, glancing over inconspicuously at Lily and her friends.
"I know you don't." he assured me. "A person would have to be really dull to think that you do."
"Exactly! I mean, Evans is brilliant, in an irritating way. She's clever enough to think of a witty remark from time to time. She's actually decent looking from afar. It isn't strange for someone to be attracted to her, I suppose. Not me, though. I don't even like her."
"I know you don't."
"No. I definitely don't." I repeated again, nodding my head confidently before motioning for Peter to follow me away from the nearly empty Gryffindor table. "Plus, I would have to be unbelievably self-loathing to risk even trying to like Lily Evans."
My comment at the time was ironic to the core because whether I knew it or not, I had already begun to like her. "The Marauders" was a suitable title; we loved to gamble with our lives, doing the most reckless things at the most inconvenient times. We were thrilling and bold and intense. It was part of the charm. For me, Lily Evans was a risk. She stood between the calls of sound rationality and the cries of all the lovesick saps dragging me into their deep world of affection and feeling.
It wasn't until later that I would threaten my pride and stubbornness by taking a chance on Lily Evans. For once in my life, there were no cheat codes, no hint books, and no secret passageways. I couldn't take the easy way out because there was no easy way out.
There was Lily Evans and there was me. That was worth the risk.