You used to know who you were. You were James Potter, Quidditch extraordinaire, ladies' man, arrogant git, top student, and the biggest prankster to hit Hogwarts.

But then, in fourth year, you fell in love with her. You thought it was just a crush like the others, that it would pass in a month and you'd have a new fancy. But it didn't pass; it just swelled. Before you knew it, you were following her around, and when she wasn't in your sight, you wondered where she was. You constantly toyed with the idea of asking her out, but, for once, James Potter couldn't find courage.

She hated you, and everything you stood for. Teasing younger students, terrorizing Slytherins, especially Snape, causing trouble wherever you walked. She hated your arrogance, your lack of responsibility, your trouble-making ways. But you were blind to her hatred of you.

Finally, you worked up the courage to ask her out to Hogsmeade. You walked up to the red-haired beauty and tapped her shoulder. She turned around, fixing her bright green eyes on you with a curious stare. Her friends peered at you from over her shoulder, nearly swooning. You asked if you could talk to her privately. She looked at you suspiciously and said yes.

You led her over to an emptier side of the corridor, running your hands through your hair, not realizing she hated it when you did that. You nervously asked her out.

She said no.

As she turned and walked back to her friends, you stared at her back, dumbfounded. She said no? To you? You pinched yourself to see if you were asleep, but it was not so.

You never told your friends. When they asked you how it went, you shrugged and made up something about her already having a boyfriend. They consoled you, but you barely listened to them. You were wrapped up in your thoughts, wondering why she said no.

Your cockiness took over, and for the next two years you pestered her wherever she went. You asked her out at least once a week, hoping desperately inside of you that she would give in to your "charm" and say yes. But it was not so. Her declines became nastier. In fifth year, she shrieked that she would rather go out with the giant squid than you, and your insides squirmed with embarrassment. In sixth year, she shoved you into a suit of armor, bruising both your arm and your ego.

The summer before seventh year started perfectly normally. You and your best friend, Sirius, would write letters to each other, cooking up ways to get Lily Evans, the girl of your dreams, to say yes.

The shock of your life came in a small envelope one day in early August. A Head Boy badge. You had thought that it must be a mistake, but it wasn't. It was for real.

Suddenly, barely a week after that exciting news, your father died. His heart had failed, and suddenly, you viewed life differently. Before, life had been about getting the girl, throwing pranks, and looking good doing it. But now, you realized that death was everywhere. Life wasn't a party. You were seventeen now, and you felt older than you'd ever felt in your life.

Your mother was heartbroken. The only thing she held onto any longer was you, her only son. She suddenly sheltered you, refusing to let you go to Hogsmeade without her, even though your friends were going to be there. You were bitter, wanting freedom, while your mother wouldn't let you go.

Your relationship with your mother dissipated, and you were no longer the perfect child with the sense of humor that adults adored. You became the dark, rebellious teen, making your mother's life hell, until you went off to school that September.

People who just looked at you noticed a change in your behavior. Your mouth was set into a hard line as you walked onto the platform, your jaw slightly clenched, your eyes dark. You barely spared Lily Evans a glance as you left your mother without giving her a hug or even saying goodbye. You didn't care that she burst into tears when you pulled away from her hug and left her without a word.

Sirius, Remus, and Peter ran up to you on the train, but you barely even looked at them. When they pestered you, trying to find out what was wrong, you shouted at them. Confused and hurt, they left you to walk to the Prefects and Heads compartment alone.

Your red-haired beauty was shocked not only that you'd gotten Head Boy, but that you'd hadn't touched your hair or asked her out. She even approached you, curious, but you brushed her off nastily, saying something snappishly before leaving her. She stared at your back as you left, and what you didn't know was that she fell for you, right then and there. She didn't know it either.

The year passed by. You were withdrawn, moody, and rather nasty. As far as the school knew, you were no longer a Marauder. Sirius, Remus, and Peter tried to reach out to you, but you pushed them away, thinking you could handle it.

But you couldn't. Your heart broke every time you threw out one of your mother's frequent letters. You didn't know that your pain was destroying you, piece by piece, until all that would be left is an empty, emotionless shell.

Soon, your friends gave up on you. Your misery was hurting them too, and the only way that they could protect themselves was to stay away. Your mother stopped writing when you didn't reply, though she demanded you home for Christmas. The teachers stopped trying to get you to open up, and deemed you hopeless.

The only person that didn't give up on you was Lily Evans. The young woman was pushed away by you time and time again, but she persisted, much the way you'd persisted when you were trying to ask her out. She tried to get you to talk to her, but you treated her much the way she treated you. Your reasoning was that she didn't care; why should she? She said she hated you last year and the year before. Why should now be any different? You thought she was just trying to hurt you; that you would open up to her and she would laugh in your face for believing that she actually cared. You were still licking your wounds from previous years; you weren't going to trust so easily.

You didn't realize that she was sincere. You didn't know that she actually cared, until that winter night. You were hiding yourself in your private Head room, writing in your journal. There was a soft, timid knock on your door. You didn't answer. There was another knock, stronger and more demanding. You knew who it was, and you told her to go away.

She didn't listen to you. She opened the unlocked door. You looked up at her in annoyance, and suddenly, your heart broke again. Her face was contorted with anger.

Thoughts raced through your head. You knew that she didn't care. You knew that she'd come in here to shout at you now. She didn't care about you at all. She didn't understand.

She marched right up to you and slapped you across the face. You took it without a word, looking stonily back at her. Her emerald eyes were searching your hazel ones, looking for some trace that you'd felt her slap. But your eyes were dead, emotionless except for conviction.

She wondered aloud, not really to you, what had happened to you. She had no clue about your father. After all, she did not get The Daily Prophet. You didn't answer, instead staring at the peeling paint on the wall.

She whispered your name. You didn't look at her. She said it again, louder. Still, you didn't take your eyes off the paint on the wall. She grabbed your face between her hands, turning it so your eyes were looking into hers. Those emerald green orbs were burning with emotions, ranging from anger, to hurt, to irritation, to... love?

You found yourself entranced, and you remained still as she began to speak in a strained voice. She asked you what had happened. You didn't reply. Hurt at the memories filled you like water fills a glass, and tears formed in your eyes for the first time.

She was the first person you shared your story with. You told her everything, from the pain from your father leaving you, to the anger at your mother for not understanding, to the sorrow of shoving your friends away. She didn't interrupt, just listened patiently to your sad story.

When you finished, she was silent for a moment, before she began to speak. She knew what you were going through. She lost her mother the previous summer too. She knew of the pain, of the suffering that a grieving individual went through.

But there was one difference between your story and hers. She'd talked to her father and sister about how she felt. Her family had shared their emotions, and had cried on each other's shoulders. She let her friends console her, even though she might not have told them every emotion that she had felt.

The two of you were silent for a moment, looking at each other. Then, with out a word, you kissed.

It took the majority of the year to return to your normal self. You welcomed your friends, who were relieved to have the "old" James Potter back. You knew the truth; you'd never be the "old" James Potter. But you would be close. Your father's death would always haunt you, but you'd learned to treat it as an experience that helped you grow up.

Now, you're holding a small baby in your arms. Your baby. You rock him quietly, smiling down at him as he peers back up at you with emerald eyes.

This small being was created by you, you realize with awe. The small boy is holding your finger tightly, murmuring incoherent gibberish under his breath.

Your wife enters the room with a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eyes. She sits next to you on the couch, kissing your cheek. You smile at her, feeling emotions swell up within you as you remember the day that this woman saved you.

You thank her. She's puzzled, and asks what for.

"For everything," you whisper, before kissing her.