POC2: So I was thinking-
R: You were what?!
POC2: Shut up. I was brainstorming ideas for my Harry Potter fic and I started wondering: how exactly did James Potter go from the complete jerk we glimpsed in Book Five to the hero that everyone remembers?
We do have a few hints: he seems a bit uneasy after Lily screams at him, so he might have already begun maturing; and, in Sirius's words, "a lot of people are idiots at the age of fifteen. He grew out of it" (p. 671).
Still, something must have shocked him into making the 180 degrees turn from the fifteen-year-old we see in the pensive to the seventeen-year-old who dated Lily Evans. Personally, I think it was the prank that went too far. Well, what was that prank?
Rowling already gave us a good possibility for that, didn't she?
Continuity-wise, I would probably put this near the end of Sixth Year, but it could really fit in at any point during that year.
James Potter stretched out his legs from the most comfortable chair right in front of the common room chair and sighed.
"Well, Remus has just gone to the Shrieking Shack, so I figure we've got around half an hour until we can safely head down to see him. What do we do until then?"
Sirius Black casually tossed a Remembrall that he had "confiscated" from a Slytherin third year who had been bullying a first year Hufflepuff in the air and caught it a few times before answering.
"Actually, I was wondering if we could wait a little longer than we usually do this month."
Peter frowned. "Why?"
"Well, you know how Snivelly has been trying to find out where Remus goes every month for so long?"
James snorted. "You mean since Second Year? I know what you mean."
Sirius smiled. "Right. So, yesterday I, er, let slip to him that you can freeze the Willow by hitting that knot in the trunk. Knowing Snivelly, he's probably been watching the tree all day."
Peter giggled. "Well, I guess he will find out why Remus keeps disappearing."
"Of course. But something tells me that he won't be all that happy with the knowledge."
James frowned. "Sirius, don't you think that's a bit… over the top?"
"Considering the fact that he's been trying to get us expelled for the past six years? Not really."
"Padfoot, he could be killed, or worse. He could be bitten, Sirius!"
Peter just smiled. "This is Snivelly we're talking about, remember? The one who spends all his time memorizing textbooks because he doesn't have any friends to talk to? And we finished the unit one werewolves just last week. He'll be a bit scared, but otherwise fine."
"Wormtail, staring a full-grown werewolf in the face is quite a bit different from regurgitating facts in the classroom. What if he panics?"
"What if he does? It's no worse then he deserves."
"Peter! Look Sirius, I don't think this is a good idea. Maybe we should cut him off, tell him that it was just a joke, something."
Sirius glanced at the Marauder's Map. "Too late. He's already halfway to the Whomping Willow."
With a look of panic, James jumped to his feet and flew out of the Common Room. He was in such a rush that he didn't even notice when he nearly trampled the girl he had been hoping to date since he was thirteen.
Lily Evans glanced uneasily at the two boys who were still sitting by the fire. "Is there anything wrong? Because I honestly think that's the first time James has ever passed me without making some smart comment."
"Meh. I'm sure he'll be fine. Don't worry about him, Lilyflower. If there's any trouble, he can always just go Prongs." Sirius shot up from the couch as the Remembrall in his hand turned bright red. "Dammit, what the hell could I possibly be forgetting?"
Lily rolled her eyes and walked up to her dormitory, muttering something about boys who never seem to care about anything.
"Snape! Snape stop, please!"
Severus Snape turned around to see his most hated rival standing at the entrance to the tunnel.
"Potter. Where are your friends?"
"Look, you have to listen to me. You don't want to see what's at the end of this tunnel."
"I don't want to see it? Or you don't want me to see it? Is what you're doing in here merely against school rules, or are you braking the law? Dumbledore won't forgive you for just anything, you know."
"Snape, we're not doing anything Dumbledore doesn't know about, I swear we're not. Please, just leave it!"
Snape smirked. "Interesting. What could possibly be this embarrassing?"
James probably would have answered, but he was too busy staring at something just behind Snape's shoulder, his face vaguely the color of bleached fabric. "Oh god. Snape, just-don't look behind you. Stay calm, and just-just walk toward me. Slowly."
"Potter what- oh god, is that a werewolf? I- is that Lupin?!"
Snape desperately pulled his wand out and tried to point it at the monster before him. As he struggled to focus past the terror that filled his entire being, he felt himself being shoved to the side by the enormous stag that had suddenly appeared in front of him.
The stag reared up, forcing the werewolf backwards several steps before ramming its antler's into the beast's chest. It then took advantage of the few second's break to give Snape a solid kick with its back legs.
The power of the blow sent him flying backwards out of harms way, and he finally landed near the end of the corridor.
A blinding pain spread through his lower arm, the part of his body that had hit the ground first, and as he began to lose conscience he could feel himself being lifted off of the ground.
Whoever was carrying him began to run, and the world went black.
"Who?" Snape strained to make sense of the mass of sights and sounds that was suddenly bombarding his senses. The last thing he could remember was freezing the tree so that he could enter that stupid tunnel- The tunnel. Snape sat bolt upright in his chair. "I have to warn someone! Lupin, he's- what if someone gets hurt?"
"Severus, calm down. I told you, Dumbledore already knows. That's why the Whomping Willow was planted in the first place."
"Potter? What the hell are you doing here? And where is everyone else?"
"It's almost two in the morning. Everyone else is asleep."
"So then why are you here?"
"I-I had to make sure you were alright. I didn't mean to hurt you; I just wanted to get you out of there."
"You didn't mean to hurt me? That stupid prank almost got me killed!"
"Where the hell did you get the idea that we were on first name basis?"
"Fine, Snape. Look, I didn't know. Sirius wasn't really- I got you out of there, didn't I?"
"Sure you did, once you realized what killing someone would do to your friend.
"Here's the deal, Potter. As much as I hate you and your friends, I won't ruin your lives, especially since Lupin didn't do anything this time. I won't reveal his secret, and I won't reveal yours, but don't expect hero worship. You get more than enough of that from Pettigrew."
"My secret? I'm not sure what you-"
"Don't insult my intelligence, Potter. I've seen the list of registered Animagi, and you're not on it. I won't tell Dumbledore, and you should be grateful. It's far more than you deserve."
"Look, Snape, I've been something of a prat-"
"You honestly just realized that?"
"What I'm trying to say is, would it be in any way possible to start over? Give it another chance?"
"Potter, you're around six years too late." With that, Severus Snape rolled over onto his side and attempted to go back to sleep.
"Guys, have you seen James?"
"Oh, hello, Moony. Not yet, but I'm sure he'll turn up."
"Padfoot, be serious."
"I'm always Sirius, Moony. I can't really help it."
"Padfoot, that joke wasn't funny the first five hundred times you told it and it has not improved with age."
"Stop joking for five minutes, and listen to me! I don't remember a thing that happened last night, which means that you three never showed up. You haven't missed a month since you first figured it out! Now, on top of that, Severus Snape is in the hospital wings, and Prongs won't talk to anybody! What did you do?!"
Peter gulped. "It wasn't much, really. Sirius came up with a great prank idea, but James didn't like it."
"Wormtail, shut your mouth."
Remus's eyebrows shot up. "James thought it was over-the-top? That must have been some prank."
Peter muttered something incomprehensible.
Remus glared at him. "Tell me what it was."
"Padfoot let slip to Snivelly how he could get past the Willow."
"Moony, pipe down! What if someone hears you?"
Remus turned to his two friends with a look of panic. "Wait, you told him how to- and now he's- oh god, I didn't- did I? Please say I didn't."
"Relax. Prongs got there in time to save the day. You didn't touch him. Everything's fine."
"Everything is not fine! Do you realize what you did? If James hadn't been there."
Peter shrugged. "It's no worse that he deserves."
"No worse- How dare you? No one deserves that; no one! I have been living this nightmare since I was six years old! Do you honestly think I'd wish it on anyone else? Besides, Snape isn't the only one that you would have hurt. What about Dumbledore? What about me?"
"You and Dumbledore? What-"
"Did you ever stop to think about how I would feel if your plan worked? Hurting someone during the full moon is my worst nightmare! And even aside from that, what about my future? Life is going to be hard enough for me without a record of mauling people. Given our history, how many people do you think will believe that I wasn't in on the plot? And, of course, I wouldn't be here if Dumbledore hadn't made so many exceptions for me. If that led to another student being attacked, he could lose everything."
"I guess I didn't think-"
"Obviously. How can somebody so intelligent be so incredibly idiotic? I'm going to try to talk to James."
Peter spoke up timidly. "It won't do you any good. He's put an Impenetrable Charm on his curtains. No one will be able to talk to him until he's ready."
Remus swore. "Wow, I didn't know it was possible to mess up this badly, even for you."
"I'll be upstairs if you need me." And he stormed up, slamming the door behind him in disgust. There were a few seconds of silence before Peter spoke up.
"Well, I thought it was kinda funny."
"Shut up, Wormtail."
The girls in question turned around, and there was a moment of shocked silence as she stared at the disheveled boy in front of her.
Finally, she found her voice. "What, just Lily? Not Evans, not Lilyflower, not Lils, not Beautiful? And on top of that, James Potter, who spends far more time on his appearance than any girl I know, looks like he hasn't touched a comb in days. Are you feeling alright?"
"Lily, I need your help."
"What do you do when you realize that you've spent the past six years of your life as an utterly horrible person?"
"James? What happened?"
"A prank went wrong, someone almost- he could have been killed Lily, and I-I finally woke up. My god, how could anyone stand being around me?" He sank into a nearby couch, his head in his hands.
Lily cautiously sat down beside him and laid her hand upon his knee. "Well, to be fair, that people that you picked on were generally bullies themselves, and you did help some of the other students. Who knows what Peter might have become if he didn't have you three to help him?"
"That doesn't make it right."
"Of course it doesn't, but it does mean that there's hope for you yet. A lot of people are prats as teenagers, and if you truly feel bad about all the things you've done, then you may be able to start over fresh, and to find a new James Potter that you'll feel better about when you look in the mirror."
"You really think so? You don't think it's too late?"
"Too late to make things better with some of the people that you hurt? Yeah, it might be. But too late to make yourself a better person? It never is. And who knows? The new James Potter might even be someone I would consider dating in a few months," Lily told him, fishing around for something that might cheer him up.
It partially worked, as James gave her a small smile before sighing. "Will you help me? I don't exactly have much practice with this sort of thing."
"James my friend, I'll be with you every step of the way."
"Oh, and James, one question?"
"In the Common Room, Sirius said something about you 'going Prongs.' What does that mean?"
POC2: So there you go; that's how James Potter became the sort of person that Lily would date.
I'm thinking I may someday do a companion piece in which Malfoy realizes that he's not quite as ruthless as he thought he was, but no promises.
I'm sure there are some inconsistencies here, but I'll leave them to someone else to figure out.
W: You may have portrayed Peter, at the beginning, as a bit too smart. He's the stupid, worshipping one, remember?
POC2: Actually, that's part of the reason I wrote him the way I did. I think that he's not all that dumb; he just keeps getting compared to his genius friends.
Anyhoo, the Moony, Padfoot, Wormtail scene was probably unnecessary to the plot, but I wanted to give Remus a chance to react to the prank.
So, reviews are always appreciated, and I'd especially appreciate commentary on the scene with Prongs/James, Moony/Remus, and Snape. Action scenes are not my strongest point, and I really need some help with that genre.