1. He was the only boy in his family
With four older sisters, Jimmy spent the first few years of his life as a human baby doll, dressed up and cooed over, but then he started being a boy, and they quickly lost interest in him. The Peakes household was all but overrun with hair potions and pink things and charm-locked diaries and it took an act of the Wizengamot for anyone to get five minutes on the Floo network, but in the middle of it all was a small, muddy, noisy, perpetually scab-kneed tornado that his father often credited as the only thing that kept him sane when he was so wildly outnumbered so much of the time.
2. His first use of magic nearly killed him
He was five years old, and although he was for the most part too old for naps – something he firmly believed – it had been a very long day at a very boisterous birthday party, and Jimmy was overtired to the point where there was simply no other option but to throw a truly amazing tantrum about nothing whatsoever. He had worked himself up to purple and gulping for air between shrieks when the bookshelf abruptly collapsed, burying him under over a hundred heavy, hard-bound volumes and the thick oak shelves themselves. He wound up knocked out for two terrifying days in St. Mungo's, and he carried a slight dent in the back of his head for the rest of his life.
3. He went through best friends like socks
It wasn't that he was a bad or unfaithful friend, Jimmy simply had very little attention span, and he flitted from friend to friend with the mercurial intensity of a summer storm. More often than not, he stayed friends with them all, but Best friend was a title that was lucky to last a week. Then he would meet someone who just interested him more or had a grand idea or was willing to follow his latest grand idea, and the mantle would shift again.
4. He loved the Golden Cloak
Immortal, invincible, bound to no law and known by no man! The Golden Cloak is all that stands between the Dark Arts and darker days for wizarding kind! He followed the adventures of the rogue wizard every week on the WWN, and he owned every one of the Scenics that had ever been published, watching them over and over again until the illustrations were trudging exhaustedly through the motions and casting dirty looks up through the dog-eared pages. His allowance – after necessities like sweets and Quidditch cards, of course – was almost entirely spent on merchandise, and one would have been excused to mistake his room for a small museum to the series. He even saved up for almost six months to buy the official licensed wand and belt set, and the Christmas where he got the real replica cloak itself was never surpassed. He wore it every day for three months, and still wore it to play in long after it was several inches short of its floor-sweeping glory.
5. He favored Diggory at the Triwizard
His sister, Nancy, had put her name in the Goblet, and he had been absolutely sure that she would be picked, or maybe the Weasley twins, who were practically seventeen and unquestionably brilliant. Diggory wasn't a half-bad option, though, and even Nancy said that being a Hufflepuff didn't matter against his skill as a wizard, but Harry Potter was completely unacceptable. It wasn't that he didn't like Harry – he honestly didn't even know the older boy – but it was the principle of the thing. If Jimmy was too young, then no one else underage should get a chance either, because he would have killed to fight a real dragon.
6. He was the reason Skiving Snackboxes came in more than one size
He had volunteered eagerly to be one of the first test subjects, and the seven Sickle compensation per sweet hadn't even been a factor. They were just that wicked, and he trusted the twins completely to be able to undo anything that happened, a trust that thankfully wasn't misplaced as he, along with a half-dozen others, proceeded to spend a few hours of their Saturday afternoon bursting into smoke, feathers, flames, boils, explosive vomiting, and a round of uncontrollable ear-hair growth that prompted a lot of note-taking and deeply frowning shaking of bright red matching heads. When he went stone comatose for an hour from the Fainting Fancies, they were still able to eventually revive him, and he got an extra half-Galleon and a lot of thanks about dosages, so he had no idea why Granger was so mental about it all. Prefects spoiled everything.
7. He had a mad crush on Ginny Weasley
He hadn't really noticed her before, girls being something that were only beginning to strike him as different somehow in a way that didn't make sense after having grown up with so many of them. But the first time he saw her in her Quidditch uniform, it was a whole other spell. There was something about her legs and bum in those tight white trousers that felt just like a Confundus, except…. It was a miracle he wasn't knocked off his broom more often that year. Playing Beater was already a dangerous position, and when you couldn't peel your eyes off the Seeker, you were as good as Bludgered.
8. He believed in the DA more fervently than most of its officers
He didn't understand why they always seemed so worried, why there was such a constant unspoken undercurrent of fear from the seventh-years. Sure, Snape and the Carrows were hell, but they were beating them at every turn, even if they got in trouble sometimes. They still couldn't be stopped, the Room of Requirement couldn't be breached, and they weren't even really fighting back yet! He was only fourteen, but he knew that he was working NEWT level spells in training, as were all the others, and the things that the senior students were doing were just mind-blowing. Ernie could do push-ups for days without even breaking a sweat, Mike and Terry could just make up spells that worked as good as anything in books, and rumor had it that Neville had fought off werewolves with his bare hands in the Forbidden Forest. He almost felt sorry for You-Know-Who's guys.
9. He was secretly pleased by his family's reaction to his injuries
He had barely a split-second to see the wild-haired witch in the elaborate Death Eater's robes aim her wand at him, and if it hadn't been for Quidditch reflexes, she'd have taken his head clean off. As it was, he was blown off his broom as the spell tore apart the side of his face, and he would have been as good as dead, helpless and stunned on the battlefield if McGonagall hadn't gotten him up again with Numbing and Clotting spells. When he finally got a look at it, it was so gory and grotesque that he didn't really feel anything except a kind of distant amazement that he could see his teeth from the outside, but he did feel something at last when his parents found him in the aftermath of the battle, at his mother's scream of shock and his father's white-faced sobs. He was still too keyed up to question it, and he never really understood, but it was satisfaction, and he would have smiled if it had been possible, because he'd changed that night, and it felt horribly good to see that they weren't going to be the same either.
10. He used his scars to learn the truth about witches
He had expected pragmatically that girls wouldn't want to have anything to do with him, because even after the weeks of gradual healing sessions to knit the cursed gash, it left the entire side of his face twisted and disfigured too shockingly to ignore. Soon, however, he learned to read their reactions, and although the learning curve was painful, it was also quick. If they ignored it and looked him deliberately only in the eyes or anywhere else, they wouldn't be able to deal with the fact that it – and everything else connected to it – had happened. If they kept staring at it and looked sick, he needed to cut them off for their own protection. If they looked fascinated, they were only in it for the glory of dating a DA boy, and if they looked at it in pity, he wanted no part of that. Eventually, he came to the same realization they all did and wound up dating Rose Zeller, a Hufflepuff from his own year who had taken almost three years to even start being able to walk again, but who had a wonderfully black sense of humor and could kiss like Fiendfyre. In the end, they all turned to their own.
11. He only went back to Hogwarts for a month
His parents were advised that going back would be a healthy way for him to re-establish normalcy, but although the few weeks spent helping with the security and re-building had been great, school was another matter. They called it acting out and a lot of other things, but it was an understatement to say that Jimmy and authority no longer got along well. They tried tutors, even sent him for a term at Durmstrang in hopes that the stronger discipline would help. That was beyond a mistake. He never got a chance to be officially expelled, but it took three months for them to finally find him living only half-off the streets in the wizard punk community of Berlin. After that, they just stopped trying on his education in return for no more attempts to run away.
12. He kept his uniform
They had tried to cut it off of him at St. Mungo's, but he'd put up enough of a fight that the Healers had been afraid he'd exacerbate his injuries, and they didn't want to sedate him until they'd identified what spells he'd been hit with. He had to use a couple of spells to keep it from rotting from all the blood and other things that clotted the fabric, but he saved every tattered, scorched scrap of cloth - even his socks and underwear – for the rest of his life. He knew some of his comrades had gotten rid of theirs, even burned them, but that wasn't for him. Sometimes, in later years, he would take it out again and stare at it, shocked by how small it was, how completely ruined, and tears of thanks would slide down the grooved flesh of his face that he had somehow, amazingly lived.
13. He was in and out of trouble with the law a dozen times during his teens
It was never anything quite worth Azkaban, but there were fines, there were nights, even weeks in jail, there were hours of community service and a dozen other petty interventions, but he shrugged them all off. Anyone who asked why he kept getting in fights, defacing Ministry property, hexing ex-collaborators on the street…there was no point in answering, because they'd never get it. And the rest of it, the petty theft, the other vandalism, the fights that had nothing to do with the war; those were something that Jimmy himself didn't understand fully, but he knew that they seemed at least a little to help with the big, dark, scared, sobbing, screaming, furious thing that had lived in the corners of his heart and nightmares ever since.
14. He went by Jim with all but the D.A.
Jimmy was a child's name, and he only allowed his old comrades to continue calling him that because that was how they'd known him when they'd fought together, and they all stuck to those nicknames with one another, even as the years passed and some of them became a little absurd. With everyone else, though, he was Jim, or James at a stretch. Jimmy just didn't sound right any more.
15. He was a Transfiguration blonde
As a baby, he'd been a proper towhead, and it had darkened to a sandier shade throughout his childhood. He hadn't noticed at first that it had continue to darken, but when he was seventeen, he was startled to look in the mirror and realize that he was really properly better described as having sort of mouse-brown hair rather than any kind of blonde. He'd lightened it back down immediately, and he didn't consider it cheating, nor would he have cared if it was. Jimmy took great care with his appearance, because he knew that, scars aside, he had grown up quite handsome, and he saw no reason that a few inches of messed-up skin should keep him from enjoying that.
16. He took almost ten years to find someone else after Rose was killed.
She had finally completely recovered, they'd gotten a flat on the outskirts of London, moved in together, he was managing to hold his first steady job at the Nimbus factory – stupid work but better than nothing – and she'd been accepted into her MAGI levels. It was as if the world were finally starting to calm down again, as if things could be as normal as people had stupidly promised him they would be, and he'd even started putting money aside for a ring. Then, as shocking and impossible to ignore as a cold scar spurting fresh blood, their Galleons had gone off, and within 24 hours, the old war had a new victim. He'd thrown himself into work after that, sworn that they were all cursed and he couldn't possibly do this again, but eventually, under his own guarded care, Naomi had slipped past friendship to something else, and he was far more surprised than she was the day he finally proposed.
17. He was 24 when he finally achieved his secret ambition
It had been something that he had dismissed after the war as a silly child's dream, but Rose had pushed him to give it a try, and he'd felt like it would be letting her down if he gave it up completely again. He knew he was good, knew he was brave and talented, but it still shocked him when he finally beat out almost fifty other candidates to become an official Nimbus Test Flyer, and he literally leapt for joy, whooping shamelessly, when Firebolt gave him an offer a year later that was a blatant attempt to steal him away from their competitor. Thankfully, he didn't let them know that he'd have done it for free. He'd always loved to fly, he'd always been more than a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and even if his employers didn't understand why he could handle an untested high-powered broom as if looking death in the eye was something to laugh at, they paid him well enough to not bother asking.
18. He never touched alcohol
Maybe it was pure superstition and didn't make sense, maybe it made perfect sense given how many people he knew who struggled with it off and on – Naomi, Seamus, and Bernie certainly the worst but not the only ones – but he never had so much as a single pint in his life. No, he didn't think he'd instantly have a problem if he did, but he had long convinced himself that as long as he didn't drink, he wasn't running, and if he wasn't running, he was fine. Butterbeer was pushing it, but sodas were fine, there were few things tastier than really fresh-squeezed juices, and if you brewed it good and strong, coffee could have a mind-altering effect of its own.
19. He finally got his OWLs at the age of 30
They were expecting their first child, and Naomi didn't want to set a bad example, and besides, it was frustrating how many opportunities were closed to someone who had dropped out that early in their education. They made a pact to keep one another on target, swallowed their pride, and wrote Headmistress McGonagall about the possibility of going back for a few classes, but she thankfully said they could do it by correspondence. It was difficult to juggle with work and the demands of adult life, particularly when Jacob arrived, but it was worth it when the following Christmas he presented his parents with five E's, two O's, and two A's. Better late than never.
20. He was Firebolt's Senior Test Flyer for eighteen years; a record.
At 46, there were some who said that he was getting too old to be a Test Flyer, but those people tended to be half his age and shut up very quickly when he flew proverbial – and sometimes literal – rings around them. If anything, his skills had only sharpened over the years, but it was still a dangerous occupation, and he knew that. But Jimmy had never flinched from danger, and when there proved to be a critical glitch in the new Anti-Buck Bracking System on the Firebolt Excelsior, he left behind a longer life and fewer regrets than he would have ever once thought possible.