- James Potter: Flirtatious, suave, sex god.
- Lily Evans: Shrill, timid, stick up her ass.
No. Stop. This is painful. Actually, physically painful (or maybe that’s heartburn, I’m not quite sure, but my point remains). I cannot take these interpretations – James sleeping around, Lily being unable to talk without screaming, James doin’ it up like he’s Rico Suave, hot to trot, Lily never having a laugh, James salivating over every girl who pays attention to him (what girls even pay attention to him, btw?), Lily needing to “lighten up”…
No. Why. What are you doing.
Since our only extended, first-look knowledge of pre-Jily James and Lily comes from Order of the Phoenix’s “Snape’s Worst Memory,” this post will concentrate solely on that content. Everyone should be able to keep in mind everything else we hear about James and Lily throughout the series – if it didn’t involve a necessary re-read of all seven books, I’d include it all here. But I can’t keep quiet on this subject any longer, or the heartburn will, I’m sure, only worsen.
So let’s begin, shall we?
[Sirius] was very good-looking.
While the Marauders are being described, Sirius is the only one who is noted as “good-looking”; James is offered no such adjectives. It might be argued that since the third-person narration is still technically Harry’s narration, so he might not be inclined to describe his father as such… Well, why would he describe Sirius that way, then? I guess we could get into some age-inappropriate slash fic here, but something tells me that’s not what JKR intended.
Point? A lot of people seem to think that James Potter is like the Idris Elba of Marauders Era Hogwarts; in other words, bammin’ slammin’ bootylicious kind of hot. I’m not suggesting that James isn’t a good-lookin’ guy; I just happen to think he’s more average, and certainly not conventionally sexy, and it’s just not likely that he’s the must-have teen bachelor.
This is, however, much more apparent when it comes to his behavior. Let’s continue.
He had drawn a Snitch and was now tracing the letters L.E.
This is adorable and one of my favorite parts, but are you fucking kidding me? A fifteen-year-old boy doodling his crush’s initials translates to slick man-whore? What? What universe are y’all living in? What.
Harry noticed his father had a habit of rumpling up his hair as though to make sure it did not get too tidy, and also that he kept looking over at the girls by the water’s edge.
Is it just me, or does Harry seem a little exasperated here? Like, “Come on, Dad, get your shit together.”
Anyway, James is often written as this indifferent, cool cat who dgaf and shows it, but here we see him obsessively glancing over at Lily. Maybe to make sure she’s still there, to see if he’s caught her attention at all, or maybe it’s just because she’s pretty, I don’t know, but I highly doubt that James Potter ever manages that calm-and-collected thing.
James and Sirius advanced on him, wands up, James glancing over at the girls at the water’s edge as he went.
James, pls, stop staring at Lily and just talk to her like a normal person, god damn.
“Leave him ALONE!”
James and Sirius looked around. James’s free hand jumped to his hair again.
“All right, Evans?” said James, and the tone of his voice was suddenly pleasant, deeper, more mature.
This is your smooth operator, you guys. An initial-doodling, nervous-habit-hair-ruffling, altering-his-voice-to-sound-sexy-in-front-of-the-girl-he-likes nerdbomb. I cannot get over the voice-altering. He deliberately changes his tone in an attempt to make Lily’s lady parts tingle. Not exactly a pick-up artist, is he?
“Leave him alone,” Lily repeated. She was looking at James with every sign of great dislike.
He is terrorizing her best friend; he’s earned that expression of great dislike. Snape is her friend, and James is probably little more than a House mate at the time, so naturally Lily isn’t going to be warm towards him. She’s yelling at him now for being a dick; that doesn’t mean she yells at him all the time for no reason.
“You think you’re funny,” she said coldly. “But you’re just an arrogant, bullying toerag, Potter. Leave him alone.”
I like “toerag” as much as the next person, but c’mon, guys, try not to use this one more than, I don’t know, like twice in your fics. Slughorn said Lily was clever; clever girls have more than one insult in their repertoire.
“I will if you go out with me, Evans,” said James quickly. “Go on… Go out with me, and I’ll never lay a wand on old Snivelly again.”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME
You guys, James very publicly and stupidly propositions Lily, and you actually think other girls are clamoring to get a piece of that? I can guarantee that it’s less “I need to tap that” and more “Why would anyone bother, honestly?” He obviously has a Lily thing; that’s not something anyone’s going to compete against because that would be goddamn ridiculous.
“I wouldn’t go out with you if it was a choice between you and the giant squid.”
I feel like this one’s lost its charm in all the times it’s been quoted, but try to think back on how you felt the first time you read it because it’s HILARIOUS. This girl is a stone-cold ego killa.
Lily, whose furious expression had twitched for an instant as though she was going to smile, said, “Let him down!”
Despite how angry Lily is and how much she’s trying to defend her friend, she very nearly cracks a smile at his expense. And yet I so often see interpretations of an all-work-and-no-play Lily, like she’s got no sense of humor? The only reason she stifles the smile now is because she’s trying to impress upon James the fact that he’s being a douchecanoe. She doesn’t lack a sense of humor; she just has priorities.
“LEAVE HIM ALONE!” Lily shouted. She had her own wand out now. James and Sirius eyed it warily.
James and Sirius are clearly aware of Lily’s abilities, and they don’t fuck around with her. They’re top of the class (as stated by McGonagall, I think?), and they’re actually scared of Lily when she pulls her wand on them, which leads me to believe that she’s pulled her wand on them before, and she’s rocked the house with it.
“Ah, Evans, don’t make me hex you,” said James earnestly.
This is flirtatious James. That’s it. That’s all he’s got.
“Take the curse off him, then!”
James sighed deeply, then turned to Snape and muttered the countercurse.
“There you go,” he said, as Snape struggled to his feet again, “you’re lucky Evans was here, Snivellus –”
“You’re lucky Evans was here.” Not “You’re lucky there are a bunch of fit girls here.” Evans. The only person for whom James would lay off Snape, even though she’s already said she won’t go out with him regardless. (Notice that James was willing to quit his fight with Snape for Lily’s sake, even though she still doesn’t want anything to do with him, but Snape’s not willing to forgo the Dark Arts for the sake of his and Lily’s friendship. Somebody get this guy a fedora, amirite??)
“I don’t need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her!”
Lily blinked. “Fine,” she said coolly. “I won’t bother in future. And I’d wash your pants if I were you, Snivellus.”
Lily Evans has had it with your bullshit, and she’s not afraid to let you know. I mean, come on, she’s deliberately using “Snivellus” against him, mimicking James in an attempt to hurt Snape with words the way he’s just done to her. This is not someone who will be walked all over, by anyone.
Be still my heart, I love this broad.
“Apologize to Evans!” James roared at Snape, his wand pointed threateningly at him.
“I don’t want you to make him apologize,” Lily shouted, rounding on James. “You’re as bad as he is….”
“What?” yelped James. “I’d NEVER call you a – you-know-what!”
Words cannot express how much I adore this exchange. While James is willing to stop a fight for Lily, he’s willing to start one, too, but Lily doesn’t need a hero. Even though James generally treats her well and with respect, he still pisses her off, so she’s not going to pretend that she needs his help. Lily Evans takes NO PRISONERS.
James, meanwhile, with his “yelp[ing]” is appalled to realize that you don’t have to use classist slurs to act like an asshole. (Look, I love James, I identify with him so much, on so many levels, but his douchebaggery here is just plain undeniable.)
“What is it with her?” said James, trying and failing to look as though this was a throwaway question of no real importance to him.
Read that line. Read it over and over again, until it’s burned into your brain. Obviously James doesn’t “get it,” and it drives him fucking crazy because he just wants to do whatever’s going to make Lily happy, but he fails spectacularly, but BUT he continues to try in the best and probably only way he knows how, because he’s fifteen and an idiot (but hey, he gets it eventually).
Look at this motherfucker. He’s like a confused puppy. I’m sorry, there is no way that he’d ever chase after any other girl.
BONUS, Harry’s conversation with Sirius and Remus about what he saw in the Pensieve:
[Harry] “Well… I thought he was a bit of an idiot.”
[Sirius] “Of course he was a bit of an idiot!”
He was an idiot. Not level-headed, coolly indifferent, smooth-talkin’ badass. He was a GD, no-hesitation idiot.
[Harry] “And he kept looking over at the girls by the lake, hoping they were watching him!”
[Sirius] “Oh, well, he always made a fool of himself whenever Lily was around. He couldn’t stop himself showing off whenever he got near her.”
Sirius takes Harry’s “girls” and specifies it as “Lily”: James doesn’t care if “the girls by the lake” were watching him – he cares if Lily is watching him. JKR’s word choice here is of the utmost importance, and probably the most obvious evidence that James wasn’t running around wearing a “Slag of the Year” sash or something.
Filed under: shit that probably doesn’t matter all that much but I take very personally, anyway.
Message me with any disputes or requests for clarification, whatever, whatever… xo - Maj
THERE IS SOMETHING VERY WRONG WITH THE GENERAL MALE MENTALITY WHEN I, AS A MALE WITH MANY FEMALE FRIENDS, HAVE TO FREQUENTLY PRETEND TO BE MY FRIENDS’ BOYFRIEND SIMPLY SO OTHER DUDES WON’T BE CREEPY AND FUCKING GROPE THEM
THERE IS SOMETHING VERY WRONG WITH THE GENERAL MALE MENTALITY WHEN THEY RESPECT COMPETITION MORE THAN THE ACTUAL PERSON THEY’RE TRYING TO GET WITH