James at school was a fun-loving boy and enjoyed playing Quiddich. He was athletic, talented, and popular, easily able to make people like him (except Lily for awhile, who thought he was an “arrogant toerag”). He could be a bully, but also changed over time, and was quick-thinking and quick-acting, risking his own life to save Snape from being mauled after Sirius set him up to meet Lupin in his wolf form. He loved to act in the moment, as evidenced by his creation of the Marauder’s Map with his friends, a useful tool he could use to sneak in and out of Hogwarts without getting caught. When Voldemort discovered their home and broke into it the night James died, James bravely told his wife to take their son and run—and stood in front of him, despite knowing he would likely die. The contrast between Sirius and James is easily seen in flashbacks; Sirius meant it, and James did it for “appearances sake” – he would toss his hair back and sneak casual looks at the girls, to see if they were impressed by him. James wanted their approval, attention, and flattery, and it’s likely that his liking for Lily and desire to live up to her higher moral standards caused him to change his ways. James easily fell into a group of friends and cultivated them, protecting them and even putting up with Peter, who “clung” to them out of desperation for acceptance. But he didn’t exclude other people from this group—despite his dislike for Snape, he saved his life once he found out what Sirius had done. He also shared none of the anti-werewolf sentiment prevalent among wizarding kind, and helped figure out a way that they could all stay with Lupin during his “worst hours” and prevent him from being lonely (and make sure he hurt no one).

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James was arrogant at school, proud of himself, and also seeking to impress, to have a good time, and show off. Harry feels a little “sick” to see into Snape’s memories of him, and see how shallow his father could be in those days — tossing back his hair and side-eying the girls to see if they approved of him. But James “changed,” according to Lupin. He grew up, became more responsible, stopped bullying people, and became the kind of father every kid could want – compassionate and protective of his family. He became someone Lily could love and respect (showing his growth), which begs the question of whether his 3 adapted into someone she could love. He could also be tolerant, open-minded, mild-mannered, and want to be liked—though he could be mean at times, he didn’t want anyone to get seriously hurt, and didn’t want to be banned from Hogwarts.