(typing error corrected: 25th April, 2021)
Disclaimer: I am not J.K. Rowling. I do not own Harry Potter. I am neither Harold Ramis nor Danny Rubin. I do not own Groundhog Day.
Other versions: An earlier version of this piece was posted by me on another website, in a 'members only' section of that site under the penname which I use there. Just to be clear, I have my own permission to cross-post this piece here.
Notes: This piece takes place in a Harry Potter 'reality' where entities which are assumed will be eventually responsible for the events of Groundhog Day in a different reality are messing around with one particular Harry Potter universe character. Note that in the 1993 film Groundhog Day there is a period where the protagonist basically goes crazy after going through the same day time after time after time.
This piece is a one-shot.
Warning: This piece is identified as 'horror' and is rated 'M'.
6th March, 2020: Author Notes expanded on the subject of witch & wizard idiocy in canon.
And with those words and a flash of green light, Lily's life ended.
Except it didn't.
She was back in 1971, at the start of September, and she was eleven years old again and about to start at Hogwarts.
Mostly because she was so confused by the whole thing, she just did pretty much what she had done before again. Flirting with James; losing her patience with Snivellus; marrying James and the Order of the Phoenix; a child; going into hiding…
And then it was Hallowe'en and Lord Voldemort and green light time, and she was back in September 1971 again.
It was a few more flashes of green light and rewind to September before she finally started to question just what was happening, and to try to work things out.
And to make minor changes, such as losing patience with and dropping Snivellus much faster.
After a few more 'goes around' Lily started to wonder just how Lord Voldemort always seemed to find them in Godric's Hollow like that on Hallowe'en anyway? She'd made a few attempts to prepare for an invasion by him, but said attempts hadn't exactly achieved anything; he was simply too great a wizard.
So she insisted on a different hideout.
And Lord Voldemort still caught up with her and James and Harry on Hallowe'en, 1981, anyway.
Green light time again.
Lord Voldemort had protections in place against muggle guns, Lily discovered over a few more 'flash of green light' nights at the ends of one of her 'lives'. There were basic NEWT level charms against such things, and apparently Lord Voldemort never came to kill her (and James, and presumably after her, Harry) without them in place.
Well Lily didn't like guns much anyway, and that was clearly a dead end.
And despite increasingly different locations to hide in, (including Australia, one time) Lord Voldemort always seemed to find them on Hallowe'en, and then it was green light time.
Lily started to suspect that maybe Lord Voldemort had some kind of tracking spell which beat the fidelius charm.
She tried to research that, but from what she could find out about the fidelius charm, it was completely undefeatable according to all the sources she could find.
So apparently Lord Voldemort had invented something nobody had tried before.
Or maybe… just maybe… one of James' friends was slightly less than reliable. That seemed unlikely though; James was absolutely certain that they'd all rather die than reveal information about James and Lily – it was what he would do, after all.
And there came a series of 'rewind; do-agains' where Lily and James (and newborn Harry) were killed by Lord Voldemort in September of 1980, without any warning from Albus Dumbledore that they should go into hiding. Lily tried to figure out why this had been; she had started cutting off and having nothing to do with Snivellus, on Hogwarts Day One, by this point, and after several more flashes of green light, it was the only really significant thing she could think of which she was doing differently.
It didn't make any kind of sense to her that having nothing to do with Snivellus, a wannabe Death Eater in the making, and a frankly hopeless case, with none of James' good qualities and not worth any of her time, could be connected with this.
However, after the half-dozenth 'death in September 1980', Lily gritted her teeth and started tolerating Snivellus, at least for the early Hogwarts years again, as much as she could, and suddenly Albus was telling them to go into hiding again and Voldemort wasn't killing them (she and James and presumably Harry) until Hallowe'en, 1981.
Which was really weird.
But Lily would rather have an extra year with James and Harry.
More 'goes around'; more flashes of green light.
Lily tried to covertly discover if anybody else was experiencing this – living sections of their life over and over again – but nobody else seemed to recall 'doing this before'.
She did try and talk to Albus Dumbledore a couple of times about it, once she was an adult and in the Order of the Phoenix; both times he stroked his beard and looked thoughtful and said that there were stories about entities which were either 'bat-like beings from outer space' or perhaps muggle 'devils' which some stories reported occasionally meddled with the affairs of witches and wizards. If the times were quieter, he would love to research it further, but there was a war on right now, and Hogwarts to run, and a Minister of Magic to advise, and to be quite honest there were more important things for him to do.
He seemed vaguely interested by Lily's assertion that Lord Voldemort always (or at least usually) caught up with and killed her on Hallowe'en 1981, and suggested that Lord Voldemort found the occasion important enough to wait for it, even if he came by the information of their location a while earlier. He also recommended strongly that Lily and James employ him (Albus Dumbledore) as their secret keeper, but James was adamant (to Lily) that Albus Dumbledore was 'clever but lets things slip' and refused to be persuaded that using anyone other than one of his friends was a good idea.
Lily talked to James about the 'living things all over again' thing, and his principle thought on the subject (although he apparently wasn't experiencing it) was that that meant that they could 'start dating sooner' since she knew that they were 'going to get together in the end anyway'.
Lily retorted that that wasn't going to happen (despite his very many good and attractive qualities) unless he started deflating his head a bit, sooner, but that that had proven impossible for her to get him to do, before at least sixth year.
More flashes of green light, more 'goes around.'
Lily discovered one time, that along with Remus being a werewolf (which she had already known about) that apparently her husband and his other friends, Peter and Sirius, were all animagi!
This was the point at which her admiration for James reached a highwater mark.
More flashes of green light, more goes around. Lily thought that James was a good man and a great husband, and an absolutely fantastic father – he was perfect for spoiling Harry rotten and having fun with him, in what time they ever had together – but that he had his limits in the 'keep everyone safe from Voldemort' league.
Mind you, she had her limits as well, despite the memories of previous 'go-arounds', although almost everything was blurring into one another by this point. She remembered a lot of theory and the words for a lot of spells, but she still had to master the wand movements and delicate hand control, and train her hands and arms to effortlessly carry them out, every single time.
She did try brewing felix felicis (especially to dose Harry with, as Hallowe'en 1981 approached) but it seemed to make not much difference as far as she could determine.
Apparently, when Lord Voldemort was after you, there was only so far that any luck which she could brew up in a cauldron could get you.
More flashes of green light; more 'back to September 1971's'.
It was starting to get rather wearing for Lily, knowing that Lord Voldemort was going to kill you in October 1981, no matter where you tried to hide.
James (for whatever reason) really didn't seem to think much of Albus Dumbledore. He admired the man for having defeated Gellert Grindelwald and – much more importantly to James – for being 'one of the greatest Gryffindors of his generation' and for letting Remus attend Hogwarts, but for some reason, every single time around, as far as Lily could determine, he seemed slightly cavalier in his attitude towards the old man; it was as if there was something that James knew about Albus which caused him to doubt his competence and abilities now.
James thought friends much more important than Albus Dumbledore – three especial friends in particular – and that James and his little band were the only people who could successfully hide James and Lily and Harry (once the latter was born.)
It was as if James thought he had some sort of really solid reason to believe, Lily started to suspect, that he and his closest ex-Hogwarts friends were much more clever than Albus Dumbledore.
Had there been something going on at Hogwarts which she never found out about, which led James and company to dismiss Albus as 'getting past it'?
Or was it just a result of the obvious fact that the headmaster tolerated the presence of those slimy Slytherins at Hogwarts which earned him James' doubts?
More flashes of green light; more 'back to September 1971's'.
There were some things which were approximately fixed – Harry was always born at the end of July, 1980, for example.
Lily supposed she could have tried not having a child, but James wanted children, and it was almost impossible to say no to him.
Especially since, if she started to get reluctant around the 'normal' conception date for Harry, he always seemed to manage to get her drunk or something and to work around that, and nine months later…
Lily supposed it was the prophecy.
Every single time that Albus warned Lily and James to take Harry and go into hiding, he mentioned that there was some sort of prophecy in play, which meant that Lord Voldemort might target them, although he kept the details close to his chest.
Albus, Lily pressed him once or twice, was worried that there might be some sort of spy or informant or 'accidental leaker' in the Order of the Phoenix; James was always convinced, in 'goes around' where this was raised, that it might be one of the Prewett brothers, at least until said brothers were killed.
Albus refused to confide any details of his suspicions about this to Lily. Apparently he thought that there was an off-chance that she might be a security risk too – this seemed to Lily possible evidence to support James' theory that the headmaster was losing his marbles or overworked or… something.
It was getting tiresome, the flashes of green light. Lily started to long for that bit to end. She continued trying to change occasional things, but nothing that she thought might help really seemed to make a positive difference to that appointment on October 31st, 1981, with the business end of Lord Voldemort's wand.
Or nothing that she was willing to do and/or which James was going to let her do. Like trying to sign up with You-Know-Who early on, or being willing to step aside and just let him kill Harry.
(Why did he do that, she wondered? He simply killed James (and any other reinforcements Lily tried to 'have visiting' in the house), every time, but he usually (when he attacked on Hallowe'en 1981) offered her a chance to step aside and live, if she would simply let him kill her child. And on the topic of reinforcements in the house, Lily was starting to have suspicions that Albus Dumbledore might be right, at least about Lord Voldemort getting information somehow; because if – say – she had significant witches and wizards like aurors Frank and Alice Longbottom visiting for a prearranged reason, Lord Voldemort always brought along someone else as assistance on his part. (Although Lily felt a bit guilty about dragging the Longbottoms into stuff, since they always seemed to have a child of their own, born round about the time of Harry's birth, and she didn't like the idea of that child being orphaned because of her.))
More flashes of green light. The problem was that Severus Snape was one of the most original thinkers that Lily had in her generation of Hogwarts students, and one that she could (at least until he got so stupid with age that he got carried away with the other wannabe Death Eaters in Slytherin and called her a 'mudblood' or something) sort-of-talk-to to try to solve problems.
Once or twice she started to bounce a few limited things in terms of information (which probably couldn't do her any damage once he joined You-Know-Who and started sharing stuff with him) off of Severus Snape.
Snivellus wasn't experiencing 'goes around' that he would admit to – apparently it was just Lily in that regard out of anyone that she'd ever talked to on that subject – and he didn't have much thought or analysis she found useful which he could contribute on that particular topic.
She let slip to Severus in one discussion about the 'bats' or 'devils' Albus had mentioned to her a couple of times, that made things happened over and over again, and Severus disappeared off into the library for several days in response, and wanted to try and find some way to observe or to try to catch or trap one of them – if they existed – which Lily found frankly alarming. If there were things out there, which had the power to make her live her life again and again and again, she didn't want to mess with them – and moreover, she didn't want Severus (once he joined up with You-Know-Who) sharing knowledge about them.
It was with some difficulty that she persuaded him to drop the line of research, forced to resort to claiming in the end to Severus it was a joke theory which Petunia had come up with. (She hadn't actually told him it was Albus Dumbledore who had enlightened her about the stories and legends, for which she thanked her lucky stars, having left that bit a bit vague up until then.)
She knew how to press Snivellus' buttons it turned out, and telling him that Petunia had come up with a theory was a sure-fire way to get him to drop it and lose all interest in it.
More flashes of green light. More goes around.
Lily began to suspect that if there were entities out there, doing this to her, that they were having a good laugh at her expense, watching her live out her life only to get killed over and over and over again, the exact same way, for their entertainment.
They were probably all Slytherins, or something.
She decided that the 'next time' she would make a real effort to try and stop Lord Voldemort, on Hallowe'en, 1981, and if that failed… well, maybe it was time for something else.
The all-out effort got Lily a pile of dead bodies of not just James but of lots of other (up until then) surviving friends too, before Lord Voldemort hit Lily with a Killing Curse (again).
It also got Lily (finally) the information that at least in that 'go around' that Peter Pettigrew was actually a traitor – Peter Pettigrew, the man whom James entrusted as the Potters' secret keeper, every single time.
No wonder the unprintable description's animagus form was (it also turned out) a rat.
The next 'go around', Lily spent time paying extra special attention to Peter Pettigrew, which annoyed James, and he flatly told her that if he had to choose, he would choose his friends over her. Lily still liked James a lot, and she went along with him, in the end, desperately hoping that Peter being a traitor had been a one-off and consequence of her own extreme try-and-stop-Lord-Voldemort measures.
She made extra-sure, though, that (unless Lord Voldemort had some sort of super-magic) there was no way that he could find out particular things about where the Potters were hiding, or their protections this time, unless Peter Pettigrew was at least accidentally leaking information to him.
As regular as clockwork, Lord Voldemort showed up on Hallowe'en, 1981, in an Alpine ski-resort to administer the Killing Curse.
That did it. Something inside Lily snapped, when she found herself back in September, 1971. This time around, she was going to do utterly wild and ridiculous things, to work the frustration out of her system, and to calm down before going back to James on the next 'go around'. She was going to be a Death Eater or something, and to at the very least hunt down and torture Peter Pettigrew into insanity for the ways in which he'd betrayed Lily and her family at least twice, even if he'd done nothing like that at all this time.
Or maybe she wouldn't be a Death Eater, because if the rat was working for Lord Voldemort, maybe he was a favourite of You-Know-Who, and his master wouldn't stand for letting Peter Pettigrew have Bad Things done to him by another Death Eater.
But at any rate, Very Dark Magic was going to be required to do the things which Lily wanted to do to Peter Pettigrew – she wanted him to scream and beg for days – and as Sirius Black usually pointed out and commented, there was one very obvious expert in Dark Magic in their Hogwarts year.
Lily told the Sorting Hat to put her in Slytherin this time. She thought that it would make some effort to try and talk her out of it, but after a pause of a moment during which she could feel it rummaging around inside her head, it simply acquiesced and went along with it.
It turned out, of course, that first year Severus Snape didn't actually know as much dark magic as Sirius Black claimed, which in retrospect made sense to Lily given what she knew of Severus' home background. He was very creative though, and prepared to enthusiastically theorise and to experiment, with even the slightest bit of encouragement.
Some of the other Slytherins in Lily's year tried to make something out of her being a 'mudblood'. They soon came to regret it. They were just normal first years, with normal goals and desires, whilst Lily had decades of anger and frustration and resentment driving her, and being in proximity to these tossers (although they were secondary targets as compared to Peter Pettigrew) simply made it easier for her to take it out on them in close quarters – especially since she was better at charms than most, and even taking into account the having-to-relearn-spells-anyway thing, the closest thing she had to a peer in a spell-fight in her year in Slytherin was Severus who was on her side.
For that matter, the head of house, Horace Slughorn, was on her side, too, when it came to covering things up, since he liked her because she was so good at potions.
And the Slytherins from older years made the occasional snide remark, but otherwise contented themselves to watch the ongoing power-struggles, with amusement. They didn't like her, but they considered it that if anyone was going to 'handle' her, then it ought – given that she was a Slytherin – to be her fellow Slytherins in her year.
The years passed, and Lily plotted her revenge and delved into magic she did not normally research. James Potter and company occasionally sneered and jibed at and duelled with Severus, and James seemed at least as fascinated with Lily as he usually was. Her being a muggle-born in Slytherin really got his attention.
James' good qualities were still very much on display, and Lily in part fancied him something rotten, but she really didn't want to pair up with him, this time around, given the things which she was planning for one of his mates, Peter Pettigrew.
She flirted with James a bit, but she was much more interested in Severus this time.
One thing that having multiple 'goes around' did make Lily was something close to a potions brewing genius, but Severus always seemed to be able to surprise her with adaptations and insights of his own based on observations of things he saw her doing.
It turned out, working up close and alongside him for the first time in a while, that he was quite good with inventing spells too. (Lily in fact had a vague recollection from way back that he might have been the originator of that dangling people in mid-air spell, before information about how to cast it had got out to the rest of the school population.) This talent for invention was going to be useful, since after multiple 'goes around' she knew some things about James and his friends and how they thought and fought, and what resources they had at their disposal. (Although obviously they had some secrets from her such as that Peter at least occasionally was working for Lord Voldemort.) Lily could push Severus in the direction of developing stuff which she knew knew would be specifically useful for her project of tracking down Peter Pettigrew and making him SUFFER.
And it turned out that Severus needed very little encouragement or persuasion to help or do things for her.
Was he actually like this (the insults and surface nastiness aside) in character at least most times that Lily went around, with regard to her?
This time, Lily was a Slytherin prefect, when James and company ambushed Severus after the Defence OWL exam.
It usually happened of course – it seemed to be one of those minor detail events which always took place, unless Lily went out of her way to change it.
On a hot sunny day, James and company were bored, and looking for amusement, and that meant 'do something to Severus Snape'.
And as usual, James made his 'agree to go on a date with me Evans, and I'll stop hexing Snivellus' offer. (Lily had actually taken him up on that once, on the occasion of the lake encounter, although it had resulted in James being more of a mess than usual in terms of head needing deflating, before he was suitable husband material, and Snivellus had still insulted her.)
This time she regarded James, coolly, and made a snap decision in the interests of trying to get that prophecy out of the way of her hunting Peter Pettigrew down, post-Hogwarts, this time around.
"In another life, Potter." she said.
And she let Severus down, (more than familiar with the counter-jinx herself, and practiced in it this time) and then in view of everyone watching grabbed Severus and full-frontal snogged him.
It went on for a bit longer than she'd expected, because Severus responded with unexpected passion and enthusiasm – did Severus actually, maybe, have a thing for her? – and in the background James made choking and gagging noises, whilst Sirius made loud and obnoxious comments to reassure his friend and massage his ego.
And that was the point that Lily decided that she was really going to screw with events this time.
It was Christmas Eve, 1978, and Lily was soaking in the bath, at this point absolutely ginormous 'with child'. It was twins – she'd known that from an early stage that it was more than one being more than familiar with how a 'single child' pregnancy went for her – and the father was her husband, Severus Snape.
Whatever he usually did, Severus certainly wasn't a Death Eater this time. It turned out that that enormous (and lengthy) snog by the lake in 1976 had firmly disqualified him as being 'suitable recruitment material'. There had been a definite change to how other Slytherins viewed him in the wake of that and Lucius Malfoy – who Lily suspected might have at least strong pro-Voldemort tendencies – had written by owl to Severus several times in the weeks after that first kiss, which letters Severus had been irked by (apparently they were in part asking Severus if this was just a 'one time thing', with the underlying suggestion that it would be beneficial if it were), and which letters Severus had written brief responses in the negative to.
Lucius had given up after a while; there were stories that his marriage to Narcissa was a genuine love match, and it was possible that he appreciated how important a woman could seem to a young man. He still occasionally sent requests for 'special brewing requirements' to Severus occasionally, along with generous amounts of gold, although Severus sent back the gold, if Lucius wanted anything dangerous in the wrong hands like felix felicis.
But anyway: it was at this private moment of contemplation and relaxation that the hideous thing manifested itself in the air above the bath, and disregarded the first hex which Lily sent through it, the ray of light passing right through it as if it weren't completely present.
It looked like an illustration that Lily had once seen of one of those monstrous bat or devil things that Albus Dumbledore had spoken about.
"This is to inform you that our experiment to determine how many loops we could put you through, before you snapped and attempted to make significant changes has now concluded." the thing 'buzzed'. "We were surprised by the number it took, and the data we have collected is causing some surprise, back in our home dimension. Some of us would like to continue the observations," it ignored another jinx which passed harmlessly through it, "but there is a small but highly significant risk that the wizard you have chosen to associate yourself intimately with this time might find some way to interfere with our observations, to our detriment. So we are terminating this project. There is a promising weatherman, a few years from now, in small-town Pennsylvania in another reality, who is attracting interest and funding for a study. Thank you for your cooperation. You will not be looped again."
And it hurriedly 'dematerialised' as Lily screamed her rage and fury and frustration, and sent one last, glowing red-green curse, through it.
Obviously that brought Severus running, to find out what was going on? And she had to tell him something about some weird monster or ghost-thing calling by.
She did have the faint satisfaction of memory of seeing the bat or devil thing looking slightly horrified as it vanished and that last curse had struck, seeming to strike a puff of something like smoke from whatever material formed the being it had had here. There was certainly a slight scent of something burnt in the air.
It took a few minutes for it to sink in though about what it had said about 'not being looped again'.
That meant that This Was It; no reset to September 1971, when it all ended this time. And no getting together with James again in another 'go around'.
She was Mrs. Snape, and she was stuck with it. Not that that was a complete loss – Severus lacked James' style when it came to certain connubial matters, but enthusiasm and a desire to give her pleasure was certainly not lacking, and he was useful in other regards in some ways which James was not – but Severus was most definitely Not Rich Sporty Gryffindor James Potter.
All that was left to her of what she knew to look forward to was making Peter Pettigrew suffer all the torments of Hell on Earth (or at least as close to them as she could devise.) Added to the list of grudges that she held against him, was now a vindictive sense that this was all Peter Pettigrew's fault that she was not going to get together with James again.
Hallowe'en 1981 came and went, with Lily still alive by the end of it.
Word spread in the morning of the first of November, though, that something had happened to Lord Voldemort. There had been attack on the Longbottoms, Frank and Alice, which he had made, and the two aurors had somehow killed or blown him up in the process at the cost of their own lives.
Lily wished that they'd been able to manage that in the 'goes around' that she had been Mrs. Potter and they had been present with her and James on Hallowe'en night, 1981.
She was becoming resigned to being Mrs. Snape and having to make the most of it that she could. The twins – both girls, the older being named, at Lily's insistence, 'Harriet', and the younger 'Eileen' – were gorgeous, she'd had 'Guinevere' last year, and she was at the stage of being absolutely enormous with child yet again. She was at least going to have a large family this time, to make up for all the ones she'd lost.
The rat, Pettigrew, continued to elude her. She hadn't appreciated, in all her times with James, just how good Peter Pettigrew was at making himself a low-key figure, that attracted little general interest, and who left little rumour of his passing.
He was practically perfect in that regard, she supposed, as spy or informant material.
James probably knew where Peter was, but Lily could hardly write to James: 'I know I cut you off and humiliated you at school, but would you mind telling me where one of your best friends is? I want to hunt him down and torture him hideously.'
On reflection she could have just married James and stunned him (and anyone else who might try to interfere) and had her way with Peter one night, in James' despite.
Or maybe not.
She would have had to go for Peter first in any encounter, otherwise Peter would have bolted, and James would have naturally gone to his friend's defence, because he would have always picked his friends over his wife. The bitterness from that last time she'd tried and failed to get him to change his mind over Peter as secret keeper was still fresh enough in her memory to rankle.
Being married to James wouldn't have necessarily got her the proximity to Peter and free hand to deal with him which she would have wanted.
Vengeance was turning out to be so complicated, at least when it came to her serving it up.
Anyway: it was November the 1st, 1981, she was still alive, and Peter was out there somewhere, but she was still alive to find him and make him pay.
She wasn't sure if she'd want him to know and to be very afraid, or to be unaware and more careless in ongoing efforts to obscure his location and activities.
As I noted, before the start of this piece, in the 1993 Groundhog Day film, things do become a bit too much for the protagonist at one point, and he becomes unhinged.
Wikipedia informs me, at the time of initial posting of this piece here in May of 2019, that originally the back-story to Groundhog Day involved some sort of curse or magic spell being responsible for events; since this piece was first written for and posted on an alternate history site, I substituted the weird bat-things carrying out experiments instead as a 'responsible' agency.
There is a 'need to relearn how to cast spells' limit imposed on the protagonist of this piece, since otherwise in the end she would become what TV Tropes refers to as a 'God Mode Sue'. If necessary, assume this to be a limit imposed by the bat-things running the 'experiment'.
Part of the way in which whatever Lily tries to do to fight Lord Voldemort ends up as futile may be down to fate or destiny, and part of it down to the fact that until close to the very end, Lily is unaware that Peter Pettigrew is a spy and a traitor feeding information to Lord Voldemort. Whatever she plans or tries, Peter Pettigrew has tipped Lord Voldemort off about it, unless it is a very last minute improvisation. Lily doesn't ever actually suspect Peter Pettigrew of treachery, until Lord Voldemort practically tells her to her face, because James believes in Peter, and Lily has nearly unshakeable faith in James.
Note that in the final 'go around', Lily says that '...In another life, Potter...' to James by the lake in 1976. Severus Snape is a convenience for her in getting her revenge on Peter Pettigrew (or at least one version of Peter Pettigrew), and she fully believes by that point that she will end up 'resetting' to September 1971 again at some time, and that she will be able to go back to James in that 'go around.'
In the 'final go around' there is assumed to be a prophecy of some sort, probably similar to canon, but with Lily removed from James' circles and no Harry Potter, the only target Lord Voldemort can see is that 'go around's' version of Neville Longbottom. And because of fate or destiny or something, Lord Voldemort still manages to at least partially do himself in, on Hallowe'en 1981, trying to prevent the prophecy version he knows about from coming to pass.
I have assumed that Lily didn't originally know about James/Peter/Sirius being animagi, or running around with a transformed werewolf in the streets of Hogsmeade whilst they were school students. As far as this piece is concerned, James never wanted Albus Dumbledore as a secret keeper because James believed that his success in 'pulling the wool over the headmaster's eyes' so often with those moonlit expeditions demonstrated just how much smarter and cleverer James and company were than the headmaster.
This piece is a one-shot.
Update to Notes: (6th March, 2020)
Regarding witches and wizards behaving like 'idiots', witches and wizards of the Harry Potter universe are the people who invented and played Creaothceann for several hundred years, according to J.K. Rowling's 2001 charity publication Quidditch Through the Ages.
Creaothceann, for those unfamiliar with it, involves witches and wizards with cauldrons strapped to their heads flying on broomsticks through a shower of falling rocks and boulders, trying to catch the falling rocks and boulders in the cauldrons on their heads. Deaths are expected, and only two players surviving out of twelve starting is apparently considered normal. Even after the sport was finally banned, there were witches and wizards still trying to play it.
Also according to Quidditch Through the Ages, witches and wizards failed to master the concept of bartering until the twelfth century AD.
Add to that the multiple instances in the latter end of the series of Albus Dumbledore happily letting a killer whose identity he knows roam Hogwarts taking random pot shots at him and hitting random pupils instead, the fact that Hermione (of all people) forgets after the Ministry invasion in 1997 that she could just stun and memory wipe Travers, the whole business of Harry not calling Kreacher to him even once on the 1997-1998 camping trip (either for news or for food), and various other idiocy...
I consider witches and wizards behaving like idiots to be entirely consistent with the original material by J.K. Rowling. I may not always write them down to their canon levels of idiocy, but I have headed in that direction this time.