"Lily Evans. One of the brightest I ever taught. Vivacious, you know. Charming girl. I used to tell her she ought to have been in my House. Very cheeky answers I used to get back too."
-- Horace Slughorn (HBP4)
Lily Potter is the mother of Harry Potter, who shared with Harry the most striking aspect of her appearance, her brilliant green, almond-shaped eyes (OP28). Lily was born to a Muggle family and grew up with her sister, Petunia, not far from Spinner’s End in the town of Cokeworth (Pm).
When she was 8 or 9 years old, Lily met an odd, intense neighborhood boy named Severus Snape. It was through Severus that Lily discovered that she was a witch (DH33), a fact which allowed her to attend Hogwarts and made her parents very proud (PS4), though Petunia was quite jealous.
“You are a witch. I’ve been watching you for a while. But there’s nothing wrong with that. My mum’s one, and I’m a wizard.”
— 9-year-old Severus Snape (DH33)
As young girls, Lily and Petunia were very close; however, once Lily was invited to Hogwarts and Petunia told she couldn’t attend, a rift grew between them that never healed. Lily’s best friend soon became Severus Snape, even though he was a Slytherin, and fascinated by the Dark Arts. Lily and Severus remained friends until it became clear to her at the end of their fifth year that he had been seduced by Voldemort’s notion of pureblood supremacy. At Hogwarts, she also met James Potter, a very popular and talented student who was thought to be “the height of cool” — except by Lily, who considered him to be conceited and was disgusted by his rather trigger-happy attitude toward jinxing people. For his part, by the end of their fifth year James was very taken with Lily. Though Lily didn’t know it, Snape was deeply in love with her, and his heart broken when she started dating James in her seventh year (DH33).
Lily was considered by her teachers to be “bright,” “vivacious,” and a very gifted witch, especially at Potions (HBP4). She was Head Girl of Hogwarts her seventh year (PS4), and also very pretty (DH34). Dumbledore believed that though Harry looked very much like James, his deepest nature was one he had inherited from Lily, along with the color of his eyes (DH33).
After finishing Hogwarts, joined the Order of the Phoenix, together with James’ three closest friends: Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew. Reckoned among the best of Dumbledore’s loyal supporters in the first war against Voldemort, Lily and James were remarkable in that they defied Voldemort personally on three occasions and escaped each time, though narrowly (OP37). Lily and James probably married during the summer or fall of 1979. Lily did not see her sister Petunia after leaving Hogwarts, although some minimal contact appears to have existed between the sisters (PS1).
A prophecy made in the fall of 1979 by Sybill Trelawney changed everything when it was partially overheard by Severus Snape and reported to Voldemort. The prophecy foretold the birth of a boy “with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord” at the end of July, so as soon as Lily became pregnant the Potters went into hiding (OBT/CH). Voldemort waited to see what children were born, and began planning the murder of the Potter family (OP37, HBP25). Snape got wind of this and begged Voldemort to spare Lily, though he could not trust his assurances. Snape realized that in order to really protect his precious Lily, he needed Dumbledore’s help. Snape altered his own life and Voldemort’s when he offered Dumbledore his complete allegiance and informed the Headmaster that the Potters would be attacked soon by Voldemort himself.
However, even Dumbledore could not guard against treachery. When Voldemort arrived at Godric’s Hollow on October 31, 1981, he quickly killed James, and headed for Harry’s cot. The Dark Lord remembered Snape’s pleas, but Lily would not stand aside. She shielded her child with her body and Voldemort was forced to kill her. Her sacrifice unexpectedly created “old magic” protection for her son that could ward off even an Avada Kedavra curse, so when Voldemort tried to kill Harry, his spell rebounded on him and destroyed his body. Lily’s sacrificial magic was so deep and strong that Harry was given the tools he needed to live under his mother’s protection for sixteen years, and eventually defeat Voldemort for good. Voldemort had created the very menace he was seeking to destroy (OP37, DH33, DH36).
After the deaths of Lily and James, Dumbledore stepped in, setting aside the legal arrangements the Potters had made for Harry’s care. (Since Sirius Black was almost immediately condemned to Azkaban without trial, however, changes would have been required in any case.) Dumbledore, feeling that Harry’s physical safety from Voldemort overrode any other consideration, chose the course he considered right over what would have been easier for him to live with: arranging for the strongest possible magical protection over the child rather than a loving home for him. Dumbledore cast a charm to reinforce the protection Harry gained from the shedding of his mother’s blood as long as Harry lived with someone of that blood. Ironically, this made the Dursleys — otherwise unfit as guardians in any other sense for the child — the only possible guardians to seal the charm and thus help keep the boy alive (OP37). Dumbledore explained the protection which Lily’s sacrifice gave to Harry with these words:
“Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin.”
— Dumbledore (PS17)
FAMILY & FRIENDS
Ancestry: Muggle-born witch .
Mother: A Muggle, died before 1981.
Father: A Muggle, died before 1981.
Husband: James Potter; they married very quietly sometime between summer of 1978 and fall of 1979. Sirius Black was their best man. James was killed the same night as Lily, 31 October 1981, by Lord Voldemort at Godric’s Hollow.
Siblings: An older sister (DH33), Petunia (Evans) Dursley.
Location of childhood home: Near Spinners End in Cokeworth, a rundown industrial area of the English Midlands (DH33, Pm).
Childhood: According to Petunia, their parents were delighted to discover that Lily was a witch.
Affiliations: Slug Club, Order of the Phoenix.
SKILLS, MAGICAL DEVICES, ETC.
Wand: Willow, 10 1/4", swishy (nice wand for charm work) (PS5).
Skills: Charms, possibly (PS5), or Potions (HBP9). According to Horace Slughorn, Lily had an "intuitive grasp of potion-making." (HBP18).
Unusual abilities: one of the few members of the Order of the Phoenix to defy Voldemort personally three times and survive (OP37).
Gringotts' Vault: 687 (PS/film).
Lily and Severus' story seems to relate to elements of Dante's Divine Comedy and particularly the Purgatorio. On Episode 23 of the Mugglenet Academia podcast, John Granger mentioned the connection of Severus and Dante as well as the connection of Lily and Beatrice. Dante gloried in Beatrice's "emerald" eyes and notes that his accession into Heaven occurred while staring into Beatrice's eyes. Lily's green eyes (and Harry's as well) may be inspired by the importance of this feature in Dante's Divine Comedy. We may also speculate that it is Lily's green eyes and Snape's love (or obsession) for her that "guided" him to repent and/or absolve his transgressions through good deeds in the latter part of his life. --Hufflepuffskein
From the Web
- Essence of Asphodel: Lily Evans Potter and the Poetic Tradition by Silver Ink Pot
- Lily's Hypocrisy: Things JKR Doesn't Want You to Notice by Silver Ink Pot
- Lily Evans Potter: An Attempt at Analysis by Nyctalus