Character:Lily Potter

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Character profile

Image:Lily Potter2.jpg

Lily Potter (née Evans)
Birth January 30, 1960
Death October 31, 1981
Parents Mr. and Mrs. Evans
Sibling Petunia Dursley
Spouse James Potter
Child Harry Potter
Blood status Muggle-born
Wand willow; ten and a quarter inches; swishy; good for Charms
Appearance green eyes; shoulder-length thick, dark red hair
School Hogwarts
House Gryffindor
Hogwarts achievements Prefect and Head Girl
Special abilities Remarkable Potions skills
Allegiance Order of the Phoenix
Other affiliations Slug Club
Portrayer in the movies Geraldine Somerville (adult) and Susie Shinner (teenager)
First appearance in canon The Boy Who Lived (PS) (mention); The Mirror of Erised (PS) (in the Mirror); Grim Defeat (PA) (voice); Snape's Worst Memory (OP) (appearance)

Lily Potter (née Evans) is the deceased mother of Harry and the wife of James Potter. She was a member of the Order of the Phoenix.

Contents

Characteristics

Physical

Other characters in the series often say Harry's appearance is identical to that his father, with one exception: his eyes, which are green and identical to his mother's.<ref>J. K. Rowling has indicated that this fact is very important, for reasons that are to be revealed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.</ref>

Lily had, therefore, almond-shaped green eyes. Her hair was dark red, often characterized as auburn, and she was very pretty (PS12).<ref>The similarities between Lily and Ginny Weasley's appearance—namely, their hair colour—has led many fans to parallel Lily/James and Harry/Ginny.</ref>

Psychological

Lily was not averse to troublemaking or to testing the limits of the Statute of Secrecy during the holidays (JKRW); nevertheless, she was a good student, who went on to become prefect and Head Girl (OP9). She was brave and unafraid to stand up for what she believed to be right.

Lily; fanart by LadyBelial.
Lily; fanart by LadyBelial.

She is often depicted in fanon as a prude. It is worth noting, therefore, that when James and Sirius bullied Severus Snape, she had to suppress a smile in order to defend the Slytherin without losing face. She was also cool and fast to retort after Snape called her a Mudblood, and clearly not a pushover (OP28).

It is fair to assume that Lily had a keen sense of justice and fairness, and possibly also a bit of a temper. She had little patience for arrogance such as that often displayed by James Potter. When he changed—in Sirius' words, when his head "deflated" a bit—, however, she agreed to date him (OP29).

Childhood

Lily Evans, drawn by Jestino.
Lily Evans, drawn by Jestino.

Lily probably had a slightly strange childhood, with odd things happening to her for no rational reason -— much like that of her son (PS2). Muggles Mr. and Mrs. Evans were very proud of her when she received her Hogwarts letter: she was the only witch in the family. Years later, Petunia, Lily's sister, bitterly recalled seeing Lily with "pockets full of frogspawn" and Transfiguring teapots during the holidays—to Petunia, her sister was a freak, not someone of whom she should be proud (PS4).

Lily flying; fanart by helen-m.
Lily flying; fanart by helen-m.

Lily grew up near Spinner's End and became acquainted with Snape even before Hogwarts (DH33).


Hogwarts

Lily bought her first wand in Diagon Alley, at Mr. Ollivander's shop. Lily's wand (willow; ten and a quarter inches; swishy) was good for Charms. This earned her a fanon reputation as an outstanding student Professor Flitwick's class, but there has been no indication of any exceptional skill in the class, aside from Mr. Ollivander's comment (PS5).

At Hogwarts, Lily was Sorted into Gryffindor, in the same year as the Marauders and Severus Snape. She was popular at school.<ref>"Like Ginny, she was a popular girl." - from this inteview.</ref>

She was an excellent student, with an exceptional aptitude for Potions; Lily was one of Horace Slughorn's favourite students—he still had fond recollections of her nearly two decades after her graduation (HBP4)—, and a prominent member of the "Slug Club." She was a natural, with a keen instinct for the subject; she had a knack for experimentation, and displayed great creativity while making potions.

Snape's Worst Memory

Full article: Snape's Worst Memory

James Potter started demonstrating his romantic interest in Lily during their fifth year; she, however, did not return his affections. This interaction seems to have culminated in an episode known as "Snape's Worst Memory" (OP28).

After their Defence Against the Dark Arts OWLs, the four Marauders were sitting by a beech tree near the Great Lake. Sirius and James were bored, and chose to entertain themselves by hexing Snape. This did not sit well with Lily, who had been cooling her feet in the water of the lake; she rushed to the Slytherin's defence, and confronted James about his bullying habits. She and James exchanged words, in which James asked her to go out with him, in exchange for his never bothering Snape again, but she flatly turned him down, insulting him and saying that he made her "sick" before stomping off. She also held her own when Snape called her a "Mudblood," and told James off for trying to defend her, showing that she is a strong, self-sufficient character (OP28).

Deflating

According to Sirius and Remus, Lily did not truly hate James (though her conduct in "Snape's Worst Memory" seemed to indicate otherwise). By the Marauders' seventh year, James had changed—"deflated"—and stopped hexing people for fun, and she agreed to date him. James and Snape, however, maintained their enmity, though out of Lily's sight (OP29).

Lily and James were the Head Students that year (PS4), despite the fact that James had not been a prefect (OP9).

After Hogwarts

Lily and James, fanart by Makani.
Lily and James, fanart by Makani.

A short time after Hogwarts, Lily married James Potter and joined the Order of the Phoenix, along with the other three Marauders and several other wizards and witches. It is important to note that many people married young during the War, having a keen sense that they might not have time to waste (HBP5).

Albus Dumbledore stated that he knew James very well, both at Hogwarts and later (PA22). It is probable, therefore, that the Headmaster maintained close contact with both Potters after they had graduated. Minerva McGonagall, Flitwick and Hagrid all referred to Lily and James on a first-name basis, which indicates the couple's closeness with the Hogwarts staff (PA10).

On July 31, 1980, Lily gave birth to their only son, Harry. At some point, possibly between leaving Hogwarts and Harry's birth, she and James both defied Voldemort three times, which qualified them as possible subjects of Sybill Trelawney's Prophecy.

At some point before 1981, Lily's parents died, probably in a way not at all connected to Voldemort.<ref>Mr. and Mrs. Evans are dead in a way that doesn't really matter to the story. - interview here.</ref>

It is unknown whether or not Dumbledore told Lily and James about the prophecy; he certainly did, however, inform them that they were likely targets of Voldemort, and suggested they go into hiding. They chose to live in the village of Godric's Hollow (PA10).

Betrayal

Lily and baby Harry, fanart by Ayne.
Lily and baby Harry, fanart by Ayne.

Some time in 1981, it was decided the couple would use a Fidelius Charm. This charm requires a Secret Keeper and, despite warnings of a traitor close to them, James and Lily rejected Dumbledore's offer to be their Secret Keeper, and chose Sirius instead. They apparently suspected Remus to be the traitor; years later, when the werewolf found out, he did not seem to begrudge them for it (PA17).

At last minute, however, fearing others would see him as the obvious choice for Secret Keeper, which would potentially jeopardize the intended secrecy of the charm, Sirius convinced James and Lily to make Peter Pettigrew the Secret Keeper instead, telling no one about the replacement—especially not Remus Lupin (PA18).

Peter, however, was a Death Eater, and had been passing on information to Voldemort for almost a year when the Potters made him their Secret Keeper (PA19). After the Fidelius Charm was cast, Peter wasted no time in betraying the couple to Voldemort, and on October 31, 1981, the Dark Lord came to their home. <ref>The possibility that someone accompanied Voldemort in this mission is cause for much speculation in the Harry Potter fandom. J. K. Rowling has ruled out one possibility: Severus Snape was not there under the Invisibility Cloak. Many people speculate that the Dark Lord went to Godric's Hollow that night intending to make his sixth Horcrux.</ref>

Death

Lily holding baby Harry; fanart by LadyBelial.
Lily holding baby Harry; fanart by LadyBelial.

When the Dark Lord arrived at the Potters' house, he met James first. The Marauder attempted to hold Voldemort off, ordering his wife to run away with their son ("Lily! It's him! Take Harry and run!"). Voldemort quickly dispatched him, though James went down fighting (GF34).

However, for unknown reasons, Lily did not escape. In fact, Voldemort seemed willing to spare her life (the reason why is not known), and demanded that she stop obstructing his path to Harry; he was interested only in murdering the boy.

Lily chose not to do so. She pleaded for mercy; when that failed, she sacrificed herself for her son, and her brave, loving gesture was powerful enough to prevent the Killing Curse from affecting Harry as it should have. Instead, the curse rebounded upon Voldemort, and would have killed the Dark Lord if he had not created several Horcruxes.<ref>"[The] caliber of Lily's bravery was, I think in this instance, higher because she could have saved herself. Now any mother, any normal mother would have done what Lily did. So in that sense her courage too was of an animal quality but she was given time to choose. James wasn't. It's like an intruder entering your house, isn't it? You would instinctively rush them. But if in cold blood you were told, 'Get out of the way,' you know, what would you do? I mean, I don't think any mother would stand aside from their child. But does that answer it? She did very consciously lay down her life. She had a clear choice." - from this interview.</ref>

It should be noted that Lily was unaware such protection would be granted through her sacrifice; she was merely doing all she could to protect her son.<ref>"[She didn't know the possible effects of standing in front of Harry] - because as I've tried to make clear in the series, it never happened before. No one ever survived before. And no one, therefore, knew that could happen." - from this interview.</ref>

Aftermath

Lily, fanart by koonelli.
Lily, fanart by koonelli.

Lily Potter's final gesture is arguably the most important moment of her life, as it caused her son to become the Boy Who Lived and gave the wizarding world a respite from the terror they had known during the First War. Her sacrifice also gave Harry a strong protection that, coupled with some advanced charms that Dumbledore placed on the boy, allowed him to be perfectly safe in the place where "his mother's blood [dwelt]"—i.e., Petunia's household—until he turned seventeen, at which point he would come of age (OP37).

The protection also prevented Voldemort from touching Harry, a fact which helped Harry defeat Quirrell when the teacher, possessed by the Dark Lord, tried to obtain the Philosopher's Stone from the boy (PS17).

This protection was eventually countered when Voldemort was resurrected with the use of Harry's blood; he has since been able to touch the boy (GF33).

Appearances in the series

The memory of Lily Potter has in many ways shaped her son's character, as has that of her husband. Deprived of information and pictures of her during his entire childhood—the Dursleys were ashamed of their "abnormal" relatives, and told Harry his parents died in a car crash—, Harry has his first contact with people who speak openly of his parents when he meets Rubeus Hagrid. The boy's imminent departure for Hogwarts drives Petunia to reveal honest information about her sister for the first time, during which she reveals her hatred for her sister, calling Lily a "freak" (PS4).

Lily and James, drawn by Oy!Angelina.
Lily and James, drawn by Oy!Angelina.

Shortly afterwards, the half-giant gladly reminisces about the Potters, informing Harry that his parents were excellent wizards and Head Students. Hagrid himself seems to have been close to the couple—a fact made evident by his tearful reaction to their death (PS1). He tells Harry the true, if incomplete, story of the events of October 31, 1981. In Diagon Alley, Mr. Ollivander tells Harry that he sold his parents their first wands, and describes them.

At Christmas, Harry discovers the Mirror of Erised, a mirror which reveals the onlooker's deepest desire. He sees his family there, notably Lily—who is smiling and crying—and James. The boy returns to the room where the Mirror is located several times, only stopping when Dumbledore meets him and tells him not to dwell on dreams, and informs him that the mirror will be moved (PS12).

Near the end of Harry's first year at Hogwarts, Hagrid writes to Lily and James' old school friends, requesting pictures of the pair. He then gives Harry an album with several photographs—of which the most striking is one depicting Lily and James on their wedding day, along with Sirius, James' best man (PS17).

Two summers later, Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban. Harry does not understand why everyone fears that he will have a special interest in the convict, until he overhears a conversation between McGonagall, Flitwick, Cornelius Fudge, Madam Rosmerta, and Hagrid, which reveals that Sirius was a close friend of James', and the alleged reason for the Potters' deaths (PA10). Returning to Hogwarts, Harry identifies Black in his parents' aforementioned wedding picture (PA11).

Lily; fanart by LadyBelial.
Lily; fanart by LadyBelial.

This revelation affects Harry even more than one would expect, for the Dementors constantly patrolling Hogwarts force him to relive the moments before Lily and James' murder several times. Luckily, the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher that year is another Marauder, Remus Lupin, who teaches the boy how to cast a Patronus in order to ward off the dark creatures. Harry informs his teacher of the scene that he hears when Dementors approach; the revelation obviously has a great effect on Lupin.

When Sirius Black finally manages to approach Harry, the boy finds out the truth about his parents' Secret Keepers; Sirius reveals that Peter had been the Secret Keeper, contrary to what the entire wizarding community had believed. Black and Lupin tell Harry a great deal about his father, to whom they had both been close (PA18). Unfortunately, Peter Pettigrew escapes once more in his Animagus form, Scabbers, (PA20), and eventually rejoins Voldemort in Albania (GF1).

In his fourth year, Harry is selected to be one of the Hogwarts champions at the Triwizard Tournament. This puts him in a position of great danger, and prompts Sirius to come to Hogsmeade. On one Hogsmeade weekend, Black has a long conversation with the Trio about his schooldays (GF27).

At the end of the third task of the Tournament, Harry is transported to the Little Hangleton graveyard, where Lord Voldemort is reborn. The two enemies duel, and the Priori Incantatem effect occurs due to the shared cores of their wands. Among others, the ghostlike form of Lily appears, and urges her son to hang on to his wand until James arrives—he wants to see Harry, too. James instructs Harry to run to the Triwizard Cup while all the ghosts that have appeared attack Voldemort in order to buy the boy some time (GF34). This saves Harry's life, and allows him to return to Hogwarts (GF35).

Lily; fanart by LadyBelial.
Lily; fanart by LadyBelial.

During the following summer, Harry continues corresponding with Sirius, and at one point meets him in number twelve, Grimmauld Place near the end of summer (OP5). The pair, along with Remus, often mention Lily and James. Harry also learns about the Order of the Phoenix and his parents' membership in it, and sees Mad-Eye Moody's picture of the old Order, which includes his parents—in it, they are sitting on either side of Peter Pettigrew, a fact that disgusts their son (OP9).

Harry defies Dolores Umbridge's regime to access the fireplace in her office (OP29) after feeling a compelling need to talk to Sirius and Remus about what he witnessed in "Snape's Worst Memory" in Severus' Pensieve, as he can hardly believe his parents ended up together after seeing Lily's apparent hatred of James (OP28).

Before the beginning of the following school year, Dumbledore introduces Horace Slughorn, the new Potions master, to Harry. Slughorn praises Lily at every possible opportunity (HBP4). Harry's use of the Half-Blood Prince's copy of Advanced Potion-Making in Potions class causes him to appear to have a natural knack for the class, something Slughorn views as hereditary talent (HBP9).

With the help of Felix Felicis, Harry uses Slughorn's fondness of Lily to persuade the teacher to give him the true version of a memory in which Horace explained Horcruxes to a young Tom Riddle (HBP22).

Trivia

  • Lily loved Snape as a friend, and could have grown to love him romantically if he wasn't too drawn to Dark Arts (BLC).

Fanon

Full article: Lily Potter in fanon

Ships

Lily; fanart by LadyBelial.
Lily; fanart by LadyBelial.

Canon

Fanon

Heterosexual

Femmeslash

Bestiality

Footnotes

Lily; fanart by LadyBelial.
Lily; fanart by LadyBelial.

<references />

External links

Wikipedia has an article about Lily Potter.
  1. Lily's Lexicon profile
  2. Essay: What really happened the night the Potters were killed?
  3. Lily Evans: Potions maven?
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