James’ and Lily’s professions have been concealed for the first 5 books, yet we know that they will be a significant part in the series, as J.K. herself has mentioned. We know that James inherited a fortune from his father and did not need a well-paying job. We know several bits and pieces about them from their school years and after. Bits and pieces that, I believe, give us clues as to what they did after graduation. J.K has definitely done a superb job at keeping this information from us and throwing in her wink-winks without anyone realizing it. So, after reading the books several times, and following discussions and articles on the HP series, I have decided to look into the matter a bit more carefully considering what we know and what we have been secretly given. Here it goes…
I believe that both James and Lily were employed at Hogwarts – James as the DADA teacher and Lily as the Charms teacher. The lack of a qualified DADA candidate has been a very important theme at the start of each book. No one has lasted for over a school year and it has been pointed out that people think that the position is jinxed. The reason they believe so could be related to James and his terrible fate once Voldemort set out to get him. We know James was very clever and obviously a good student since he was made Head Boy. In witnessing Snape’s memory of the DADA O.W.L.s, James seemed very relaxed and finished his exam with time to spare. After the exam, he did not look up his answers like Lupin did, confident perhaps that he had aced his test. We also know (from OotP) that James had thrice defied Voldemort, which would show his knowledge on Defense Against the Dark Arts. This may also be the reason why Dumbledore is not giving Snape the position – his past as a Death Eater makes him vulnerable in that position.
Harry is constantly being told how much he looks like his father and how much he is like his father – be it his looks, his disregard for the rules, his excellence in sports and even his aptitude in DADA (which happens to be Harry’s favorite subject and at which he is very good). In OotP, Harry begins teaching DADA and is very good at it (like his father?) and is very proud with the progress his students make. Yet, when considering future professions, J.K does not have Harry consider teaching (even though he enjoyed it so much) because it would have to be let out that his father was also a teacher at Hogwarts (perhaps a not so well paying job?).
One may ask how this would be an important part in the series, and I have thought of that as well. We know that Voldemort is the Heir of Slytherin who wanted to “purify” Hogwarts and keep it strictly for purebloods. In CoS (which J.K. has said is an important part of the series) we see Riddle a.k.a Voldemort trying to rid the school of those he did not see fit to study there. To continue this, as well as train young witches and wizards to follow him and his Dark Arts, Voldemort needed to get an insider to work under Dumbledore’s nose (since he did not dare take over Hogwarts while Dumbledore was there) and to get Dumbledore away from Hogwarts (which he managed briefly in CoS). Who better to do this than the DADA teacher who was clever and smart? Also in CoS, Dumbledore says that he will never have truly left Hogwarts as long as there are those who remain loyal to him, as James was and obviously remained loyal to him, as did Harry while in the Chamber with Riddle. The headmaster is known for employing members of the Order (McGonagall, Snape, Hagrid, Lupin, Mad-Eye) so it is quite possible and probable that he employed James and Lily during the troubling times that Voldemort was trying to take over.
Which brings us to Lily working at Hogwarts as well. We have heard, over and over by J.K., that it is important that Lily’s wand was good at charms. Other than the charm she used to protect Harry (I’m sure that’s what she did during her waning minutes) Lily could have been the Charms professor before Flitwick. This did not occur to me till after I read OotP for the second time and the entire series all over again in anticipation of Half-Blood Prince. When mentioning Flitwick, J.K. still adds “the Charms professor” which she does not do with other professors such as Madam Hooch, Professor Sprout or Professor Trelawney to name a few. During Harry’s O.W.L.s, Hogwarts professors were observing their students from the back of the room during their exams and members of a committee were monitoring the students and examining them in the practical phase. Obviously, the school teachers could not do so themselves. However, in Snape’s memory of his exam, the teacher that collected their papers was Professor Flitwick! J.K. could’ve had anyone oversee the exams in Snape’s memory but she obviously wanted to tell us that Flitwick was not teaching at Hogwarts during that time. And he just so HAPPENS to be the current Charms professor, which Lily was so good at. Coincidence?
Also, a bit unrelated to professions but still rather interesting, Harry has his mother’s eyes. We’ve heard it several times. In the PoA movie, though not in the book, Lupin tells Harry that his mother could see the good in someone, when no one else could, not even that person himself. Perhaps J.K. had this little piece of clue thrown in the movie for a reason. Since Harry has his mother’s eyes, he too is able to see the good in others. Lily, despite “hating” James in their fifth year, ended up marrying him. She tried to help Snape (maybe he is good after all) when James and Sirius had him hanging upside down. Being good at Charms, she would know about the protection placed on Harry through her blood and knew her sister would be his protection (Petunia does take Harry in as a baby and allows him to stay after Dumbledore’s Howler). Harry also, in Book 1, chooses Ron over Malfoy, obviously seeing the good over the bad. He gave Lupin and Sirius time to explain in PoA even though the facts seemed to be against them – just a few examples to support this theory.
And lastly, professor McGonagall’s future has been discussed and the possibility that she may not see the end of Book Seven. Well, there is not much to support this theory but I have come across one minor indication that may foreshadow her death. In OotP, Sirius says that there are some things worth dying for and in the end, Sirius dies trying to save Harry (by the way, another sacrifice to strengthen Harry). In similar fashion, in OotP, during Harry’s counseling about the prospect of becoming an Auror, McGonagall, clearly enraged by Umbridge, says that she will help Harry achieve his goal if “it’s the last thing I do.” This does seem like the type of subtle clue J.K. would use to prepare us for what is coming – completely off topic yet “screaming” loudly of the fate awaiting the character. And I think that in OotP, we see very clearly, that McGonagall does allow her emotions to get the best of her and that she does tend to act a bit hastily in the face of injustice and danger (when trying to help Dumbledore with the MoM, when running by herself to help Hagrid, and failing to contain her anger with Umbridge).
I chose to write about these issues because they are of great importance to the series yet have seen very little, if any, discussion. And as much as I’d like to think that I have managed to strongly support these theories, in the end, J.K. will surprise us again, as she has not yet failed to do so.