Your Mother Needn’t Have Died

by Stephanie Davies aka Harryzhorcrux

Why, oh why?

“Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!”

“Stand aside, you silly girl…stand aside, now…”

“Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead–“

Numbing swirling white mist was filling Harry’s brain…What was he doing? Why was he flying? He needed to help her…she was going to die…she was going to be murdered–

“Not Harry! Please…have mercy…have mercy…”

A shrill voice was laughing, the woman was screaming, and Harry knew no more.
-POA, pg. 134


“Not Harry! Not Harry! Please — I’’ll do anything–“

“Stand aside — stand aside, girl–“
-pg. 177


ES: This is one of my burning questions since the third book — why did Voldemort offer Lily so many chances to live? Would he actually have let her live?

JKR: Mmhm.

ES: Why?

JKR: [silence] Can’t tell you…

This question has plagued many of our minds for a long, long time. It’’s also led us to a lot of speculation about what we are going to find out about Lily in the final book. We know something significant about her will be revealed, as well as Lily and James’’ professions.

As subjective as our information on Lily is, we do know that Lily was Muggle-born, a gifted witch, Hogwarts Head Girl, owner of a wand good for Charms, a Gryffindor, and gifted at Potions. Shady Slughorn described her as “very brave…very funny” (HBP pg. 484). We also know that Lily did not openly like her future husband at all in their fifth year, not before they started dating in their seventh year, and that they went to school with Severus Snape, who didn’’t like James very much.

There has been so much debate about why Voldemort offered to spare Lily. Unfortunately, nothing has seemed to fit. Given she was Muggle-born and despite her magical Potions and/or Charms talents, it’’s not plausible for Voldemort to have wanted her for his service. Her membership in the Order and being married to James [“James — whatever else he may have appeared to you Harry — always hated the Dark Arts,” (OotP pg. 590)] was enough evidence of her true allegiance before JKR herself officially confirmed that Lily wasn’’t a Death Eater.

There is much debate about whether, like Severus Snape, she was some sort of double agent, yet given she was aged between 20-22 at her death, was it really possible she was sufficiently skilled at Occlumency like Severus Snape 15 years later?

Debate persists about the relationship between Snape and Lily, but regardless of whether they were acquaintances, friends, enemies, or lovers, and even in light of how much Voldemort seems to like Snape, Voldemort wouldn’’t offer to spare someone upon request [“The Dark Lord will not be persuaded, and I am not stupid enough to attempt it,” (HBP, pg. 38)].

As for theories that Slughorn asked him to spare her: It doesn’’t fit for Voldemort to spare someone when it’s of no direct benefit to him. If Snape’’s Worst Memory is not “worst” because of the Lily part, we may be able to conclude we’ve simply over-emphasized a symbolic chapter, and that yes, young Severus may have had a friendship with a young Lily and lost it then. But the influence Snape could have had on Voldemort’’s choice of victims would remain just as meager.

I believe Voldemort did intend to use Lily, but differently than how we have previously thought.

Lily was highly useful in death, in more ways than protecting “The Chosen One.” As we see in HBP, Voldemort has a distinct pattern when making Horcruxes, and Voldemort’s offer to Lily to “step aside” confirms the pattern. So why did he offer to let her live? The answer to this question can be found in the pattern of Voldemort’s Horcrux-making.

In HBP, Dumbledore entrusted Harry with the biggest discovery: Voldemort’’s use of Horcruxes. Dumbledore taught Harry information about Voldemort’s heritage, goals, actions and motivations, in preparation for the final battle. Let’’s consider Voldemort’’s actions when creating two of his Horcruxes:

  • The ring
    Death: His father, Tom Riddle Sr.
    Blamed on: Morfin Gaunt via Memory Charm
  • The cup
    Death: Hepzibah Smith
    Blamed on:Hokey the House-Elf via Memory Charm

In both situations we are sure Voldemort:

  1. Stole an item from which he made a Horcrux
  2. Made a Horcrux from the significant death
  3. Covered the death up by placing the blame on others whom he subjected to a Memory Charm

Voldemort covered his tracks. There is no record of him killing in the situations when he made these Horcruxes, besides Dumbledore’s secret investigation, is there? There is an obvious pattern emerging here!

It’’s important to remember that Voldemort selectively did the dirty work during the first war — sending the Death Eaters out often in his stead [“You Know Who and his followers sent the Dark Mark into the air whenever they killed,” said Mr. Weasley. “The terror it inspired…you have no idea, you’’re too young. Just picture coming home, and finding the Dark Mark hovering over your house, and knowing what you’’re about to find inside…Everyone’’s worst fear…the very worst… (GoF, pg. 127) and “…on Voldemort’’s orders most likely. I doubt Regulus was ever important enough to be killed by Voldemort in person” (OotP, pg. 104)]. Obviously, Voldemort needed to personally murder someone when making Horcruxes, thus Godric’’s Hollow definitely such a time.

We know when Voldemort set out to Godric’’s Hollow he wanted to make a Horcrux [“Voldemort was still at least one Horcrux short of his goal of six when he entered your parents’ house with the intention of killing you,” (HBP, pg. 473)]. His past patterns would indicate that he wanted to cover up his involvement in the murders.

Perhaps Voldemort offered to spare Lily so he could simply cover up his murders of Harry and James. Did Voldemort intend, perhaps, to inflict a Memory Charm on Lily like Morfin and Hokey, and leave her thinking she killed her husband and child?

Lily’’s place in the magical world may have been a lot simpler than we’’ve all thought. It is much more likely that Voldemort offered to spare a 21-year-old Muggle-born Order member as a means of covering up his actions, rather than because of her magical talents or knowledge. JKR herself has stated that there’s nothing unusual about what Lily did. She expects that any mother would have behaved the same way. The situation was unique rather than Lily’’s action. Lily and James’’ professions may not be as significant as many have thought; they were on the good side but they were not the famous or supremely powerful wizards we’’ve thought they must have been for Voldemort to offer to spare her.

Killing James and Harry, and subjecting Lily to a Memory Charm thinking she’d done it, would have eliminated the risk of Harry to Voldemort. Assuming the Memory Charm would not be broken, it covered evidence he’d made a Horcrux. The destruction of Harry was, and still is, the most important thing to Voldemort.

“He believed that in killing you, he was destroying the danger the prophecy had outlined, he believed that he was making himself invincible. I am sure that he was intending to make his final Horcrux with your death.”
-HBP pg 473

Regardless of the fact that Dumbledore was close to the Potters, he likely would have sussed the situation out further. Voldemort needed to finish Harry off because he heard from the prophecy that Harry had the power to kill him.

Yes, this attack was right under Lord Voldemort’’s nemesis’ crooked nose and Dumbledore’’s breaking of Morfin and Hokey’’s Memory Charms was likely prior to Lily and James’’ deaths. But even if Albus Dumbledore could have later found out that Lily hadn’’t done it at all, and that Voldemort had made a Horcrux, if the “one with the power to vanquish” him had been killed, then this was all that Voldemort wanted. Voldemort didn’’t need to stop anyone finding out about his Horcrux secret when the only one with the power to kill him was dead. He set a lot in store by the prophecy.

There are specific identifying criteria to destroying each Horcrux:

  • The object
  • The significant death
  • The unfair blame
  • The location
  • The means of destruction

Where does this lead us? It both summarizes the debate over Lily’s importance in the pre-prophecy wizarding world, and provides enough evidence to make more Horcrux assumptions.

In our post-HBP frantic search of Horcrux objects we’ve undoubtably missed vital clues. Instead of debating the evidence of whether Gryffindor’s sword, award for services to the school, the tiara or Harry’s copy of Advanced Potion-Making are Horcruxes, there are still other questions to be asked about the missing Horcruxes.

When else has Voldemort himself done the killing? Could he have been making a Horcrux in HBP when (and if) he killed Amelia Bones? Was Nagini really a Horcrux prior to this? Who else may have suffered from Memory Charms? Is there more to Professor Lockhart’’s escapades? Who have we coincidentally met in St. Mungo’s, Hogsmeade, the Leaky Cauldron or Diagon Alley? Who is in Azkaban and shouldn’’t be?

Is this our (and Harry’’s) key to identifying and locating the missing Horcruxes? The answers may all be there, like magic.