Why Did Lily Potter Let Herself Die? — Her Death from Her Point of View
In this new series from MuggleNet, we are exploring a variety of scenes from the Harry Potter series retold from different points of view. For our first post, I’ll be exploring Lily Potter’s death as Harry witnesses it in Voldemort’s memory in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Thus far, we know that Lily sacrificed herself to save her son in a calculated move to protect him from Voldemort. She was a gifted, intelligent Muggle-born with a big enough heart to care about a guy like Snape for far longer than she should have. We know Voldemort gave her a way to save herself, but she chose not to take it. The reason I want to rewrite this scene from her perspective is because Lily is arguably the Muggle-born witch who brought Voldemort down the first time. I don’t think we see that in Voldemort’s point of view. He sees Harry as the result of his demise, but it wasn’t baby Harry who cast the most powerful of spells that ripped him of his power—it was the Muggle-born girl he’d underestimated.
Here we go! (The original scene can be found on pp. 343 – 344 of Deathly Hallows.)
James lay on the floor sending puffs of smoke into the air for Harry to pop. His little hand stretched up. Had the smoke been solid, he would have caught it. Still, he squealed with delight as his soft skin passed through the magic clouds.
Lily would never tell James, but a small part of her relished this time they shared in hiding. Life had been so uncertain since before they’d married. Each moment they got together was a dream. But soon, very soon they would have to find a way to help the Order. Harry needed a safe place to grow up, and the only world in which that would be possible was a Voldemort-free one. With the Order’s death toll rising, she and James may very well be the only ones left to do the job. But we’re not going to wait that long.
Lily pushed through the door she was peeking through into the front room. “Time for bed.”
“Ah, not yet Mum.” James eyed her mischievously, but then he scooped Harry up and handed him to her. “Don’t be long, okay? We’ve got a lot to talk about.”
Lily carried Harry upstairs to his bedroom, which she’d had far too much time to decorate and fuss over. Harry yawned as she rocked him on her hip. “Too much fun, I see.” She kissed his head. “Never, my love. There is never too much fun to have. Remember that always.”
Harry pressed his cheek to her shoulder as his eyes fluttered closed. She rocked him for a bit longer. James was anxious to discuss their plans, but that meant tonight could be one of the last peaceful nights they had to be a semi-normal family.
There was a bang downstairs. It sounded like someone had blasted the door in. Lily carried a still sleepy but stirring Harry into the hall as James screamed, “Lily, take Harry and go! It’s him! Go! Run! I’ll hold him off!”
Before she could call back, the snake hissed, “Avada Kedavra!”
There was a loud thump, and Lily let out a scream that issued from the depths of her soul. But she couldn’t lose it now, she had to keep her head.
The green light had glowed up the staircase. James had said to run, but run where? Her wand was downstairs in the kitchen. She couldn’t just let Voldemort come in and kill their son. Not Harry. She wouldn’t allow it.
Darting back into Harry’s room, she flicked the lock and slid a pile of boxes in front of the door to buy time for someone to hear her calls for help. Was Bathilda home or out on Order business? Even if she was, there wasn’t enough time for both Harry and Lily to live.
Lily kissed Harry’s forehead. He was awake now, but groggy. “Be brave, Harry. Mama loves you. Dada loves you. Always be brave,” she repeated before the bedroom door was blown aside. Lily dropped Harry into the crib behind her and threw her arms out.
She didn’t have a wand, but that didn’t make her helpless. Voldemort must not anticipate her next move—for Harry’s sake.
“Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!” She let herself cry. It was easy given her heart had broken with her husband’s death.
“Stand aside, you silly girl…stand aside, now.”
Lily was nearly tempted to smile. Voldemort truly was the fool that Dumbledore had always warned them about. And now the prophecy would come true and Harry would live. “Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead—”
“This is my last warning—”
“Not Harry!” She screamed with all her might. “Please…have mercy… have mercy…. Not Harry! Not Harry! Please—I’ll do anything—”
“Stand aside. Stand aside, girl!”
Just kill me, Lily thought. Why the wait? Why let me live when he’s killed so many others?
And then his wand raised and Lily had one fleeting moment of satisfied victory before the words that killed James spewed out and the room lit up with the deathly green light that meant Harry’s salvation.
I’m not saying that my rendition of the scene is what Lily was actually thinking in the moment. Only Jo knows that. But to me, Lily has always been that ultra-strong mother figure that paved the way for the likes of Mrs. Weasley and even Ginny. I like to think that Lily didn’t accidentally cast the most powerful spell, the one that didn’t require a wand or even magical ability. I like to think Lily, with her intense ability to love, outsmarted Voldemort and therefore led him to his first “death.”
What do you believe Lily Potter was thinking in the last moments of her life?