Everybody seems to know everything about Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived has pervaded pop culture and after so many years it is hard to imagine a world without him. He inspired countless essays, fanfictions, art pieces, podcasts, and plays over the decades. From people who waited for the book releases, to forums online, to fans of the movies; so many friends have formed through a mutual love of Harry. Connections have been formed which is its own kind of magic. But, as much as we love Harry, today we are going to look at the amazing people who made him; Lily and James.
Unfortunately, we do not know much about them. As Harry got a glimpse of them through a photograph or letter, so did we. Despite this minimal information, this has not stopped fans from logging every detail. There are also thousands of 'what if' and 'fix it', fics which delve into what could have been or rewrite things to 'fix' them. While those can be great to explore another version of the story, we are going to focus on the canon facts. Their integral place in history demands that James and Lily have our full attention. They are Harry Potter's parents but they are also more than that. They had lives before their deaths on that fateful night. Who were James and Lily before their untimely demise? What were their lives like during this time of war and destruction? Let's take a look at what we know.
27 James Should Have Been Sent To Azkaban
On seeing his patronus for the first time, Lupin informs Harry of how his father had the same one. Your patronus is a reflection of who you are inside. Because of this, your Animagus form can be the same animal as your patronus. James' Animagus form was also a stag and he remained an Animagus for life. The problem? He and Sirius never registered as Animagi with the Ministry of Magic. This is punishable by serving time in Azkaban. Yikes!
26 They Defied Voldemort Three Times Before Going Into Hiding
We know nothing about James and Lily's early dating life. We have a rough idea of when they married and moved into Godric's Hollow but that's most of it. We were informed that James and Lily did defy Voldemort a total of three times whilst in The Order before they hid. Unfortunately, we can only guess on what that entails. My money is on them refusing recruitment into the Death Eaters or fighting Death Eaters. We will never know (unless Rowling says something on Twitter).
25 James Wanted Sirius To Be Their Secret-Keeper
Being a Secret-Keeper is serious business. It involves giving a secret magical form and placing it inside the chosen Keeper. After that, the Keeper can only divulge that secret willingly. It was the safest way to protect the Potters. Sirius seemed the ideal candidate as he would rather die than betray his friends. Yet, Sirius believed that he was a target for Voldemort, so he let Peter, who was less conspicuous, take his place. This decision proved to be a fatal mistake.
24 James Was A Bully Once
When you think of James Potter, you may think of a kind, brave man who sacrificed himself to save his family. But, he was not always like this. He would hex fellow students on the regular and receive countless detentions for it. He even made a student's head grow to twice its size. That's not even talking about all the times he locked horns with Severus Snape. All I can say is, you can't exactly blame Snape for having a problem with James.
23 Lily Broke Her Friendship With Snape Over His Death Eater Friends
It is well known that Snape and James hated each other. James would often bully and demean 'Snivellus' whenever he could, to Snape's anger. When James and Sirius were putting soap in Snape's mouth and hanging him upside down, Lily stood up for him. After this, Snape said he didn't need help from a '[dirty] little Mudblood'. He immediately regretted it but did not take it back. Lily retorted that she detested his Death Eater wannabe friends and left him alone.
22 Lily Hated James At First
Some of the best-loved couples start out on the wrong foot and James and Lily are no exception. James was an 'arrogant toerag' when they first met and Lily was one of the only people in school that stood up to him. She disliked his attitudes and actions but would also chastise other kids who had done wrong. Well done Lily for refusing to let your biases get in the way of justice. It's a good thing that James grew out of his bullying, huh?
21 Peter Pettigrew Visited Them Before They Passed
As if to rub salt into the wound, in Lily's letter to Sirius in The Deathly Hallows, we find that he visited them. 'Wormy was here last weekend, I thought he seemed down' hurts; she cared about him and he visited only to betray them. There is no date on the letter so we cannot confirm when this was. We know Harry had his first birthday, so this must be between early August 1981 and October 31st, 1981. I can't get over this.
20 James And Lily Appeared In the Last Use Of The Resurrection Stone
In the final book, Harry uses the Resurrection Stone to summon his closest loved ones. From the Stone shades of Sirius, Lupin, Lily, and James came to guide him to his demise. It is a touching and heartbreaking scene that brings a bittersweet feeling. They are not his family, they are only mere shadows of them but it strengthens him to see them nonetheless. Walking to one's end to protect the world warrants reaching out for comfort.
19 They Thought Lupin Was A Traitor Before They Passedw
During the months before they passed away, things were tough for The Order. They were being attacked left and right, leading them to believe there was a spy among them. Order members were suspicious of each other and Lily and James were no exception. They suspected Remus was a spy which is why he was not considered to be their Secret-Keeper. This makes their passing and Sirius' imprisonment sadder; not only was Lupin alone again but his friends had thought the worst.
18 James Was Related To A Great Potions Master
While 'Potter' is a common Muggle name, it has some interesting origins in the Potter household. Linford of Stinchcombe was known as 'the Potterer' who made potions for his Muggle neighbors. He treated their illness and was known for pottering among his weird plants. Historians credit Linford with creating potions that would eventually become Skele-gro and Pepperup Potion. It is due to his wit and inventing that he could begin amassing the Potter fortune.
17 Lily Was Secretly Insecure
Your wand wood says a lot about who you are. Wands are inherently intelligent sentient objects that both teach and learn from us. After all, the wand chooses the wizard, implying some kind of awareness. Ollivander said that willow wands choose those who are insecure and have the greatest potential. This revelation means a lot in regards to Lily's internal self. Willow also has an affinity with non-verbal magic which we know Lily used to protect Harry with her love.
16 Lily Tried To Patch Things Up With Petunia
It is well-known that the Dursleys hated Harry. No-one hated Harry's family more than Petunia. Lily's sister, Petunia was envious of Lily's powers. She even tried to apply to Hogwarts herself only to be rejected. Because of this, Petunia bullied Lily and put distance between them. Even though she was hurt, Lily did try to bridge the gap between herself and Petunia to no avail. Harry's life would have gone much differently if they had made up.
15 They Had A Quiet Tea Party For Harry's First Birthday
Birthdays are a fabulous time for anyone above the age of four years old. Chances are you won't remember what you did on your second birthday, so that day is more for your parents. Lily decided to just have a 'very quiet birthday tea' with Bathilda Bagshot for Harry's first birthday. Bathilda was their friend; I bet her ghost was mad that Nagini used her form to attack Harry.
14 Harry Asked Lily To Stay Close To Him
As mentioned earlier, Harry summoned shadows of his family members to be with him in his final minutes. He knew that they were not truly his family but they brought him strength and encouragement. He felt so afraid and comforted that he asked Lily's shadow to stay close to him as he walked to meet his end. Don't mind me, I'm just crying because of how heartwrenching this fact is. I bet you cried too, so don't at me.
13 Lily's Name Has An Interesting Meaning
Ever heard of the Victorian language of flowers? It was a classic tradition that used flowers to send a message to someone. The meaning changing depending on what flowers are used. Lilies often meant 'elegance', 'beauty' or 'purity', which are all words that describe Lily. Lilies are especially beautiful when cut; which translates to a person's name like 'sever'. Lily's life certainly did bloom after her fight with Severus.
12 They Were Married For Around Three Years
Tragically, we do not have a date for the Potters' wedding. We do know that it took place between Summer 1978 and Autumn 1979. This means that they were married for around three years before their untimely ends. Harry came into the picture after their first year of marriage after they went into hiding. It is a shame that there is only one photograph of their wedding and no invitations around.
11 James Became Head Boy
This would be crazy to see if you were his classmate. Despite having a less than exemplary behavior record, James became Head Boy. I imagine it would be difficult to think that he would when looking back at his young fifteen-year-old self. It is a sign that the teaching staff saw James' maturity and began to trust him. James truly is a sign that anyone can change when given the right circumstances and half a chance.
10 James And Lily Started Dating In Their Final Year
What a time to start dating. During their final year at Hogwarts, Voldemort was becoming a force to be reckoned with. People were afraid and could sense war on the horizon. James was Head Boy and had matured, no longer the 'arrogant toerag'. Over the years, Lily had grown fond of him and eventually, the two hit it off. They did not date long before getting married which is not unusual in wartime. If only they were together under different circumstances.
9 James Had A Mahogany Wand
While Lily had her willow wand, James favored his mahogany one. Ollivander described James' wand as 'pliable' and 'good for Transfiguration'. Both descriptors that match James perfectly. He excelled at Transfiguration alongside his skill in hexes. James also grew from a stubborn bully into a kindhearted and brave man. I do wish that Rowling had included more woods in her Wand Woods Pottermore entry, but maybe she will in the future.
8 James' Parents Failed To Have Children
Fleamont and Euphemia Potter were a successful pair. Fleamont created the popular hair product Sleekeazy's Hair Potion, which garnered him many riches. Although they were successful, Fleamont and Euphemia were devastated that they could not have a child. Imagine their surprise when, after they retired, they realized Euphemia was pregnant. James was a blessing to them and he was adored and doted on his entire life. Unfortunately, they never met Harry.
7 James Became An Animagus For Lupin
Terrified of being hunted, Lupin hid his werewolf nature from everyone he could. The problem is you can't hide anything from Sirius and James. On learning about Lupin's condition, they came up with the idea to become Animagi. This allowed them to protect him and move around undetected. The process is grueling and takes at least a month to complete. The fact that the three of them managed to succeed is impressive.
6 Lily And James Sat Together On Their First Trip To Hogwarts
Harry met most of the people who would become important to him on the Hogwarts Express. It seems he got that from his father, who sat with Sirius, Lily, and Snape on their first trip to Hogwarts. While he and Sirius sparked something that would last a lifetime, James immediately locked horns with Snape. The two argued about what houses they wanted to be in and insults were thrown about. Habits and relationships were certainly formed that day.
5 James' Relatives Were On The Wizengamot
We have talked about the Wizengamot in the past but in case you missed it the Wizengamot is a court and Parliament. This organization has been around since the medieval times and is respected. Two Potters have sat on the Wizengamot; Ralston Potter in 1612-1652 and Henry Potter from 1913-1921. Henry Potter was particularly high-ranked in the Wizengamot and even spoke out publicly about the Minister for Magic. That's where Harry gets it from.
4 The Marauders' Map Is A Ridiculous Show Of Skill
So the Marauders' Map is one of the best tools at Harry's disposal. It is proof that no-one knows Hogwarts better than James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter. The Marauders' map is crazy advanced. It uses the Homunculus charm to track people around Hogwarts as well as a Snape repelling charm. James also used his Invisibility Cloak to help map the school out. In fact, the whole reason they made the Marauders' Map was so they could protect Lupin - talk about strong bonds.
3 James Messed Up His Hair To Look Cool
Among his many skills, James was also a star Chaser for the Quidditch team. It was part of what made him popular despite his hexing; his wit and good looks helped. James was well aware of his handsome features – in fact, he often ruffled his hair to give it a windswept effect. What a nerd! He would also toss around a Golden Snitch. As if he couldn't make it any more obvious.
2 The Marauders Were Compared To The Beatles
Our first sighting of the Marauders on screen was during Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix. Alfonso Cuarón, who directed The Prisoner Of Azkaban, compared them to The Beatles 'circa the late sixties/early seventies'. He thought James was 'like Paul – good looking and sure of himself'. It's funny to imagine James looking like a rock star, but I'm sure he would have appreciated it.
1 James Called Remus' Werewolf Side A 'Furry Little Problem'
When discussing something as serious as Lycanthropy, it is important to be discreet. While they were among company, James would often refer to Remus' Lyncanthrope form as a 'furry little problem'. This caused confusion for others who heard it. A bunch of students thought that Remus owned some kind of unruly pet animal, like a dog or rabbit. Remus had to go along with this to protect himself and it is something he remembered fondly as he grew older.