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Attack at Godric's Hollow (1981)

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"All anyone knows is, he turned up in the village where you was all living, on Hallowe'en ten years ago. You was just a year old. He came ter yer house an' — an' — 'You-Know-Who killed 'em. An' then — an' this is the real myst'ry of the thing — he tried to kill you, too... But he couldn't do it. Never wondered how you got that mark on yer forehead? That was no ordinary cut. That's what yeh get when a powerful, evil curse touches yeh — took care of yer mum an' dad an' yer house, even — but it didn't work on you, an' that's why yer famous, Harry."
Rubeus Hagrid describing the attack[src]

The attack at Godric's Hollow took place on 31 October (Hallowe'en), 1981. The attack happened not even a week after Peter Pettigrew was made the Potters' secret keeper, when he gave up their location to Lord Voldemort.

Having been told half of the Prophecy by Severus Snape, Voldemort came to believe his mortal enemy to be Harry Potter and travelled to the Potters' home in Godric's Hollow. While in the Potter's home he murdered James and Lily Potter, who died protecting an infant Harry. When he attempted to murder Harry, Lily's loving sacrifice allowed Harry to live and Voldemort's soul was ripped from his destroyed body.


Background information

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies...."
Sybill Trelawney's first prophecy[src]

About a year before Harry's birth, Sybill Trelawney met Albus Dumbledore in the Hog's Head to interview for the Divination professorship at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. During the interview, Trelawney slipped into a trance and delivered a prophecy. This prophecy referred to a young boy born at the end of July whose parents had defied Voldemort three times. It said that the boy would have power that Lord Voldemort lacked and that the boy would be able to defeat the Dark Lord.

Death Eater Severus Snape was eavesdropping at the keyhole, but he was interrupted by the barman, but not before he had heard half of the prophecy. Immediately, Snape took everything he had heard to Voldemort, who decided that the boy was Harry Potter, although it could very well have been Neville Longbottom. When Snape found out that Voldemort had decided to eliminate the Potter child, he begged his master to spare Lily Potter.

Betrayal and attack

"Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off!"
—James Potter moments before his death[src]
Voldemort arrives

Voldemort arrives at Godric's Hollow intending to murder Harry Potter

Once the Potters were aware that Voldemort was after their son, Albus Dumbledore advised them to go into hiding using the Fidelius Charm. The Potters did so, moving to Godric's Hollow, suggesting that Sirius Black be their Secret-Keeper. However, Sirius felt that this was a rather obvious move, as he and James were best friends, so he suggested that Peter Pettigrew be the Secret-Keeper instead. In the interest of secrecy, the Potters agreed and told no one else, not even Dumbledore.[1]

However, Pettigrew had been working as a double agent for the Death Eaters and told Lord Voldemort of the Potters' whereabouts. Voldemort travelled to their home on Hallowe'en. Upon arriving, he saw James, Lily, and Harry in the same room, James playing with Harry. Seeing Voldemort coming, James gave Harry to Lily, shouting that she take him to safety.

Potter family murder

Potters' cottage in Godric's Hollow under attack, Lily is murdered by Lord Voldemort

Voldemort then entered the house, quickly murdering James who was going for his discarded wand. He then proceeded upstairs to kill the boy. He found Lily and Harry locked in a room with furniture blocking the door. Faithful to Severus Snape's request, Voldemort asked the unarmed Lily, who was guarding the cot where Harry sat, to step aside, but Lily refused to move. Voldemort then warned her several times, but she refused to stop protecting her son. When she did not move again, he remorsefully murdered her. He then proceeded to murder the infant Harry.

Harry Voldemort 1981

Harry as an infant faces death for the first time at the hands of Lord Voldemort

Lily's loving sacrifice protected Harry, something that Voldemort did not realise as he was unable to understand or feel love. When Voldemort went to murder him, the spell rebounded. It struck his body obliterating his corporeal form and driving his completely unstable soul out of the body. His wand was blasted from his "corpse" and landed nearby. Since his soul was as unstable as it was a bit of his it splintered off and attached itself to the only living being left in the cottage, Harry himself. Harry survived with just a lightning bolt scar on his forehead, while his parents were dead. this incident sealed Harry's fate and labelling him the "Boy Who Lived".


"Is it true, Albus? Lily and James... are dead?"
Minerva McGonagall after hearing of the attack[src]

The effects of Voldemort's curse went beyond just the two wizards; half of the top floor of the house was blown apart by the rebounding curse. Albus Dumbledore was immediately alerted that something significant had happened.[2] Rubeus Hagrid arrived soon after and rescued Harry Potter from the ruins. In the ruins of the cottage, Harry was described to have been radiating in pure light. After realising Peter Pettigrew's betrayal, Sirius Black came to the cottage. He offered to take Harry, but Hagrid refused on Dumbledore's orders. Sirius then lent Hagrid his motorbike and went off the seek revenge on Peter. Also that night, Peter Pettigrew visited and retrieved the Dark Lord's wand, hiding it in an undisclosed location. In the aftermath of the attack, the Muggle police was called to the house where they found James and Lily Potter, but their child Harry had disappeared without a trace. Sometime later the house was made invisible to Muggles and left in its ruined condition as a memorial to the Potters and the tragedy that befell them. A sign was added in front of the cottage that depicted that nights events. People would often carve inspirational messages into the wood of the sign, wishing Harry luck and showing their support of him.

LilyJames PM Memorial

As a memorial to James and Lily Potter and a dedication to Harry Potter

The Potter memorial was also erected in the aftermath of Voldemort's attack. The memorial is a statue at the centre of the village square in Godric's Hollow. From a distance, it appears as an obelisk, carved with the names of people who died in a war. While Muggles can see only this obelisk, a witch or wizard can see that the memorial changes into a statue of a family as he or she approaches: James, Lily, and an infant Harry Potter.

As a portion of Voldemort's soul resided in Harry, the two shared a bond, causing Harry to feel Voldemort's anger or happiness. Also, as the Dark Lord grew more and more powerful, Harry began to see into his mind, seeing Voldemort's thoughts and actions, sometimes through his senses. Harry also dreamed about things Voldemort wanted or things he was obsessing over.

In 1993, whenever Harry was affected by the effects of Dementors of Azkaban, he heard memories of what occurred during the attack before Lily's death and in 1997, while sharing Voldemort's mind, Harry viewed the entire attack, that Voldemort at the time was recalling.

Battle of the Department of Mysteries

Battle department of mysteries

D.A. members battle Death Eaters in a bid for the prophecy

Soon after his rebirth, Lord Voldemort realised this connection and began to use it to his advantage. Voldemort wanted to hear the full contents of the Prophecy and formulated a plan that would prey upon Harry's love for his friends, knowing that if he threatened someone for whom Harry cared, the young wizard would rush to their defence. Therefore, he planted false images in Harry's mind of him torturing Harry's godfather, Sirius Black. Harry, along with his friends went to the Ministry of Magic to save Sirius, which resulted in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries and Sirius's death, but also confirmed that Voldemort was back and precipitated open war.

Battle of Hogwarts

Main article: Battle of Hogwarts

In the spring of 1998, after hunting down Voldemort's Horcruxes for an entire year, Harry, Ron, and Hermione returned to Hogwarts, when Harry confirmed that a Horcrux was hidden there. After Lord Voldemort discovered that Harry was at the school, he quickly assembled an army to take the school and Harry Potter. Hogwarts attempted to defend itself against Death Eaters, but those defences were soon breached.

Voldemort's End Pottermore

Harry's final defeat of Lord Voldemort and the end of the Second Wizarding War

In the fighting, both sides suffered heavy casualties, and by the height of the battle, all the Horcruxes except Nagini and Harry had been destroyed. Seeing that his death was essential to the defeat of Voldemort, Harry sacrificed himself, but in doing so, the piece Voldemort's soul that was attached to his was destroyed, and Harry survived. After it appeared that the defenders of Hogwarts had been defeated, Neville Longbottom beheaded Nagini, and fighting broke out again. In these final moments of the battle, Harry Potter defeated the now mortal Voldemort, bringing an end to the battle and the Second Wizarding War.[3]


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Notes and references