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Attack at Godric's Hollow (1981)

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Attack at Godric's Hollow
Part of the First Wizarding War

31 October, 1981


Godric's Hollow, West Country, England


Cadmean Order of the Phoenix victory: James and Lily Potter are murdered. Lord Voldemort fulfills the events of Sybill Trelawney's first prophecy. The first downfall of Lord Voldemort; Harry Potter is unknowingly made one of his Horcruxes.


Lord Voldemort


Lord Voldemort's body

"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. No one ever lived after he decided ter kill 'em, no one except you […] "
Rubeus Hagrid in 1991[src]

The attack at Godric's Hollow took place on 31 October (Hallowe'en), 1981. The attack happened after the Potters' secret keeper Peter Pettigrew 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 traveled to the Potters' house in Godric's Hollow, where he murdered James and Lily Potter, but 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, Trelanwey 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 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 traveled 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.

Lily murder

Voldemort murdering Lily Potter

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 Snape's request, Voldemort asked the unarmed Lily, who was guarding the cot where Harry sat, to step aside, but Lily did not move. Voldemort warned her several times, but she refused to stop protecting her son. When she did not move again, he murdered her. He then proceeded to murder Harry.

Lily's loving sacrifice protected Harry, something that Voldemort did not realise as he was unable to understand love. When Voldemort went to kill him, the spell rebounded. It struck his body, killing it, and driving his completely unstable soul out of the body. A bit of his soul 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.


"Is it true, Albus? Lily and James... are dead?"
Minerva McGonagall[src]
Lily dead

A dead Lily Potter

The effects of Voldemort's curse went beyond just the two wizards; the house was blown apart. Albus Dumbledore was immediately alerted that something significant had happened.[2] Sometime in the next few hours, Severus Snape arrived at the house, and was horrified, heart-broken and grief-stricken as he saw Lily Potter's corpse. Rubeus Hagrid arrived soon after and rescued Harry Potter from the ruins. Also that night, Peter Pettigrew visited and retrieved the Dark Lord's wand, hiding it in an undisclosed location. Sometime later, the house was made invisible to Muggles and left in its ruined condition as a memorial to the Potters.

Screen shot 2011-11-09 at 9.18.49 PM

A dead James 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

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
Hogwarts Post-Battle

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.

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]


Notes and references

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