When Voldemort came to kill the Potter family James and Lily realize he is there with a little bit of time to spare. James provides a momentary buffer and Lily is in the room with Harry. Why did she not grab Harry and apparate away from Voldemort?

  • 3
    Fine.. Just learn how to apparate and nobody would be able to kill you.. :)
    – user931
    May 16, 2012 at 18:25
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    @SS -- There's a lovely lecture in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality that mentions this. To quote: "Just because there is a ridiculously obscure way of dealing with mountain trolls does not mean you should actually try to use it! The Killing Curse is unblockable, unstoppable, and works every single time on anything with a brain. If, as an adult wizard, you find yourself incapable of using the Killing Curse, then you can simply Apparate away! Likewise if you are facing the second most perfect killing machine, a Dementor. You just Apparate away!"
    – K-H-W
    Feb 1, 2015 at 20:44
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    One does not simply apparate from Voldemort !!! May 13, 2015 at 12:15

7 Answers 7


Besides for the debatable reason of not having a wand as mentioned in the accepted answer, there is a more basic reason why she could not have Apparated. In Deathly Hallows when the trio went from Shell Cottage to Gringotts, we have the following description:

All three of them glanced back at Shell Cottage, lying dark and silent under the fading stars, then turned and began to walk toward the point, just beyond the boundary wall, where the Fidelius Charm stopped working and they would be able to Disapparate.

So we see that you cannot Disapparate from within the confines of a Fidelius Charm. As the Potters house in Godric's Hollow was similarly protected by the Fidelius Charm, it would have been impossible for Lilly to Disapparate out of it.

Furthermore, even without the Fidelius Charm it is likely that she would not have been able to Disapparate out of the house. In the beginning of Half-Blood Prince we have the following exchange between Harry and Dumbledore:

"Professor, why couldn’t we just Apparate directly into your old colleague’s house?"

"Because it would be quite as rude as kicking down the front door," said Dumbledore. "Courtesy dictates that we offer fellow wizards the opportunity of denying us entry. In any case, most Wizarding dwellings are magically protected from unwanted Apparators. At Hogwarts, for instance —"

"— you can't Apparate anywhere inside the buildings or grounds," said Harry quickly. "Hermione Granger told me."

Thus, it is quite possible, even likely, that the Potter's house had an anti-Apparition charm placed on it for protection. Therefore, the reason why Lilly couldn't Disapparate out is the same reason why Voldmeort couldn't Apparate in — it wasn't possible.

  • I think this is a more basic and satisfying answer. It's very slightly speculative but seems to be (in my opinion) the most likely reason that it wasn't possible.
    – Dason
    Nov 13, 2018 at 16:42
  • @Dason Thanks. Note, also, that there are other examples of Order of the Phoenix members having to leave the property of protected houses before Apparating (though I didn't bother to mention them in the answer).
    – Alex
    Nov 13, 2018 at 16:46

You can not easily (if at all) Apparate without a wand (HP Wikia has a long list of examples and reasoning explaining why). Side-along with an infant would be even less possible.

In DH, Voldemort recollects that neither James nor Lily had their wands when he killed them.

He was over the threshold as James came sprinting into the hall. It was easy, too easy, he had not even picked up his wand... “Lily, take Harry and go! It’s him! Go! Run! I’ll hold him off!” Hold him off, without a wand in his hand!... He laughed before casting the curse... “Avada Kedavra!”
He climbed the steps, listening with faint amusement to her attempts to barricade herself in... She had no wand upon her either...

So Lily could not Apparate due to lack of wand.

  • Simple and a good explanation. I had forgotten about Voldemort's recollection in DH!
    – Dason
    Feb 4, 2012 at 2:26
  • Great link to the Wikia! :P I honestly believe that had Lily had her wand with her, she might not have used it to Apparate away. Nov 1, 2014 at 11:12
  • See also scifi.stackexchange.com/q/102813/4918 "Does a wizard need a wand to Apparate?"
    – b_jonas
    Jan 10, 2017 at 12:26

I'm going to say it's because she didn't have her wand. There is some debate as to whether a wand is strictly required, but I think it is. Plus, Slytherincess already covered the "Gryffindors are brave" angle.

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    That is a good explanation. Simple but it explains that. I still don't like the "Gryffindors are brave" angle though because if Lily had the chance to save herself and Harry then she would have taken it. Bravery doesn't mean dying for no reason.
    – Dason
    Feb 4, 2012 at 2:23

Their house was under the Fidelius Charm. I am not sure if the Fidelius Charm itself comes with this additional bonus but almost all occurances seen in the series of the Fidelius Charm also come with the inability to apparate into or out of the protected area. This would prevent Lily from grabbing Harry and apparating out of the house. There is evidence that you are able to apparate within the confines of the protected area so it might have been possible for her to grab Harry then apparate to the edge of the protected area, run away and then apparate to a different location. However, this all happened so quick there was probably no chance to think of such a plan quickly and Voldemort probably would have struck fast enough to prevent such a plan.


It does strike me as a little foolish not to carry your wand with you when you know you're in mortal danger. The main reason for her not to simply apparate away, however, might have been that, like someone above state, Voldemort was too quick. If Lily had tried to grab Harry, he would have finished her off in that moment.


It states in Deathly Hallows when Ron and Harry were prisoners in the cellar of Malfoy Manor, "Ron was now trying to Disapparate without a wand," This shows that this was a foolish act and that it was fruitless.

  • I don't see how this is necessarily proves anything. Ron wasn't a particularly skillful at disapparating even with a wand so he isn't (in my opinion) a good example for what is and isn't possible.
    – Dason
    Nov 13, 2018 at 16:40

Well, Lily is a Gryffindor. It doesn't really seem her style to run and leave loved ones (James) behind. Voldemort gave Lily a choice to live or die ("Step aside, silly girl") and Lily chose to die to protect Harry. Harry was in his cot when Voldemort entered his nursery and it may have been that by the time Lily took him out of his cot, Voldemort would have killed her. But regardless of all that, I keep coming back to the fact that Lily was a Gryffindor and would have never bowed to death.

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    A Gryffindor doesn't die needlessly though. They will stay and fight if the cause is just but it wouldn't be in the spirit of Gryffindor to die needlessly and leave your child with no parents. I'm just wondering if there is a reason why apparation wouldn't even have worked. Actually I think I might have just thought of something...
    – Dason
    Feb 4, 2012 at 2:17
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    I think this may or may not be true, but is NOT the main reason. See my answer Feb 4, 2012 at 2:24
  • James: "Lily, take Harry and go! It’s him! Go! Run! I’ll hold him off--" Lily goes to Harry's room where he is in his cot [crib]. Lily: "Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!" V: "Stand aside you silly girl … stand aside now."L: "Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead--" L: "Not Harry! Please … have mercy … have mercy…" (PA9, PA12). It may not be what you like, but it's in canon. :) Feb 4, 2012 at 4:24
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    Yes I understand Lily wanted to be killed instead of Harry. If there was no alternative then yes this exemplifies a Gryffindor. My question was asking why she wouldn't apparate away with Harry though. There have been good answers for why she didn't do that. So without a means to apparate away your answer is fine - but I don't feel it answered the original question.
    – Dason
    Feb 4, 2012 at 4:49

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