[Voldemort] could hear [Lily] screaming from the upper floor, trapped, but as long as she was sensible she, at least, had nothing to fear ... he climbed the steps, listening with faint amusement to her attempts to barricade herself in ... she had no wand upon her either ... how stupid they were, and how trusting, thinking that their safety lay in friends, that weapons could be discarded even for moments ...
Deathly Hallows - page 281 - Bloomsbury - chapter seventeen, Bathilda's Secret

Harry, in Deathly Hallows, channels Voldemort's recollection of Harry's parents' death during a dream sequence. Voldemort states Lily was without her wand as she hid with Harry in his nursery.

Did I miss something in the text where Lily puts her wand down or is disarmed in some way, or did she really just not have her wand with her?

How did Voldemort know Lily didn't have her wand?

I'd love to see an answer that is within the spirit of canon (the books, JKR interviews, Pottermore, or thoughtful speculation) and consistent with Voldemort's magical abilities and characterization as it is in the books. I'd prefer to avoid wild guesses and ridiculous theories such as:

  • Harry was dreaming, so the dream must be wrong!
  • Just because it wasn't visible in Lily's hand doesn't mean she didn't have her wand!
  • Harry is Voldemort's father!
  • 28
    Wait, Harry isn't Voldemort's father...? Well then what was Gandalf doing on the Death Star during the events of "The Wrath of Khan"?
    – Nerrolken
    Nov 5, 2014 at 18:03
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    just a thought from the movie, (i typically hate anything to do with the movies) but theirs a scene when voldemort comes, james and lily are just in the living room playing with harry, both of them had their wands else where it appeared, james yells at lilly to run and he like phsyically tries to block voldemort from them while lily runs away, how much rowling put into that scene im unsure, but it paints a good picture, their wasnt really time to get her wand if it was say, in the kitchen on the table, while she was fleeing, though running to hide in the nursery seems a poor choice anyway.
    – Himarm
    Nov 5, 2014 at 18:06
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    @Nerrolken -- Gandalf was forcing Rodney McKay to give Grima Wormtongue an awkward shoulder massage. Unfortunately, everyone was assimilated by the Borg, except for Doctor Who, who escaped in the TARDIS (the rock of all rock-paper-scissors space/time vehicles). :P Nov 5, 2014 at 18:07
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    @Slytherincess THAT makes sense. I'd forgotten all that Dune stuff.
    – Nerrolken
    Nov 5, 2014 at 18:08
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    @Nerrolken -- Who's Dune? ;) Nov 5, 2014 at 18:09

1 Answer 1


I think Voldemort was guessing based on what he’d already seen of the house.

I’m assuming that Harry’s dream in this chapter is an accurate account of Voldemort’s thoughts on the night that he killed Harry’s parents. Whether Voldemort’s assessment was accurate might be up for question, but I think he could be reasonably sure that Lily was unarmed.

All the information we need comes from this passage.

It starts as Voldemort approaches the house. He can see into their living room, which is when he sees James cast his wand aside, and Lily pick up Harry:

A door opened and the mother entered, saying words he could not hear, her long dark-red hair falling over her face. Now the father scooped up the son and handed him to the mother. He threw his wand down upon the sofa and stretched, yawning….

Since Lily is holding Harry, it seems plausible to assume that she was unarmed, which Voldemort would have seen. (He may also have seen her wand lying somewhere in this room, but it isn’t mentioned and would be hard to spot without some sort of helpful indicator.)

When he enters the house (through the front door, presumably), James runs out into the hallway:

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….

So James, the defender of the house, didn’t pick up a wand that was feet away. Presumably if Lily’s wand was somewhere in the room, she left hers as well.

The killing of James gives us important information about the layout of the house:

The green light filled the cramped hallway, it lit the pram pushed against the wall, it made the banisters glare like lightning rods, and James Potter fell like a marionette whose strings were cut….

If the banisters are in the hallway, then so are the stairs. This means Voldemort must have glimpsed Lily as she carried Harry upstairs, and seen that she was wandless.

When he gets upstairs, and hears her stacking things against the door, it confirms that she doesn’t have her wand. He’d hear her moving around the room, whereas a witch would use a spell.

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    A very plausible scenario -- +1. My only question would be, How would Voldemort have known Lily didn't have her wand stashed in her pocket? I've noticed that most of the characters in HP carry their wands in their pockets at all times (practically, as often as possible at least). Also, I wanted to say again Congratulations on being the third user to win a gold badge in the Harry Potter tag! I thought it was worth a public mention :D Nov 5, 2014 at 19:06
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    @Slytherincess I would guess that it’s because he heard her trying to barricade herself through non-magical means, or saw her drop her wand in the sitting area, but I agree that it’s unclear. And thanks! Means a lot from our top HP member. :D
    – alexwlchan
    Nov 5, 2014 at 20:45
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    maybe Voldemort knew Lily didn't have the wand in her back pocket because wizards have been known to lose their buttocks in these instances? ;)
    – BP_Phoenix
    Nov 6, 2014 at 9:48
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    given that they had no idea their secret keeper had spilled the beans on them, they assumed they were safe from any harm and had no need of their wands. also, when handling baby Harry, or any baby, who would carry their wand? some health and safety issues right there surely??? LOL
    – BP_Phoenix
    Nov 6, 2014 at 9:49

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