To be honest, I'm still not sure why Voldemort didn't just toss Harry out the window. He was a year old- it would have been super easy to just kill him with his bare hands and then move on with life. That tiny little plot detail could have undone the entire Harry Potter world, but that would have negated the point of the entire series and of course, we wouldn't be aware that that had happened because Harry Potter would never have been written. But before we delve into how the world might be different, we must first answer the question we have already posed:
Why Didn’t Voldemort Just Toss Harry Out the Window?
The biggest thing we must consider is that Voldemort didn't know the curse wouldn't work when he used it. If he had had access to some sort of window into the future (which raises a whole 'nother point, considering the availability of seeing the future, which will be discussed below) he might have seen that the curse would backfire and destroy his body, eventually leading to the whole story arc. If he had seen that the curse would backfire, he might have chosen another way to kill Harry.
What if Voldemort Knew the Curse Wouldn’t Work?
So let’s say that he knew the curse was going to backfire. Just because he knew that would happen doesn’t mean that he knew why it was going to happen. Voldemort didn’t fully understand love, after all, given the circumstances of his conception and birth. I’m sure that he was familiar with the concept of love, and what it entailed. What he was fuzzy on was the power that love imbued people with and the strength of love. After all, it was Lily’s love for Harry that caused the curse to backfire. Voldemort wasn’t stupid, though. He knew that most parents loved their children, and I’m sure that he was aware that Harry’s parents deeply loved him. But it would be a bit of a stretch to assume that the curse backfired because of love.
I mean what a foreign concept! The killing curse had never failed before (in recorded history), so it’s doubtful that anyone had any idea that it was fallible, and even if they did have some idea that it was fallible, they likely didn’t know what could cause it to fail. As a side note, this part of the plot and the world-building is a bit problematic. Rowling never tells us how long magic has been around, but it can be easily assumed from the text that magic has existed for a very long time. I can’t really quantify that, other than that we know magic is archaic and longstanding. So if it’s the case that magic has been around before, it’s likely that the killing curse had been used a substantial amount of times. How could it not have been? The wizarding world has likely seen its fair share of warfare and bloodshed.
It’s hard to imagine that it took that long (again, I can’t quantify how many years here, but a substantial length of time) for anyone to discover that the killing curse could fail and backfire on the wizard who cast it. I find it hard to believe that at some point in history, someone didn’t sacrifice themselves for a loved one and die by the killing curse, only to have the killer try to use the curse again on the loved one and have it rebound. Those were the ingredients, right? Love protects the second (or third, theoretically) person who is about to become a potential victim. As long as someone with a substantial amount of serious, deep love sacrifices themselves first, then the person they sacrificed themselves for should be able to escape the curse.
So my question is: How did this not happen at any point before Harry’s family came along? Sure, the whole of wizarding society has its fair share of miscreants and evildoers and whatnot, but people sacrifice themselves all the time! We saw it several times alone in the current canon. I will grant Rowling a bit of leniency here though (how thoughtful of me!): even if it did happen and had been recorded and the wizarding world was well aware that the killing curse could be rendered useless by the power of love, it had probably not been rendered useless on very many infants before. Harry was probably one of the youngest to have been saved by this caveat.
So let’s go back to Voldemort finding out somehow that the curse would backfire, but not understanding why. Let’s go back to assuming that Harry would have been the first one to survive. In this instance, Voldemort might have been more careful the night that he approached the Potters’ home. He might have been more cautious about using the killing curse in general. If it was to backfire on Harry, who’s to say that it wouldn’t backfire on Lily or James first? Of course, if he had used divination, or required someone to use it for him (or let’s say he had found a slightly more helpful prophecy than the one he decided to base his actions on) he would have seen that it would only have backfired on Harry. He might have then felt safe to use it on Lily and James and use another means to dispose of Harry.
Why Wouldn’t a Time Turner Have Been Involved?
Voldemort probably wouldn’t have felt safe in making any assumptions about what would cause the curse to backfire. A time-turner would have been an impossible addition to this plot line. If he had decided to use the killing curse anyway and it had backfired, he wouldn’t have been able to use a time turner, and the bedroom of a baby is no place to try to stop yourself. Voldemort would have been smart enough to not be confused by the sudden presence of himself in Harry’s room (had Voldemort somehow been able to use a time-turner) but it could have become messy very quickly and the whole time-travel thing that involves stopping yourself from destroying yourself is messy and I really don’t think we can consider it, since again, he wouldn’t have been in any kind of shape to turn back time.
Did it Have to be The Killing Curse?
So we’ve ruled out a time-turner in this situation. Are there any other curses or means whereby Voldemort could have killed a baby? I would err on the side of no. I don’t believe that any other killing curse exists- at least not one that kills someone immediately. If that were the case, it surely would have been included in the canon, or at least in the big three curses that Harry and the others learn in Defense Against the Dark Arts. There were probably other magical means that Voldemort could have killed infant Harry, but at that point they probably would have all been messy or rather time consuming. Voldemort wouldn’t have been as pressed for time at that point (because the rebounding of the curse is what destroyed the Potters’ home and alerted everyone else) but he might have felt hassled by slower methods.
Why Didn’t Voldemort Have Someone Else Kill Harry?
A better solution would have been for one his Deatheaters to kill Harry instead. Rowling’s canon says nothing about whether or not that might work. Technically, you might be able to assume that Lily’s protection would protect Harry regardless of who cast the killing curse, but there’s also an equally safe assumption in saying that it would have only protected Harry from Voldemort. Thus, a Deatheater could have been responsible for Harry’s death. Voldemort liked to do the killing himself, but if he was facing a certain demise either way, I think he still might have been willing to have someone else do it for him.
Another possible scenario would have Lily dying last, and Harry dying in the middle. But even that raises thorny questions. If Lily had died last, her love would not have been able to protect Harry, since she was required to sacrifice herself first to save him. But then why didn’t James love save Lily or Harry, even? James surely loved Lily and Harry. The movie (no, it’s not canon-sue me!) shows James sending Lily off to go protect Harry, while he faces Voldemort first. This isn’t a crazy assumption to make overall, though. I’m sure that even in the book, he was likely trying to protect his wife and son before he was killed first. In that vein of thought, his love should have been deep enough to be able to save Lily. If he had saved Lily, then Voldemort would have tried to kill her next and the curse would have rebounded off of Lily (via James’ protection) and destroyed Voldemort, leaving Lily and Harry to live out the rest of their lives.
Why Didn’t James’ Death Protect His Family?
So the question here is: why didn’t James’ death protect his family? Was his love not as deep for Lily as Lily’s was for Harry? Is there some sort of subtle commentary about the love that a mother has for her child being paramount to spousal love? Perhaps there is, because as we know, James’ death did nothing to save his wife. There’s simply not enough context in the canon to know for sure why James’ death did not save Lily and then Harry.
Heidi Book suggested that it was perhaps the result of Lily having a choice, and James not having that same choice. She references Voldemort telling Lily to stand aside, telling her that she didn’t need to die too. So we know that James needed to die, and Lily didn’t. James didn’t have the choice to die, even if he did die protecting his wife and son. Because Lily could have lived otherwise, but still made the ultimate sacrifice for her son, she was able to protect Harry in a way that James couldn’t. This is actually a really plausible theory that I didn’t think about when I originally wrote this, but I’ve added it in now, because it adds a dimension that wasn’t there before.
So if we go off of the working assumption that James’ death would do nothing to protect the rest of his family, we could then have Voldemort killing Harry second and Lily third. It would be fairly easy to incapacitate Lily without killing her and wrest the baby from her arms. We don’t know if Lily used magic against Voldemort to try and protect Harry in her last moments, but even if she did, Voldemort was a seriously powerful wizard and Lily was no match for him, magically or physically. With Lily unconscious or magically bound or something, it would have been a moment’s work to use the killing curse on Harry. At that age, Harry had no deep emotional bond with his mother. Frankly speaking, no one year old is capable of any of that kind of stuff, so there’s no way that we can even begin to assume that he could sacrifice himself in order to protect his mother. Harry would have died instantly, and then it would have been a breeze for Voldemort to turn his wand on Lily and finish the job.
This altered scenario assumes that Voldemort would have understood why the killing curse would end up backfiring on him, but if we’re still under the assumption that Harry would have been the first to survive the curse, then it’s unlikely that even Voldemort could have figured out that it was the protection Lily’s love that would be the cause. Dumbledore clearly was able to figure that out later, but Dumbledore was one of the wisest wizards to ever live and we have no idea how he figured it out, or how long it might have taken it him. So there’s no indication at all that Voldemort would have been able to understand.
Going back to somewhere near the beginning, we can start to put some of the pieces together in a more clarifying and illuminating manner. We know that Voldemort couldn’t just throw Harry out a window or dispose of him non-magically because he didn’t know the curse was going to backfire. If we operate under the assumption that he knew it would backfire, we could potentially assume a few scenarios that would leave Harry dead and Voldemort alive. But those get thorny and raise some questions that only Rowling could answer, such as:
Why Didn’t Voldemort Use Divination to See that the Curse Would Fail?
Why didn’t Voldemort use divination to see into the future and ascertain whether or not he would be successful? Had he done that, he would have been able to avoid the whole shebang that followed. He was already operating almost completely under the contents of Trelawney’s prophecy, so clearly he believed in divination quite deeply. It’s a little strange that he would so deeply believe in divination when he was such a powerful and intelligent wizard already. Contrast that belief with Hermione’s derision of the art, and it’s an interesting comparison. But that’s beside the point. If Voldemort believed in the art of divination and prophecy (and he clearly did, especially if he was taking a prophecy from Trelawney (of all the seers!) so seriously!), surely he would have consulted some other seer for further information? It’s a bit odd to me that he wouldn’t have. But then again, Voldemort was arrogant and had a sizeable ego.
He may have assumed that this was a no-brainer of an operation and would not take him long. We can see evidence of his ego in the fact that he wanted to get an entire matching set and take out the whole family. He could have just marched in there and killed Harry directly (he would have died if his mother had not died before him) and solved the whole thing, but left Lily and James alive (or even killed them second and third), but instead he decided to kill from the top down, collecting pieces, if you will. So we could potentially excuse away his lack of preparation in consulting an oracle or further prophecy by using his ego. I don’t think that’s a particular strong excuse, but it makes sense and it would account for it. And frankly, there aren’t too many other explanations that would outline why he wouldn’t have consulted anyone else to look into the future. It seems to be a readily available enough resource (albeit more of an art than a science, really), but maybe Voldemort believed so readily in prophecy that he figured it was set in stone and again, pretty simple to take care of.
But all of this is ignoring the simple fact that Voldemort had already been splitting his soul at this point. He wanted to use Harry’s death to make his final horcrux. (Side note: some have said that Voldemort intended to turn Harry into a horcrux, but how could this be true? Like Nagini the horcrux, Harry would have continued to live, and it would be patently unsafe to keep a sliver of your soul in the living body of the person prophesied to destroy you. To create a horcrux required taking a life, and Harry’s life was going to be the price of Voldemort’s final horcrux.) After all, what better way to remember you cinching up the game by destroying the competition than by turning a baby’s death into a soul-carrying memento, right? It’s appropriately dark for Voldemort. And as we know, it takes some seriously dark magic to split your soul and create a horcrux. And what curse constitutes darker magic than Avada Kedavra? Voldemort’s pride and ego got in the way here again. He was so intent on creating a horcrux out of Harry’s death that he was dead-set (no pun intended) on using the killing curse against him.
Was Harry a Horcrux or Not?
I did some more reading on horcruxes here, and discovered that Harry is actually not technically a horcrux, even accidentally made, as I suggest below, and as Rowling says. There’s actually quite the controversy on whether or not Harry was actually a horcrux. Rowling and her canon say that he is, but fans and the Harry Potter Wikia ardently insist that he is not a complete horcrux. I address both possibilities in various parts of this. The following is the argument against Harry being a horcrux: When Voldemort’s curse rebounded, it caused what remained of his soul to split, with one fragment dying with his body, while the other fragment rebounding and inserting itself into the closest living thing: Harry. So because this was not intentional and Harry was not actually killed, he could not technically be his own horcrux, in a manner of speaking. Harry just held onto Voldemort’s soul fragment until his final encounter with Voldemort. This explains a lot, actually, as we later learn that the soul fragments within Horcruxes have some magical and even physical powers. Recall Slytherin’s locket trying to strangle Harry and causing the wearer to be moody and have dark thoughts. If Harry had been a horcrux, he would not have a particularly pleasant (or normal) person to be around and even though he was very angsty in some of the books (as well as Ron), he did not have that effect on everyone, and therefore we know that a seventh horcrux was never made.
In the end we do know that the soul fragment in Harry didn’t really affect his personality. It did have physical effects on him, allowing him to connect with whatever remained of Voldemort via dreams and intense pain when he was near Voldemort, but the fragment clearly wasn’t able to interact with Harry’s soul. This raises a completely unrelated question, but would it have been possible for the other horcruxes to somehow connect, communicate or pull on the soul fragment within Harry? I mean, Harry wore a horcrux for several months on his body. Presumably (barring our incomplete knowledge as to the residence of the soul), the soul fragment in the locket was pretty close to the soul fragment within Harry. With the power that the fragments had, it’s a little surprising to realize that they didn’t have any interaction or pull on each other. The soul fragment within Harry was not strong, but the one in the locket was strong. And yet, it still tried to strangle Harry. I wonder if the horcruxes were able to communicate with each other, because apparently a horcrux soul fragment could not communicate with a non-horcrux soul fragment. I don’t think that the soul fragment in the locket had any clue that a soul fragment resided within Harry.
This realization that Voldemort really wouldn’t have used any other means than the killing curse to kill Harry because he wanted to use his death to make his last horcrux almost completely undoes pretty much all of the theorizing up above (which was still important, despite being negated). Voldemort would never have used a deatheater or any other means to kill Harry. If the curse had worked, or Harry had died by other means, then Voldemort would be missing out on his prize horcrux. It gets thornier again if we assume that Voldemort knew the curse would backfire. If he had known the curse would backfire, but was still set on making Harry’s death the last of his horcruxes, he might have taken Harry hostage while he attempted to figure out why the curse would backfire. And overall, the prophecy said that one must kill the other, so Voldemort still would never have entrusted the killing of Harry to anyone but himself. As far as we know, he came to the Potters’ home that night completely alone. The canon does not suggest that anyone came with him.
At this point, we can’t assume if Lily’s protection was ever going to wear off or not. I think we could perhaps say that her protection was lifelong, so Voldemort would never have been able to use Harry’s death to create his final horcrux. At some point, he might have grown bored of Harry and disposed of him, or he might have turned Harry into a tool. Harry was good, yes, but under Voldemort’s tutelage, he might have grown just as dark and twisted as Voldemort. But then, would Voldemort have taken Harry in to train him? What incentive would he have had to try and turn the boy who supposedly would destroy him into a trained, dark wizard? That would never have ended well for Voldemort. It’s far more likely in this instance, that with the proposed assumptions dawning on Voldemort, that he would have just sucked it up and considered other ways to kill Harry in a normal fashion – or at least in a fashion that didn’t require the killing curse.
If there was some other way to kill Harry without using the killing curse that simply took longer or was messier, Voldemort probably could have easily taken infant harry and then killed him via those other methods on his own time. But then again, Lily’s protection might also have extended to other methods of magical killing that were dark, but maybe not as dark as avada kedavra. The real hole in the plot here is in not understanding the full capabilities of Lily’s gifted protection. If we understood its extent and abilities, it would be far easier to theorize Voldemort’s various potential actions in different scenarios. And if I wanted to add another major hole, I would also add our lack of understanding about the history of dark magic. Considering how the plot revolves around the use of dark magic, it’s really somewhat surprising that we know so little of its history, usages and limits. Adding those two together (so really, the understanding of dark magic, and the understanding of defense against dark magic) would allow us so much more insight in Voldemort’s mind the night that he killed Harry’s parents.
Even if it didn’t have to be dark magic that killed Harry, Voldemort was still limited in the magical ways that he could have done it. For instance, it was suggested on Reddit that Voldemort could have just conjured up a large rock and dropped it on Harry, but we are reminded of Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration. Hermione notes five exceptions to the law, but we only know that one of them is food, meaning that any wizard can conjure up food without having to know where it exists somewhere in the world. Rocks and other related sundries might have been an exception, but if they weren’t, Voldemort would have had to go rock hunting, pick out the perfect rock to crush a one year old, and then transfigure it. It’s certainly not an elegant way to kill your infant enemy, and if Voldemort was one thing, it was elegant.
We also mustn’t forget the true depth of Voldemort’s belief in magic. Magic was more important, more powerful to him than anything any Muggle could have ever created. Dark magic was even more powerful. With that kind of mindset, it’s easy to see why he was so sure that the curse wouldn’t backfire. All of this explains exactly why Voldemort couldn’t/wouldn’t kill Harry by any other means than the killing curse (a rock is about as non-magical as you get). Assuming he knew that the curse would backfire still doesn’t open very many other avenues for killing Harry, given Voldemort’s personality and propensities.
So we know (and can pretty safely assume) that there wasn’t really any way for Voldemort to kill Harry. So if Harry was going to die that night, it would have been by some other cause. With all of that out of the way, we can move slightly out of the realm of magic and into the realm of actual, real-life possibilities. The house had just been blown up since the curse had backfired (as you said) and we know that the house was reduced to rubble. Hagrid references pulling Harry from the remains of the home. We know that it wasn’t just a simple hole in the roof or a blown out window, either, since Harry goes back to the remains of the home he lived in for only a year. Voldemort’s physical death caused some serious damage.
In all reality, there’s not really any particular reason that Harry should have survived the destruction of his home. He’d just been branded with what was likely a very painful, fresh scar on his forehead. It’s hard to believe that he didn’t suffer any other immediate, physical effects from the curse backfiring, but Lily’s protection was strong, and the canon doesn’t mention any other effects, so we must assume that he escaped the curse mostly unscathed. However, it’s unlikely that Lily’s protection extended to physical, non-magical infrastructure, but again, this is where our limited knowledge of the extent of Lily’s defense leaves us high and dry.
I’m inclined to say that Harry probably should have died in the explosion or in the collapse of the house, but clearly he somehow survived. Whether this was just a happy miracle, or by magical intervention, we’ll never know.
More on Whether Harry was an Actual Horcrux:
However, at this point, Yayfulness pointed out that Harry wouldn’t have died in the roof collapse almost assuredly. At this point, he would have been turned into the accidental horcrux, and as we know, horcruxes can’t be destroyed easily at all. A roof caving in would absolutely not kill Harry in his new status as a horcrux. So technically, Harry’s pretty indestructible at this point- there’s really only a few very slim chances that he would have died, and any death in the aftermath of Voldemort’s explosion would have been pretty dang impossible. My retroactive research after this conversation with Yay reminded me that Harry wasn’t actually a horcrux, accidental or not, so he actually wasn’t as immortal as we think. Really, it was just pretty impossible for Voldemort to kill Harry, but it was completely possible for Harry to die by natural, non-magical/non-Voldemort causes.
But then again, why didn’t Harry die when he was stabbed by the basilisk? Surely that would have killed him, since the basilisk fang destroyed Hufflepuff’s cup and Riddle’s diary? I think we could probably safely explain that one away via the Pheonix and his tears. It’s not a super strong argument and it certainly has holes, but it’s the only way we can explain it within the canon, unless Lily’s protection was still in effect at that time. I decided to do some additional research on this and found that Rowling herself had commented on this question:
“I have been asked that a lot. Harry was exceptionally fortunate in that he had Fawkes. So before he could be destroyed without repair, which is what is necessary to destroy a horcrux, he was mended. However, I made sure that Fawkes wasn't around the second time a Horcrux got stabbed by a basilisk fang, so the poison did its work and it was irreparable within a short period of time.... I established early in the book, Hermione says that you destroy a Horcrux by using something so powerful that there's no remedy. But she does say there is a remedy for basilisk poison but of course it has to be administered immediately and when they stab the cup later - boy I'm really blowing this for anyone who hasn't finished the book - there's Fawkes, is my answer. And thank you for giving me a chance to say that because people have argued that quite a lot.”
So there we go, Fawkes is the answer and that’s why the basilisk didn’t kill Harry, and that’s why Harry is, essentially, immortal, provided he IS actually a horcrux. Although when we look at the other horcruxes that were destroyed by the basilisk fang (the diary and Hufflepuff’s cup) we note that they were destroyed almost immediately when pierced by the fang. Harry wasn’t destroyed immediately, and there was definitely some time (the space of a few seconds to a minute or more) as Fawke’s descended to Harry. If he had been a horcrux, shouldn’t he have been immediately destroyed when the fang pierced his blood stream? Perhaps it takes longer for basilisk venom to destroy a horcrux in a living thing. But either way, Rowling’s quote suggests that she intended for Harry to be a horcrux, not just a vessel for Voldemort’s soul fragment.
Horcrux or not, we can all agree that a piece of Voldemort’s soul was within Harry.
Okay, Almost Time for the Character What-If’s:
Despite the fact that the roof caving in would NOT have killed Harry, we’ll go ahead and pretend that it does. We’ll completely throw away the accidental horcrux making and say that that didn’t happen and that Harry died, and the piece of Voldemort’s soul died.
Lily’s protection apparently only protects in the case of magical injury and Harry does end up dying that night. So what happens, you ask? How does the world of everyone else change in the aftermath? The biggest question here is:
Is Voldemort Actually Defeated if Harry Wasn’t a Horcrux?
I originally assumed that Voldemort was defeated when Harry died (because if Harry wasn’t a horcrux, then Voldemort only had six fragments left), but then Zed pointed out that that was a bit of a hasty assumption. Technically, one soul fragment would be enough to keep a wizard alive in his unfavorable, incorporeal state, as proven by the fact that the very few magical folk who had made a horcrux had only made one. So if Voldemort had been blown up that night, he still technically would have been able to be restored by Wormtail or anyone else who was equally dedicated. I’ll admit that it’s very likely that Voldemort would have been restore-able. Seven is the most powerful wizarding number, and with only six, it’s likely that Voldemort would not be as powerful as he might have been with seven fragments, but he could still come back to some semblance of his powers.
Is Voldemort Actually Defeated if Harry Was a Horcrux?
The answer here is probably no. If Harry was a Horcrux and did manage to die that night somehow (we know that that’s highly unlikely) in a roof collapse involving magical fire or a basilisk fang, Voldemort would be weaker, but also again still restore-able. So that brings me to my next and final question which is the assumption I base all of the following character stories on:
Is Voldemort Actually Defeated if Harry died?
Regardless of whether he was a horcrux or not, I choose to make the assumption that yes, Voldemort is defeated. His Death Eaters were aware of the prophecy and knew that one must kill the other. They didn’t know about the horcruxes, though. Very, very few were aware those existed. Without that knowledge and with the understanding that both Harry and Voldemort had perished (why would they ever believe that Voldemort had survived?), the Death Eaters wouldn’t be as committed to Voldemort, for obvious reasons. If you’ve believed that your leader had just died, but his nemesis had lived you would likely go after his nemesis and try to revive your leader. But if both leader and nemesis die, revenge has very little point and the prophecy appears to have been fulfilled. The Death Eaters would not be likely to stick around to try and restore Voldemort, and for that reason, I assume that Voldemort is actually defeated if Harry dies.
I could, of course, assume that Voldemort isn’t defeated when Harry dies, but that would nearly double the length of the character follow-ups below and this answer is already horrendously long. I’ll just sum up very quickly what would happen overall: Neville would end up being Voldemort’s next target (just to cover the bases), Dumbledore would have an epic battle with Voldemort, and Hermione and Ron would have nothing to do with the fighting.
Okay, Time for Character Stories:
Of course, this is all purely conjecture, but then again, this whole thing has just been a load of conjecture, assumptions and canon-based discussion. Taking Harry completely out of the equation changes the world entirely, and what happens in the world. Buckle your seatbelts, because this question is only about to get longer as I dissect what might have potentially happened to the rest of the characters (provided the assumption that Voldemort never regains his powers and returns):
Let’s start with Ron, since he was Harry’s first real friend. His life would have been arguably very, very different. He first met Harry at Hogwarts, after they had been sorted into Gryffindor. Up until this point, his life would have been relatively unchanged with or without Harry’s presence. Voldemort would still have been destroyed. Technically, he would have been off living his less-than-human self, but without his seventh horcrux in Harry (Harry would have died, and with him, the accidental horcrux that he created in Harry would have died) he wouldn’t have been able to reconstruct himself completely and return to his old powers.
So at this point, Voldemort is effectively defeated, with Harry being the sacrifice for this defeat. The rest of the wizarding world probably doesn’t know that Harry’s death was caused by the house caving in. They might have assumed that somehow Harry’s death also caused Voldemort to die, at which point, the prophecy may have resurfaced and Harry’s death would have been explained away as a necessary sacrifice for Voldemort’s demise. Infant Harry would have been lauded by the wizarding world and venerated as the infant who saved everyone by dying. Hooray! Cheery thoughts!
However sad this might be, to Ron’s family, this was a welcome boon. Molly had a bunch of young boys at the time of Harry’s death, and was probably pregnant with Ginny. She was likely saddened by the sacrifice made by an infant she never had anything to do with, but now it meant there was hope for her children to grow up in a safe environment. Ron probably would have grown up hearing the story once or twice, but not really dwelling on it. Since Harry wasn’t alive, he and his story wouldn’t have been the objects of such fascination and reverence. Harry’s story would probably not have had a huge effect on Ron growing up.
A fun side story might entertain the thought of Molly naming her newborn daughter Harriet, or something similar in remembrance of the infant that died. In fact, if Harry had died, it’s very likely that many young wizarding children born after his death would have received the same name, or some derivative.
The story for Ron really starts changing when he gets to Hogwarts. Without Harry to be his friend, he would have likely been good friends with Seamus and Dean. He probably still wouldn’t have had a lot of patience for Neville, but even Neville would have been drastically different. I won’t give Neville his own section, but after the demise of Voldemort and death of Harry, it’s unlikely that his parents would have been targeted by the Deatheaters (his parents were tortured around 1982), who would have probably died out (since Voldemort would never again regain his old powers, Wormtail would have never worked to help Voldemort, and the rest of the Deatheaters would have gone back to their old lives, or gone to Azkaban) and Neville would have grown up in a relatively stable household, despite his family’s fears that he was a squib.
So Neville probably wouldn’t have been as jittery and fearful and self-conscious as he was, and Ron would have gotten along just fine with him. It’s not too difficult for four similar young men to get along fine, especially without Harry to create some divisiveness in the group (like it or not, Harry was divisive without every really meaning to be).
Ron would have never been a stellar student, still, but he might have been more relaxed and easy-going. He would have been plagued by less self-doubt. As good as a friend to Ron as Harry was, Harry overshadowed Ron and Ron had already been overshadowed his whole life by his older brothers. Without Harry as his best friend, Ron’s talents and personality would have shone through a little more and he might have been less prone to his fits of moodiness.
I think he still would have tried out for the Quidditch team, and I think he also would have made the team. He wasn’t a fabulous player, but he wasn’t awful. Without Harry causing his self-doubt and fears he would have been a stronger player and without Harry’s obvious skills on the team outweighing his own, he would have ranked a little bit higher. But who would have been seeker if Harry was not there to fill that role? It’s hard to say. Ginny (or Harriet, if we go with that little plot addition) would have filled that role in her second year, most likely, but until then, for those first two years without Harry or Ginny, an older student would have had to fill the role and Gryffindor would probably not have been nearly as successful in Quidditch. Similarly, they probably wouldn’t have won House Cup, without Harry and his escapades causing Dumbledore to top the scales heavily in Gryffindor’s favor (side note: seriously, why did no one ever call Dumbledore out publicly on his obvious favoritism?)
Ron wouldn’t have had Scabbers, either. His family would still have been poor, but Ron might have been sent to school with a toad, but in all likelihood, he would have shared an owl with his brothers. Scabbers would not have been the beloved family pet passed down through the brothers, and Hermione’s cat would then not eat Scabbers, causing less contention between Hermione and Ron (not that any contention between them would really exist in a Harry-less future)
All in all, I think Ron would have had a fairly average, boring life. I don’t think he would have married Hermione, though. By Rowling’s own admission, Hermione and Ron should never have been gotten together in the first place. It’s an unnatural pairing, but even if Harry was absent (since Harry and Hermione would have been the obvious pairing), it’s doubtful that she would have married Ron. Ron took a while to warm up to Hermione, and Hermione didn’t make friends easily. Ron would have continued to see her as stuck-up and insufferable and Hermione wouldn’t have been so fondly accepted into Gryffindor as she would have been with Harry.
Ron might have gone on to marry Lavender Brown, but given how annoying Lavender was and how messy that relationship was, I still don’t really see that happening as much. He may not have even gotten into a relationship with Lavender Brown. He might have gone after some other girl in another House. I think if Harry died, Ron’s love life would be drastically different and he would marry someone we were never introduced to in the books. Ron might have graduated and gone on to work at the Ministry of Magic like his father, in a quiet department that was more clerical than anything else.
Basically, I predict a pretty normal, non-spectacular life for Ron that is very similar to his father’s. I don’t predict quite the same level of poverty or as many children, but Ron is by no means rich. He merely lives a quiet, comfortable lifestyle with his wife a few children.
While Ron’s life is drastically altered, I actually see Hermione’s personality playing out pretty much the same way that it did in the book. Of course Hermione didn’t grow up knowing about Harry Potter or Voldemort, or The Boy Who Died, but she would have read about it before school started and would have been familiar with the story. However, it would have likely just been another story in a long litany of magical histories that she would have read and it probably wouldn’t have had the same effect on her that it would have on Ron’s family and the families of other wizards.
So Hermione goes to school, and gets sorted into Gryffindor. Harry’s presence had had no effect on Hermione up until and past her sorting, so I’m fairly confident that the Sorting Hat would still place her in Gryffindor. However, the troll would have never been let in (on account of Quirrell not being possessed by Voldemort) and Hermione would never have really had a reason to become friends with Ron. The two would have likely avoided each other and Hermione probably would have continued to be fairly snooty until her later years as she grew up and matured. I don’t imagine that Hermione would have had too many friends outside of the females in her year who were in Gryffindor, and even then they might have been irritated with Hermione.
I think Hermione would have continued to be far too eager to prove herself, and to engage in learning. I think she would still have been granted a time turner in her third year, but without Sirius Black on the loose (more on him below), she would have continued to have been entrusted with the time turner.
There’s two ways this could go from here: Hermione could either be completely overwhelmed by her ambition, burn out and continue quietly and slightly less manically through her years at Hogwarts after a nasty mental breakdown, or she could end up succeeding wildly and becoming one of Hogwarts’ top graduates. I think it might be a mix of both. I think with the time turner in play she would continue unchecked with her ambition until the professors would start noticing how run-down and ragged she was. Her lack of a social life would give her more time to do homework, but eventually even she would be overcome. Her professors would insist on moderation with the time turner, but Hermione would still be wildly ahead of the rest of her peers.
As a result of Harry not being around, Hermione would miss out on a lot of valuable life experiences that helped shape her into the brave, humbler, determined woman she became. She would, of course, miss out on the troll. She would not be turned into a cat, or petrified. She would not have to use obliviate on her parents, or go on the lamb. She would finish her education, and get a high-paying, top job at the Ministry of Magic. After a few years of that job, she would be invited back to Hogwarts to teach, since she was the best in her class and was one of the best students ever seen, behind Dumbledore and Voldemort, of course.
To be completely honest with you, I see Hermione growing older and more similar to Minerva, perhaps even taking over her post as transfiguration professor. Eventually, Hermione would become Headmistress of Hogwarts. She would be wiser and capable of that post at that age, even without the experiences that shaped her. However, I see equal likelihoods of Hermione being single. That’s not to say that she wouldn’t have love interests, or even get married, but I just don’t see Hermione as really settling down with anyone. She’s very ambitious and high-powered and love was never high on her list. With such successes, she definitely doesn’t marry Ron, and there aren’t too many other people that she could or would marry. I vaguely entertained the notion of her marrying Percy, but they’re both too high-strung and high-powered. Percy and Hermione would be constant competition, but Hermione would pull ahead. Percy was too peevish to go too far. Hermione knew how to charm and work with adults.
I could potentially see Hermione having a daughter similar to herself, but with personality differences enough to cause some disharmony and issues, but beyond that, I don’t see Hermione having any other children. Her associations with Ron and Harry softened her, if you will.
Hermione might have still had her flirtations with Viktor Krum during her fourth year, but even though the book is a bit misleading in accidentally convincing you that they are much older, Hermione is still only fourteen and Krum is much older and much more famous than she. He would be fascinated with her and she with him, but I don’t see that romance lasting any longer than Hermione’s graduation from Hogwarts. Viktor was simply not smart and snappy enough for her. He was no idiot, despite some of his portrayals in the book, but Hermione needed more personality than he had to offer.
Also, Hermione would likely never have any run-ins with House Elves and would therefore not create SPEW. She would not have any run-ins with centaurs, either, since Dolores Umbridge would have had no reason to be posted at Hogwarts.
Hermione’s daughter grows up pretty much at Hogwarts and while she excels in school, she wants to be an auror and have a more exciting life than the academic life of her mother. She rebels, leaves school without graduating and gets pregnant young. Hermione turns her anguish into books and becomes a very prolific writer, revolutionizing the transfiguration texts and inventing several major spells that she is well known for. Out of Harry’s would-be friends, she is the only one that manages to really make a name for herself long term.
Draco’s life without Harry in it is also interesting to consider. His father would have likely continued a seedy underground life, but his heydays would have been over. Lucky to have escaped arrest, Lucius and his family would remain fairly wealthy, and probably involved in some shadier deals in Knockturn Alley. Draco might have been slightly less bitter and angry, however.
With Harry’s death and Voldemort’s downfall, the Malfoy’s wouldn’t have their scapegoat anymore. There was no object to hate for the downfall of their leader and while Draco would have grown up hating the Potters and Harry in particular, he wouldn’t have hated everyone else quite as much. I still think that he would have been a vindictive, mean boy, but not to the extent that he was in the books.
He would have eventually grown up and grown out of it, marrying some blonde Slytherin (definitely not Pansy) and having one or two aristocratic children. His father’s wealth and his own status would have assured him a job upon graduation and he would have been able to live comfortably, especially since they would still have Dobby in their possession. His life would be drastically changed, of course, but in positive ways. His life would have been far more stable, even if it was dark. He also would have had no reason to hate Ron or Hermione and he probably would have been only vaguely familiar with who they were. He would not have resorted to his darker tactics in the later books.
Draco is eventually arrested for fraud and sentenced to two years in a low-security wizarding prison. His wife leaves him during that time, but his two children are adults by then and are very like their father. They stand by him and Draco eventually sets up shop in Knockturn Alley, doing little more than selling the kinds of things his family used to own.
Ah, Ginny. What would happen to her without Harry in her life? Like Ron, I think that Ginny would have had a fairly mundane life. She would have done well in school and also been one of Gryffindor’s better Quidditch players, playing alongside her brothers for a few years. For the most part, however, I think Ginny would be unremarkable.
She wouldn’t have been as shy and insecure her first year because Harry wasn’t there to make her nervous. She wouldn’t have had a crush on him, and resorted to spilling her feelings into Riddle’s diary. And Riddle’s diary wouldn’t have even made it to her in the first place! It’s hard to say what would happen to Voldemort’s horcruxes, but I think that even if his loyal followers did make an effort to collect them, that they would eventually hit a dead-end and be unable to help Voldemort. So Ginny would never have been brought into the Chamber of Secrets, and she would not have been traumatized or controlled by Voldemort at any point in time.
Ginny would eventually grow to be more secure (if she was still insecure and shy in the first place) and would have been a perfectly likable, productive member of Gryffindor. I could easily see her continuing to date and eventually marrying Dean, especially since Dean would have likely been one of Ron’s good friends. It’s a pretty natural assumption for me, actually. Dean and Ginny had a fairly decent relationship, and without Harry distracting her she would have happily settled into life with Dean.
I think Ginny might have worked a bit- she might have still played professional Quidditch for a little bit, but as a lower-ranked player and eventually I think Ginny would retire to be a home-maker, like her own mother. Without Harry and all of the ambitions and allure and fame that came with him, she wouldn’t really have any reason to be unhappy with a life at home. She and Dean would have three or so kids and life would be just fine and dandy for her. I could also see Ginny returning to Hogwarts to teach as she was also pretty good with her wand.
She and Dean eventually divorce when their youngest is about thirteen and Ginny moves to Scotland where she raises her children and teaches at Hogwarts. Dean goes off and does who knows what. He wasn’t important enough as a character for me to want to follow. He just replaced Harry in Ginny’s life.
Hagrid would have continued to get himself into trouble, I’m sure, but not to the extent that he did when Harry was around. Hagrid would have still been expelled from Hogwarts, and still living on the property, but the night that Harry died he would have shown up to the rubble of the house on Sirius’ motorbike and brought back Harry’s body to Dumbledore with great sadness.
I think it’s easy to assume that Hagrid would have been greatly saddened by this. He’s really a very soft-hearted man, and holding the body of a crushed infant would be so, so painful to him. He would be relieved that Voldemort was gone, but I think he would always secretly protest the cost of getting rid of Voldemort. He would never be fully comfortable with venerating Harry for the sacrifice he made unknowingly.
Hagrid would still be very trusted by Dumbledore, but he would never be a center fixture at Hogwarts. He would go on tending his pumpkins, taking food to Aragog and generally getting into minor scrapes and troubles with his love of dangerous creatures. He would eventually be entrusted the Care of Magical Creatures class, but without Draco’s vindictiveness, he would not get into as much trouble and the class would be a decent one.
Furthermore, I think Hagrid would be kind of lonely. He didn’t have very many friends, especially among the students, and without Harry I think that both Hermione and Ron would never really get to know Hagrid or have anything to do with him. I think when Madame Maxime comes along in the fourth book that he would strike up a slightly longer romance with her that continues off and on. However, I don’t think that Hagrid ever marries or has any children.
Nor does Hagrid ever visit the giants, as Dumbledore later has him do. I think all-in-all Hagrid fares alright. He’s lonely, but he doesn’t realize how lonely he is, because he never had friendships to compare his loneliness with. Also, he’s still always deeply saddened over the night that he pulled Harry’s body from the wreckage and carried it to Dumbledore. He’ll never forget the tiny package, which he carefully and respectfully wrapped in his coat. He froze the entire motorbike ride back to Dumbledore, but to Hagrid and his sense of love and duty, no sacrifice was too small to make for The Boy Who Died.
It’s pretty easy to try and figure out what Sirius Black would be doing if Harry had died. He would most likely still be alive, but would he still be in Azkaban? The books never say how long Sirius was sentenced to Azkaban for, so it could have been a life sentence. A life sentence would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible for Sirius. He recounts that he was kept sane by the knowledge of his innocence, but with such bleak, dark surroundings, how sane could he really be kept, especially over the course of many decades?
Sirius was spurred to escape after seeing a picture of Wormtail in the Daily Prophet, but if Wormtail wasn’t with the Weasley family when they went on vacation (and we have already decided that Wormtail doesn’t make it to the Weasley family) then Sirius may not have been spurred to escape. I think eventually Sirius may have attempted an escape, but he would have been older and more grizzled and his chances of success would have been much lower. I think that while Sirius ends up staying alive, his future is still very grim. After Harry dies, he is now also blamed for the death of a child, and the wizarding world hates him even more. With Wormtail deep in hiding and not likely to come out anytime soon, no one ever suspects any different. There is no one to clear the record, and Sirius remains in Azkaban until he is either released, or he dies.
Alternatively, I could see him writing to Dumbledore, pleading for help. I know that Dumbledore knows the truth and would believe Sirius, but with the evidence stacked against Sirius, I think that Dumbledore would have great difficulty in getting Sirius out. The wizarding world would also be furious and likely shun Dumbledore, since they would never be so sure of Sirius’ innocence.
I guess I could still see there being a chance of Sirius escaping. Like I said, he would have attempted it later, but he still would have done it. There would be a lot of alarm, but when nothing comes of his escape, everything would die down and Sirius would live a lonely existence, spending most of his time as a large dog, scaring the living daylights out of the remote people he passed, but mostly doing no harm other than to root through some garbage cans or sleep in an opened garage. He would live with immense guilt for the rest of his life, wondering if there was some way that he could have saved any of the Potters.
Ah, the Dursley’s. They probably escape with the most positive changes in their lives (according to their own needs and desires, that is) in a Harry-less world. After they receive word of the Potters’ deaths, Petunia is secretly relieved. She’s a little sad deep down that her sister is dead, but she never knew her nephew, really, and it’s such a relief to her that she doesn’t have to hide and worry about the strangeness in her family ever being revealed. Dudley grows up as spoiled as ever, and without anything to check him, ends up in some trouble with the law.
However, by the time this happens, Vernon has risen in the business world and has made several lucrative deals, including the one that was destroyed by Dobby in book 2. They have a holiday house in Majorca and Petunia is delighted with the fact that she can lord it over all of her neighbors. In fact, they have moved from Privet Drive to a ritzier neighborhood. It’s still essentially the same, but the Dursley’s go on with life. There are no strange owls, and there are certainly no issues with a boy living in a cupboard or in a boarded-up room. Dudley’s trouble with the law is soothed by his father’s money and business connections and Dudley goes on to be a rather large bully of a man.
He marries in his early twenties at the insistence of his parents to the daughter of one of his father’s business connections. Of course Vernon would use his son as a pawn! The two have two equally spoiled girls who Petunia absolutely dotes on. No more is ever heard or said of the Potters’.
Petunia was somewhat worried that the nasty wizards would show up with their bodies and ask the Dursley’s to make funeral arrangements, but Harry and his parents were buried in their village and a very lovely monument was erected to them. Petunia was a little perturbed when she found out about the monument, but she quickly got over it, deciding that being alive and free of the wizarding world was worth a stupid monument to her sister and her no-good family.
At the age of 63, when his two granddaughters are 11 and 13, Vernon has a massive heart attack and drops dead. Petunia loses even more weight and becomes an even nastier crone while Dudley falters a bit. He tries to take over his father’s firm and keep his father’s business contracts going, but Dudley has no business expertise. How could he when his father bought him his university degree?
Dudley’s family returns to their former middle-class lifestyle and his daughters grow up slightly less spoiled, but still fairly rotten.
Snape’s story in a Harry-less world is still pretty sad. He obviously hated James and was still in love with Lily, but he feels a sort of weird ambivalence toward the death of Harry. He was a double agent, as we know, but in the aftermath of the Potters’ death he goes back to the good side and gives up the double agent stuff. Every now and again he dips back into that world to check up on the whereabouts and activities of certain Death Eaters, but for the most part it is obvious that his loyalties lie with Dumbledore.
The death of Lily deeply scarred Snape and he was never the same. James’ death had no effect on him, and the death of the Potter baby was merely another death to him. He had little attachment or concern for the child, and in truth, he was happy to be rid of Voldemort.
But now, his life seems to have very little meaning anymore. Everything he did was to protect Lily, and now Lily is dead, and he doesn’t even have Harry to bully or keep an eye on. He teaches potions at Hogwarts and remains a reclusive teacher. He is not as biting and bitter as he used to be, although that still does come out at times. Instead he is deeply sad and lonely, similar to Hagrid. The death of an infant always has that effect on people, even the most seemingly hardened. Snape doesn’t bully Hermione or Ron in the slightest because they are nothing more than two Gryffindor students to him.
Every now and again he reminisces on what might have happened if Lily had married him- if Harry had been his son. The scenario changes every time. What if James and Harry had died and Lily had lived? What if Harry had been his son and Voldemort had still come after them? Snape’s heart grows heavier over the years as he realized the futility of these thought exercises, but they come to him so easily. In his mind, Harry is a tall man, with the eyes of his mother, but the same dark hair as Snape. He is healthy and intelligent and a Slytherin. Sometimes Snape catches himself smiling crookedly as he imagines himself and his son teasing Lily that they are both Slytherins and she is a Gryffindor. But then he reminds himself that Lily is many years dead, and Harry was never his son, anyway.
He still slightly favors Draco and the other Slytherins, but what we are really discovering in a Harry-less world is that everyone is far less polarized than before. People are calmer and more moderate. The extremes no longer exist and Snape only mildly dislikes everything that isn’t Slytherin. After Dumbledore dies and Minerva retires, Snape becomes headmaster of Hogwarts, but only for a very brief amount of time. The school is fine under his administration, but Snape is old and his heart is not in it. He prefers his dark dungeons and the sad memories he still carries around. He returns to the dungeons and an arithmancy teacher becomes headmaster for a few years before Hermione comes around and takes over.
Snape never marries, and he never has any children. He dies one cold December morning just before Christmas in his icy chambers in the dungeon. The last word he breathes is “Always.” His funeral is respectable, if not frigid, and a new potions teacher is quietly hired, replacing Snape, who never told anyone about how broken his heart really was.
Dumbledore is never quite the same after Harry’s death. He feels responsible, somehow, even though it wasn’t he who betrayed the Potters. He is devastated that an entire family was wiped out at the cost of destroying Voldemort. He feels responsible because he was the one who more or less groomed Riddle and brought him into the wizarding world. He saw what Riddle was becoming, but was unable to stop him in his formative years.
Dumbledore is well aware of what year Harry would be in, and he’s well aware that Harry likely would have been in Gryffindor. He is no longer partial to Gryffindor, but when he looks at the classmates that would have been Harry’s peers and friends; he feels that same deep sadness that Hagrid and Snape feel. None of the three men ever share this feeling, but they all carry it together in a way, each connected to the Potter family.
Dumbledore continues as headmaster at Hogwarts for a few years longer after Harry would have graduated Hogwarts, but his heart is longer in it. He feels has now failed twice with two separate dark wizards and he is old and frail. Even he cannot live forever. He retires to a little house on the seaside where he knits socks and dies quietly. He has a lavish funeral and is remembered well in death; even though his life was never quite as glamorous as it would have been had Harry lived.
Fred and George
Fred doesn’t die, obviously. He continues on with George and the two run a successful magical gag shop for many years. Fred marries Angelina Johnson and they have four children together—all of them boys. George gets married late in life and doesn’t have any children. The two become rather famous and wealthy and enjoy lording it over Ron, who shrugs it off and takes home free things for his own children.
Percy marries Penelope Clearwater and they have two children, both boys who are very much like Percy. Percy and Penelope end up divorcing and Penelope gets full custody of the children. Percy works himself into old age very quickly at a menial desk job at the ministry. He dies in old age very humbled, with neither of his sons by his bedside. His sons both die childless.
Tonks and Lupin
Lupin obviously doesn’t die, and Tonks and Lupin end up having a lovely time together. They have their first son from the books but they also have another son and daughter, all three of which are metamorphmagus. Tonks and Lupin are a fairly happy couple and grow old together and raise their children, all of whom graduate from Hogwarts with good jobs as happy, well-liked and productive members of society. Lupin and Tonks name their second son James Harry Lupin in memory of James and his lost son. They visit the Potter memorial once a year on the eve of Voldemort’s demise to pay their respects.
Wormtail goes off to hide after the explosion in which he frames Sirius and is never seen or heard from again. In reality, he stowed away on a cargo ship from London that was meant to go to Canada. Wormtail was fairly confident that he could live undercover amongst the Canadian witches and wizards. The ship ended up docking in the Hudson harbor and Wormtail sets up a seedy wizarding shop in the American version of Diagon Alley. He marries a plump, spinster witch and the two live out the rest of their days. Wormtail never pays for his crimes and he is never caught.
Minor Characters and Other Details
Luna Lovegood and her father would continue writing their magazine and escape persecution. Luna and Neville would get married and have one very awkward son who is luckily at least a little more down to earth than his mother. Neville and Luna never have anything to do with Harry and their magazine remains relatively unknown and somewhat mocked by the larger wizarding world. Luna does end up discovering that nargles are real, however, and after that the publication has moderate success and their son is not bullied at Hogwarts.
The basalisk would eventually die deep underground in the Chamber of Secrets and that entire side of the school would smell terribly for a few years until the carcass had rotted away, leaving the skeleton to sit in the darkness. It will not be found until the bathrooms are renovated during Hermione’s time as headmistress. Moaning Myrtle will haunt the bathroom less and less after the renovations, especially now that the years have passed and most of the new students don’t really know who Voldemort is. She will develop a brief crush on Neville’s son, but eventually even Myrtle will leave.
In fact, many of the ghosts will begin to leave the castle in the coming years. Peeves is eventually banished by Minerva in a fit of anger and the other ghosts spread out as Hogwarts becomes a more mundane, usual place.
The Triwizard Tournament is held in Ron and Hermione’s fourth year and the same students participate. Cedric wins easily and the tournament is then regularly scheduled. Cedric becomes somewhat famous and becomes a professional Quidditch player. He marries Cho Chang and they have two daughters who become professional models in the wizarding world (they have to have those, right?).
The Ministry undergoes an overhaul in Hermione’s days there and Dolores Umbridge and many other corrupt officials are removed unceremoniously. They aren’t really heard from again. The new Minister of Magic goes on to forge important alliances with many groups of creatures, including the centaurs and giants. All in all, life in a Harry-less world goes on. It is almost a century before another dark wizard arrives on the scene, and in the modern world it is harder for a dark wizard to go unnoticed and he is quickly taken care of.
Fleur Delacour does NOT marry into the Weasley family, because she never met them. She competed respectably in the Triwizard Tournament, flirted a lot with Krum despite his interest in Hermione and then went on with her life. Her sister did not almost die in the second challenge, and Harry was of course not there to save her not-really-dying sister. After Krum finishes his flirtations with Hermione, he turns his attention back to Fleur Delacour. The two get married and have one daughter before they separate amicably for a few years. They continue to get back together off and on and remain in the wizarding spotlight. Krum goes on to great success as a Quidditch player and is known as one of the best. He regularly sends Hermione Christmas and Birthday cards. She never responds to them.
Dobby the house elf remains in the servitude of the Malfoys. Despite Draco’s improvements, Dobby is still mistreated. Hermione eventually passes laws during her time in the Ministry to ease the burdens of the house elves and Dobby is eventually freed on his 68th birthday. He travels to Hermione’s home where he presents himself and begs her to take him on as her house elf. She rejects his offer, but he stays anyway and becomes more live-in help than anything else. Hermione pays him generously and takes him with her everywhere, including back to Hogwarts when she accepts a teaching position. Even without Harry, the two become good friends.
Minerva (whose name I have conveniently left out of this entire missive because I forgot how to spell it and I’m too lazy to look it up) continues to teach at Hogwarts until Dumbledore retires. She takes his place and is a perfectly fine headmistress for many years before she too retires to a pristine cottage in the countryside.
So there you have it: The fates and lives of most of the Harry Potter cast if Harry had died that night (I skipped Neville and kind of just lumped him in with Ron and with the minor characters- that might be an unforgiveable for some of you guys, but for real, Neville would be SO boring without Harry and the prophecy and what not—it might have never come out that the prophecy was even targeting him as well as Harry). Most of their lives would be pretty boring, even if the exact details aren’t correct. And let’s be real: SO much would change between the books. Quirrell would never have been attached by Voldemort and he probably would have been hired at Hogwarts. The Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching post would not have been cursed and Quirrell might have stayed there for many years. At the very least, someone capable would have easily filled the post.
Snape might have even eventually filled it, had his associations with Voldemort been forgotten or had he really desired the post. With the death of Lily and Harry and his deep sadness, he never quite had the same desire for the post as before. The Sorcerer’s Stone would have remained at Hogwarts for many years, before finally being transferred back to Gringott’s where it would eventually be destroyed (also under Hermione’s mandate—I imagine Hermione passing a lot of regulations and laws during her time in the Ministry of Magic).
Bellatrix Lestrange would have been an interesting one to follow. She was always in love with Voldemort and so eager to follow his every word. But after Voldemort’s demise she would have been sent to Azkaban and I don’t think she would have ever emerged. She would have gone insane. Secretly, she might have even enjoyed the soul-sucking atmosphere of Azkaban. She never had much of a soul to suck.
The Black house would remain empty and unused, and eventually the wizarding world would sell it off in an auction and it would be bought by none other than Horace Slughorn, who would use it as a trophy to store his prizes and collectables. He prefers a comfortable lifestyle though, so he would never dare to live there. He will still run the Slug Club and still teach at Hogwarts, but he will only teach briefly and the Slug Club will never gain much traction, especially after Cedric Diggory refuses to attend.
Essentially, the books would suck if Harry had died young. I mean, that’s kind of an obvious point. Harry is the reason there is a plot. Without him, the books are pretty pointless and they’re just an exercise in world-building. For the most part, the books are pretty airtight. One thing I noticed as I read around and studied up for this answer was that almost all of the plot holes have potential answers. Rowling didn’t even have to retroactively answer a lot of questions for the plot holes to be filled. And her world-building is so airtight that her readers can answer a lot of the questions for her.
Of course, it’s still completely entertaining and fun to speculate as to what might have happened to the characters had Harry died that night, so long as we remember the fact that Harry was pretty much immortal and that this is all impossible speculation. Yayfulness remarked that it was kind of a downer to realize that Harry was immortal for pretty much the entire series, and I think he’s right. It ruins a lot of the suspense once you pick apart the specifics of Voldemort’s attack and why Harry survived it, but it still makes sense. All of those times that Harry could have been killed and he wasn’t?
One thing I still do want to know is how detailed Rowling’s plans were. Some people think that she didn’t have the horcurxes all planned out before she revealed them in the last few books, while others thing that everything aligned too perfectly in the earlier books for the horcruxes to be an idea that came along accidentally as she was finishing them up. I think Rowling’s world-building was the strongest in the earlier books, and while those ideas may have been vaguely there, the finer details definitely came to her more as she wrote the later books.
All in all, if you couldn’t tell, I’m a bit obsessed with theoretically analyzing Harry Potter. The whole “Why didn’t Voldemort just chuck Harry out the window?” question has bothered me for forever and this question finally forced me to do some research on it. Reddit and the Harry Potter Wiki were all very helpful, as were the other writers references throughout this answer who provided commentary and additional thoughts and explanations. In the end, like I said, I’m still just very impressed with Rowling’s world building. The plot holes are very easily filled and understood, although I still think that we could benefit more from a more clear understanding of Lily’s sacrificial protection and how that worked, as well as a more nuanced understanding of the killing curse.
Tl;Dr: I just wrote the longest Board answer in four straight hours and now I can't feel my hands. Also I kind of never want to talk about Harry Potter ever again after this answer.