Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling, not me. I'm not making any profit off of this.

What If Snape Died? – Chapter 34 – Harry Starts School

"Harry!" shouted the youngest Weasley as the Boy-Who-Lived gracefully stepped out of the fireplace at the Burrow carrying his Nimbus 1800. He'd written her a letter the previous day saying simply, "I'm cured!" but this was their first time seeing each other since his mum destroyed his Horcrux – the final one – two days before. She engulfed him in a tight embrace that made him blush, but he did not pull away. He hugged her tightly as she whispered, "I'm so glad you're alright."

"Come on! Let the man breathe," said Ron. "You're acting like you haven't seen him in a year." He then smirked at his little sister. "I wonder how you'll act when we are gone for a year. You'll probably choke him to death to show how much you missed him."

Ginny frowned at the thought as they broke apart. She knew that once Harry was officially a student that he wouldn't be able to come and go as he pleased, so they wouldn't see each other much in the coming year. She'd tried to talk her mum into letting her visit the castle on weekends, but had been told that it wouldn't be allowed. Neither the boys nor her best female friend – Hermione – would have time to visit her even if she made it to the castle. While Harry and Hermione had assured her that if she did somehow get to the castle they would visit her, this did nothing to raise Ginny's spirits. She'd gotten both of them to promise to write her lots of letters while they were in their first year at Hogwarts.

"Now, Ron, don't be rude," admonished Mrs. Weasley. "There's nothing wrong with a nice hug for your friends." She then turned to all of them. You can all go outside and enjoy this beautiful day. The twins are already outside.

"Thanks," said Harry as Neville was emerging from the fireplace carrying their nearly three-year-old sister, who currently had bright yellow hair. By this time, Lily was able to control her metamorphic powers enough to keep the same hair color when she wanted to, and she seemed to like having a new hair color every day.

"Hi, Auntie Molly," the little girl said as she worked her way out of Neville's grip and ran to her godmother.

"Hello, Lily," the Weasley matriarch exclaimed while hugging her tightly. The girl's hair turned red before the hug had ended.

Harry interrupted this reunion by asking, "How's Charlie doing?"

"Oh," she said with a frown. "He wrote that he's happily settle down at that…dragon reserve. I wonder when he'll come to his senses and get a nice proper job at the Ministry."

"I think he should've taken that offer to play Quidditch!" said Ginny enthusiastically.

"Yeah," agreed Harry. "Getting paid to play Seeker. What better job could there be?"

"Something less dangerous," said Molly.

Harry shut his mouth to stop himself from answering with a smart-alecky response like 'dealing with exploding toilets is safe, is it?'

Neville did have an answer. "It seems to me that every job has its risks, Mrs. Weasley. How many times has Mr. Weasley been in danger while doing his job?" She didn't answer. "Our parents used to be aurors, which is even more dangerous. Even Professor Sprout has a dangerous job dealing with plants like Mandrakes and Devil's Snare. Mum deals with potions that could explode every day. Even catching gnomes can be risky if they bite. That's why I think they should do what they enjoy."

Harry turned to his brother. "I think you've been hanging out with Hermione a bit too much." He noticed Neville's ears turn slightly pink before he went outside to play.

-

It took about four hours of swimming and Quidditch before Harry had the chance to talk to Ginny alone about the procedure that he'd gone through to remove his curse (he didn't tell her it was a Horcrux).

"Your scar looks different now – less noticeable," she said. "What exactly did they do?"

"Well," he said nervously, looking at the ground, "They couldn't use any potions or spells on me to put me unconscious or dull the pain."

Her eyes went wide. "You were awake? How could you stand it?"

"I just remembered that I was getting rid of a piece of Voldemort!"

"A piece of him?" she asked. "I thought it was just a curse."

"Well, er, I meant it was from him." He cleared his throat. "Anyway, Madam Pomfrey cut my scar open again and…"

Ginny looked horrified. "And you just laid there?"

"It didn't hurt much," he said, shrugging. He then continued to describe the entire procedure to her.

"You were very brave," she said when he was finished.

"Maybe to drink that potion," he replied while blushing. "That was awful."

"Ha-ha," she fake-laughed. "Your mock-humility is very impressive." He scowled before she continued, "but you really were brave. I'm proud of you." She then kissed him on the cheek and walked off so fast that she didn't see his entire face turn Weasley red.

-

The next week went by quickly, and soon it was time to have the triple-birthday party for 3-year-old Lily and 11-year-old Neville and Harry. The family arrived at the Burrow together. Lily looked around at the Weasleys, and turned her hair red, as was her custom at her godparents' house.

"Hi, Auntie Molly," she said happily as she escaped her mother's hold.

"Hello, Sweetie!" she exclaimed as she hugged the girl. "Happy birthday!"

"Tanks!"

"You're welcome," said Molly. She looked at the others. "Remus, Sirius and Draco are already here. They're outside with Arthur and the kids. I expect that Hermione's family will arrive shortly."

Harry immediately went out the door to greet the Weasley children and the others. He saw that Luna was there as well.

"Hi, Luna. Thanks for coming."

"I heard that there were some triple-eared pamgaffs migrating here," she replied.

He nodded with a smile and walked up to Sirius, engulfing him in a hug. "Hi, Uncle Padfoot."

"Hey, cub. Happy birthday."

"Hi, Harry," said Draco. Although neither would actually admit it, they had become good friends over the past couple of years, and Malfoy had lost most of his arrogance. At this point, Neville tolerated him a lot more than he used to, but wouldn't be friends. "Happy birthday."

"Thanks, Draco."

At that point, he was hugged by his best friend. He put his arms around her in response. "Hi, Ginny."

"Happy birthday, Harry."

"I'll be saying that to you in a few weeks," he commented.

She looked him in the eyes, and for the thousandth time, reminded him, "Don't forget to write me from Hogwarts."

He looked offended. "How could I forget that? I'll be thinking about you all the time, crying myself to sleep every night…"

"You'd better be," she said in a mock-serious tone. They both laughed.

-

Harry and his siblings enjoyed that party, as well as the one on Ginny's birthday a few weeks later. Before Harry knew it, he was at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters with his family.

"I still don't see why we left Hogwarts just to ride a train there," he said.

"It's part of the experience," said James. "Besides, you don't want to be treated any differently than you already are, do you?"

"No," said Harry.

Neville added, "People will think that the Boy-Who-Lived thinks he's too good to ride the Hogwarts Express."

"At least we didn't make you carry your trunks," said Alice, "Just a small bag with your robes."

"Hi, Harry!" Hermione's voice called from behind him. He smiled as he turned to greet his friend.

"Hi, Hermione."

"Hi, Neville," she said, turning her attention to his brother.

"Hermione," Neville acknowledged.

Harry noticed that both slightly blushed. "Let's find a compartment," he suggested.

Within a few minutes, Draco arrived with Sirius and found them easily. At the last minute, the Weasleys arrived. Harry was amused to see Ginny running after the train when it started moving.

It was a largely uneventful trip, although about halfway through the trip, while Neville was using the restroom, the door to their compartment opened, revealing three first-year boys. The one in the middle was smaller than the other two, but looked a lot smarter. He glared disdainfully at Draco for a moment, and then at Ron. His eyes finally rested on the other boy.

"Is it true," he demanded, "Is Harry Potter in this compartment?"

"I heard that rumor, too," said Harry with a grin while his companions were silent. He was glad that he'd decided to wear a baseball cap, along with perfect muggle clothes. "I think he must be in the next car…if he's even actually coming to Hogwarts. Last summer, I heard he was going to Beauxbatons."

"No," said Nott. "My dad said he was definitely gonna be at Hogwarts. His parents are teachers there. He's probably already there…too good to ride the train. I don't recognize you two," he said while indicating Hermione. "Are you from wizarding families?"

Harry answered before Hermione opened her mouth. "We're brother and sister. Our parents are muggles – dentists."

Nott sniffed the air distastefully. "I should've known." He turned to his companions. "Let's go." He slammed the compartment door shut behind him while muttering something about Blood Traitors and Mudbloods stinking up the train.

"I believe," said Draco, "that was Theodore Nott, Vincent Crabbe, and Gregory Goyle. They used to visit Malfoy Manor before…before I was living with Sirius."

"You shouldn't have lied like that, Harry," said Hermione. "He'll find out the truth at the Sorting anyway and be mad at you."

He shrugged. "I just wanted to test him. He wanted to be friends with the Boy-Who-Lived to improve his status. He's nothing but an arrogant bigot. You heard the rubbish he was mumbling on the way out. I don't want to be friends with him."

At that moment, the door opened, revealing Neville. "Hey guys, did I miss anything?"

-

As promised, Harry and Ginny did write back and forth during that year. While Harry did enjoy reading his letters from his best friend, they didn't contain much interesting information, since not much happened at the Burrow. Here are some of the letters that Harry sent her.

-

September 1st, 1991

Dear Ginny,

The train ride was fun, aside from some kids that were later sorted into Slytherin coming to our compartment looking for 'Harry Potter.' I'm glad I was wearing that hat to cover my scar. I told him that I was Hermione's brother and that our parents were muggles, so he left to look in other compartments. He was mad when my name was announced at the sorting, but couldn't do a thing about it since he was at the Slytherin table already.

I guess I'm getting ahead of myself. The first-years rode the boats with Hagrid. That's actually my first time on those boats, and the castle looks fantastic from that perspective. Anyway, Ron, Hermione, Neville and I were sorted into Gryffindor. Draco was sorted into Ravenclaw. I think Neville's happy that he won't have to sleep in the same room as Draco, but I think it would've been good. At least he's not in Slytherin.

Professor Dumbledore announced that Professor Sinistra was cursed from behind last week, and is currently at St. Mungo's. Astronomy is going to be taught by someone named Professor Quirrel. Dad says I shouldn't insult teachers, but the guy seems afraid of his own shadow, and he's got this ridiculous purple turban that he wore to the feast. Hopefully, he'll be a decent teacher because my parents didn't teach me that stuff in our lessons. They were mostly Defense, Charms, Transfiguration and Potions.

By the way, the Marauder's map is now giving me the passwords to the secret passages again.

Anyway, I wish you were here, and am glad you will be next year.

Your friend,

Harry.

-

September 8th, 1991

Dear Ginny,

You're not gonna believe it, but I'm the new Seeker on the house Quidditch team! Professor McGonagall had seen me flying with my dad a lot, and when Oliver Wood told her he hadn't found a decent Seeker to replace Charlie yesterday at tryouts, she talked Dumbledore into bending the rules a bit so I could play even though I'm just a first-year. Oliver gave me a private tryout a few hours ago and looked really happy when he said I was on the team! I was excused from the flying lesson with Madam Hooch in a few days. Practice starts this week. I can't wait until our first game. Dad wanted to get me a new broom, but mum said I could wait a few years to replace my Nimbus 1800.

I miss you and wish you were here!

Your friend,

Harry

-

November 1st, 1991

Dear Ginny,

You'll never guess what happened yesterday. During the Halloween feast, Professor Quirrel burst into the Great Hall announcing that there was a troll loose in the dungeons. I wonder why he was out there, anyway. It's not very common for teachers to miss the Halloween Feast.

Anyway, Ron had been a git earlier that day. Just because Hermione could do the levitation spell before he could (he didn't notice that Neville and I were also doing it) he told her she was a nightmare, a know-it-all, and some other unkind things. She ran off to cry in the girls' bathroom. Neville and I had tried to get her to leave, but she wouldn't and neither of us wanted to barge into the girls' loo. She was still crying in there during the feast, so after Quirrel made that announcement, I got Neville to come with me to warn her. Ron followed us. I guess he felt guilty.

We made it there just in time to see the troll walk in with Hermione. She screamed and we ran into the room. Neville and I shot reducto's at its feet (since dad said stupefies don't work well on trolls or giants), making it fall down. Ron managed to levitate its club above its head and drop it, knocking it out just before mum, dad, and Professor McGonagall showed up. We told the truth about what happened and McGonagall took five points each away from Hermione and Ron. She then gave five points to both Neville and me, so it evened out.

Hermione and Ron are getting along again, but I don't think he's actually apologized. Anyway, I hope your family can get here for the Quidditch match next weekend.

I miss you and wish you were here.

Your friend,

Harry

-

Clad in a Gryffindor uniform, Harry mounted his Nimbus 1800 and flew out to the pitch with the rest of his teammates. He couldn't believe that Oliver would remind him of that game three years ago when he was nearly killed just before his debut. He shook those thoughts out of his mind while Wood was shaking hands with the Slytherin captain, a thug named Marcus Flint. The balls were released and the whistle blown. Harry had seen the Snitch disappear one second before Hooch had started the game. He flew up above the action and looked around.

He grinned when he noticed a group of redheads sitting next to his family in the stands. He knew they were there more to cheer on Fred and George than him, but he was still glad the Weasleys had come. He continued scanning the pitch until he noticed that the Slytherin Seeker, Terence Higgs, was watching him instead of looking for the Snitch.

Harry put a determined expression on his face and dove straight down in a feint. He could hear his opponent follow him.

Lee Jordan announced, "It looks like Harry Potter has seen the Snitch. Higgs is right behind him. Wait. Potter's pulling up! It was a feint. Higgs just crashed. Slytherin calls a time out."

Harry flew back up into position and looked around. He spotted the Snitch for real, near Gryffindor's goals. He casually drifted in that direction, waiting for play to resume. The whistle blew, and Harry started zooming off, until his broom bucked. He grabbed it tighter and it bucked again. And again. It kept that up until he fell off the broom and was holding on by a hand.

-

As soon as Harry's broom bucked the first time, James angrily exclaimed, "Someone's jinxing his broom," and started scanning the pitch with his Omnioculars. "Quirrel! Alice, try to help Harry stay on the broom while I stop that stuttering…"

"Be sure to save a piece of him for me," hissed Alice as she pulled out her wand.

In no time, James was in a position where he could aim his wand at Quirrel, who was only looking at Harry, and silently stun him.

-

Harry climbed back on his broom to see that the Snitch was still in its former position and Higgs hadn't spotted it yet, so he zoomed off, managing to catch it five seconds later, ending the game. He flew down to where his family was at. "Hi Ginny," he said.

"Hi," she replied.

Suddenly, Harry realized that someone was missing. "Where's dad?"

"There," said Alice, pointing at a raven-haired man levitating the turban king. "Professor Quirrel was jinxing your broom."

"He what?" Harry exclaimed. "That does explain the problem. I see dad took care of it."

"You'd better go to the changing room with your team," said Harry's mum. "Congratulations on getting the Snitch."

-

Seven minutes later, Harry emerged wearing his normal clothes to be immediately hugged tightly by Ginny. "Harry, it's so good to see you! I was so scared when your broom started acting up."

He hugged her back and grinned. "I'm really glad to see you again, too. Do you know where dad took Quirrel?"

"The hospital wing. They're trying to find out why he attacked you. Everyone else followed them but I stayed behind to let you know."

"Thanks. That's where we're going. I want answers." He took her hand and they marched into the castle.

-

"This is odd," exclaimed Madam Pomfrey as she waved her wand over the unconscious man. "There appears to be some sort of dark curse on Professor Quirrel's head." The Weasleys, Potters (including Neville minus Harry) and Hermione were in the room.

"So that's not just a bunch of garlic in his turban?"

"James!" scolded Alice automatically.

"Perhaps you should remove the turban, Poppy," said Dumbledore.

"No!" hissed a high-pitched voice that seemed to be coming from the back of Quirrel's head. The unconscious man suddenly sat up, his eyes still closed. He waved his hand and everybody was blown backward from him.

Dumbledore calmly said, "Hello, Tom. It's been a long time," as he got up to his feet.

James pulled out his wand and aimed it, only to find it summoned out of his hand as Quirrel's finger pointed at it. The possessed man pointed it at James and said his favorite word. "Crucio!"

-

Harry and Ginny were just outside the door when they heard the cruciatus curse. Harry immediately recognized that particular unforgivable. "Get behind me," he whispered to his companion as he pulled out his wand.

-

Voldemort released the curse from James so that he could fire a reducto at the floor in front of Dumbledore that caused him to fall before he could shoot another spell. Riddle knew he wasn't in a condition to duel the second-greatest wizard of the age and began running out of the room, finally causing Quirrel's eyes to open so he could see both in front and behind. Just before leaving he put a powerful shield between them and the doorway to give him time.

He swung the door open and was immediately hit by a, "Reducto!" fired by the Boy-Who-Should-Be-Tortured-To-Death. It shot the left hand off.

Riddle was glad that he couldn't feel Quirrel's pain as he shot a "Crucio!" at the boy who dared attack him.

Harry dropped his wand as he writhed in pain. Ginny dove down, grabbed the discarded wand, and shot a bat-bogey hex at Quirrel in less than two seconds. Mucus bats emerged from both his nose and behind the turban. It looked like something was dancing around inside the purple headpiece. "Get the bloody turban off!" a high-pitched voice hissed from behind the hat.

"Good one, Ginny," said Harry as she handed him his wand back. While Quirrel's remaining hand was pulling at the turban, the boy shouted, "Petrificus Totalus!" and the figure fell to the ground while the bat-bogeys were still attacking him.

Harry ran to the prone figure at the same moment Voldemort's shield was brought down by Dumbledore. Everyone ran out of the hospital wing to see that Quirrel had been overcome by the two kids. "Harry," said James before being interrupted.

"Did you think a first-year spell could overcome Lord Voldemort?" hissed the now-moving figure of Quirrel as he got up. The bat-bogeys were gone.

"Voldemort?" whispered Harry, now looking scared.

Quirrel grabbed Harry with his right hand saying, "Put down your wands if you want the boy to…Ahhhh!" The possessed man looked down at his now dissolved right hand as Harry was freed from his grasp. "What is this magic?" he asked.

Dumbledore said, "Harry, touch Quirrel's face," and the boy obeyed. Voldemort screamed as his host body was turned to ashes. Albus calmly stated, "Tom, it may interest you to know that Slytherin's ring, Slytherin's locket, your diary, Ravenclaw's tiara, Gryffindor's helmet, and even the accidental Horcrux that was placed in Harry have all been destroyed. Goodbye."

"No!" Voldemort screamed as Quirrel's remains fell to the floor. For a moment, a spirit seemed to form above the ashes, but it dissolved with a scream as the others, including Harry, watched in shock. Ginny, along with Alice and Hermione, ran up to Harry and engulfed him in a hug.

"It would appear," said Dumbledore, "that this is the end of Voldemort. One hundred points to Gryffindor."

-

Harry seemed to be depressed and feeling guilty about Quirrel for killing the professor. He did go to the victory party in Gryffindor tower and put on a smile, but his heart wasn't in it. However, with support from his family and friends, he was doing better by Christmas, when the Weasleys, Grangers and Potters all visited Romania and got to see the dragon reserve where Charlie was working. Harry commented that one day he'd like to ride a dragon, and the others told him he was crazy.

The rest of the school year passed slowly for Harry, as he missed his best friend Ginny at the Burrow. Gryffindor won the Quidditch and House cups. Hermione, Harry and Neville were the top three in all their classes (Neville was top in Herbology; Harry was top in Defense; Hermione was top in everything else).

Before they knew it, the group was exiting the Hogwarts Express at Kings Cross Station. James and Alice had ridden the train with their kids since they decided to spend the summer in a new house they'd bought after selling the one's they'd lived in with their former spouses. Draco ran to Sirius and hugged him. Molly hugged Ron, Fred, George and Percy in turn. Ginny ran up and hugged Harry, saying, "I'm so glad you're back and I'll be going with you next year! Now we'll never have to be apart for that long again!"

The End

-

Please review. Thank you to those who have.

I had planned on writing more about Harry's Snape-less Hogwarts years, but they were too peaceful to be that interesting (apart from pranks and illegal visits to Hogsmeade). Suffice it to say that Harry and the others didn't have to put up with Voldemort plots, Dementors or evil teachers during their time at Hogwarts. Harry and Ginny were inseparable at Hogwarts and started dating in her third year, which was the year of the Triwizard Tournament. Cedric Diggory was the only Hogwarts champion, and he won the tournament. After Harry passed his N.E.W.T.s, he became a Seeker for Puddlemore United. He continued to live with his parents in the castle, mainly so he could stay near his then-fiancé, Ginny Weasley. They married a few weeks after she took her N.E.W.T.s, and she became a Chaser for the same team as her husband.

If anyone feels like writing one-shots of any of the implied events, let me know.