Many have wondered what would have happened in JKR's universe if her title character had thought a little. Here's a little tale of one particular little thought striking him.
Something Like Your Family
October 31, 1991
The students filed out of the Transfiguration classroom. Ron Weasley complained to Seamus Finnegan, "It's no wonder no one can stand her. She's a nightmare, honestly." Hermione ran off in tears, bumping into Harry as she fled into a girls' room. Harry might have done something — Granger was just as much an outcast as he was and he hated bullies and, as a life-long target, could sympathize with the victims — but by this point he wasn't going to lift a finger for anyone in Gryffindor.
November 1, 1991
The school was in shock from the troll attack and Granger's death in the girls' bathroom. Harry's emotional isolation and self-control left him with an expressionless face while most others were looking weepy or stunned. (Or, in a few cases, furtively gleeful.) The search for someone to punish began even before DMLE investigators arrived at the school.
Professor McGonagall was in the thick of interviewing the students in her triple roles as Deputy Headmistress, head of the deceased girl's House, and the professor whose class the girl had last attended. "Tell me, Mr Potter, why didn't you stop Mr Weasley from upsetting Miss Granger? You hardly seem distressed over last night's events, and now I wonder what you had to do with this tragedy."
"I didn't have anything to do with it. Weasley insulted Granger and she ran into a bathroom."
"I have reports that she went to you first and that she ran off only after you rejected her."
"What? Who told you that? She knocked into me when she ran away, that's all."
"Nevertheless, you could have offered her some comfort. At the very least you could have reported the incident to me. Your indifference then and anger now do not reflect well on you, Mr Potter."
"Brown and Patil were right there, too. They could have followed Granger into the girls' bathroom and offered her some comfort. Or Weasley could have, you know, not insulted her so that she'd run away crying."
"Mr Weasley's actions are not being reviewed right now. Yours are. You have utterly failed to live up to the standards of Godrick's House. I can only imagine what your parents would have said. Given your anger and rudeness today and your failure to report Miss Granger missing at supper last night, it is fitting that you have a month of detentions assisting Mr Filch during the supper meal. If you perform your duties to his satisfaction he will provide you with a cold supper afterward."
Harry knew what this meant. He'd be working all evening for a month and not eating from lunch until breakfast.
September 5, 1991
"Hey, Harry! Want to play some chess?"
"No, thank you. I have some homework to catch up on."
"Aw, that can wait. You need to spend some time with your friends."
"No, I really need to do my homework."
"What's the matter, Potter? You were friendly enough on the train but now you don't have the time for me. What's the matter, I'm not good enough for you now? Oh, I get it. Malfoy talked to you and now you think you're a high and mighty poncey boy just like him."
Harry didn't bother to interrupt. He'd learned as a small child to let tirades run their course. Any defense from verbal abuse usually led to physical abuse.
September 2, 1991
The owl landing in his breakfast surprised Harry. He already knew that owls carried wizards' mail — with an owl of his own, how could he not? — but couldn't imagine that anyone would be sending him anything.
Come down to me cabin by the big oak tree after class today. Got sumthing fer you. — Hagrid
Hagrid made a bit of small talk over poisonously strong tea and inedible baked goods before getting to the gift.
"When I heard how the Dursleys treated yeh, not tellin' yer nothin' but lies 'bout yer parents, I stared askin' 'round to see if I could find yeh somethin'. And a friend o' yer mum's gave me this."
"This" was a glass ball somewhat smaller than Harry's fist. Within it floated the image of a pretty red-haired woman.
"My mother?" Harry asked in a shaky voice.
"Shake it and yeh'll get a differen' picture."
Harry left sometime later with happy tears in his eyes.
September 12, 1991
The first flying class was both a break from routine and not a break from routine. It was exciting for Harry to be doing another purely wizarding thing. And it was good to get out of the castle on a nice day. But the walk out and the wait for the instructor was ten more minutes in which Harry had to listen to Weasley telling the most outrageous lies about him. Ron had taken Harry's "rejection" of his friendship very badly and showed it by tearing Harry down at every opportunity. No one seemed to believe the stories — it was already obvious that Harry wasn't paying people to do his homework for him and it was unlikely that he rubbed his own feces in his hair to make it stand up like that — but most of them laughed along with Weasley and a few told lies of their own.
Harry didn't fight the rumors. He'd learned back on Privet Drive that gossips don't care about truth or fairness. And any attempts to argue just gave them more grist for their mill.
But Harry had missed two differences between Hogwarts and Privet Drive. Here, there was no place to get away from the gossips. And here, the verbal bullying could more easily spill into physical bullying.
The flying lesson started off poorly enough. Neville Longbottom fell off and broke his wrist early on. Madame Hooch hustled him off, leaving the other students and brooms unattended with nothing but a threat to keep them on the ground.
The idle students occupied themselves as they would. Weasley told his ridiculous stories loudly enough for everyone to hear. Harry took out his picture globe for a moment of comfort. He found himself doing that a lot lately.
"What's this, Potter?" Draco Malfoy had snatched the globe out of Harry's hand while he was distracted. "Looks like a seventh year girl you've got a crush on."
"It's his mother," Weasley put in. "But maybe you're right. The way Potter is, nothing would surprise me." The two foes shared a rare laugh.
Harry was weighing his chances. Weasley and Malfoy were larger than he was, and Crabbe and Goyle were larger than Dudley. Lighting the tip of his wand or changing a matchstick into a needle wouldn't help him. He wouldn't let any of that stop him. The globe was all that he had of his parents. "Give. It. Back."
Malfoy began a childish taunt but something in Harry's eye stopped him. "You want it back? Fine! Catch it!" He threw the fragile ball toward the castle before Harry could grab it.
Quicker than thought, Harry leapt on his broom and sped after the globe. With a last-minute roll he caught the ball before it hit the stone wall, and a sharp turn kept himself from hitting the wall.
"Mr Potter! Get off that broom and follow me."
McGonagall introduced Harry to a lanky upperclassman. "Mr Wood, Mr Potter will be your seeker this year."
Wood looked at Harry skeptically. "He's got the build for it, but I don't know about those glasses."
McGonagall and Wood discussed Harry's prospects and abilities and availability for practice with only a single comment directed to him.
"You'll have to buy yourself a broom, Potter. The school brooms aren't suitable for a seeker at all. Nimbus just came out with the 2000. It's expensive, but that's what you need to get."
"Wait a minute! I don't want to play quidditch. I have enough to do just with homework."
The other two stared dumbfounded at him for a moment before launching into a high-pressure torrent of words. "Great honor", "Owe it to your House", and "Ungrateful" featured prominently.
McGonagall got the last word. "Mr Potter, I clearly heard Madame Hooch tell you that anyone picking up a broom in her absence would be expelled. If you don't accept the great honor of being selected for your House quidditch team then I will not stand between Madame Hooch and your expulsion."
Hogwarts wasn't as bad as living with the Dursleys. Grudgingly, Harry nodded.
December 6, 1991
A thunder of feet passed on the landing above Harry.
Having been the victim of this kind of prank before, Harry dodged the tossed item. It didn't do him any good. The container smashed on the steps above and splattered him and everything else with striped red and gold paint.
"Potter! What is the meaning of this? I'll see you expelled for this, you little vandal." Snape was in fine form.
Harry was trying to have his protests heard when McGonagall stormed up. "Mr Potter! Painting the Slytherin table in Gryffindor colors is not the way for you to finally show pride in your House. Clean these stairs and the Slytherin table in the Great Hall, and then you may serve a week's detention with Professor Snape."
There was no point in protesting. McGonagall never looked below the surface, never saw past her easily-wounded House pride.
October 18, 1991
"Mr Potter, stay behind a moment. I am going to have to give you a zero for the day's work because not only did you not turn in the week's assignment, you barely participated in the day's lesson."
Harry had done the homework, but no longer had it by the time class started. And he hadn't participated because his arm and wrist were very stiff and he couldn't do the swishes and flicks properly. He didn't tell McGonagall this. She wasn't much interested in listening. And, in fact, she didn't give him time to say anything.
"And, speaking now as your Head of House, I've noticed that you haven't been fitting in. I have heard many complaints that you do not make even a token effort at making friends with other Gryffindors. Furthermore, Mr Wood has told me that he has to drag you to almost every practice. And don't get me started on the number of points you've lost, young man! I want to hear your reasons for not being a proper member of your family here at Hogwarts. Well? Speak up."
"Have you heard what Ron Weasley has been saying about me? He got mad because I didn't want to play chess one day, then started telling lies about me every day. Everyone else laughs at me and tells their own stories. And I told you from the first day that I don't want to play quidditch."
"Perhaps if you hadn't isolated yourself from your Housemates they would stand up for you better. You have no one but yourself to blame if they are not taking your side. As for quidditch, you agreed to be a member of the team. That was a binding commitment and I will not allow you to drop it.
"I am taking ten points from Gryffindor for your poor attitude and assigning you a week of evening detentions with Mr Filch. Use that time to think about why you can't get your homework done and why you are losing so many points. I want to see you spending more time with your Housemates. You need to decide what is important to you if you are going to get anywhere in life."
October 17, 1991
"Potter, come here." A mob of his Housemates accosted Harry as soon as he entered the common room from Sprout's detention. "We need to talk about your attitude."
Faced with eight other students, all larger than he and including the female fifth-year prefect, Harry had little choice.
"Listen, Potter, we all know you're the Boy Who Lived and that your family was rich, but you can't ride that your whole life. You need to learn to get along with others, help others, and be a real part of Gryffindor House."
"All this year you've been a self-centered jerk. You're acting like you're too good to spend time with us."
"And you're not helping anyone with homework. You should be sharing with others if you get it done first."
"What's your problem with quidditch, huh? It's a team sport and you're not acting like one of the team. It takes everyone to win but only one to lose."
"We're not happy about all the points you're losing. I don't know what your problem with Snape and McGonagall is, but you need to get over it."
Harry had never been in this position before. The Dursleys had insulted him and yelled at him about his many shortcomings, real or imagined, but they'd never kept up this relentless barrage. Harry was disoriented and felt his ego being crushed.
"Stop it!" In the momentary gap he continued, "Who's helping me? No one! Who's being my friend? No one! Why should I help you if you don't help me?"
Harry had learned at the hands of the Dursleys not to raise his voice, not to show that he was upset, not to fight back. He'd forgotten that lesson because he thought things were different. But people are people and bullies are bullies.
After his Housemates were satisfied that Harry had learned his lesson, the prefect healed the visible marks on his face and warned him, "What happened here stays in the House. Don't go running to McGonagall or anyone else. They won't believe you anyway, with all the trouble you cause."
Just like Privet Drive.
September 15, 1991
"Hi. Are you working on the Potions homework? Can I join you?"
The Hufflepuffs smiled up at Harry and made room at their table in the library. He had chosen this group partly to make friends with people he didn't already know and partly because one of the girls was pretty.
After minimal introductions, the group got right back to the essay. The Hufflepuff work ethic started early. But the homework was done soon enough and was followed by some quiet getting-to-know-you chat.
… until Seamus and Dean and Lavender and Parvati came along. "Hey, Harry, what are you doing with the Puffs? You're supposed to be sticking with us. Come on, we need to get that Potions essay done before class tomorrow."
"No, I'm fine where I am. I'm making some friends. We've been done for an hour already while you guys were goofing around in the common room."
"You're all done? Great! Give it here. Want to play some exploding snap after we're done copying it?"
The ensuing scuffle ended up with Harry's homework ripped up, Hannah splattered with ink, and both groups banned from the library for three days. The Hufflepuffs kept their distance from Harry after that.
November 9, 1991
The first quidditch match went off as scheduled. There was no delay on account of the death and the following investigation, showing what was really important to the school.
Wood's practices has been brutal for the past week, especially for the first-year Seeker who had never been on a broom until two months before. "One hundred more rolls, Potter! You've got to sit that broom like it's a part of you."
Harry had told the quidditch players repeatedly that he didn't want to play. They couldn't seem to understand that. He had tried skipping practice but all that meant was that the entire team would hunt him down wherever he was in the school and cuff him toward the practice field. Harry soon showed up and did the practices because resistance didn't make any difference except for being more painful.
Wood had mentioned Harry's lack of a broom at least once a week. Harry had done some research. A Nimbus 2000 cost well over a thousand Galleons. He didn't know exactly how much was in his vault, but he did know that was everything he owned. He wasn't going to use a big chunk of it for something he didn't need and didn't want.
On the day of the match Wood gave a speech on the importance of winning this game for the pride of Gryffindor House. Harry was not the only one not stirred by the emotional appeal, though the Weasleys took the route of mocking the speech while Harry was simply unmoved.
Though Wood did take the time to single Harry out. "Potter! Why haven't you gotten yourself a better broom? I told you two months ago that the school brooms aren't good enough for a seeker. If we lose this match because of you…" The rest of the team joined in the threatening scowl, with the twins smacking their beater bats into their hands.
The match went poorly for the Gryffindors. Wood stopped most of the shots at the goals, but there were so many that he couldn't stop them all. The chaser line lost one member and then another to hard bludger strikes. For all their skill, the Weasley twins were not doing much to protect them.
Harry did his orbits, looking for the snitch. Frankly, he couldn't spare much attention for it because he was constantly on the lookout for bludgers. "Hey, Potter! Keep your eyes on the snitch!" Fred yelled, batting the iron ball his way to get his attention.
In the end, Slytherin won the match with a crushing score, 390-80. Harry had tried valiantly to grab the snitch, but Higgs's broom was twice the speed of Harry's and even if Harry had seen it first he wouldn't have been able to reach it first.
The rest of the team was not happy with the result.
The only good that Harry could see was that they left him near the showers and he could wash off most of the blood before having to walk through the school. And it was only his quidditch uniform that got torn up, not his own clothes.
McGonagall stopped Harry on the way from the locker room to the infirmary. "That was a disgraceful display. In all my years at Hogwarts I have never seen such a lackluster performance by a seeker. I shudder to think what your father would have said. Now tell me why you did not buy yourself a better broom, Mr Potter! I know for a fact that Mr Wood told you two months ago that it was your responsibility to equip yourself properly."
"Professor, I need to see Madame Pomphrey."
"That will keep. First you need to be taught a lesson. Since you don't seem to know what to do with a broom," and she conjured an ordinary broom, "sweep the halls and stairs in this wing. I will check on you in two hours."
When Harry finally made it to the infirmary, Madame Pomphrey fussed at him over the scrapes and bruises and loose teeth. She became very cross when she found the broken arm. "Why didn't you come to me directly with this arm, Mr Potter? If you'd come to me straight after the game I could have healed it easily. Now I'm going to have to vanish the bone and re-grow it. Here, change into this hospital gown, young man. You're in for a long and painful night and several days here recovering. Don't worry, I'm sure your Housemates will give you their class notes and the homework assignments."
Harry didn't bother to correct her.
September 1, 1991
"… while you are here, your House will be something like your family …"
Harry's eyes popped wide, then narrowed in thought.
December 22, 1991
Harry hid in the bathroom in King's Cross Station until he was sure the Dursleys had left, if they'd even shown up to collect him. He would change his gold for real money and find himself a real school.
Harry's family in Little Whinging had starved him. Worked him like a slave. Beaten him. Spread rumors about him. Used him as a scapegoat. Kept him from having friends.
Harry's family at Hogwarts was just the same.
To hell with them all.