A warning: This is not a happy segment. No one has a happy ending. You have been warned.
I am Uatu, the Watcher. I have watched this world for many years, viewing it in all its changes. I have seen young Harry Potter go from a shy, abused child into a father of four. However, this is not the only world. There are many worlds where Harry Potter made other choices, be it different Houses or friends. The changes are simple, but they make one ask a simple question: What if...?
In this story we look at Hermione Granger. She was hailed as the brightest witch of her generation. She was top of her class, skilled in many forms of magic. As soon as her wand was purchased, the girl "tried a few spells at home." We later learn this was an infraction of the decrees regarding underage magic. She isn't punished then, as she was quite a stickler for the rules after she had learned them.
But what if the rules applied as soon as one had their wand?
In this world, Hermione Granger tries a simple spell, Lumos. A wave of the wand and there's light. Moments after she does so, strangely robed men and women appear in her house. There is no preamble or discussion. The head, a pink clad woman who bears a strong resemblance to an amphibian, grabs the girl's wand and snaps it with a look of glee. The girl, her parents and the neighbors (just for good measure) are obliviated of the offense and of magic itself.
Having already agreed to go to Hogwarts, she finds herself in a bind since she apparently turned down her favored school for a school she no longer remembers agreeing to attend. Using some connections and greasing some palms, the Grangers manage to get their daughter into a special school for the gifted. She isn't the top, but well into the 80th percentile, and for the first time she has peers who hold similar interests. She doesn't have many close friends, but finishes and goes on to a career in medicine like her parents.
Things change slightly on the other side. A young boy, looking lost, meets up with a pack of redheads who show him the entrance to platform 9 3/4 where an ancient looking train waits for their presence. This young boy, the eponymous Harry Potter, makes friends with a boy with a rat, one Ronald Weasley. This time the only interruption is from a blond boy and his bookends. On the train a boy loses his toad and when no one is available to help look for Trevor, Neville Longbottom starts to wonder if someone made a mistake, if perhaps he wasn't supposed to be there at all.
Once they reach Hogwarts, the sorting begins. Hogwarts, not informed of Miss Granger's infraction, reads off her name and is disappointed that she never appeared. A certain transfiguration professor would try to look into it, but would be distracted by plans to hide a certain stone. Things are otherwise mostly unchanged. Neville, Harry and Ronald all go to Gryffindor for their own various reasons: Gran's demands, Draco's bad impression, family pride.
Harry, while at nature bright child, a son of parents gifted in charms and transfiguration, is a victim of nurture, specifically underachieving to match Ron as the Dursley's demanded of him regarding Dudley. Harry clings to his only friend like a lifeline only to find it is an anchor in Hogwarts' social sea. Soon, Harry is lumped into a group associated with the worst grades of his year.
There is little of note until Halloween. Ronald, not a polite or tactful individual, fails miserably at the levitation charm and as Hermione is not there to assist him in this, he does not send anyone crying into the bathroom. Quirrel, as yet unaffected by Hermione's lack of presence, is a bit more successful at his attempts. The troll, not called up a set of stairs by the sound of a tearful pre-teen, stays in the dungeons, lurking through the underground passageways. Professor Dumbledore orders prefects to escort all students to their dorms, forgetting, perhaps, that the Slytherin dorms reside in those selfsame dungeons. The Slytherin prefects did their duty and escorted their housemates only to encounter the troll, attracted by the sounds of excited children, at an intersection. Purebloods, though often skilled in dark magic, have one fatal flaw: they forget the physical way of doing things. Where as two first years could manage to take out a troll by dropping its club on the creature's head, the Slytherin Prefects attempted to cast spells at the creature. This would quickly prove useless, as troll hide is almost as strong as dragonhide when it comes to protection from magic. The rather dark curses only serve to anger the creature, who swings its club, slaughtering the attackers. Many Slytherins dies that day while 12 are permanently disfigured or disabled. Among those dead are Draco Malfoy, Adrian Pucey, Theodore Nott, and a nameless fifth year halfblood who never amounted to much anyway. Pansy Parkinson, already a rather pugfaced girl, now has a distinct dent in her skull and a very short short-term memory.
Meanwhile, Quirrel and Snape have a discussion about Fluffy, Hagrid's massive dog. Snape, caught by a head, is unable to prevent the possessed man by other means. Quirrel, only momentarily set back by his former minion, easily overcomes the man, disarming him and ensuring that Fluffy gets a nice big snack. The rest of the tests, as it were, were child's play. By the time he passed Snape's logic test, there was just a pedestal in the middle of a room. The Mirror of Erised was not yet available, so the final trap was not yet in place. Quirrel and Voldemort leave the obstacle course unmolested.
Little of note happens until the first quidditch match of the season. Without Snape to counter-curse him or Hermione to realize there was some cursing going on, Harry falls, face first, from his broom, his neck snapping on impact. It was then that Albus Dumbledore had the stray thought that Quirrel might have had one chance too many. Having been playing against the Slytherins, the public outcry is especially brutal, forcing the remaining Slytherins of that seventh year to remain completely blacklisted, as are anyone with a connection to that House's quidditch team. Eventually, when converting Fluffy's dung pile into fertilizer for the greenhouse, Hagrid finds some bones that he correctly identifies as humanoid. It is at this point that Dumbledore realizes where his Potions Professor vanished to.
During the rest of the school year, Quirrel keeps up his appearance as a bumbling fool scared of his own shadow, while working hard to learn all the properties of the Philosopher's Stone. Ronald Weasley, between not having someone to push him to succeed and depression from losing his friend, fails all his courses and is forced to repeat a year, putting him on par with his younger sister.
The summer is unchanged except for a letter to 4 Privet Drive detailing the incident of their nephew's death. Petunia has a momentary laps into nostalgia and sheds a tear, but no other mention of it is made in a remorseful light. All other comments about Harry Potter involve ridicule for having died, forcing Petunia to cook all year. When neighbors inquire as to what happened, his aunt and uncle recount how their "criminally insane" nephew was killed in a gang fight in a bar. No one seems to question that an eleven-year-old was in a gangfight or in a bar, but considering Dudley's friends' behavior, it could be quite understandable.
At the end of that summer, Lucius Malfoy, angered at having lost his heir, plants a diary in Ginny Weasley's books. While this is not any different than the other universe, this time there is no one to be there when she paints messages on the wall, no one to investigate later on. Colin Creevy, disappointed to discover that the boy he had held a strong hero-worship for was dead the previous year, did not bring his camera with him everywhere, and so died instead of being petrified. Hagrid is taken to Azkaban and isn't removed even when deaths follow his incarceration. Hagrid, partially protected by his heritage, spends nearly 40 years around the dementors before finally succumbing.
Ginny Weasley's body remains in the Chamber forever. There is no last minute save. There was no one to identify that the creature was, in fact, a basilisk. Ron, frantic to save his sister, is obliviated by Lockhart, however this time it is successful. However, since her identity was never uncovered, Arthur Weasley's bill is not repealed and Lucius Malfoy essentially threw away something rather precious to his Master which would have some serious implications in the future. Ronald Weasley fails his classes for a second time, this time due to his depression over his sister's disappearance.
Albus Dumbledore is removed from Hogwarts and Minerva McGonagall is placed as Headmistress. Dumbledore is no longer in the spotlight, but now spends all his time seeking out Quirrel and Voldemort. It becomes an obsession. He ceases to eat well and more frequently forgets to bathe. Without the reveal of the Diary, there is no clue to what Voldemort had done to extend his life, sending Albus Dumbledore off in a wrong direction. It isn't long before his brother kicks him out and Albus needs to find a place on his own.
That next summer two important events take place. First, Sirius Black learns of a certain rat in Hogwarts and escapes to find him. His trip to Privet Drive is unfruitful, but he was not informed of Harry Potter's death and he wasn't about to walk up to the front door to find out. The second event was Tom Marvolo Riddle finally unlocking the secrets of the Philosopher's Stone and restoring his body.
With Harry Potter dead, Remus Lupin has no reason to teach, and so does not, staying far away from the events regarding his former friends.
Sirius Black invades Hogwarts, nearly catches the rat before being chased off by Ronald Weasley's screams. He tries again later in the year but is caught and given the Dementor's Kiss without even knowing his godson was dead. There was no last minute reveal of the truth and no last minute Time-Turner use to save him. Buckbeak lives to a ripe old age with great-great-grandchildren fluttering about.
With Harry Potter dead, and Voldemort already restored, Cedric Diggory wins the Tri-Wizard Tournament. He goes on to play for Puddlemere. The lack of deaths is incorrectly assumed to be McGonagall's fault, further darkening Dumbledore's reputation.
Without a warning from Harry Potter, there is no reason for Fudge to force his minion into Hogwarts. The year passes without incident, save for Ronald Weasley earning two OWLs.
Six years, almost to the day, of Hermione Granger's spell experiment, Death Eater attacks resume. The government, thoroughly infested with Voldemort's minions and imperioed thralls, is quite ineffective in combating the issue. Dumbledore reforms the Order of the Phoenix, but his loss of reputation calls very few to his side.
Little do most people know, but there are two individuals calling themselves Voldemort, one via Stone and one via Diary. These are not, precisely, on the same side. In fact, though they are drawing from the same pool of human resources, their goals are the same, though not in conjunction. They start fighting amongst themselves. Voldemort the Elder tends to draw from the old guard, while Voldemort the Younger tends to draw from the disenfranchised youth. The battles are Parent against Child, Uncle against Niece, Aunt against Nephew, and Death Eater against muggleborn.
Fudge, while not a Death Eater and not imperioed, is suitably manipulated by Lucius Malfoy into doing whatever the elder Voldemort wants. The Order is destroyed minus Dumbledore and a few non-combatants. The corrupt Ministry sends Nymphadora Tonks and Kingsley Shacklebolt to Azkaban for their participation in unlawful militias. Due to the constant battles and shrinking pool to draw minions from, Voldemort the Younger, not yet caught up in his "pure-blood" personae, starts drawing in Muggleborns who are starting to feel the squeeze. His numbers grow exponentially.
Eventually, after five years, Hogwarts falls. It is not a battle or some such, but a very subtle poisoning of key individuals and replacement by specifically chosen individuals. The rolls of students are released to the elder Voldemort's minions. Muggleborn families are exterminated one by one in revels that no sane person could ever be a part of.
Hermione Granger is at home when the attack happened. Her name, crossed off, but not erased from the Hogwarts rolls, was listed with an address clearly labeled for any individual to read. Neither she, nor her parents, are aware of the events taking place in the world she was almost a part of. The Obliviators were quite thorough. The attack is interrupted not by the Ministry, not by the Order, but by Voldemort the Younger's forces looking for revenge against Voldemort the Elder. The Obliviators return, doing nothing to repair the damage, only hide the evidence. Hermione Granger survives with a comatose mother, a crippled father and an unwanted pregnancy. Other than horrendous nightmares that will wake her up year after year, she has no clue as to how this happened. Medical experts are baffled.
Twelve years after Hermione Granger's magical experiment, the muggle side is clued in to the groups who were causing so many deaths. Anyone bearing a wand is labeled a terrorist and many Obliviators die when they apparate in to "fix" magical battle sites. The Leaky Cauldron is first, surveillance having revealed it to be a central location to a number of London attacks. As far as the muggle forces are concerned, this unassuming storefront is actually a terrorist cell. It is bombed. This destroys one of the Diagon Alley ward stones, dropping the muggle repelling and illusion wards over the magical shopping center. Soldiers go in. Anyone pointing a wand is considered hostile. The children recovered are taken to undisclosed locations for deprogramming and re-education into standard British society. For the most part, these children will never amount to much as they are already too old to catch up with true British education. They don't blend in with their peers. They are mocked for their outsider nature. The pureblooded children do not appreciate the irony.
With information about the magical world now available, Her Majesty's Government makes moves to clear out as much as possible. The Floo, now under muggle control, is instrumental in the take down of "magical terrorist cells." Wizards and witches, those few taken alive, break easily under muggle interrogation techniques and reveal every magical community in Britain. Those fall within weeks; adults taken to prisons, and children to re-education centers in undisclosed locations.
Voldemort the Elder frequently makes attacks against muggles, but now faces professional soldiers. His followers die almost to the man. Voldemort the Younger is wiser about the muggle world, though his information is fifty years out of date, and goes into hiding with his followers, becoming an underground organized crime syndicate.
Voldemort the Elder takes a sniper bullet to the brain pan. He is able to stay around as a shade, but he is less and less able to find supporters willing to help him regain his body. In the next five years, he is killed, each time by muggles, and resurrected five times, each time by some idiot with a want who wants to "bring back the old days." During these five years he loses more and more minions until new ones just aren't showing up and the old ones only stay because they fear the muggles more.
Albus Dumbledore is now unrecognizable. He is unwashed, his clothes tattered and worn and his mind batty. An inspector sees him lurking outside 4 Privet Drive one night. The old man is taken in to the station and eventually taken to a home as he can clearly no longer take care of himself.
Certain individuals are taken by the government and instructed to assist or be detained. Arthur Weasley is one such individual. Still having his wife, six children, four daughters-in-law and two infant grandchildren, he complies for his family's sake. His assistance is instrumental in the downfall of Hogwarts. He never forgives himself.
Twenty years after Hermione Granger's magical experiment, there is no Ministry of Magic; there is no Diagon Alley; there is no Hogsmeade; there is no Hogwarts. Wizards and witches are taught in standard schools set up by the muggle British government, weeded out for ability. Blood and ancestry mean nothing. Wands are still made by Ollivander, but are only given to those who Her Majesty's government decides are worthy based on grades and personality profiles. Merit is the order of the day.
Twenty years after Hermione Granger's magical experiment, no one remembers Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore or Voldemort as anything more than legends. The evidence is gone, no records remain. They are myths, urban legends told over campfires.
I have seen this world as I have seen many others. It is different, very much so. A simple change causes everything to be different. A drop of water, a butterfly flapping its wings. A simple question of "What if...?"
I don't own Uatu, Marvel does.