List of things that would have cut HP books (and movies) really short

If you look closely, there are crucial points in each HP story , where the plot could have gone very differently. Not all the outcomes are happy for the characters involved, but as we know, most of them die throughout the story anyway. In other cases, however, things might have turned better for the majority of characters involved.

Disclaimer: if anybody wants to adopt an idea from any of the following short scenes, they are more than welcome to do so.

-!-

Cutting Philosopher's Stone short

"James! Lily!" Sirius shouted at the top of his lungs, desperately calling out, hoping he wasn't too late. He feared he was.

From the saddle of his flying motorbike, he had a good view of the entire Godric's Hollow. It was Halloween, perhaps the only time of the year when witches and wizards would go out and celebrate with their muggle neighbors without breaking the Statute of Secrecy, and judging from the look of the colorful crowd, the inhabitants of this village were going out of their ways to make the best of the opportunity.

"Harry! James!"

Some villagers looked at him as he began his descent, the muggles with dull surprise or in clear envy, the wizards like he was old news.

"Proooongs!"

He landed the bike in front of the Potter's home, which was (obviously) locked. He was staring at the living-room through the window just as the flames turned green and Voldemort stepped out from the fireplace.

"Sirius? It's nice of you to drop by," he heard Lily's voice from behind his back. He turned around to the most spectacular sight: the wife of his best friend was dressed in magically enlarged petals, young Harry on her arms sleeping in a bowtuckle outfit. Next to them, James was…. Sirius burst out in laughter. James was wearing two branches attached to his brown hat, pulling a very bad impression of a stag.

"Padfoot, what is it?"

"You have a dark lord in your living-room," he replied, suddenly losing all his humor. "Peter was not at his hideaway, and there's no sign of struggle, so I thought…. Lily, what are you doing!?"

He cast one last look at James and his ridiculous deer outfit. Apparently, the muggle-style costume had saved the family, as they have gone trick-and-treating when Voldemort came to kill them. Prongs was a bit pale as he confirmed Sirius' statement: Voldemort was, indeed, searching the house for them. It was an unintentional, but most fitting prank that James was standing in a stag costume outside his own house while the dark lord was searching Harry's nursery on the top floor.

Lily was not a Marauder and her way of thinking was much different from her husband's.

"Sirius, hold Harry for me," she said in an icy tone that was more befitting her muggle sister.

"Why?"

"Because you're his godfather," Lily stated. With her hands now free, she pulled her wand and pointed it at the chimney. The thin column exploded, then the bricks caved in.

"What are you doing?" James demanded as well.

"Blocking all the exits, now that he's inside! The walls and doors are already spellproof."

Sirius grinned at the idea.

"That's my wife!" James exclaimed. Powered with that thought, he sent a patronus message to Dumbledore. Catching Voldermort was easy in the hindsight, but to properly finish him, they would need the entire Order.

-!-

Cutting Chamber of Secrets short

It was a hot August afternoon, the time of year when adult and child long for ice-cream alike. Even if they are a couple of dentists, and they know all the hindrances of the sugar in the cold delicacy. Especially if they were just getting to know the wizarding family their daughter grew so fond of in her first school year.

The Weasleys were a large family, too, and the oldest two sons were not even present. They were loud and energetic, especially the twins who were playing pranks on random people even here, in the muggle part of the city. The only daughter was chatting animatedly with Hermione, while the oldest son present, Perceval, was calculating how cheaper it was to convert sickles to muggle money and buy muggle-made sweets, compared to buying wizard-made ice cream for galleons.

"Do you think Malfoy is gone by now?" the youngest boy, Ronald, asked.

"Do you think that Lockhart bloke is gone by now?" Harry asked back.

There was a moment of silence. Then Hermione's father walked to the parlor and opened his wallet.

"The next round is on me," he offered.

He was good at the waiting game.

-!-

Cutting Prisoner of Azkaban short

Note: this one is not a happy ending. But too obvious not to include. –

There was something odd in the water. It was about the size of a young seal, but it never dove under. It was unable to fly, either. It more resembled a swimmer, although those never wandered this far off the shore. It was much more boney, too, more crunchy rather than tasty, but a hungry shark could not afford to be picky about his food. It ate whatever it could find.

-!-

Cutting Goblet of Fire short

Winky knew this will end badly, she knew it would. Those seats were designed with a given number of people in mind. She had, through her life, seen her fair share of sinking boats that had been charmed to carry only one adult wizard, and she couldn't imagine why their platform would behave any differently. Her master could obviously not reserve a seat for young Barty, which meant that the moment the last spectator with a ticket took his seat, they would be one person too many for the fragile structure.

She covered her eyes and held tight to young Barty, preparing herself to apparate the moment the platform collapsed. Maybe muggle structures would have allowed one extra spectator (why wouldn't they?) but magic was so carefully balanced, she was certain it would break.

And of course, it did.

Winky apparated, just as she had meant to.

But only on arrival did she notice that she was only holding on to her young master's invisibility cloak, not the young wizard himself.

-!-

Cutting Order of the Phoenix short

Harry looked at the antique clock on the old house's wall, then at his godfather. One way or another, he was going to leave in ten minutes, and Dumbledore was still nowhere to be seen. He felt that the old wizard was avoiding contact with him on purpose. After worrying through an entire summer because nobody would tell him anything, and after a school year during which even Ron had turned against him, and with the Ministry of Magic calling him a liar in between, and now this ridiculous charge against him for defending his cousin's and his own souls, he had his mind set up.

"Sirius? Last year, did you really come back only because I was in danger?" He knew it was so, but it was reassuring to hear it from his godfather again.

"Of course, I did. I couldn't let anything happen to you."

"And where have you been? I mean, during last summer?"

"Zimbabwe," Sirius grinned. "There's a quite nice wizarding tribe I know."

Harry gasped. This was better than what he'd been preparing himself for.

"Are there any magical schools there?" Harry continued asking.

"Well, it's in Kenya, but still in apparating distance because there are no magical borderlines," Sirius mused. "In fact, the entire Tribal Africa is very easy to travel, if you avoid nundus and the like." Then his eyes lit up as he understood why his godson was asking. He could be leaving this dreadful house, and even better: he'd be leaving it along with his godson! "I can pack my things in two minutes, if you're thinking what I think you're thinking."

Harry nodded, a wide grin on his face. "Go, I'm already done with packing."

-!-

Cutting Half-Blood Prince short

Severus Snape hurried into the headmaster's office as fast as he could. Taking in the sight, he gasped. "Albus, what did you do?"

Both wizards' faces were pale, one because of the sight of a wounded Dumbledore in front of him, the other, because a deadly curse was spreading from his hand as they were speaking.

"I fear I got reckless in my search of somebody else's immortality," Albus Dumbledore said in a small voice. "You are the most skilled in Dark Arts, Severus, and you're the only one I can trust in my condition."

Wordlessly, the Potions professor nodded. Were Albus a few decades younger, he would have given a nasty string of remarks, and certainly would have docked hundreds of points from Gryffindor. And the school year hasn't even started yet.

He gave the headmaster's charred hand a closer look. Clearly there was no stopping the curse from spreading higher and higher up the old man's arm. It could be slowed down, but that would only gain them a few months at best.

Snape summoned a few vials from his cabinet, and set them on the headmaster's large table. Then he started examining the man's elbow – the curse had not reached that, yet. Still, to be on the safe side, he pointed his wand even higher, almost at Dumbledore's shoulder.

"I knew I asked the right person," Albus whispered. The curse was clearly taking its toll on him. Snape pointed his wand even higher. 'Idiot Gryffindor with a death wish,' he murmured under his breath, not caring that the other was a known Legilimens and would be able to pick up his thought.

"Sectumsempra!"

-!-!-

Cutting Deathly Hallows short

Harry took his time to get off the Hogwarts Express. After the events at the end of his sixth school year, he was anything but eager to talk with anyone. The Dursleys, even less.

But when he finally left, he was in for quite a surprise. His walrus of an uncle was wearing an unmistakable bowler hat, and Petunia (who had never before came to King's Cross to pick him up) stumbled over her own legs several times while she caught up with the fat man.

"Come, Harry, you are still a target in the open," his fake uncle, one he'd have chosen anytime over the real Vernon Dursley, murmured. "The wards at your place will not last through the entire summer, and getting you out in July would not be as easy as avoiding you going there in the first place."

"There was a bit of controversy over this, but we figured you won't mind," the fake Petunia added. "You can say goodbye to them over the Floo from Headquarters, we know from 1992 that their fireplace still works, but I'd rather you didn't visit them in person until the Trace comes off."

"That's quite all right," Harry managed. "I mean, there are opportunities in my life I don't mind missing out."

"Gotcha," the stand-in Petunia said, tripping over Harry's trunk.

"Let's get going already," the Vernon lookalike demanded. "And constant vigilance!"

-!-!-

Cutting Deathly Hallows (part 2) short

Hermione was certain Harry was out of his mind, walking into a suspicious house in Godric's Hollow. But she also knew she would be out of her mind if she would allow him to go in there alone. Too bad they didn't have Ron with them. She was missing the third part of the trio.

She arrived just in time to see a huge snake molt out of a dead body, and she didn't need much thinking to figure out this was Voldemort's pet who had attacked Ron's father two years previously. No, it wasn't Voldemort's pet exactly – more like, it was his last horcrux, one made after being given a new body at the cost of Cedric Diggory's life.

Hermione hesitated only for a moment. She was facing a live horcrux, and the only way to destroy a horcrux was to damage it beyond repair. In case of something alive, that could mean only one thing, so she pointed her wand at the attacking snake. This was open war. They were hunting for horcruxes anyway.

And first and foremost, she had to save Harry.

"Avada Kedavra," she said, and she meant it.

The large snake didn't even see the bright green flash. It was… quicker and easier than starting to molt.

In the bright place it had arrived, it could see humans moving around. It hissed a question at them, but nobody seemed to understand. Not one of these people was a Parselmouth.

With one last hiss, the snake gave in to the luring light, and slithered on.