Author's Note: Several months ago, this came to me as an idea for a long story with a real plot, but I lost inspiration for it. However, I have decided to make this story purely a character-driven one, with the reactions of all of our favorites if Harry hadn't survived first year. I've already written a bunch of them, so I'll put the ones I've done up, and then write even more. They are also up as one-shots, if you want to see them that way too.
Please let me know what you think of each one! In all, there should be between 20-30 chapters.
Chapter 1: The Moment it Began
As Albus Dumbledore fought his way past the enchantments protecting the Sorcerer's Stone as quickly as he could, his heart raced a mile a minute, and guilt pounded at him harder than it ever had before. How could he have been so stupid as to heed the Ministry's fake call and leave the school, ensuring that the stone was unprotected from the likes of Voldemort? He'd had a hunch that the exiled Dark Lord had been after it for some time. And now things had come to the worst possible conclusion.
When he'd realized he wasn't needed at the Ministry after all, he'd immediately known something was wrong and had come rushing back to school. No sooner had he walked in than he'd run into a frantic Hermione Granger levitating an unconscious Ron Weasley. From the look on her face, Dumbledore guessed what had happened. "Harry's gone after it, hasn't he?" he'd asked softly.
"Yes," Hermione had replied with terror in her voice. "Please hurry."
So now Dumbledore was doing just that. He had a sinking feeling that an altercation between Harry and Voldemort had already occurred, and he was too late.
He finally reached the room that held his form of protection, the Mirror of Erised, and his heart sank to the bottom of his stomach when he saw what was contained within.
Professor Quirrell was lying on the floor, burnt to a crisp. His eyes were opened wide, and they were glassy and staring. Dumbledore had seen that look too many times not to know what it meant: Professor Quirrell was very clearly dead. And he'd been the one that had wanted the stone for Voldemort.
And lying beside Quirrell, his eyes closed and his breathing ragged, lay eleven-year-old Harry Potter. Dumbledore bent down and felt the boy's pulse; it was very weak. The old man knew there was very little time; Harry, the child he'd vowed to protect, was barely alive.
Not even sparing Quirrell a second glance, Dumbledore picked up Harry in his arms. He told himself he'd come back for the corpse later, but Harry was his first priority right now. He had many thoughts buzzing through his head: how could Quirrell have been burned so badly? What had caused it? Was it ancient magic of some sort? He'd had a feeling that Lily Potter's sacrifice would come to mean much more in Harry's lifetime. But as he carried the frail young boy who was barely clinging to life back through the rooms of protections, he knew that the first order of business was to get Harry well again. Terror gripped him as the boy's breathing continued to be labored. Dumbledore knew from experience that this was a sign of major magical exhaustion. He hoped that he could get him to Poppy in time, that the kindly nurse would be able to heal him. Harry simply could not die; it would destroy Albus.
The next few minutes were a blur as Dumbledore carried Harry to the hospital wing, praying the whole time that the boy would miraculously survive this. He knew what Harry's death would mean for the wizarding world, but above all, he wanted the child to survive because he deeply cared about him. Upon meeting Harry for the first time when he was a baby, his joy for life and his pure innocence had radiated off him. And Dumbledore wished that such a huge burden hadn't been placed on the young boy's shoulders.
Once he got to the hospital wing, he was relieved to find that Poppy didn't even ask what had happened. She explained, as she gently took Harry from Dumbledore's arms and placed him on a bed, that Hermione Granger had told her everything and that Ron Weasley was currently recovering. Hermione was very reluctant to go back to her dormitory, but Poppy had sent her back with a Dreamless Sleep potion, reassuring her that Ron would be just fine.
She tenderly looked at Harry as she ran her wand over him, her face paling as she did so. Dumbledore's heart sank even further as she gave him a pained look and bustled away, quickly returning with many bottles of potions. She and Dumbledore gently made sure that they were poured down Harry's throat, and then Poppy sat back, her eyes filling with tears. Dumbledore gazed at her, knowing that this was a very bad sign. "What is it, Poppy?" he whispered.
"Mr. Potter is suffering the effects of severe magical exhaustion," Poppy said softly, taking the old wizard's hand in her own. "Honestly, I don't know if he'll survive the night, Albus."
A pain like no other filled Dumbledore's heart as he gazed at the innocent young boy before him. No, this couldn't be happening! Harry had to survive! He was only eleven, he had so much of his life ahead of him! At this moment Dumbledore wasn't even thinking of the further implications his death would have on the wizarding world. He was only thinking about the child that had run around with his friends with pure wonder on his face, the child that had a look of complete rapture while playing Quidditch, the child that had captured his heart. Oh God, Harry, I've failed you, he thought desperately as he grasped Harry's hand. With all his soul, he prayed for a miracle.
Moments later Minerva McGonagall entered the wing; Poppy had informed her of tonight's happenings. With a guilt-stricken look on her face, she walked over to Albus and sat beside him, looking over the young boy who was one of her students. "Albus," she whispered, "I did a terrible, terrible thing. The three of them - Potter, Weasley, and Granger - they warned me that the stone was in danger. I assured them that it was perfectly safe. How could I have been so foolish?"
"Minerva," Albus said gently, staring into her stricken face. "Do not blame yourself. I myself thought the stone was safe. I would not have left the school if I thought otherwise."
"But ..." Minerva said, her eyes filling as she gazed at her dangerously ill student.
"No, Minerva. This is not your fault. The blame for this situation is mine to bear alone," Dumbledore said in a heartsick voice.
"Miss Granger," Minerva said after a moment of silence. "Should she be notified?"
"She is exhausted," Dumbledore said quietly. "She should not be burdened with any more bad news tonight. I promise she will be notified in the morning."
Minerva stayed with Albus for a few more minutes. Then, she reluctantly left, for she had to supervise her students. She squeezed Albus's hand as she did so, saying, "And don't blame yourself either, Albus."
But as the night wore on, the elderly Headmaster found it harder and harder not to do so. Despite Poppy's efforts, Harry grew weaker and weaker. He'd developed a raging fever by now, which was dehydrating his body no matter how many potions were forced into him. Dumbledore kept praying for a miracle, but fate seemed not to be listening to him.
Finally, at about half past midnight, Poppy gave Dumbledore a look that made the color drain from his face. Fawkes, his phoenix, nuzzled his shoulder, seeming to know what was about to happen as well. Unfortunately, no matter how many tears he cried, his healing powers could not work for these kinds of situations.
His eyes filling with tears, Dumbledore gently lifted the young child from the bed and held him in his arms, stroking his messy mop of black hair. "I'm so sorry, child," he whispered, his voice choking with emotion. "I failed you. I tried so hard to keep you safe, to protect you from this, but all my efforts -failed. I am so, so sorry."
"Albus ..." Poppy whispered, her eyes filling too. She held on to one of Harry's hands while Dumbledore took the other.
"No, Poppy, it's true. I ... I ..." Words failed Albus as he stared into Harry's innocent face. The boy was gasping for breath now, and his face was very, very pale. His whole body was burning up, destroying itself from the inside out. Dumbledore was just grateful that Harry couldn't feel anything because of his unconscious state.
As Dumbledore waited for the inevitable, he remembered what Harry had seen in the Mirror of Erised months ago. More tears spilled from the old man's eyes as he knew that Harry's wish was now coming true. He imagined Lily and James hugging him, holding him, telling their son it was time to come home, that they were so very, very proud of him. And as Dumbledore imagined this scene, he felt Harry exhale one last, shuddering breath. Then, all was still.
And For hours afterwards, Dumbledore held on to the young boy's body. Poppy tried to coax him to let go, but he just couldn't. Even when the body grew unnaturally cold, he held on tight, listening to Fawkes sing a sad, mournful melody. Harry looked extremely peaceful; that was one thing Dumbledore took comfort in, the fact that Harry hadn't died in pain. But as he held on to Harry's cold hand, he did something that he hadn't done in many, many years: Albus Dumbledore truly wept. Sobs racked his body; this was not what he had wanted for Harry at all.
He had failed. The eleven-year-old boy before him would never grow any older, and soon, he would be lying in a coffin. He had failed. This mantra kept repeating itself in his head as night melted into morning. He could still not bring himself to leave Harry's bedside even though the boy was long gone..