Every Potterhead has spent a ton of time debating the ins and outs of J.K. Rowling's wizarding world: why certain things did or did not happen, and how things might have been different if only minor elements had been changed. Some of these Harry Potter AUs — that's alternate universes, for those who aren't hep to the jive — have taken on lives of their own, as is the case with Dramione and Wolfstar.
That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of awesome, alternate Harry Potter realities left to discover, however. Tasked with changing "just one thing" about the series, Redditors on r/HarryPotter came up with their own great Harry Potter AUs, most of which will make you giggle with joy. If you're looking to write your own Harry Potter fanfiction, the nine alternate universes listed below make for great inspiration.
Redditor pottyaboutpotter1 had one rule for respondents to their thread: don't mention Cursed Child. Because the Harry Potter play drummed up so much controversy in the wake of its release, pottyaboutpotter1 deemed it "the 'easy' answer" to the question of what should be changed about Rowling's series. The Redditor also ruled out "answers that attempt to affect Cursed Child by proxy."
In short, if you're a Hufflepuff looking to right the atrocity that is Cursed Child's version of Cedric Diggory, you won't find any answers here.
Check out Reddit's Harry Potter AUs below, and share your favorites with me on Twitter.
1. Neville Has Friends
Poor Neville. Even though Dumbledore commended him with 10 points to Gryffindor for "stand[ing] up to [his] friends" in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Neville didn't really come into his own until he became an integral part of Dumbledore's Army in Order of the Phoenix. That's why Redditor cravate29 wanted to see Neville and some of the minor Gryffindors — or maybe even some Hufflepuffs — become friends.
To be honest, I would totally read a Neville-centered retelling of the first four Harry Potter books: Neville Longbottom and the Year of Curses, Neville Longbottom and the Year of Charms, Neville Longbottom and the Year of Dementors, Neville Longbottom and the Year of Herbology. In that last one, Neville — not Dobby — gives Harry the Gillyweed, so then we get this lovely moment:
2. Slytherin Students Fight Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts
As a proud Slytherin, I get a little bit irked that my Hogwarts house is constantly associated with the worst of all wizards. Barring one striking exception, there might not have ever been a Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff who went bad, but that doesn't mean all Slytherins are terrible human beings. Snape is the best role model we have — not to mention my favorite Harry Potter character — but even he isn't that great.
The lack of positive Slytherin representation prompted Redditor nitasu987 to create this Harry Potter AU, in which the Slytherin students weren't all locked in the Hogwarts dungeons for the climactic final battle with Voldemort. Cheeseanonioncrisps added that it would be great to see that Slytherin Keeper Miles Bletchley "and a few of the younger Slytherins" had joined Dumbledore's Army in 1997.
However, as QueenSlartibartfast notes, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows describes Slughorn commanding a clutch of student fighters, whom Rowling evidently retconned as Slytherins. The Redditor also brings up that, even though Slytherin House might be a place that "creates a concentration of, and effectively enables, shady behavior," it's kind of crappy for McGonagall to punish all Slytherins for the few bad eggs in their midst.
We aren't all bad. #Slytherin4Life
3. Neville Kills Bellatrix
Although absolutely no one is complaining that Molly Weasley killed Bellatrix Lestrange — "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" is tattooed on my soul, y'all. — it would have made more sense for Neville to avenge his parents at the Battle of Hogwarts. After all, it was Bellatrix who used the Cruciatus Curse to torture Frank and Alice Longbottom into mental oblivion in 1981. Sixteen years later, in this Harry Potter AU from Redditor The3Broomsticks, Neville gets his chance at retribution.
KyfeHeartsword has an interesting take on Molly not dueling Bellatrix. In their version, Molly duels Antonin Dolohov: the Death Eater who killed her brothers, Fabian and Gideon. Meanwhile, Neville gets into a jam with Bellatrix, who nearly overpowers him, when — in a moment of surprise badassery — Augusta Longbottom comes out to save the day.
Cheers all around!
4. Harry Has a Hufflepuff Friend
Like Slytherin, Hufflepuff House languishes under a terrible reputation, perhaps even a worse one. Slytherins might be evil, but Hufflepuffs are downright useless, or so the story goes. The Harry Potter series doesn't do much to dispel those rumors, either. A solid Hufflepuff friend for Harry would have done wonders for that house's reputation, as Redditor Osenyu points out.
The list of famous badgers includes Nymphadora Tonks and her son, Teddy Lupin, plus Cedric Diggory, Newt Scamander, and Professor Sprout. Justin Finch-Fletchley, Hannah Abbott, Susan Bones, and Ernie Macmillan were all minor Puffs in Harry's age group, but none of them were really that memorable. As a result, Hufflepuff House's reputation has been left largely to Potterheads to determine after the fact.
Of course, there's an easy way to solve this problem. How about a Harry Potter AU in which...
5. Neville Is a Hufflepuff
This fan-take is interesting because Neville actually argued with the Sorting Hat to place him in Hufflepuff, but the Hat disagreed, and sorted the poor kid into Gryffindor. This fact plays into one Tumblr user's theory that only those brave enough to speak to the Sorting Hat wind up in Gryffindor, but that's just a theory. Neville Longbottom meets a lot of Hufflepuff's requirements — hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty, and fair play — and so Redditor Spamiard believes that he would have done well in the House of Badgers.
Not only would Spamiard's Harry Potter AU play excellently into Osenyu's above, but it would also give Hufflepuff House a much-needed reputation boost. Because, let's face it, if a Puff had done this —
— everyone would want to be a badger.
6. Hermione Is a Ravenclaw
Much as with Neville, Potterheads often lament the fact that Hermione was sorted into Gryffindor. Citing her high intellect and affinity for research, fans like the Redditor known as halfyou insist that our Ms. Granger should have been placed in Ravenclaw.
It's worthwhile to note that the Golden Trio may each represent a non-Gryffindor house, as pointed out in this Tumblr post. Once again, we see the theory arise that speaking to the Sorting Hat is the only surefire way to get into Gryffindor.
If your Harry Potter AU has Hermione as a Ravenclaw, you're bringing some take-no-prisoners fierceness to the nerdiest house of them all.
7. Peeves, Fred, and George Work Together
Prank magic plays a huge role in Harry Potter, but we never get to find out how it really works. It doesn't take much creative thinking to imagine what kind of spell makes U-No-Poo work, but what about Extendable Ears or Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder? We might have actually had answers to these burning questions if the Redditors below had their way.
Peeves and the Weasley twins always seemed to get on fine with each other, probably because of their shared devotion to mischief-making, which is why it makes perfect sense for the three of them to go into business together, whether at Hogwarts or at Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.
Then again, maybe the wizarding world just isn't ready for all that.
8. The Wizarding World Has No Time Travel
This Harry Potter AU might break pottyaboutpotter1's only rule for their thread, but it's still quite interesting and fairly popular. In short, Redditor basketball_curry argues that there should be no time-turners in Harry Potter at all, mostly because it leaves the world susceptible to plot holes, such as the question of why no one ever went back in time to kill Voldemort, despite having the means to do so.
As scotsoe points out in their reply, the time-turner Hermione used in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban operated according to different rules than the ones that governed Cursed Child's artifact. When Harry and Hermione traveled back in time to save Buckbeak and Sirius, they created the seemingly supernatural phenomena that they had experienced before. To put it in scotsoe's terms, their "shenanigans only happened because they had always happened."
Without time travel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban would be a much different book, but — as that is the only book in the series to deal heavily with the science-fiction-y concept — the larger wizarding world won't change that much in this AU.
9. RUBEUS POTTER
Harry and Ginny named their three children after James and Lily Potter, Sirius, Dumbledore, Snape, and Luna Lovegood. All great namesakes, but the lack of love for Rubeus Hagrid in Rowling's canon remains just a little depressing. After all, Hagrid was the first person ever to tell Harry who he really was, and he carried Harry's body out of the Forbidden Forest after his final encounter with Voldemort.
In Redditor megnyan's Harry Potter AU, Hagrid gets his due respect from Harry, much to the lovable oaf's delight. Albus Potter might have dealt with all kinds of trouble, living under his father's shadow, but at least he was named for one of Hogwarts' most beloved headmasters. How would little Rubeus get on, being named for a sitting professor, who also happens to be 1) the groundskeeper and 2) an expelled former student?
Make Hagrid happy. Give him a little Rubeus to share his secrets with.
Image: Warner Bros.; Screenshots/Reddit