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Hey everyone!

Please join us in welcoming @Irene to the staff team as a moderator for the Politics forum. Please consider her the first contact for any issues that arise in that section for the foreseeable future. Show her verdicts the same deference you show the current members of staff.

Please greet your new overlord here.

Thanks. -Jon

Perfecting the Independent Harry Genre

Discussion in 'Fanfic Discussion' started by Taure, Jun 16, 2019.

  1. Jeram

    Jeram Elder of Zion ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Jun 27, 2006
    High Score:
    Well, this conceit has already been done to death.

    Nah, hard disagree. Harry in name only feels false and thin. I can barely read some of the older fanfics that are authorial transplants because of this issue.

    This part makes some sense. I think there's a seed of something, but there really is one very simple rule: Don't have the story be terrible. The trick is to pull that off.
  2. KGB

    KGB Headmaster

    Jan 18, 2011
    1. Harry taking his own path

    Is way over thought. There needs to be no real rift between Harry and Dumbledore as they aren't really acting in concert.

    Harry can just do his thing, find a clue and act one it. The only difference being that the thread takes him away from Hogwarts and the normal status quo of the story.

    Than just avoid writing a fanon Dumbles and you have a Harry that is acting independently.

    2. Political elements

    Also there is no need to introduce titles and the accompanying harebrained "pureblood customs" that goes with it.

    Harry has immense political power from being Boy Who Lived. The sort of power that makes people bow to him in the streets and ministers to seek him out for endorsements.

    Why would he need more? All that is needed is an incident that induces him to act on that power.

    3. Money

    Also not not an issue. JK gets a lot of flack for lack of acumen on all financial issues, but story wise it's perfect. Harry has enough money.

    How much does he have? Enough to live on, enough to buy whatever he wants, enough for it to never become an issue that he has to contend with.

    Thats why the financial aspect always falls down on closer inspection. It is nothing more than a quick handwave by JK to compare rich parentless Harry to poor but familied Ron and Malfoy who has both but is miserable do to general failures in character and upbringing.

    Well I just might dislile indie!Harry. It just always relies on silly gimmicks and run out of steam when the premise is streatched so thin that not even the author can stand it anymore.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2019
  3. Amythyr

    Amythyr Squib

    Sep 23, 2015
    Forgotten Realms
    Speaking of politics I would love to write a fic where Harry is actually inexperienced and is being manipulated by both sides in the political arena.
  4. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Minister of Magic DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

    Oct 16, 2010
    Ok, but remember, you did ask for this waffle

    I think the two indy Harries that most typify the genre for me are The Power of Time by Rosswrock, and Summer of Change by .... Lorddwar (had to google that one).

    Either way, they're the only ones that I can still remember completely distinctly, where all the rest have mushed together into a hazy mist of tropes.

    I don't think I can add too much more to the codifying and description of what makes the genre up, but going by what has been presented in the thread, I wonder how you can turn it into a story that grasps some of the key tenents. Particularly, referring to the opening thread's three criteria of money, political involvement and Harry going his own way (Redpill!Harry, isn't that a scary idea).

    My first thought was moderately similar to Joe's. We're getting older, go for an older Harry - right? And, after the age of maturity, it's more reasonable for him to approach his problems in a political way. However, reading through Joe's idea, it just doesn't feel like an indy Harry fic to me, even though it does sound like a very engaging story. I think having an older non-teenage Harry at the onset who is already more mature doesn't work to start this genre.

    So I've been thinking, how do you square that circle? Because, that's the real crux of the problem - how do you write a political Harry who is also a rebellious Harry not leaning on one of the most power political figures in the country who happens to be his quasi-grandfather/headmaster, right?

    I think you've got to tell two stories, because it's two lessons.

    Story one: Harry comes of age and becomes a man.

    Story two: Harry becomes a leader, he uses what he learned in story one to enlighten the political world and defeat Voldemort.

    This is because the real issue with Indy fics for me isn't the subject matter but a fault in the central conceit, it's just too gosh darned quick.

    Typically, Harry learns some shocking truth whether it's the Prophecy, or the Horcrux, or whatever, and it's an instant snap from all of his previously established feelings and methodology and he has a moment of realisation about Dumbledore and his entire perspective on him is redefined. All his actions from then forward are completely different and he's making choices he could never make before the scales fell from his eyes.

    To me, that sounds more like the climax of a story than the opening, but it's invariably the inciting event in an indy Harry fic, if it's not the opening scene itself.

    If we want Harry to go from early canon Harry to someone who knows that the only effective hope he has to defeat Voldemort is to be politically and economically active then we need to go slow and take our time about it and build him into someone who would do that at age 17. So again, because we now have two character lines we need two stories.

    Story one:

    In this, we need to create a series of events in which Harry becomes the type of man who recognises that he cannot defeat Voldemort by himself.

    We know that as an indy Harry story (by my preference) we want to start it in his mid-teens, so that narrows the time down and we just have to pick where to start it up, and we'll have all the context we need about his normal world from that. We also know, therefore, that he's going to age through the story and it's going to have to be quite General as a genre at first, because it's still in the middle of Hogwarts and it's going to build into a sequel that has Harry in the corridors of power, dealing with many people in many walks of life. I think we can figure out the bare bones principles from that and from canon.

    Pitch: When Harry thwarts Voldemort's return for the third time he realises that his life has a time-limit and he'll never be free to live outside Hogwarts until he ends the evil wizard, once and for all.

    Theme Premise: When a schoolboy who has been targeted by a terrorist organisation takes it into his own hands to hunt the terrorist leader down, he learns that no one man can change the world by himself.

    Narrative Principle: Harry seeks to defeat Voldemort actively across his remaining years at Hogwarts, squandering his resources along the way, until he learns his lesson and starts to build to his own strengths rather than challenge his enemy's.

    So we've got our principles to build all the character arcs around. Now we just have to figure out the key events of the story, with these in mind and develop them into something that you can fill a short story with, where all the characters are reflecting parts of the same problem.

    We know our Hero will be Harry, and our primary opponent will be Voldemort and our secondary opponent will be Dumbledore, just by the nature of the genre, so that's easy. We want a four corner opposition here, so we need someone else can hinder him. We've got the head of the Death Eaters who is a strong wizard, the head of the school who is a strong wizard, so I think we need someone who has no official political power and is not a strong wizard - so someone like Draco, or Cedric, who can oppose him through peer politics.

    We just need to figure out for this story what Harry's weaknesses will be, and how they're differently placed to exploit it in some manner.

    Flaw: Harry thinks he can take on Voldemort by himself, because he's always reactively defended himself from Voldemort by himself.
    Psychological need: Harry needs to learn that what he can do as part of a group is greater than what he can do alone.
    Moral need: Harry needs to learn that being part of a group that cares about you means listening to other viewpoints.

    It's important to have the need split in two like this because Harry's psychological need should directly have an impact on those around him, creating a moral weakness. His failure to understand the two things above means he's negatively affecting the other characters around him until he learns how he needs to change.

    Skipping ahead slightly, what story would we build on this?

    1. Weakness and Need we know.

    2. Desire - Harry wants to find and defeat Voldemort. If Dumbledore won't help him then he'll do it by himself. The AU is that Voldemort hasn't returned in GoF, so it needs to start around there. Harry has seen Voldemort as a spirit, a remnant possessive force and now as a homunculus. It's not going to stop, and Harry can look into his head. It's up to Harry to stop him. He needs to find him, and he needs to kill him before he comes back to his full power (to Harry this seems like a very reasonable goal, and there'll be teenage conflict in that no-one else 'gets' he's not saying he'd take on a reincarnated Voldemort, but in actuality he's the one not understanding how, even in un-life, Voldemort and his death-eaters are too much of a danger to him).

    3. Opponent - we've kind of covered but specifically, what are they fighting over? Voldemort wants to live and he wants Harry dead. He will try and snare Harry as he comes after him and use him. He wants Harry to bring him back to life and so Harry's desire can be turned by the primary opponent into the thing that Harry wants least. Dumbledore wants Harry safe and part of a friendship group, he does what he can to obscure Voldemort from Harry and sort out Voldemort by himself, but of course this just pushes Harry into riskier situations because he's not going to stop just because he doesn't have a safetynet, rather he will struggle to get around Dumbledore and hide from him. Also, I like the idea that Dumbledore has come to accept that if Voldemort never comes back they can never defeat him, so he's more about minimising harm than preventing it. Lastly, lets say Draco, will do the usualish thing and make Harry's school relationships difficult, including with his Gryffindors. They will provide challenges to how Harry pursues his goal in terms of hindering his efforts to leave and to acquire knowledge and skills. They will challenge his physical and emotional safety at Hogwarts.

    4. Plan - Harry is determined to use his capital (in every sense of the word) to acquire all the personal power he can to find and destroy Voldemort. So this is how he discovers a defunct landed title, and wealth. This is how he uses his fame. He wants tutors, he wants investigators, he wants equipment and knowledge. He spends his inheritance on it, he wastes his fame on it, he throws Dumbledore's regard against it, and tests his friend's love against it because defeating Voldemort is more important than any of that. This'll be useful for the second story because everything he scorned is now what he needs again, but he's used almost all of it up.

    5. Battle - Voldemort will confound or subvert Harry's investigators and create traps that draw him in. Dumbledore will become less distant and actively halt Harry in trying to follow these traps, he will deny Harry knowledge that could help him or limit his freedoms or his resources (hopefully in a more genuinely understandable way than his rationale in most indy Harry fics) to preserve his safety, and Draco will create a hostile environment in the castle and ruin Harry's friendships trying to drive him from the castle. I like this because the building climaxes will work together: Voldemort's trap pulls him from the castle, as Dumbledore's power is displayed to keep him from leaving the castle, while Draco acts to isolate and push him from the castle, and Harry has to negotiate all of this at the same time.

    6. Revelation - This is the point in the latter story, near or in the climax where Harry accepts his new truth and acts on it, in a way he couldn't before. This is where he changes and addresses his needs, and realises he can't do this by himself and he needs to become an active member of society. The climax has to involve these elements:
    A. He has to realise the Voldemort has a plan, a plan that involves him, he has to realise it could prove a very bad idea to chase after Voldemort regardless - and then he has to do it anyway.
    B. Voldemort has to be revealed as a personally pathetic enemy. This is the most important plot point of the first story. The danger is coming from the death eaters through which he is acting, from his agents.
    C. Voldemort must be on the cusp of returning because of Harry's failure - and Harry's failure must have used everything he gained from his plan and have been ineffective.
    D. One of Harry's main opponents must become an ally and save him and confound Voldemort's return - the obvious candidate would be Dumbledore, but if there's anyway to do it reasonably it would be better if it was Draco who allowed him the seed of escape. Harry must survive and Voldemort must be thwarted again because of someone else's efforts, and those efforts aren't directly pointed at Voldemort but at his agents.
    E. Harry has to have a moment of enlightenment and witness all the above to do it.
    7. New normal - Harry has escaped, Voldemort has survived again. But Harry has learnt his lesson. He realises that Voldemort can't be defeated by himself alone. He realises that Voldemort's true power as a wight is his small cadre of politically and magically powerful Death Eaters. He realises that he can only take them on with the support of a new group - a new cohort with a new way of looking at the world and society. A group that values unity in a way the Sorting Hat sings. He realises he's got a long road ahead of him - he needs to get back what he threw away and he needs to put it to work for him in a different way than he did before.

    I think it's important to note one thing in particular:

    - It needs to be essential for book 2 that Harry can only defeat Voldemort by defeating his established and wealthy pure-blood followers.
    - To that end, in the story, Voldemort would never return at any point in both stories.
    - At his full power, he represents too much magical power for Harry to take on in a political way.
    - If he never returns, both Dumbledore and Voldemort have reasons they can't turn their magical weight on Harry in book 2.

    Book 2 would be much more classic indy Harry - it would involve him knowing that one man can't change the world alone, but a group can together. He would then need to convince the majority of society of that, particularly those who did not fit into Dumbledore's or Voldemort's groups. You would need to have a very small but powerful number of Death Eaters, and beef them up a bit, rather than having dozens of them as mooks for Harry to cream. Harry would need to obtain the horcruxes by other means than canon because the Ministry is still standing, and you'd probably want him to take down a Death-eater per item, with almost all of them weighted towards the second half of the Story. I think I'd also finish with Voldemort alone as a spirit with no one left to save him, and Harry living a full life and finally killing Voldemort passively by dying naturally. Perhaps have Voldemort almost entirely intangible by the end of all the Horcruxes bar Harry - so that we can all see there are fates worse than death.

    This would allow for an organised conspiracy to plot against him. It also means that he's got a tightly focused number of distinct antagonists to fight against both politically and magically. While at the same time both Harry and the reformed Death Eaters have to obey the appearances of things in order to achieve their goals within the wider political class and society at large.

    In terms of a landed title, I think I'd just make Harry a hereditary sir from a distant ancestor with an estate that's been passed on - in the style of the Malfoys. Harry would take to it a bit too much, at first, in the style of the 'Half-blood Prince', but he would learn that there are no titles in the wizarding world and it doesn't afford him any special privilege or standing amongst the political class - because why would it? He's already the boy who lived. It would be something to world build around though - and he could use a knightly title to investigate the early Death Eaters as the Knights of Walpurgis, and have his new faction be some new chivalrous order, in contrast to the Order and the Death Eaters. It might not be cringe if it was long enough in coming.

    The benefit of book one and two is that you can also reference some of the tropes. So in his younger years have some auror-babe tutelage when he's being a ministry celebrity for perks, or moving into a castle by himself but actually having it be pretty unliveable because he's stripping all the money out for potions and such.

    I'm not going to go into book two, or actually come up with some plot events to see what it looks like in more details for book one, because this has already gone on a bit long, but I think I've spat out my essential idea on how to create an indy Harry that lets you use some of the tropes, get the right feel, but also create an organic tri-partite conflict, ultimately - that can only take place if Harry has some measure of political power.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
  5. Methos

    Methos High Inquisitor DLP Supporter

    Sep 24, 2016
    High Score:
    Offering my thoughts.
    When imagining Indy Harry or Rebel Harry, I see Harry working outside of the defined box of rules other Wizards and Witches play by.

    By working outside of the set given rules, Harry is a Dark Wizard (name for any rebel).
    When he has followers, supporters he get upgraded to Dark Lord.

    I will also prefer that Harry power will comes not from his: inherited titles/political power or insane amounts of money.
    While he might be more magically powerful (having potential), he still needs to work for it, emphasizing what it means to be a Wizard.
    Actually learning and knowing stuff, and how creative and skilled you are using your knowledge.

    Since Harry is in disadvantage compare to Dumbledore, Voldemort, Ministry and other older and experienced wizards and witches.

    Harry can balance it, by thinking and working outside the box, drawing inspiration from mundane world, utilizing family heritage and knowledge.
    Getting supporters and followers as well, for which is treatment to them is different than how Dumbledore and Voldemort operate.
    Note: he doesn't need to be mad genius, sometime just tweaking something or being more ruthless can work.

    What his heritage can offer:
    Keeping with my line of thinking of the Potters not being political entity rather more artisans in nature, they have in addition to the academic approach, also the more practical approach to magic in various forms, further might include knowledge about various types of magic which are either banned/forbidden/restricted.

    Note: Banned magic can be either really evil/black magic, or because it is extremely dangerous (not necessary evil) with severe consequences for those who muddle with it, or for political/ideals reasons (which I can name at least few).

    defining more the various factions and their sub-factions and how their differ from each other.
    Defining the leading persons of each faction and sub faction.

    How is this tied back to the political sphere, Harry as a place there not because he inherited obscure titles, rather because he slowly build a faction with power, that is outside of the current system.
    Leading the leaders of various factions/sub factions to have him join the system, and draw him to their side.

    Further I don't see some adult mentor as a limiting factor to Harry growth.
    Sirius Black as character and his connection to Harry as much potential.
    Sirius can offer Harry a different world view that isn't completely aligned with what Harry see from others and as a mentor for Harry growth.
    I will also change the Wizengamot not to be inherited titles, rather draw more from the earlier versions of Roman's senate.
    Where houses have prestige and importance, but it is more complicated.

    I have much more to add, but I feel i'm going of rail.
  6. Gene

    Gene Third Year

    Jan 11, 2014
    I think the trick to making the genre palatable is to change the nature of Harry's desire to strike his own path, and I think the reason so many of these stories fail is because they portray the decision to go it alone as spur-of-the moment rather than building it up and paying it off.

    The solution is simple, assuming you do want to play around with Voldemort and Dumbledore both alive: start the story in the middle of 5th year, when Dumbledore is avoiding Harry, he's being smothered by the ministry, he's already isolated, he's being influenced by Voldemort, and he's being completely kept out of the loop.

    The following is one path to take: Maybe Umbridge gets Dumbledore tossed earlier in the year, and Harry has to step up, without guidance, crafting plans and decisions that diverge markedly from Dumbledore's more patient approach.

    Whenever Dumbledore comes back, you can have the two leaders clash, and then have Harry angrily go his own way after the requisite manipulations are revealed (best done by making them all seem like reasonable choices, choices which nevertheless show Harry that Dumbledore's view of the situation prioritizes Harry far less than said boy would like.)

    Add in some support bought through politics or money, with consequences that come back to haunt Harry (maybe he hires mercenaries that then leave at a critical moment? Maybe he trades political favors and then has to support something abhorrent in return?), and you have an independent Harry learning how hard it can be to be independent. Throw in a dash of extra magical ability because it's just more fun to have characters with really cool powers than without.

    Maybe even try to realize a more unexplored and dangerous powerset, to cement the independence. Perhaps Harry starts summoning and binding demons, without people there to stop him. Maybe he manipulates light to a greater degree than any before him. Maybe he starts playing with enchanting. Whatever it is, let there be actual danger to it, maybe even an earned stigma, cementing Harry's departure from magical society as it is.

    The overall point is that the genre isn't really incapable of producing a great story, but that the setup is trite, the independence is unnatural, there are minimal consequences for Harry's choices, and what Harry does once independent is rarely something he needs to be independent to do in the first place.
  7. Atri

    Atri Groundskeeper

    Apr 28, 2012
    All very good thoughts, everyone.

    Let me add to them.

    Most of you want to start the story fifth year or even after Hogwarts, but I think that for an IndyHarry story to work that's not really necessary. Start earlier. Start at the end of First Year.

    At the heart of it, before the prophecy and before all of his adventures, Harry was a kid in an abusive home who finally managed to escape to a wondrous school. A school of magic. He thwarted Voldemort and thus did something truly heroic. But instead of being rewarded for it, he is sent back to that abusive home.

    I believe that the seed that would start it all is Harry's desire to change his situation. He doesn't want to return to the Dursleys, but Dumbledore still makes him. Now, we know why and Dumbledore's reasons for that. But Harry doesn't. So there we have the conflict between Harry and the headmaster.

    Give Harry another option. Now that he has returned to the Wizarding World, he's visible again. He's not hidden like he was and thus a valuable commodity; he's a hero and the public loves him. Make it a political story. Let one of those politicians catch him at an opportune moment and offer a mentorship. A smart adult can successfully manipulate a child, especially if that child is so socially stunted and young like Harry is. As a bonus, couple this mentorship with something like "Aide to the Wizengamot" and thus offer Harry additional time away from the Dursleys or even complete removal from that home.

    As Harry has not had bad experiences with the politicians of the magical world, he should not be hostile towards them. Slowly build his knowledge and skills up through the mentorship and after some time let him realize that he's being used for his name and fame and that with work and effort he actually is able to influence people and the world and also change his own situation. Show him the injustices of the magical world. As Hermione's friend, there's a personal impact at least when you look at the muggleborn situation. By the time Harry is older -- sixteen/seventeen -- let him break away and do his own thing.

    Voldemort's return can be delayed for years if Harry manages to squash key Death Eaters and so the majority of the war will be on the political scene until then. And when Voldemort does return, Harry will have established himself and made necessary connections for that eventuality as he still should remember his first year. He doesn't even need to do it all alone and even shouldn't. His experiences should tell him that.

    So, thoughts?
  8. ParseltonguePhoenix

    ParseltonguePhoenix Unspeakable

    Oct 4, 2007
    If we want to start earlier in the franchise, I think we’d have the perfect setup in the summer before third year. After holding off Voldemort’s resurrection again, saving the school again, and literally saving lives again (and nearly dying himself in the process), Harry is bundled off back to Privet Drive. I could definitely see some resentment there.

    But even better, he now has to deal with Aunt Marge making his life a living hell, and under that stress, he cracks a bit and inflates her before escaping to Diagon Alley where he spends the next couple of weeks rather free of Dumbledore and the Weasley family. If someone wanted to take advantage of Harry, this would be a pretty opportune time to start.

    And, in the reverse, Harry has never had more freedom to this point than he enjoys during his stay at the Leaky Cauldron. Freedom to make his own choices about the people he interacts with, the purchases he makes, the things he does..

    But, then he learns of the traitorous escaped convict on the loose, and you’ve got the impetus for a whole different kind of start.
  9. thejabber27

    thejabber27 Groundskeeper

    Jan 4, 2012
    Very good stuff my perspective:

    Go from a fall of Rome approach. So start from end of fifth year (during the battle) or sometime during 6th. The concept going that the bureaucracy in the ministry is crippled/destroyed that includes magical tools (like the one that implements the trace), records (so everything from apparation licenses to unplottable permits), and most importantly the ledgers. There still might be a ministry, but it's really in name only.

    From there I see three primary factions for power in magical Britain 1) Voldemort and the Death eaters 2) Dumbledore and his allies and 3) the Goblins all have different stances, want different things, and have different limitations as why they can't rule. Voldemort is pro-pureblood, neutral to half-bloods and anti-muggleborns and muggles, they want power and a cleansing of magical society which they feel is eroding, basically back to older ways and customs. They don't have the money or infrastructure to rule, while he has rich backers, it's not enough to fund a country and the original endgame was as in canon use the intact ministry to run things.

    Dumbledore is neutral pureblood and halfbloods, pro muggleborn and neutral to muggles. He wants a restoration to a ministry system as set-up by him, think more philosopher kings. He can build the infrastructure given time and has influence with the general magical populace but he lacks funds and more militant backers. The wedge for him and Harry that leads to Indy!Harry comes from the indifference to muggles (born from the general separation from the magical world) and the philosopher kings approach. They don't have hate between them but Harry will want to go a separate way based around these.

    Goblins are neutral wizard and muggle, pro goblin. They want a magical nation where they determine their own future, wizards could live there, maybe have some say in government, but it's goblins first at the end of the day. They have money, soldiers, infrastructure and centuries of anger for being repressed and are taking the opportunity presented to them. They lack a mandate, the fear of the rest of the wizarding world, and goblins aren't as strong as wizards so they'll lose in head on fights.

    I think a fair bit of the plot would be over a few decades, think Foundation, rebuilding takes a long time and there's many pitfalls, Harry's independence happens over 3-5 years as Dumbledore's indifference to muggles/plan to rebuild the ministry to his ideal pushes the wedge in deeper until Harry leaves with a few others (Ron, Hermione, Luna) not really to start their own camp at first but make a small orderly place that ends up growing.

    Magical Europe stays out of it because the instability in Britain is to their advantage and the small populations of magicals means that the countries don't have huge amounts of trade or reliance on one another.
  10. Hymnsicality

    Hymnsicality Seventh Year

    Oct 28, 2014
    On the wild plains of Africa
  11. darklordmike

    darklordmike Headmaster

    Mar 14, 2009
    I like quite a few of these ideas, and I'd read the hell out of Taure's OP, but who is going to write this? If you go for solid character development over time, and include politics, money, magical growth, education, and a central conflict, you're looking at three fics of 200k words each. In other words, something almost as long as all seven canon books. Is there still a decent writer out there who would take on something of such scope?

    I'd be interested in seeing someone try to write this in the space of a single 250kish word story, but I'm not sure it can be done.
  12. James

    James Auror

    Jan 22, 2015
    Or, you know, go with standards of currently written popular fics and go for 2500k.

    Three of them.
  13. Drachna

    Drachna Fourth Year

    Jun 22, 2016
    High Score:
    You can't improve perfection.
  14. Dagmawi

    Dagmawi First Year

    Mar 24, 2018
    United States
    Do you know of any really good war fics that re centered around Harry, I have a hard time finding them.
  15. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Mar 5, 2006
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    Loath as I am to recommend them, Starfox5's fics are probably up your alley if you want military style fics. They minimise the role of magic and stress tactics/strategy. Warning: lots of super Hermione and Mugglewank.
  16. DerHesse

    DerHesse Auror

    Jun 12, 2010
    I think Harry's youth and suggestibility might be a great way to drive a bit of a wedge between him Dumbledore.

    The driving force for some of the changes have to be the people, that influence Harry and help him form his own opinion, which might not align with Dumbledore's plans.

    One person, that comes to mind is Sirius.

    He might have been the outcast of the Black family, but for the longest time of his youth he was their heir.
    He seemed to have disregarded everything, because he just didn't care, but he should still know almost everything about wizard politics just by being groomed to take up the mantle at some point.

    He should also know almost everything about the Potters, which he could bring to Harry's attention.

    Let's say fourth year, instead of being far away Sirius races back when he heard, that Harry's name came out of the Goblet of Fire. They meet in the Shrieking Shack and talk face to face. Sirius decides to stay nearby and those meetings in the Shack become a regular thing.

    He talks about things, that seem trivial to him, like Harry's great-grandfather being a prominent Wizengamot member or where they lived, which Harry soaks up like a sponge and influences his opinion. One day he helps Harry prepare for the Yule Ball, the other day after a few glasses of Firewhisky he curses the Death Eaters, that run free, while he had no trial. Harry talks about his adventures (Ford into tree, Aragog, etc.), asks questions and laments what could have been.

    Another person, that could influence Harry is Neville. Just an idea to shake things up.
    Point of divergence would be first year after their flying lessons and before "The Midnight Duel".
    Instead of joining the Quidditch team (because there is always Quidditch) Harry and Ron decided to prepare for their duel with Malfoy by "practicing" some jinxes and their aim. They had so much fun, that keep they it up even after the "duel". After a few times they are joined by the rest of the first year Gryffindor dorm room and they become an unoffical dueling club. At some point Neville joins, too, and Harry being a natural and sympathic towards him takes him under his wing. They actually become real friends and Harry learns early on about Neville's parents, which makes him feel anger on Neville's behalf.

    He could develop a protective streak towards people like Neville or Luna.

    Maybe seeing Luna getting bullied early on he decides to take her under his wing, too. Being a friend, a bit protective and helping her with school stuff.

    Neville and Luna could lead to Harry being more aggressive in the way he defends others, which in turn makes him more aggressive later on when dealing with Death Eater threats.

    Fake!Moody still has his original plan of getting Harry through the tournament, but he decides to take a more hands-on approach. He actively teaches Harry from the get-go.

    He convinces Harry to take a vow of silence to keep everything secret and Harry agrees, because outside help is frowned upon, but he knows, that the other champions are already years ahead and get help by their headmasters. Dumbledore knows about it, but he wouldn't think twice about the secrecy and Moody helping Harry.

    The real reason for the secrecy is however so that fake!Moody can have fun with Harry by being an incredibly unforgiving and cruel teacher, which Harry accepts, because he thinks Moody was just shaped by war and fighting dark wizards his whole life. Furthermore fake!Moody uses his time to poison Harry's mind with ideas and opinions about various people (Snape, Lucius, the "traitors").

    Last but not least there is Harry. It would be nice to see him resent his lot in life and get angry at the way things are.

    His first memories of his parents are from a magical mirror, yet the Malfoys (DE and racist) have it all and can do what they want.
    Neville has to see his parents waste away and Snape (DE) is allowed to torment him in class.
    Why do only the good people have to suffer, why isn't Harry allowed to lash out against those that deserve it?

    I can't think of a plausible way to make teenage!Harry politically useful without seeming forced.
    How about this, Dumbledore is cursed like canon, but believes that Harry isn't ready to deal with Voldemort.
    He decides to use his remaining power to go for the kill and force Voldemort to come back like the first time in who knows how many years. This would give Harry the chance to become an adult and prepare for the inevitable showdown.

    After learning from Sirius about his business savvy grandfather Harry could take a more active role in Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes after funding them. Using his share of profits he can fund certain other things.
    Realising, that he practically walked blind into the wizarding world he establishes an independent office with adult muggle-borns like Ted Tonks that provide a more active help for younger muggle-borns.
  17. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Mar 5, 2006
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    How's this for a premise for IndyHarry 2.0:

    Timeline Changes

    Set in an AU as follows:

    Years 1-3:

    - As canon

    Year 4:

    - Quiet year with no plot.

    - Harry dates Cho for a few months but their relationship flounders when Harry continues to prefer spending his time with Ron and Hermione and generally neglects Cho.

    - Magic-wise, without a plot to distract him, and building on his success with the Patronus Charm, Harry continues to develop a keen interest in Charms with a particular focus on defensive Charms, which complements his pre-existing interest in DADA.

    Year 5:

    - Events of GoF occur. Events pretty much per canon, but with Harry being able to perform a bit better in the tournament with less help from fake!Moody, due to having an additional year of magic under his belt.

    - Harry dates Parvati for a bit longer, rather than just taking her to the ball, but they break up over fundamental incompatibility in temperament.

    - Voldemort returns.

    - OWL results as per canon but with an O in Charms as well.

    Year 6:

    - Quiet year plot-wise. Certain parts of OotP are occurring but in more elongated form: the Ministry denying Voldemort's return, Voldemort and the Order recruiting members and allies. Basically everyone positioning themselves. #

    - Harry dates Ginny but they break up a few months later.

    - Harry is taking the same NEWTs as canon. Following from his mental ability in resisting the Imperius, he takes to non-verbal magic like a duck to water. His talent in defensive Charms continues to flourish in addition to his interest in curses/hexes/jinxes.

    - Additionally, Dumbledore has arranged for Harry to go down to Hogsmeade each Saturday to meet with Sirius, who teaches Harry to duel. Some good Sirius-Harry bonding time.

    Year 7:

    - Main events of OotP occur. Umbridge arrives at Hogwarts, Harry starts having dreams of the Department of Mysteries.

    - The DA is formed. With 2 additional years of magical knowledge and with Sirius' tutelage under his belt, Harry is a bit more dedicated to this than in canon (i.e. leaving less of the planning to Hermione).

    - McGonagall follows through on her promise to make sure Harry scores well enough in Transfiguration to become an Auror, with extra sessions to tutor him. Harry still struggles with Transfiguration compared to Charms/DADA, but his hard work pays off.

    - Following the Christmas attack on Mr Weasley, Snape is recruited to teach Harry occlumency. Harry takes to occlumency very well, as he did Imperius-resistance and non-verbal magic, but he's still having dreams of the DoM. Snape says he needs to try harder; Harry begins to suspect that the connection with Voldemort is too deep for mind magic to block.

    - DoM battle occurs (and works better for being DEs vs. 7th years); Sirius dies; Voldemort is revealed; Dumbledore tells Harry the prophecy.

    Other Background

    Aristocratic hereditary Wizengamot; Minister elected by popular vote. To sit in the Wizengamot you must be over 17 and have passed your NEWTs.

    The hereditary nature of the Wizengamot does not change the nature of political power. Having a title and wealth is insufficient - politics is still about having allies, building a consensus around your ideology, etc. It just so happens that all political players are lords and ladies.

    The model is basically British politics during the Victoria era, not feudal times.

    British wizarding population of 40,000. Hogwarts as the top school in magical Britain, not the only school. Hogwarts takes around 50 students/year out of the total births of 250/year.


    Harry, at the time the story begins:

    - Personality wise, is more or less as he was in canon.

    - Magically, he is more accomplished than in canon but realistically so. He has particular strengths in defensive Charms, curses, the mind arts, and duelling. Outside those four areas, he displays his canon level of talent (i.e. competent but nothing special) but is a bit better at Transfiguration thanks to McGonagall's additional tutelage.

    - In terms of relationships, has more romantic experience than canon Harry.


    The story opens post-Hogwarts - all of the canon changes above constitutes background which will be revealed over time.

    The opening stages of the story:

    Chapter 1 - Departure from Privet Drive

    Harry has received his NEWT results (Os in Charms, DADA and Transfiguration, Es in Potions and Herbology). Dumbledore arrives at Privet Drive to take him to Sirius' funeral. Still some tension between Dumbledore and Harry over Sirius' death and Dumbledore having kept the prophecy from Harry. This is Harry's final departure from Privet Drive.

    Chapter 2 - Sirius' Funeral

    The funeral is surprisingly well attended, given Sirius' status as a criminal. But he was still Lord Black. Funeral serves as the introduction to a few of the political figures who will be important in the story (and their daughters).

    Chapter 3 - Inheritance

    After the funeral, Dumbledore takes Harry to a wizarding lawyer to discuss his inheritance of the Potter and Black titles. Potter is simple; Black is being contested in the Wizengamot and will likely take years to be resolved.

    Dumbledore tells Harry that the Potter estate is in ruins; he will need somewhere to live and Grimmauld place is out because of the contested Black inheritance. Order has abandoned it. Therefore suggests the Burrow, for now.


    From there the story would depict:

    - Harry staying at the Burrow. Awkwardness with Ginny. Chafes at being treated like a child when he's an adult now. Decides he needs to get a place of his own.

    - Harry visiting the Potter estate for the first time. In ruins, but Harry resolves to restore it. This will be an ongoing project which acts as Harry's main magical development arc - getting good at the magic to restore the estate, which will draw on all areas of Charms/Transfiguration/Potions/Herbology but with a particular focus on Harry enchanting the place with defensive charms and curses.

    - At the end of the summer recess, the Wizengamot reconvening. Harry attends his first session and struggles to follow it all. But clearly Voldemort's faction is on manoeuvres. For now, he just votes in line with known allies.


    - Harry drifting from Dumbledore's faction as he comes into his own politically.

    - Having to work with Dumbledore nonetheless in pursuit of the horcruxes.

    - Combating Voldemort's manoeuvres.
  18. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Professor

    Dec 21, 2011
    I'm not sure I can square this with the claim Harry is more or less canon like in personality. Harry seems to learn best through adversity and challenge, not through quite time in the classroom. When he's pushed and challenged by circumstance, Harry learns his best magic - from the Patronus in third year to the Shield Charm in fourth. And while you could change that, it links in very well with the Independent Harry genre, which is after all, about Harry leaving the classroom and actually doing stuff outside his canonical support system.

    Maybe replace the quite years with some kind of non life-and-death challenge Harry could invest himself in?
  19. Acquiescing Avian

    Acquiescing Avian Second Year

    May 24, 2020
    The events directly after Voldemort's rise probably should have some Ministry interference at Hogwarts. Perhaps an Auror as the DADA Professor (preferably Tonks) who ends up doing the exact opposite of what Fudge and Umbridge want.
  20. Mordecai

    Mordecai Drunken Scotsman –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

    Nov 11, 2005
    High Score:
    What strikes me from reading that @Taure is that there's no clear break point where he becomes independent. That might be by design, and is potentially more realistic, but I think you'd definitely need to justify Harry becoming his own faction rather than remaining Dumbledore's man.

    Beyond that though, it sounds like a good set up. I like the idea of elongating the first 5 books over the course of 7 years. Gives a pretty realistic way to power him up for dealing with the plot better.

    One thing I'd wonder about though, is the reasoning for the failed relationships. Obviously its realistic to say that a normal teenage boy would date during school, and its also very realistic to say that a normal teenage boy would be a complete failure at dating so would have several failed relationships. But I just think there's maybe a more effective way to utilise the relationships.

    Perhaps the Cho relationship, you could use to help spur on his self studies? She's a ravenclaw, a "date" that she enjoys is them sitting studying together. That sort of thing.

    With Parvati, or perhaps instead of her, would it maybe make sense to set up a problematic relationship with someone who he'll have to interact with at the Wizengamot? The daughter of a Lord who Harry needs to try and bring to his cause, but she still harbours negative feelings because of his shitty dating abilities and so works against Harry's interests? Could even lead to a surprise betrayal somewhere down the line, where she turns spy for Voldemort because she's pissed at her father siding with Harry despite her protests?