Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I am not profiting from this work of fiction. I'm just playing in JKR's wonderful world.

Chapter 1 – Inventing the wheel

It's a strange thought, to consider that magic exists, and follows rules, when most people consider magic to be the concept of achieving the impossible, through similarly impossible means. Is magic an energy, or simply the will of a person that has magic, taking shape, and forming function, based on the intent and desire of said magical person?

It was a contemplative, withdrawn, and slightly anti-social Harry Potter, that stood at the train station with his trunk. Hagrid, the big man that had brought the news that Harry was supposedly a wizard, had also taken him shopping in Diagon Alley. On his trunk, sat a cage, wherein a snowy owl was currently paying strict attention to the people, as they moved.

Harry had taken a spot near a wall, and was quietly watching the people, too, with a glance at the owl, every now and then. The owl wasn't too happy with Harry, because the first time Harry had consciously done magic, it had been directed at the owl. It had changed colour, to a dark brown, something Harry had tried to inform the owl, would make her stand out less, but she still hadn't liked it, and hadn't stopped pecking him, until he turned her back. Strangely, Harry had been unable to do direct magic on anything else, so he suspected the owl was somehow now connected to him or had allowed him to do magic on her… somehow.

The owl obviously had some sort of magical ability, because it actually knew when people were looking at her, even when her head was looking in the opposite direction or when her eyes were closed. She also seemed to sense people, before they came around a corner, and she would often look, before someone rounded the corner. Harry suspected that that was more than likely just a normal ability, like feeling air-movement, or being aware of a shift in shades of shadows, which he didn't have the ability to distinguish.

Still, the owl was definitely more observant than Harry considered himself to be, which is why her presence was useful to him, now. Waiting for some signal, as to where the entrance to the platform could be, Harry continued to watch. Time was getting away from him, though, and he realised that he was going to be late, if he didn't find the entrance, soon.

Once again, he moved his hand up, and moved it horizontally in front of his eyes. In his imagination, he looked at what looked like a digital screen. It was transparent, and he could see through it, but he looked at the time, in the top right corner. Adding a time feature had been rather simple, to this imaginary function. He'd just needed to repeatedly place the time there, and update it a few times, to show the correct time. In two days, it had solidified as a feature, which was always accurate. He'd likely need to change it, if he ever shifted in time-zone, but he didn't think it would take as long as it had initially. It was all in his mind, after all, and he would know that he was in a different time-zone.

As he looked at the time, the owl let out a low hoot, and Harry looked through the transparent display, to the people that Hedwig was following with her eyes. It was a group of redheads.

"Them?" Harry asked, also seeing that they were carrying trunks like his own.

"Hoot." the owl said, as if in agreement. Harry looked at the owl, and imagined a new image on the display, of her head. Opening it, mentally, he added her confirmation hoot, and filed it under 'Yes, or maybe, duh. Likely agreement'. Then, he looked at the redheads, and tagged them all, with little lines above their heads, calling them 'magicals', connected to the icon he'd created for himself and Hagrid. He liked categorising things this way. He had an icon for anger, discomfort, and fear, too, along with a few others. Those would light up in his head, when he looked at people and struggled to figure out what they were feeling. Those ones had come in handy already. He'd been playing with identifying emotions for a while, now. Years, in fact. It was only after learning that he was a magical, that he had started visualizing what he saw, as an actual projection. He still didn't know if what he saw was real, or just in his head, but he did know he was the only one that could see it, so it likely was only in his head.

That did beg the question, though; If it was only in his head, did that automatically mean it wasn't real? The time feature was more accurate than he could consciously keep time in his head, so maybe it was a form of access to his subconscious, which had just manifested due to some sort of mental deviation? Maybe he was schizophrenic? That would explain it, but also, not really. Seeing things that only you could, however, was usually not a good thing. Harry shrugged, internally. He didn't really care which was true, or more likely. He was just glad he had the advantage. Time, was a very useful thing to keep track of. He intended to use the feature, at some point, connected to other features, if he could figure it out.

He'd been thinking all this, while he watched the redheads, as they slipped into a pillar, between platforms nine and ten. So, that's where the entrance was. He waited for them to finish going through, in ones and twos, until everyone, including the older female, likely the mother, entered, along with a younger female, likely a daughter.

He stood away from the wall then, and casually walked to the pillar. Before entering, he tagged the location, and named it 'Platform 9 ¾'. Hopefully, he'd see it, next time he got here. He'd only tagged a few places, and they only became visible, when they were within eyesight. It wasn't like he could see tags for far-off locations, like 'Crazy Cat-lady' or 'Cupboard sweet cupboard'. Thus, it could simply be his own conscious mind, making the connection, rather than some sort of magic making it appear. He'd look into that, as well. He knew magic was real, because he'd seen plenty of evidence in the alley. He'd also had a few accidents, and, obviously, changed Hedwig's colour, but that had been an experiment, and could still have been only a mental representation. If it hadn't been for the owl's reaction, he'd have doubted anything had actually happened.

As for the aforementioned cupboard, frankly, he liked it. Living under the stairs, meant that nobody could sneak up on him from upstairs, and he would always awaken with the first person to come down, meaning he never overslept. He preferred seeing the positives in things like that. It was easy to get pulled into dark thoughts, but it served no real purpose, so he chose to focus on the good things that people would normally see as negatives.

He walked through the pillar, having seen others do it, even though there was a small part of him that made him walk into the pillar with a finger extended, not wanting to hit his head. Fortunately, he didn't feel an impact, and soon saw many people, mostly older people, while younger ones, other students no doubt, waved from inside the train.

Harry studied the train, for a moment, before adding an icon for that as well, as he moved to the train's rear. His visual landscape was starting to fill up with icons, and Harry decided that he'd have to start categorising things together. Considering that, he created an image of a biscuit tin, imagining the square shape, depth and width. Then, he lifted the icons that he had created for locations, things that he'd only see every so often, and moved them into his 'places' tin. The tin just sat there, still filling up a large portion of his vision, so he used his hands and imagined pushing the tin, to shrink, which happened, since your imagination didn't have to stretch all that far, to make things smaller.

Happily, the tin shrunk down, and took up one space on his now slightly less cluttered view. Smiling at his idea, Harry waved his hand through the image, making it vanish, and went in search of an open compartment. He was hoping for empty, but would settle for a seat with people, as long as they left him alone. Along his way, he spotted a toad, sitting under a sink, near what he assumed was a toilet stall. Shrugging, he pulled up the view again, and added the toilet, because that might be useful later, and, as an afterthought, the toad as well. He could just get rid of that later, but for now, it just helped him practice this new skill.

Harry found an empty compartment, much to his pleasure, and took a seat by a window. Then, he started adding all the people he saw outside. However, seeing that some people were dressed more like normal people, Harry wondered about that. Maybe they were non-magical parents? He'd heard that that happened, and he'd been wondering how that happened, but now, it was kind-of a problem, because if he tagged all of them, calling them magicals, he'd not be certain that it would ever work to identify magical from mundane.

Sighing, Harry specifically looked for signs of magic. Wands were a good way of identifying magicals, of course, but people didn't apparently walk around with their wands drawn. That made sense, though, because it was the equivalent of walking with a gun in your hand. Better not to draw attention that way, right? There were a few other signs. An old woman with a hat that had a vulture on it, was obviously not a mundane human. Either that, or being crazy was acceptable in the magical world. He decided to tag her.

Next, anyone wearing a wizard's hat. Not all of them, however. Specifically, those that were old and worn-looking. That would be a good indicator that the hat was worn often, not something a mundane-born parent might only wear to accompany their child to the station, to try and fit in.

Harry spent a few minutes doing that, looking for signs of magicals among the people, before he heard someone stumble into the compartment. Looking around, he was shocked to see a redhead with a sign above his head, identifying him as a magical. So… perhaps this was one of those from before, who'd shown him the entrance?

"Sorry, mind if I sit here?" the boy asked. "Everywhere else is full."

Harry frowned. That had been a lie. His icon for honesty had instantly glowed red. Logically, Harry knew that some places had seats, because he'd seen them as he searched for an open space. He still didn't know if that icon actually did anything, or if it was just observed fact, and logic, which made his mind present the icon as having detected a lie.

"All of them?" Harry asked, for clarification.

The redhead seemed uncomfortable, for a moment. "Well, there are other spaces, but you've got more open space here, and…"

"You didn't feel comfortable walking into a place that could be filled with people who are already friends, or something?" Harry offered. He felt that way.

The redhead shrugged, and nodded.

"Sure." Harry said, indicating the seat across form him. Hedwig had already taken off. Harry had seen other people setting their birds free, and he'd asked her to follow them. She'd not had one concern with leaving, and Harry hoped to see her again. They weren't close, yet, but he'd feel bad if she decided to just leave, considering Hagrid had bought her as a gift, and had gotten him what food and snacks she'd need. He'd not know what to do with those, if she didn't come back.

"Thanks, mate." the other boy said. "I'm Ron, by the way."

"Hi." Harry said, before he looked out the window again.

"Um… who are you?" the boy asked.

"Harry." Harry said, not even looking at him.

"Are you… Harry Potter?" Ron asked, his eyes wide.

"Apparently." Harry said, still not looking at the boy, as the train started moving.

"Do you, have the scar?" Ron asked. He couldn't see, because Harry's hair was over his forehead, and he was looking away.

"Sure." Harry said. He was looking as they moved. It had never been explained how the train was kept secret. The platform was, obviously, but how would they leave London, and not get spotted? It turned out that whatever form of travel was involved, it also involved skipping large sections of track, or distances, because they had no sooner left the station, than they were already in the country, with fields and things one would see in rural areas. Perhaps the trip would be a short one?

"Do you know how long the trip takes?" Harry asked, as he looked at the boy, only to spot him trying to look at his forehead. "Yes?" Harry asked, lifting his eyebrows.

"Could I see?" Ron asked.

"No." Harry said. How rude was this boy, asking him to show him his scar?

"Why not?" Ron asked.

"Care to show me your scars?" Harry asked. "Or more specifically, one that you got the same day your parents died?"

That, had the boy look at his eyes, only realising that he'd been rather rude. "Sorry." he mumbled, as he looked down. "I didn't think…" he trailed off.

"Do you know how long the trip is?" Harry repeated, after sighing. He'd covered the scar on purpose, because he hated the thing. Being mocked for it as a child had been one of the reasons he'd become as quiet as he had. He simply didn't understand how people could be that mean. He'd not do that to someone.

"A couple of hours, I think." Ron said.

Harry nodded, and silence descended on the cart, which was perfect, because Harry preferred the quiet. He was still looking out the window, when someone came to the door of the compartment, shortly after. "Has anyone seen a toad? A boy named Neville's lost one." the girly voice asked.

Harry looked around, noticing that she wasn't being identified as a magical, and added the tag to her, manually. He hoped that that would start happening automatically, at some point.

"No." Ron's answer came, while Harry was still looking at the girl.

"Two cars down." Harry said, before he turned back to the window. "Saw one under a sink, near the toilets."

"Oh, thank you." the girl said, seeming to perk up.

"No problem." Harry said, dismissively. "Let me know if it's not there anymore." he added. Maybe he'd find a use for that tag, after all. If it wasn't there, maybe it would give him the option to confirm if the tags actually worked?

"Um… okay." the girl said, before she turned and left.

"You saw the toad?" Ron asked, trying to start a conversation with the Boy-Who-Lived. If he could become his friend, that would be something to brag about.

"When I arrived." Harry said.

"So… do you normally take note of toads?" Ron asked.

"Haven't seen many, in my life, so it was notable." Harry said. He was looking to see if they skipped any more distances. He'd not noted the country changing inexplicably, yet, so maybe it was just at the platform?

"I've seen a few." Ron said. "Lots out by a lake near our house, in the summer."

"Uh-huh." Harry hummed.

Silence reigned for a blissful two minutes, before there was another voice by the door.

"I hear Harry Potter is coming to Hogwarts." the confident voice spoke. Harry ignored it, because they weren't speaking to him, only about him. He was good at ignoring people, and he suspected he knew who this was. The blond fop he'd met at Madam Malkin's. He'd seemed rude and very full of himself. Harry didn't have time for people like that.

"So?" Ron asked, rudely.

Harry ignored it, as they started insulting each other. Better not to be part of that, or to be seen taking sides. He knew that that sort of thing just led to confrontations, and he didn't want to start school, with one of those under his belt already.

"Hey, are you Harry Potter?" the voice asked, now, no longer the quiet confident false-superior voice. It was now an irritated one. Harry noted that the irritated tag lit up, but rolled his eyes. Yet another unprovable indicator. He could hear the boy was irritated, so the indicator meant nothing.

"I am." Harry said. "I don't show people my scar, and I don't want to get involved with your argument. Please don't pull me into it." he said, as he continued to look out the window. Not because he was looking for the distances anymore, but because he was avoiding the boy's eyes. It seemed the train was just giving them a normal train-ride, after avoiding populated locations.

"Smarter than your friend, here." the boy said, smirking.

"Not my friend." Harry said, instantly. "Just another passenger, needing a seat. I don't own the car. I couldn't tell him to bugger off, because I like being alone."

There was a moment's silence, as the other boy considered that. "It's better to have friends, in the right places." he said. "Some people are better than others. I would be willing to-"

"No." Harry interrupted. "I prefer to make my own opinions of people, thanks. That way my opinion isn't biased because of other people's opinions and biases."

There seemed to be a bit of silence, before the other boy huffed and walked away, followed by two other pairs of feet. Harry hadn't looked, but he assumed the other boy had friends, who'd followed.

"You're strange." Ron decided to say.

"You're rude." Harry countered.

"What?" Ron asked.

"I thought we were pointing out obvious flaws." Harry said. "I know I'm strange. Did you know that you are rude?"

"I'm… yeah, I suppose." the boy allowed. "Didn't mean to be." he added.

"If you don't want to be, learn some tact." Harry said. "That other boy and you are very similar, in that way. Neither of you cared to insult the other, with a complete stranger here. I don't care about whatever dirty laundry you have to air, and I don't want to be involved."

"I'm nothing like Malfoy!" Ron objected. When Harry's dead look landed on him, he knew he couldn't argue. They had both been rather easy to provoke, by the other, and they hadn't cared that they had an audience. Still, he couldn't compare himself with a Malfoy. "His whole family is dark. His father was-"

"What did I just say?" Harry interrupted. "Let me form my own opinions. I don't care if he killed your dog, or if his parents murdered a million people. I make my own opinions based off how people act, not what people believe about them."

"But… they're dark." Ron said, like that explained all of it.

"So, then you are as well?" Harry asked.

"What?!" Ron asked, shocked, before his face started turning red.

In Harry's head, an icon for uncle Vernon popped up, with a red indicator. Rage.

"You're saying things about someone, behind their backs." Harry pointed out, trying for logic. "If you did that to me, I'd consider you a bad person. So, should I not think you're a bad person, if you act like one?"

Ron's face paled at that. He wasn't the most tactful person, he knew. He didn't even know the meaning of the word, when used for anything off a chess-board. Still, he could see what Harry was saying. "Sorry." he finally mumbled. "Not about telling you that Malfoy is dark, because he is, but because I… didn't do it right."

"If you had said that people warned you that they are bad, or that you have a personal issue with him, I could understand that. There's no such thing as a person that gets along with everyone." Harry said. "Telling me that he's bad, without being able to prove it, is considered slander. You could also say, in your opinion, he's bad, which would be more acceptable, but trying to force your opinion on me, by stating something that is obviously your opinion, as fact, will never get me to listen to you."

"Well, in my opinion, his father was a Death Eater." Ron said. "No wait. His father was a Death Eater. He just claimed he was being controlled. Nobody believes… I mean, I don't think that's true, and my parents don't either."

"Noted." Harry said, nodding, and turning back to the window. "A person isn't their parents, you know? What if all he needs is a real friend, or an example that isn't his father, for him to become a better person? Even I could tell that he's a fop, when I met him. He's obviously emulating his father, a man I've not even met, and even I could see it. What I won't do, is look down on him, because he looks up to his father. Who knows? If I had parents, I might be like him. I might have emulated my own father, whether he was good or bad. Chances are that different people had different, varying opinions of him as well."

"Your parents fought in the war, though." Ron said. "They were on the good side."

"I don't know that." Harry said. "I don't know anything about them. Until I found out that I was a wizard, all I 'knew' about my parents, was that they were alcoholics that killed themselves in a car crash. All I 'knew' was that I was a freak. All I 'knew' was that I was a worthless waste of space."

Ron's mouth had opened at that, as he stared at the wizarding world's biggest celebrity. He thought he was worthless. No wait. That had been a point he was making, right? He said 'knew' like it was wrong, now. Maybe… maybe he should learn from Harry. He didn't really know Malfoy, even though he knew his parents hated Malfoys. Did that automatically mean that he had to hate Malfoy? Well, he had insulted him, and right now, that would make it easy to hate him, but what if Malfoy had been taught to hate him, too. What if they weren't all that different? He knew he wanted to make friends, this year. From the sounds of it, Malfoy had wanted to make friends with Harry, too, just like him.

"I still don't like him." Ron finally said.

"You don't need to." Harry said. "Just… don't hate him, because you were told to. Make your own opinion."

"I don't think I'm going to change my mind." Ron said. "You heard how he acted, what he said."

"I heard how you both acted." Harry said. "Neither of you are people I think I could be friends with, if I used that interaction as a measuring staff. I'd likely be more interested in being friends with that girl, who was helping a friend find his toad."

Ron had to consider that and went silent for a few blissful minutes. "I still think you're strange." he finally said.

"And I still think you're rude." Harry said. He did glance at the boy and saw a smile. He gave him a small smile back, before going back to looking out the window.

An hour later, Harry decided to stretch his legs. "I'm stretching my legs. Could you stay and keep an eye on our stuff, please?"

"Um… sure." Ron shrugged.

Harry nodded and left, going down the train. He looked into every compartment, and found a few people marked as magicals. The bushy-haired girl had her mark, still, and he quickly stopped there.

"Found the toad?" he asked her.

"Oh, yes, thank you." Hermione said. "Trevor wanted to be wet, so he was sitting under a leaky basin." she added, indicating the toad, which was now sitting comfortably in a bowl, with a bit of water in it.

"Clever." Harry said, nodding at the bowl.

"This is the boy that told me where to find Trevor." the girl said, to the boy across form her.

"Oh, thanks." the boy said, as he got up, and offered Harry his hand. "Neville Longbottom." he introduced himself.

"Harry Potter." Harry said, taking the hand. The other boy had suddenly paled, and Harry let go of the hand. "Seriously, why do people react that way? I was a baby. I don't know what happened. As I understand it, nobody does. For all I know, my parents died defeating him, and its way more likely than a one-year-old baby did it, don't you?"

"According to the books-" the girl started.

"According to the books, I was alone with my parents." Harry interrupted. "Anything that anyone says is thus speculation, and not fact, no matter what anyone wrote in a book. Not unless it said that there was someone else there?"

The girl seemed to huff, before crossing her arms and looking away.

Harry sighed. "Sorry. My parents are a sore subject for me." he said, before he turned and walked from the compartment. He had technically brought them up, himself, but he had also reacted emotionally. He suspected he'd have to apologise, later.

He found a few more people marked as magicals and strangely, it seemed that his imaginary system now considered all redheads magicals, automatically. He'd not done that, and considered it progress, because it had started marking people without his conscious input. Still, not all redheads were, to his knowledge, magicals, so he'd have to take the time to fix that, at some point. Hopefully he met a few redheads that weren't magicals, at some point, so that he could do that.

He continued down the train, until he'd marked everyone, considering this was a train full of magical students. He didn't mark the conductor, nor the trolley lady, because he didn't know. Neither had a wand that he could see, and they might just be non-magicals, that worked in the magical world. He'd not heard that that didn't happen, so he couldn't know. He'd find out, though, when he could.

The trip to Hogwarts took a few hours after that. Harry had returned to his compartment, and it was easier to talk to Ron, now, for some reason. Ron made sure to keep his mouth in check, and Harry found that when he spoke, he considered his words more, if not entirely, which made him feel more at ease. Just for that, Harry might even consider being friendly with him, because few people had ever moderated themselves, to accommodate him.

Harry met the big man, Hagrid, again, and sent him a friendly smile, and a wave, which the big man enthusiastically returned, before beckoning him, and the other first years to him. He took them to boats, and they crossed the lake on them. Harry was less impressed with the large castle, than the rest of the group, because he fervently hoped the thing had some modern conveniences, like indoor plumbing and maybe some sort of heating system. The castle did look old, which likely meant that some things had needed to be added, at some point… hopefully.

When the trip was over, the group gathered again. Harry and Ron were together again, not that Harry had called him, or anything, but he walked over to the brunette girl. His interaction with her still bothered him, and he wanted to ensure he fixed it.

"Sorry Miss." Harry said, as he looked at her, for a moment.

"Um?" she answered, not really knowing what to do with that, at first. "Hermione." she finally responded. "Hermione Granger."

"Well, then, Hermione, please allow me to apologise." Harry said. "I realise that my words were a little scathing, and even though I feel I have every right to be upset when my parents are the subject, I also realise that I brought them up, and it doesn't excuse my tone."

Hermione looked at him, for a moment, looking like she was about to say something, a stubborn look in her eyes, but she seemed to stop herself, and nodded. "I'm sorry about what happened to them." was all she said.

To Harry, it was a shock. He knew she was likely just being courteous, but it was also one of the very few times someone had openly sympathised with him. "Thank you." he said, sincerely.

"Do you know what house you'd like to be in?" Neville, the boy with the toad, asked. He was still next to Hermione. Apparently, they had become friends.

"He'll probably be a Ravenclaw." Ron said, giving his unwarranted opinion. "He's quiet and I think he's smart, but he's also…" he trailed off, as he realised, he was about to call Harry strange, again, but he somehow felt that it was something Harry wouldn't like. "Don't get me wrong, I think you're great, but you can't argue that you're a little on the strange side." he decided to say, but with a friendly smile at Harry.

Harry shrugged. He'd at least learned a little tact. "I still think you're rude." he said, but he did so with a small upturn of his lips, to assure the kid he wasn't upset about the comment.

"I'm hoping for Hufflepuff." Neville said. "My parents went to Gryffindor, but I think I'll fit in better in Hufflepuff."

"I'm going to Gryffindor." Ron said. "My whole family went there. My older brothers told me you have to fight a troll, to get into Gryffindor, but I'm thinking that was meant to be a joke. They are like that." he said, hopefully.

"It's a hat." Harry said, without thinking. "Hogwarts, a history, talks about the sorting hat, on more than one occasion." He'd gotten a few extra books, and that book sounded like a good one to buy, when he saw it on the shelves, when he and Hagrid had gone to buy them.

Hermione looked at Harry and smiled. "I read that, too." she said. "I got all the standard books, of course, and I've read through most of them, already, but I don't know what house I want to be in. I hope the hat knows, though."

"Ravenclaws are supposed to be the studious house." Harry said. "I… don't do well in loud crowds. I'm hoping for a quiet place to study."

"Well, there is a library." Hermione pointed out. "It doesn't matter what house you go to. You can always study in the library. I think I'll do that. I wouldn't mind making a few friends, though." she added.

Harry suspected that that was an understatement. Obviously, the girl was more than a little interested in making friends. He had an icon for loneliness, and when he looked in a mirror, he often saw that one light up, but he normally ignored it. Hermione lit that one up, just now. Once again, he didn't know if it was just his own conscious mind, making a connection with her, being like himself.

He'd put that one in place, to help him find people who might want to be friends, but it never seemed to work out, with Dudley making it his mission to ensure anyone that befriended Harry was bullied, for that same fact.

Harry looked away from the girl, not ready to comment on that, or the thoughts that had gone through his mind.

"Hufflepuffs are supposed to be friendly." Ron offered. "I hear Gryffindor has the best parties, but then, my family only knows Gryffindor, so I don't know."

"It makes sense that your perspective would be biased." Harry offered. "Don't feel like you should be pressured, just because your family are all alike. Being different isn't wrong. Making your own choices would leave you with less regrets, in the long run. Only sheep follow, without thought. Don't be a lemming, Ron. Be yourself."

Hermione snorted, in amusement. She understood that reference, even if Ron was frowning, apparently not knowing what a lemming was.

Harry, not meaning offense, lifted his hands. "It just means that some people follow others, without due consideration, and end up in the same predicament as them, when blindly following made them make the same bad decisions. That's not to say it is a bad decision, just that I prefer knowing more, before making my choices, like judging people?" he offered, lifting an eyebrow.

Ron got it, then. He nodded. "You're still strange."

"You're still rude." Harry returned.

The little group stood there, waiting, until the blond fop showed up again.

"Have you thought about where you are going?" the boy asked Harry, completely ignoring the other three, because Harry was his only interest. He knew about Neville, but he discounted him. According to rumour, he was almost a squib.

"I'm hoping to be placed in a house that suits me." Harry said, simply.

"I'm going to Slytherin." the boy said. "It's the house of the cunning, and ambitious."

"I'd heard." Harry said, nodding and interrupting Ron, who had opened his mouth, to likely say something scathing. "It's not a bad house. A lot of successful people come from there. Still, I don't have a preference. I don't know enough about all the houses."

"Slytherin is the best house. Both my parents went there." the boy said, anyway.

"See how biased his parents made him?" Harry asked, looking at Ron. "His family only had the one influence, too, and he has only an opinion based off of that. No doubt, he's of the opinion that he'd be letting his family down, if he went somewhere else."

"That's not true." the boy said. "My parents wouldn't mind if I went to Ravenclaw. If I went to Gryffindor or Hufflepuff, though-"

"Hold on." Harry said, lifting a hand. "You do realise that if you finish that sentence, you'll likely be insulting half the people around you, right?" he said, indicating the other children around them, who were looking at them. "If you want to go to Slytherin, shouldn't you be a little more cunning than shunning half of your school, and then making enemies of them, before school even starts?"

Draco frowned at that. He'd not even considered it. In his head, anyone that was at least half as intelligent as him, should want to go to Slytherin, or Ravenclaw. That thought was wrong, though, wasn't it? There were mudbloods and half-bloods here, too. Even if he didn't want to associate with them, chances were, at least one person he could be friends with, otherwise, would be going to another house. Purebloods, even.

"I suppose you're right." he admitted. "You know, you sound like you'd fit in in Slytherin." he offered.

Harry realised the boy was likely trying to compliment him, from his own perspective, so he nodded in acceptance, without saying anything.

"He'd do better in Gryffindor." Ron said, without thinking.

"In your opinion." Harry added.

Ron sighed but nodded. "In my opinion." he allowed.

"The way I understand it, the hat sorts people into what house suits them best, so that they can get what they need from a group of people that they could get along with." Hermione said. "So, no matter where it puts me, I'm hoping to be around like-minded people."

"And you are?" the blond boy asked.

"Hermione Granger." Hermione said, offering her hand.

Draco looked at the hand. He didn't know the name, so it was unlikely that her family was magical, or, at the very least, very well known. He didn't want to estrange her, though, because he had seen the truth in Harry's words. He'd just have to wash his hands later. He took the hand and smiled tightly. "Draco Malfoy." was all he said.

"Pleasure." Hermione said, smiling. She could pick up that the boy hadn't wanted to shake her hand but had done so anyway. He couldn't be too bad, if he could do that, right?

Neville, knowing that there was more happening here, tried to take the attention off of Hermione, by stepping forward. "Neville Longbottom." he offered, holding his hand out, as well.

"Heir Longbottom." Draco said, nodding and taking the hand. He was a pureblood, after all. There were traditions to uphold. "It is a pleasure to meet you."

"Heir Malfoy." Neville nodded.

"Heir?" Hermione asked.

"It's a pureblood custom." Harry said. "The wizarding world functions around an archaic system of lords and noble houses, where titles and privileges are available only to those of certain rank and circumstance of birth. It's basically a form of discrimination, and segregation. Some people think they are better than others, based purely off of the fact that they had magic in their family for many generations. The longer the magical line can be traced back, the more noble your family is considered."

"You're an heir, as well." Draco stated, trying to control his reaction to the statement, as it made it sound like they were wrong to do that. "And old families have claimed more magic, and power, so it makes sense that there are better magicals in those families. It's only right to have a higher social standing."

"I'm a half-blood, though." Harry pointed out. "My mother was muggleborn, and as I understand it, a very powerful witch."

"Which is likely why your father married her." Malfoy said. "Strength is one thing that gives respect in the wizarding world, regardless of ranks. It is, however, preferable to have a long line of magical ancestors, because it gives you more respect in our world. Half-bloods are more respected than mud- muggleborns, at least. If you are powerful, it will be said that you carry your pureblood well, and most will consider you a pureblood, and ignore the fact that your mother was of a lower cast."

"Love might also be a factor." Harry offered, trying to ignore the way the boy was seemingly unable to stop himself from insulting people, even though he was trying to be more thoughtful, it seemed. "And I would prefer if you never refer to my mother as a lower cast, again." he added, pointedly.

Malfoy saw that the boy was serious about this point. He'd never considered how he'd feel if one of his parents were a mudblood. He couldn't, honestly. He'd been raised to see the world a certain way. Still, he really wanted to not make a bad impression. He nodded, in acceptance.

That's when an older witch showed up. Harry's view of her pointed out that she was a magical. It made sense, though. She wore a hat that one would only find on a witch or wizard. Her robes were also a give-away. Still, he smiled a small smile, that his view had added that automatically.

The woman talked for a bit, explaining what was to follow, before leading them to the doors of the Great Hall.

Then, the ghosts showed up. Harry kept his face passive, even though they had scared him. He quickly added a new designation for them. Ghosts. This time, all of them appeared marked, instantly. That had Harry fall back on his thoughts, as he considered how that had happened, while the doors opened, and the students were led in.

Harry was taking his time categorizing things, so he only paid attention when his new acquaintances were sorted. Hermione went to Gryffindor. He wondered how that had happened. She seemed a shoo-in for Ravenclaw. Neville went there, too, which told him the hat had ignored his desire for Hufflepuff. Personal opinion seemed not to be the only factor. Malfoy and his two friends both went to Slytherin, not that Harry thought Malfoy was all that cunning. He may be ambitious, though.

Then, it was his turn. "Harry Potter." the old woman, Professor McGonagall, read.

Suddenly, the hall was quiet, before whispering started. Harry rolled his eyes. He had known he was apparently a celebrity, but he didn't want to be one. He'd prefer being completely unknown.

Still, he went up to the stool and sat down. The professor lowered the hat, until it slipped over his head and eyes.

'Huh, the famous Harry Potter.' the hat said, in his head, or, he assumed. He'd not heard the hat speaking to other people, like this. Logically, it was speaking to only him. 'Yes, I see quite a bit of intelligence. You are also quite good at influencing others with your words, even if you were only standing up for your own perspective. A little on the timid side, though. Your father was quite confident, more so than your mother, of course, but she was a muggleborn, in a new environment, when we met.'

'Can you hear me?' Harry asked, in his head.

'That is how this works.' The hat replied, sounding amused. Though, chances were, he had had this sort of conversation, before. 'Yes, that is true. I do tend to meet quite a few people, at the start of any given year. That does not mean that I talk to everyone like this. Your mind is quite… unique. I've never met anyone with something like this… system, though. It is quite imaginative and will likely be very useful to you, after a bit of work getting it to respond to your desires more quickly.'

'Can you give me any advice, on it?' Harry asked, thinking that if a hat could read his mind, there were likely others that could as well. Maybe the magical world had people who could do that? He didn't like that idea at all.

'It's your system.' the hat replied. 'I would suggest adding a sensory feedback, though. Something to protect your mind, and this secret. You don't want just anyone knowing you have it, after all, especially mind-readers, which I assure you, there are. Even in this school. For now, I would suggest not making eye-contact with people, if you want to avoid being read. It is possible without that, but less likely.'

'Sensory feedback?' Harry asked.

'Be aware of what you see and hear, and project that, onto this interface… idea.' the hat said. 'With enough conscious thought going into it, you'd likely divert anyone that tries to enter your mind's attention to only see what you're displaying, and thus, they'll just look at themselves, through your eyes. It creates feedback for mind-readers, and it can disorient them, as their powers are inverted to read themselves. Quite disorienting, really. I'd suggest claiming this magic, too.'

'Claiming?' Harry thought.

'Just think of the magic as your own.' the hat said. 'It should make it more responsive and have a few other benefits.'

Taking the idea, Harry tried doing just that, using the words 'interface' and 'system', as the hat had called it. There was a feeling of something new, but familiar, connecting to him. Then, he considered this feedback, idea.

Somehow, it seemed, the hat was helping him, and soon, a small view, which was a duplicate of what he was seeing, appeared in the bottom corner of what he was seeing, which was just black, with a bit of light at the bottom, since the hat was still over his eyes. 'There you go.' the hat said. 'Obviously, since I'm not looking at your eyes, it won't work on me, but this should give you a modicum of protection. I suggest reading up on occlumency. This system of yours could make learning that really simple for you. Make a tin… no, change it to a file-folder system. That will be easier, I think. I saw something like that in a muggleborn's mind. Computers have quite some potential for things like that. I suggest looking into that, as you develop this skill.'

'Aren't we taking a long time?' Harry asked.

'Mind-communication is quite fast.' the hat said. 'Look at your time. We've only been chatting for about ten seconds. That's another thing. If you can add a perceived time indicator, you may be able to rework your system to function on perceived time, rather than actual time. It's a factoring thing. I think you'd find something like that dead useful.'

As he said it, another time appeared, in the corner, below the other time indicator. It had felt like minutes of conversation, and it was counting said minutes, rather than showing the time.

'Faster already.' the hat said. It sounded like a compliment. 'Yes, you'd do well in Ravenclaw. I would put you in Slytherin, but there would likely be issues with that, especially considering your desire to be left alone. Your half-blood status is negligible, because of your fame, but people will want to use you, for their own needs.

'Hufflepuff would make you many friends, and you'd enjoy your time there, but you'd feel like people were too friendly.

'I think, for you, Gryffindor is actually a good choice.' the hat finished.

Harry waited. 'Well, shouldn't you announce it?' he asked, not really caring.

'Not quite yet.' the hat said, as it read through the boy's mind, still. 'This system is fascinating. It is capable of self-adjustment, and learning. It seems you've sectioned off a part of your mind, subconsciously, and it's started settling in there. I started as a similar idea. My creator wanted to be able to think two things at once, and that made his magic do something similar. It wasn't quite as efficient as this, though. I think I'll copy some of that, for myself, if you don't mind?'

It sounded like a request, rather than a statement. Harry realised that the hat needed permission, for some reason.

'I'm not allowed to share what I've learned from you.' the hat said. 'That doesn't mean that I don't like learning.'

'Can you keep this from mind-readers?' Harry asked.

'Of course.' the Hat scoffed. 'It's one of the functions built into me.' There was a moment, before Harry mentally gave him permission to proceed.

Harry did not expect a new image to appear, that looked like the hat, as it seemed to connect to him, copying the concept of his interface, with the image actually gaining a green sheen to it, as a bar of lighter green flowed over the interface, until it returned to normal.

'Ah. There we go.' the hat said, seeming happily surprised. 'Oh… that's strange.'

'What?' Harry asked.

'I have you here.' it said. 'Like, a folder, but it's you. I can see I'm in yours, too.'

Harry decided to open the image of the hat, which was still there.

'Ow, no.' the Hat said, as he forced the connection closed. 'Okay, so… it seems that copying this interface has left us with a connection. It should be simple to remove, though.'

'Don't.' Harry said, as he considered it. 'Do you think that this will allow us to speak, to each-other, even if we're not close to each-other?'

'It might.' the Hat said. 'Chances of long distances are low, though.'

'Still, you seem knowledgeable.' Harry said.

'Intending to use me, are we?' the hat asked, somehow affecting a smirk in his mental voice.

'Well, yes.' Harry said. 'Use, but not abuse, as it were. I won't force you to tell me things you're not allowed, but considering you seem to know something like my 'system', maybe you could be useful to me, while I'm still developing it, if you don't mind?'

The hat seemed to ponder it. 'I could, I suppose. You should know, though, as you mentioned to Mister Malfoy and Weasley, I might influence your biases, based off my knowledge. You could potentially develop this ability much better, by going at it in your own way.'

'And I will not forget that.' Harry allowed, as he looked at the perceived time, and the real time. A minute had passed, but it felt like ten, which was what the perceived time showed. 'Still you've given me quite a few ideas, already. I wouldn't mind someone to talk to, that only I know is there.'

'Just, don't ask for help during tests, or something.' the Hat added, with a bit of humour. 'Still, for now, let's move on. I have more sortings to do, and it is my one official job.'

'Fair enough.' Harry said, in understanding. 'Thank you, mister hat.'

'You can call me Gryff.' the Hat said.

'Like, Gryffindor?' Harry asked.

'I used to be Godric Gryffindor's hat.' the Hat said. 'I'm more than a piece of clothing, though. I think any sentient being likes to be considered a person, don't you? I mean, I am the culmination of magic from all four founders, and represent all their interests, so I'm not biased, due to my origin, but I do prefer to be connected to my original owner.'

'Better than calling you God, I suppose.' Harry chuckled internally. 'God', as in short for Godric, rather than 'Gryff', short of Gryffindor.

The hat chuckled at that. He could just imagine Harry thinking of him as 'god' and speaking to him only in his head, and hearing responses. 'We wouldn't want to turn you into a real schizophrenic, who speaks to 'god', no.' the hat agreed. 'Little difficult to explain that one.' he added, still chuckling.

'So…' Harry asked.

'Right.' the hat, Gryff, agreed. 'Speak to you later. Until then, I'll put you in…-

"Gryffindor!" the hat exclaimed, aloud, before the Professor took the hat off, smiling a small smile at Harry, for ending up in her house.

Harry, still not really caring, but slightly happy that he was in the house, where he at least knew a few people, went to the house table that had many people cheering and clapping loudly. Harry ignored the words, 'We got Potter.' and went back to thinking, after taking a seat. He still needed to catalogue the floating candles, the enchanted ceiling, the moving portraits, and the other houses. He'd noted that his tie changed colour, like the others in his house, and he looked at every single thing he could catalogue, to add them to his perception, as being in need of investigation.

Gryff, the sorting hat, continued doing his job, while he thought about the Potter boy and his new claim. He'd felt the magic, and realised that Harry didn't know what he had done, but a little part of him was excited about the possibilities that the boy represented to the magical world. 'So much potential.' he thought.

After the sorting, the headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, stood up, and addressed the student body. Harry paid attention, but he was more interested in scanning the old man, for any oddities. Long crooked nose. Half-moon reading glasses. Harry couldn't think that they were prescription, due to only allowing him to look through them when he lifted his head, and he was looking over them at the students as he spoke. Therefore, reading glasses. Or… maybe he was farsighted?

He wore a hat, too. It seemed like it would be comfortable, but more ornamental. It wasn't plain, by any stretch of the imagination, either. It had stars and half-moons, and didn't have a broad rim, like the average wizard's hat. Frankly, it looked almost like a formal sleeping cap, all things considered. The man also had a long beard, and long white hair. He looked like a wizened old wizard should, by all appearances.

After the headmaster made his speech, including mention of staying away from the third floor corridor, or the forbidden forest, the feast was started, with the food appearing on the table.

Ron, turned out to have very few manners, when it came to eating, and Harry was glad he wasn't sitting next to him, though he didn't envy the other boy, Neville, because he'd need to have his robes washed, if the bits that had fallen from Ron's mouth and hands were anything to go by.

"How does he breathe?" Hermione asked, also looking at the boy in some sort of shocked horror.

"I don't know." Harry said, also watching the boy go. Shuddering he forced himself to look away. It was like looking at a car crash. It was horrible, but you couldn't look away.

"He's a bottomless pit, that one." another redheaded boy said. Harry suspected he was one of Ron's brothers. He had an identical twin that sat next to him, so Harry was almost certain that this was Fred, or George. Ron had mentioned them.

"You should see him at home." the other twin said, confirming Harry's thoughts. "We keep our hands clear, or he might bite them off."

"Oi!" Ron objected, his mouth still full of food.

"Please?" Harry begged. "I don't want to see what's in your mouth? I still want to eat, and it's putting me off."

Ron kept his mouth shut, looking at him, before shrugging and going back to eating.

Fortunately, they were spared more views of what was happening in Ron's mouth, but Harry didn't dare look at him, as he ate. There was something wrong with that boy. He ate like he hadn't eaten in days and couldn't fill himself up fast enough.

Fortunately, after the feast, the prefects escorted the boys to the Gryffindor common room, and then their dorm. Harry would share his room with four others; Ron and Neville, he knew, but Seamus and Dean he didn't. He did introduce himself, and get their names, though, and they seemed like normal boys, which meant very little to Harry. He'd figure them out, later.