Disclaimer: I don't own it. I don't make money off of it. I'm just an addicted fan who wants to see what happens when just one small change is made.
Intro: Read the first four and a half chapters of the first Harry Potter. This version is slightly different, but not enough to matter so I'm not going over it. However, from here on out it's an AU. I'll probably skim over some of this stuff because I don't enjoy direct-copying more than a few lines. Chapter 5 is similar, except where changes. It should be noted that Harry does not learn anything of the Houses from Hagrid.
AN: *curses in three languages, one of which doesn't exist* My formatting is not coming out nicely. I will attempt to fix this. Apologies where I miss things.
Madam Malkin was a squat, smiling witch dressed all in mauve. "Hogwarts, dear?" She said, when Harry started to speak. "Got the lot here – another young man being fitted up just now, in fact."
In the back of the shop, a boy with a pale, pointed face was standing on a footstool while a second witch pinned up his long black robes. Madam Malkin stood Harry on a stool next to him, slipped a long robe over his head, and began to pin it to the right length.
"Hello," said the boy, "Hogwarts, too?"
"Yeah." Harry replied, slightly distracted by trying not to flinch as the witch worked on his robes, tugging here and there and putting pressure on his ribs.
"My father's next door buying my books and my mother's up the street looking at wands," said the boy. He had a bored, drawling voice. "Then I'm going to drag them off to look at racing brooms. I don't see why first years can't have their own. I think I'll bully father into getting me one and I'll smuggle it in somehow."
Harry was strongly reminded of Dudley, though admittedly without all the fat. He grimaced, wondering how long he was going to have to put up with the blathering idiot.
"What?" The boy must have noticed his grimace, and sounded quite affronted.
"You sound like a spoiled brat." The boy's face somehow paled, then started to get red. Madam Malkin looked affronted, but continued to fit him. The boy spluttered for a bit, and hadn't gotten his voice back when his tailor released him so he simply stormed out.
"Now, I'm not saying he isn't a spoiled brat, but you don't want to be saying those kinds of things to a Malfoy's face young man." Madam Malkin said reproachfully as she continued fitting him. He winced again when she brushed his arm.
"I'm used to his kind." Harry said through gritted teeth. "I'm not scared." She pushed up his sleeves without warning, probably trying to figure out why he'd winced. She looked at his arm, at the hand-shaped bruise on it really, and then looked back into his eyes. "It takes someone a lot bigger to scare me." She went back to her tailoring, and he to being a good mannequin.
At Flourish and Blotts, along with his school books, Harry bought Hogwarts: A History and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century. At the Apothecary Harry got into a discussion with the owner about the difference between glass and crystal phials, finally buying a crystal set (lasts longer and is less likely to cloud). He completely ignored the solid gold and silver cauldrons, but made sure his scales were of good quality. Harry had learned long ago how to judge quality, as he'd been taken shopping by the Dursleys to carry their bags, and had convinced Dudley that he knew how to pick high quality products. His good eye had been honed by the necessity of picking things that would survive Dudley to be passed onto him.
"Uncle Vernon?" Harry stood in the door to the living room the night before his departure. His uncle grunted. "On your way to take Dudley to the hospital could you drop me off at King's Cross?"
"Magic carpets all got punctures have they?" Was the reply.
"Nah dad." Dudley winked at Harry. The two had a very strange relationship in which Dudley tormented Harry for the most part, but if Harry really needed something Dudley'd help him as long as he didn't get caught being nice. "Train's so they can't fly off and bother people like us." Dudley was really rather smart, when he tried. Mostly he didn't try. Vernon grunted again.
"Fine boy." Harry slipped back to his room and quietly shut the door.
Uncle Vernon barely waited until Harry had his trunk out of the car before speeding off, leaving Harry to load his trunk onto a cart and wheel it towards the barrier between platforms nine and ten. He'd read how to get onto platform nine and three quarters from Hogwarts: A History, but was still uncomfortable with the concept. Nonetheless, he took a deep breath, and wheeled his cart, owl cage and all, straight through what should have been a solid wall.
Harry was trying to haul his too-heavy trunk onto the scarlet engine when the pointy-faced boy from Madam Malkin's walked over, two bulky boys with slightly mean looks reminiscent of Dudley in a punching mood following a step behind him.
"Need a hand?" The boy asked, attempting to embarrass Harry or something like that. He snapped his fingers before getting a response, and the two boys started forwards.
"Thanks." Harry said, barely stepping aside in time to avoid being shoved away from his own trunk. The two boys hefted the trunk and carried it into a compartment that already had three other trunks stowed in it.
"I'm Malfoy. Draco Malfoy. These are Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle." Malfoy held out his hand. Harry took it, sighing slightly and not looking forwards to the reaction he was about to elicit. He'd gotten the two extra books because he didn't want to seem like a complete idiot, but what he got from them was his own history.
"Harry. Harry Potter." Well, the stunned looks on the three boy's faces were mildly amusing, as were the change in posture of Goyle. Malfoy had very likely not noticed, but Harry had spent ten years learning how to tell when someone was about to beat him up, and that tended to make one good at identifying how people related to each other. Goyle had just decided that he was going to give Harry a chance to make a friend.
"Wait, you're Harry Potter?" Draco's voice was incredulous.
"Yes Draco Malfoy. I'm Harry Potter." He sat in the forwards-facing chair next to the window and gestured for the three to sit. Crabbe and Goyle looked at each other, looked at Malfoy, and Goyle sat down without the blond boy's express permission. Malfoy's expression tightened for a moment, then he flounced into his own seat, Crabbe sitting a second after him.
Insert a days worth of conversation in which Malfoy and Potter verbally spar, while Crabbe and Goyle look on with varying levels of interest.
...You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!"
Harry didn't pay all that much attention to the sorting. He did pay enough attention to see that Crabbe, Goyle, and Malfoy all went into Slytherin, and that a Neville Longbottom ran off with the hat still on his head. When his own name was called he payed only scant attention to the whispers breaking out all across the hall. He sat calmly on the stool and the hat was placed on his head, falling over his eyes.
"Hmm," said a small voice in his ear. "Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of cunning, I see. Not a bad mind either. And talent, oh my goodness, yes – and an amazing thirst to prove yourself. So where should I put you?"
"Not Hufflepuff, not Hufflepuff." Harry whispered, gripping the edge of his chair.
"Oh no, definitely not Hufflepuff." The hat actually chuckled at him. "You'd kill them all within a week." It ruminated. "What about SLYTHERIN!" The last was shouted to the whole hall, and Harry walked steadily to the Slytherin table, settling between Malfoy and Goyle so that Malfoy was on his right, with Crabbe beyond him. He looked up to the head table as the last few students were sorted to see Professor Quirrel speaking to a black-haired, hook-nosed teacher who had a distinctly sour look. He let his eyes graze along the table until he caught the eyes of the man-with-half-moon-spectacles, also known as Dumbledore, and saw a flash of anger.
"You know." He whispered to Malfoy. "I don't think Dumbledore's very happy with me."
"Well duh. He's a Gryffindork. So were your parents. Probably expected you to be in his old house." Malfoy said, smirking mightily up at the head table.
The feast passed relatively amiably. Harry was expecting something to happen, having discovered his apparent black-sheepishness, but nothing did until he and the other first years were settled in the common room, sitting sleepily on couches and chairs with a seventh-year standing over them.
"Welcome to the noble house of Slytherin." The seventh-year said. "There are a few rules you need to follow, but you only need to know two tonight. One, we don't care how you feel about your housemates, but in public you will be civil and present a united front. Two, you will always be presentable. We have appearances to maintain. That is all for tonight. Tomorrow you will be presented with our official House rules. You will be expected to know them by heart by next Friday. Now go to bed. Slytherins are not late for class." He started shooing them towards the hall to their new dorm when the wall opened and the hook-nosed teacher walked in.
"Mister Potter please remain. Everyone else, bed." The teacher said, glaring at the other students until they departed. Harry had to nod at Goyle before he would leave. When everyone was gone Harry watched the teacher carefully, waiting for him to make the first move.
"Mister Potter." The teacher loomed over him, irritation plain in his posture and voice. "I have no clue how you were sorted into this house, but if you display any of your father's..." Harry cut him off, making his eyes widen with shock and something that was probably dismay.
"Professor." Harry figured the risk was worth it. After all, teachers were much less likely to hit him than, say, his Uncle Vernon. "I am not my father." He met the man's eyes, trying to read whether he could convince the man to not be biased against him. "I have no memory of my father." The pain he felt at those words, and the anger, he pushed away for later. "If I behave inappropriately for a Slytherin feel free to correct me, but please do not punish me because you have a problem with a dead man." He winced at his own words, hoping he hadn't just signed his own death warrant. The man's eyes were unreadable.
"Sit, Potter." He said at length.
"Yes, Professor...?" He let his voice raise, politely asking for the man's name as he sank onto a chair, keeping his posture attentive.
"Snape." The man gracefully sank into a chair across from his, settling back into it but leaning forwards to maintain eye contact.
"Yes Professor Snape." Harry waited for the man to continue.
"Your father and I attended school together." Snape said at length. "We did not get along. He was an arrogant bully who liked to show off." His voice was bitter with suppressed rage and pain, and Harry felt a strange kinship with the hurting man before him, even though the man was disparaging his father.
"And I was sorted into Slytherin, not Gryffindor." Harry said softly.
"Yes. He's probably rolling in his grave." Snape sounded almost amused at that. "If he were alive he'd likely disown you." The man seemed to take pleasure in saying things that should have hurt Harry.
"If he were alive I probably would have been sorted into Gryffindor." Harry replied quietly, his own stab at his Head of House.
"I will be honest with you mister Potter. I am not happy about having you in my house." Snape's voice sounded like steel.
"Are you willing to give me a chance sir?" Harry asked. For some reason his usage of the word 'sir' made Snape's eyes widen.
"I will try." Snape sat up, not leaning back but bringing his head both higher and backing away from Harry's. "That is all I can promise."
"Thank you sir." Harry let his body relax a little into the arm of the chair, badly suppressing a yawn. It had been a long day, and he was tired.
"Go to bed mister Potter." Snape rose, waiting for Harry to get to his own feet before sweeping out.