A/N: Written as a gift for slashpine on InsaneJournal. The title refers to the hackish sense of "wizard" (see http: / / www .catb .org/ ~esr/ jargon/ html/ W/ wizard .html).
Warnings/contains: Unbetaed, unBritpicked, and suffers from "Technology marches on" (http : / /tvtropes .org/ pmwiki /pmwiki .php/ Main/ TechnologyMarchesOn).
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
Albus was only five years old when he started asking if he could have a computer. Apparently, all that time sitting in his aunt Hermione's lap in front of hers, watching her do whatever she did with it while Harry and Ron talked Quidditch, had made an impression. Ginny had shrugged and left it entirely up to Harry, and in the end he had agreed, although he vowed never to allow any software on it that was for the purpose of blowing up aliens.
Fortunately, Albus didn't seem too inclined towards that sort of thing. He did play some adventure and puzzle games, but mostly he was reading. And reading. And reading. He absorbed whatever information he could find on a dazzling array of topics, from anime to Zoroaster. It often took some doing to tear Albus away from Wikipedia, which it was all too easy for him to sink hours and hours into.
By the age of fifteen Albus could easily type a hundred words a minute. His chubby little toddler's hands that had once hunted and pecked at the keys had become slender and agile, long fingers flying like a virtuoso pianist's. He read; he wrote; he even programmed. Harry was mystified at how, when he came home from Hogwarts each summer, his skills hadn't seemed to suffer from nine or ten months of disuse.
One time, Albus had apparently been having some difficulty correcting the grammar on some Wikipedia page to his liking. He kept scowling and sighing in frustration and leaning his forehead on his fists as he tried to think what to write next.
"Is this really worth it, Al?" Harry had asked. "Does it have to be that perfect?"
"Dad, seriously," Albus had replied with a raised eyebrow, as though that explained everything.
In the summer after fifth year, Albus asked over breakfast if he could go and spend a few weeks with his friend Graham, who had invited him to visit.
"That's that kid from Ravenclaw, right?" said Ginny.
"Mum, we're not kids. We're sixteen." Albus buttered his toast with as much dignity as he could muster.
"I'd say that's a kid," said James, ruffling his younger brother's shoulder-length black hair.
Albus glowered at him. "Maybe you were a kid at my age, Jamie." He smoothed his hair again and tucked it behind his ears.
"Oh, right, Albus Severus."
"Just because I was named after two brilliant people and you weren't-"
"Albus, James, that's enough," said Harry sternly. "Al, remember one of those two names belonged to your grandfather. And he and Sirius were definitely both brilliant in their way."
Ginny smiled and gestured at James with the jam spoon. "Besides, Jamie, I think you would have insisted the same thing when you were sixteen."
"Mum, you're not helping! I'm an adult now. What self-respecting wizard goes by Jamie?"
Harry smiled and shook his head. "Anyway. Sorry, Al. That fellow from Ravenclaw."
Harry looked at Ginny, who nodded. "Well, let's see how your O.W.L. marks look, and then we'll see."
Albus rolled his eyes and poked at his eggs. "Oh Dad, you know they'll be fine."
Harry suspected that was probably the case, since Albus seemed to breeze through everything he put his mind to in the slightest, but rules were rules. Harry was amused at himself, thinking that; he couldn't imagine himself saying anything of the kind at Albus's age. Hermione would be proud.
In the event, Albus's marks were more than fine; they were downright impressive as far as Harry was concerned. He had got ten O.W.L.s, including O's in Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, Defence, Astronomy, and (naturally) Muggle Studies.
Harry was slightly surprised when Graham and his mother came to collect Albus in a car rather than by Floo or Apparating. Albus had never mentioned that Graham was Muggle-born. Harry realized with pleasure that this probably meant Albus simply hadn't thought it worth mentioning - in other words, that he didn't think it made any difference.
"Remember that means no magic, Al," he said as they bundled his small suitcase into the car. "I don't want to hear you've got one of those lovely letters from the Ministry."
"Don't worry, Dad. I don't think it'll come up," said Albus cryptically.
Albus returned three weeks later with an eager glow in his eyes. Harry liked to see his son so happy, but he was also wary. He knew that this particular glow was not solely happiness but also I'm Up To Something. But then, Albus was a Slytherin, and Harry thought that Being Up To Something was probably one of the chief joys in that house.
"So what did you two do for three weeks?"
"Oh, you know, the usual," said Albus, waving his hand casually. "But Dad, you should have seen it. We went to visit his brother Roderick who was off from university and he has got the most amazing Linux box-"
"-quad-core, utterly stupid amount of RAM, one of those clear plastic cases all lit up with cathodes and LEDs-"
"Al, Al! Whoa! A what kind of box?"
"Linux! It's a - oh, never mind, I don't think I could explain it in a way that you'd understand."
"I may only be your father, but I'm not as dumb as I look."
"You're just missing too much background information. Did you ever have a computer when you were my age?"
Harry snorted. Dudley - not to mention Uncle Vernon - would have blown a bloody gasket if Harry had so much as breathed on it. "My cousin never let me touch his."
"Well, I wish I could have one like that."
Harry paled. They were well-off, true, but he had no real yardstick by which to measure what his son was asking.
"Pay for it myself and everything, I mean," Albus hastily amended. "I've got some ideas for enchantments - I know they tried to tell us in Muggle Studies that magic doesn't mix with delicate electronics like that, but I think people just haven't been trying the right things. Oh!" His green eyes lit up like he had just been struck with an inspiration. "I bet if I coated the surface with - and then the Lumos could - yeah!"
He flashed Harry a grin and bounded upstairs. As he went into his room and closed the door, Harry faintly heard him say to himself, "Just wait 'til the next LAN party. They'll never believe it!"
A what kind of party...?
"Dad?" said Lily, emerging from the doorway and tugging on Harry's sleeve. "What was all that about?"
"I'm not quite sure," replied Harry, wrapping an arm around his daughter's shoulders. "I hope it doesn't mean something Misuse of Muggle Artifacts will want to ding us for. You know Al, though. Never does anything by halves. Whatever it is, it'll probably be brilliant."
"Mmm. So, um, Dad?"
"Can I have a computer too?"