"I have an announcement," Dumbledore began over the noise of the students.
It was the first evening back at Hogwarts and Harry, Ron and Hermione were all seated at the Gryffindor table as seventh years. With the sorting having been completed, the three of them, boys especially, were waiting impatiently for the feast to begin.
"Ron, shh!" Hermione hissed, nudging the boy beside her as he groaned. She turned expectant brown eyes to the headmaster as he began his speech.
"For all of those who are muggle-born or may be knowledgeable with the muggle lifestyle, Hogwarts is now introducing a brand new system that you will be no doubt experienced with. For those who have had no interaction with muggles what-so-ever, this new system will not be entirely difficult to learn and even I can express my pleasure in how much fun it can be." Dumbledore chuckled humorously, oblivious to the many whispers that had broken out across the students. Many of the teachers were looking excited, if not nervous, at the idea of a new system. They of course had been informed of such a change over the holidays. Professor Snape on the other hand, looked downright miserable.
"This new system will provide you with a much faster way of gaining and storing information. The Ministry of Magic assures me that students such as yourselves will find this new system a lot more fun and easier to handle. Let it be known that as of today, Hogwarts will be welcoming the new technology of computer laptops."
A shocked silence covered the Great Hall, broken only by an outraged voice from the Slytherin table.
"What the hell are those?"
Ron turned to Hermione. "Yeah, what are those?" he asked.
"Laptops," Hermione began with a grin. "Are a muggle device used for many things, Ronald." She looked at Harry who sat across the table, pondering the idea of laptops with an amused expression. "Harry this is great!" she exclaimed. "It's about time the Ministry embraced muggle technology. It's going to make taking notes in class and organising them so much easier!"
The noise in the Great Hall had steadily grown louder as other students explained to those of a purely magically background what laptops actually were.
"It'll be easier to show you once we have them," Dean explained to Neville and Ginny. "But you'll pick up on how to use them fairly easy, especially if you're using them just for their basic tools."
"What do you mean basic tools?" Neville asked with a worried frown.
"Well most laptops are used to create and store information in programs," Dean replied. "They can be used though, for specific and intricate programs depending on the person."
"Programs?" Neville bit his lip.
"Just wait until we get them," Dean grinned. "Then I can show you."
Dumbledore watched the student's growing excitement with twinkling eyes as he cleared his throat to get their attention once more.
"I'm sure most of you will find using this new technology to be a fun and interesting experience," Dumbledore continued. "There is much to be said for embracing new ideas; please do not fear that you will be unable to understand how a computer laptop functions. There are many students here already equipped with knowledge on how to use them and I am sure they will gladly help anyone who needs a hand.
"Along with these new computer laptops, Hogwarts will also be 'installed' with a component called the Internet. This feature allows you to research various web browsers and collect any useful information. The Internet, of course, mostly features non-wizarding information but the Ministry has already provided many websites with information suitable for your classes this year."
Dumbledore paused, enjoying the astonished attention he was receiving.
"Every student will be given a computer laptop, they are in fact waiting for each and every one of you by your bedside. They come with a handy carry-bag to take your computer laptop to class as well as detailed instructions on how it functions. I have been told that although all computer laptops run on electricity, yours have been adapted to function purely on magical energy."
"Oh that's such a good idea," Hermione sighed, eyes gleaming with the prospect of a new way to study and communicate. "There are so many things I want to show you, Ron."
"Yeah I bet you do," Ron moped.
"Cheer up," Harry chuckled. "It's actually something I think you'll enjoy."
"Well, if the Ministry is creating wizarding websites I'm sure they'll make a Chudley Cannons one as well…"
"Yeah?" Ron said excitedly. "That'd be pretty mad."
"Now I'll be able to check my Facebook more often," Hermione continued excitedly.
"You have a Facebook?" Harry sniggered. "I haven't found you on there."
"I became rather hooked over summer," Hermione admitted. "One of my friends I see during the holidays got me onto it."
"Yeah same," Harry smiled.
"What's Facebook?" Ron frowned.
"A social networking website," Hermione replied.
"A social net-what?"
"Never mind, Ronald, I'll show you this evening." Hermione shook her head. "Hey," she frowned, "I've just realised, if the Ministry is making wizarding websites, won't muggles stumble across them while they're on the web?"
"I'm sure they'll find a way to hide them," Harry replied. "If our laptops have been adapted to magic then maybe we'll be the only ones to access the sites."
"Hmm, that might be possible," Hermione pondered, moving her gaze back to the headmaster and hoping she hadn't missed out on anything important while they had been chatting.
Thankfully, Dumbledore appeared to have completed this year's speech and had returned to his chair as food magically appeared onto their tables.
"Thank you," Ron said, drooling at the sight of the food.
It wasn't long before the feast faded away and students were obviously itching in their seats to get to their new laptops. Dumbledore rose to his feet, gaining attention once more.
"Before I send you off to your dormitories I would like to inform you that the Library has been equipped with devices named 'printers' that will allow you to print any documents you will need for class or personal use. Please use your new computer laptops wisely and with care. The Ministry will be sending one of their own to Hogwarts in the next few days to be of help to those with any problems." Dumbledore smiled widely. "Now off to bed! Pip pip!"
"Hey, Harry, don't you need to go help the prefects?" Ron asked as the entire school began to move.
Harry's Head Boy badge flashed as he got to his feet. "No it's up to the fifth year prefects to make sure the first years make it to the tower." He smiled wryly. "Don't you remember, Ron?"
"Relatively," the red-head grinned. "God they're so small—were we that small?"
Harry sniggered, following his friends out into the Entrance Hall. Despite the shock of receiving such a random gift from the Ministry of Magic, one that had transpired from muggle influence, it felt good to be back where he belonged, surrounded by friends that cared for him—
"For the love of god, Weasley, move out of the way."
Ron glared. "Shove off, Malfoy," he spat in reply.
"I'm not the one blocking the door," Malfoy sneered. His cool grey eyes swept over the Golden Trio with disdain, his lip curling. "If you don't mind."
"Come on guys," Harry said, tugging his friends to the side. "Let's just get upstairs."
"B-But, Harry!" Ron spluttered.
"He's not worth it, Ron," Harry replied simply. "And we were blocking the way; we should be used to not being asked nicely."
Ron snorted but didn't say anything further. Instead they began their way upstairs, following the familiar path to the Fat Lady's portrait. Thankfully the first years had already been led inside and settled, leaving the common room relatively quiet as they entered. Although Harry received a few open stares from the new students, he was glad to be back.
"Shall we go check out our new toys?" Harry grinned, noticing a few of their classmates had already started.
All of the laptops were the same pretty silver with the Hogwarts crest in the middle of the top screen lid. The shade of the silver reminded Harry of something but he couldn't quite place it.
"Do you mind if I join you two in your dormitory?" Hermione asked.
"Um, I don't share with Ron and the guys anymore, remember?" Harry replied.
"Now that Harry's Head Boy he gets his own room," Ron moped. "Lucky bastard…"
"Jealous?" Harry grinned.
"Yes," Ron pouted.
"So? Who's room?" Hermione pressed.
"Let's go check out Harry's," Ron suggested. "And mess it up so he has to come back to us." The red head grinned evilly and rushed up the staircase.
Both Harry and Hermione rolled their eyes, sharing a smile.
"Let me go grab my laptop and I'll meet you up there. You're right up the top now, aren't you?" Hermione asked.
"Yep, the stairs basically finish at my door apparently," Harry chuckled. "Ron's going to see my room before I do."
"Alright, I'll see you guys in a second." Hermione turned around and rushed up the stairs to the girls' dormitory, leaving Harry to journey up to his new room alone.
When he finally make it to the last landing, the stairs did indeed, stop right before his door. A large plaque in gold was stamped across the wood, 'HEAD BOY' practically screaming at him. With a small sigh Harry entered his new room, catching sight of Ron sprawled on his large four poster bed. Ron's new laptop lay beside him in a black bag.
"Comfortable? Because if it's not I might just have to trade with someone else," Harry mused with a smile.
"Nah, mate, its fine." Ron offered a small grin. He sat up and unzipped his laptop bag, pulling the sleek, shiny machine into his lap. "So this is a laptop huh? A computer-thingy?"
Harry laughed outright. "Yeah, mate, a computer-thingy."
"Can you show me how it works?" Ron asked. "Does it open or something?"
Harry crossed the floor and sat on the edge of the bed. "See how the crest is upside down? Yeah turn it around so it's the right way up." Harry smiled. "You can only open laptops one way, alright? So make sure the crest is this way before lifting the lid up."
Ron did so and his eyes widened in amazement. "Bloody hell."
"It's a nice laptop," Harry commented.
"How do you turn it on?" Ron asked.
"Usually you'd plug it in to charge but considering it runs off magic, I wonder if there is a spell or something." Harry rummaged through Ron's bag and pulled out a booklet. He flicked through the pages, coming across the instructions on 'First Usage'. "Okay it says here to cast Victus Navitas before turning it on."
Harry flicked his wand and murmured the spell. A little green light blinked into life beside the power button and Harry grinned.
"According to the instructions that's exactly what's meant to happen," he said happily.
"Do you reckon the first years will be able to handle that?" Ron asked with a frown.
"The spell isn't hard," Harry replied. "If they need help they can ask us or the Professors."
"Mmm, true," Ron pondered.
"You can switch your laptop on now if you want," Harry continued, flipping through the booklet.
Ron hesitantly held his finger over the square button. "This one?"
"Yep, but don't press it too hard," Harry said, knowing Ron's unusual way of dealing with muggle items.
Ron pressed the small square button carefully, the monitor flashing as the machine switched on, humming contently in the red head's lap.
"It glows," Ron said in amazement. "I thought it would be more like a wizard painting."
"Except it can do a lot more than a wizard painting," Harry chuckled. "Alright see here? It's asking you to set up your account and stuff. This means you'll have a username and a password which only you will know. This stops people from accessing your files."
"Huh," Ron murmured. "So what is a username exactly?"
"A username is what you use when you make an account on different things," Harry explained. "It's basically the name to your account."
"So what should mine be?" Ron asked.
"Whatever you want," Harry smiled. "It could be 'Weasley7' or something."
"Okay, um." Ron stared at the keyboard. "Are these letters?"
"Yeah, those are what you press to put letters on screen; it's called typing," Harry said. "And see that long blank button? Yeah that one, that's the space bar. You press that when you want to put a space between words and this one here, Shift, hold that down before pressing a letter and it makes it into a capital and it also makes those little symbols available. Caps Lock permanently makes letters capitals when you press it once. Press it again to make them small." Harry shuffled forward to point at the screen. "See that little arrow? He's called your mouse. He's what you use to select what you want or where you wish to type. That black square just below your keyboard? Yeah put your finger on there, gently, and move it across. See?" Harry chuckled at Ron's reaction. "That's how you move it. When you have the arrow over whatever it is you want to click on, either tap the black square or use the left button directly below—yeah that one."
Ron exhaled loudly. "Okay let me give it a go."
Once the cursor was where it needed to be, Ron began carefully pressing letters and Harry left him to it to start up his own laptop. After charging it and switching it on, Harry took a glance at Ron's screen and smiled.
"You don't need to spell out your entire name, mate," Harry laughed. "Even just 'Ron's Laptop' would be fine I'm sure."
"So it doesn't need my middle name?" Ron asked, biting his lip.
"No," Harry sniggered, typing in his own username. "See? I'm just going to put 'Harry's'."
"Oh, alright then," Ron replied with a wry smile. "How do I get rid of it?"
"Use backspace," Harry said. "See the blinking line? If that's in front of whatever you want to get rid of then press backspace. If it's behind, press Delete."
Once their usernames and passwords had been organised, their settings configured and wallpapers chosen, Harry began showing Ron the better uses for their laptops.
"This is so mad," Ron breathed, eyes tracking over the screen.
"You wait until you discover the internet," Harry grinned. "Here I'll show you my Facebook."
"Speaking of which—where's Mione? Wasn't she coming up too?" Ron asked.
"She probably got held up." Harry shrugged as he opened the internet browser. "I'll show you how to search for different things later." His fingers danced expertly across the keyboard, fascinating Ron to no end.
"Bloody hell you can type fast," Ron said in amazement.
"I've also had a lot of practise," Harry replied. "But it's alright, you'll probably pick up on it pretty fast. I know the keyboard isn't set out as the alphabet traditionally goes but you'll soon learn where they are. Hopefully you'll be able to touch type like I do. That means you can type without looking at the keyboard."
Harry's Facebook popped up and Ron observed with interest as Harry checked his notifications.
"So what's the point of this thing?" Ron asked, reading the status's on Harry's news feed.
"To keep in contact with friends," Harry replied. "It's better for those people who don't see each other as often as we do."
"And it's a muggle website thing isn't it?" Ron added.
Harry nodded. "Yeah so if you want to make an account don't go blabbing on about magic."
Ron grinned. "I think I'll leave it for now—maybe they'll make a wizard social site."
Harry laughed aloud. "That'd be pretty cool. Hogwarts will have its own social site."
"Can you imagine my dad on something like this?" Ron snickered. "He'd drive mum mental."
"Kinda like you're doing to me?" Harry teased, shutting his laptop down.
"Hey! I'm not as bad," Ron protested.
"Of course not," Harry winked. "Not you, never you."
Ron shoved the brunet carelessly off the bed, wrinkling his nose at the way Harry laughed. He threw a pillow as an added measure, rolling his eyes as he did so.
"Just because we're not all computer savvy," Ron sniffed.
"It's alright, I'll still be your friend," Harry grinned, hair ruffled and green eyes alight. "You know, I really missed you and Mione over the holidays."
Ron smiled softly. "Yeah it's been pretty boring without you guys."
"So did you miss me or Mione more?" Harry's smile grew a little more mischievous as he crossed his legs, looking up at his best friend.
Ron's eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?" he asked suspiciously.
"Well it seems to me as if you might hold a special something in your heart for a specific Hermione Granger…" Harry allowed his voice to trail off, his smile widening.
"And if I do?" Ron said defensively, crossing his arms.
Harry's smile softened. "I think that's really nice," he said honestly.
Ron's eyes widened in amazement. "Won't—doesn't this bother you, Harry?"
"Why should it?" Harry frowned. "Even if you guys start dating, we'll still be friends."
"Of course we will," Ron replied immediately. "Just—don't feel bad if we leave you out of some of our activities." The red head practically giggled and Harry shuddered at the images that were provoked.
"No you guys can keep that to yourselves."
Ron's smile grew sad then. "That is if she even likes me in that way."
"You won't know until you ask," Harry prodded.
"Why so interested, Harry?" Ron asked.
Harry grinned. "Because I think Mione might like you in return."
Ron's eyes brightened with interest. "You think so?" He sat back against the headboard of Harry's bed, gaze drifting to the ceiling. "What about you, Harry?"
"What? Do I have a crush on you as well?"
Ron snorted. "No you prat," he said with a shake of the head. "Do you fancy anyone?"
Harry smiled softly. "Not that I know of," he replied. Then again, when had anyone shown anything more than a hero's worship towards him? Liking someone, a being liked in return, was a touchy subject for Harry, especially when many only liked his name and nothing more.
"Hopefully one day, mate," Ron supplied hopefully.
"Yeah," Harry grinned wryly. "One day."