AN: The text in bold has been directly borrowed from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
1st September 1991
Harry shivered as he exited the train, and he was not sure if it was just because of the cold air. The platform was dimly lit by old gas style lamps, which he guessed were actually powered by magic. One of the lights, however, was bobbing; Harry realised it was a lamp held high by the already tall Hagrid.
"Firs' years! Firs' years over here!" came the booming voice of his friend, who seemed to have noticed him now. "All right there, Harry?" he asked in a softer tone. Harry nodded dumbly.
"C'mon, follow me - any more firs' years? Mind your step, now! Firs years follow me!"
The students followed Hagrid on a steep and narrow path. It was so dark on either side of them that Harry thought there must be thick trees there. Nobody spoke much, and the silence was only broken by an occasional sniff from one of the students.
"Yeh'll get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in a sec," Hagrid called over his shoulder, "jus' round this bend here."
There was a loud "Oooooh!"
The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.
"No more'n four to a boat!" Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Harry and Ron entered a boat. The girl Hermione seemed to want to join in, but instead, two plump boys joined them instead, leaving her to go on to another boat instead.
"Watch out for Trevor, Nev," said one of them. Harry noticed that he had a darker face and black hair like his own. The other boy seemed to check his robe pockets, retrieving a Toad from one.
"Hey there," the black-haired boy said in a casual tone. "It's pretty sick, isn't it?" he said gesturing excitedly towards the castle.
"Yeah," Harry answered, as Hagrid's voice boomed.
"Everyone in? Right then - FORWARD!"
The boats started moving at once, gliding across the lake, which seemed smooth as glass. Everyone was silent, staring up at the great castle overhead. It towered over them as they sailed nearer to the cliff on which it stood.
As they neared the castle, Harry felt a weird sensation crawl down his spine, just like it had at Ollivander's.
'Must be the magic in the castle' he wondered. His thoughts were interrupted by the new boys in the boat, who seemed to be introducing themselves to Ron.
"I'm Neville Longbottom," said the blond boy with the toad.
"I'm Ron Weasley"
"You're Fred and George's brother?" asked Neville. Ron nodded.
"Mark Smith," supplied the other boy, now waiting for Harry.
Neville seemed a bit taken aback at this, and his eyes flitted towards Harry's scar. Mark just stared at Harry for a moment, before his face undertook an intrigued expression for a moment as if he were examining a unique specimen.
"Nice to meet you," he said finally. Harry recognised that maybe he wanted to add something more, but Hagrid's voice cut in.
"Heads down!" yelled Hagrid as the first boats reached the cliff; they all bent their heads and the little boats carried them through a curtain of ivy that hid a wide opening in the cliff face. They were carried along a dark tunnel, which seemed to be taking them right underneath the castle until they reached a kind of underground harbour, where they clambered out onto rocks and pebbles.
Harry and Neville walked together, followed by Ron and Mark. They walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around the huge, oak front door.
"Everyone here? You there, still got yer toad?"
Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked three times on the castle door.
As the door swung open, Mark saw Professor McGonagall standing in emerald green robes. The large man who'd escorted them spoke.
"The fir's years, Professor McGonagall"
"Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here" came the reply.
She pulled the door wide open and led them into the entrance hall. All the other students seemed to be amazed at the sheer scale and grandeur of the castle; Mark, however, had other thoughts on his mind.
He had just met Harry Potter, and it was the first time he had been unable to glean someone's mind. He could sense it, but it was akin to feeling around in an extremely dense fog.
Mark had encountered the story of Harry Potter in one of the books he'd read and could empathise with the orphaned boy. He didn't, however, understand the magical world's hero-worship of a boy they barely knew, as evidenced by the behaviour of his new friends.
Mark could sense hundreds of students behind a doorway to the right. Professor McGonagall led them to another chamber however, where they all crowded.
"Welcome to Hogwarts," said Professor McGonagall. "The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your Houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony-" she continued on, explaining about the new life that awaited them.
Mark listened as she informed them of the four houses and the house point system, before suggesting that they smarten themselves up. Her eyes lingered on Ron's smudged nose momentarily, and Harry seemed to try and flatten his hair. Mark gave her a small grin, which she replied with a barely perceptible nod.
"I shall return when we are ready for you," said Professor McGonagall. "Please wait quietly." She left the chamber.
"How exactly do they sort us into Houses?" he asked Ron.
"Some sort of test, I think. Fred said it hurts a lot, but I think he was joking."
"I don't think Fred was serious," Mark offered. "They wouldn't test us before teaching us anything," he said confidently.
Harry seemed to lose some of his nervousness at this and nodded weakly. Hermione Granger, on the other hand, began whispering about the spells that she had already learned to the girl beside her.
Suddenly, several people screamed as about twenty pearly-white translucent figures streamed through the back wall.
'Ghosts' Mark recognised them from his books, as he observed them arguing amongst themselves. One of them, who looked like a fat looking monk, spoke on noticing the students.
"New students! About to be Sorted, I suppose?" Mark nodded at this.
"Hope to see you in Hufflepuff!" came the jovial reply. "My old House, you know."
Professor McGonagall re-entered the chamber then and asked the ghosts to move along in a sharp voice. She instructed the students to follow her in a line and led them through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall.
Mark glanced around the large hall filled with students. It was breathtaking in reality, despite him already seen it in Professor McGonagall's memories.
Levitating candles illuminated the room, which was occupied with four long tables where the older students were seated, and another the top of the hall seating the teachers. He immediately recognised the Headmaster Albus Dumbledore seated in a large gold chair.
His attention was diverted when professor McGonagall placed the sorting hat on a wooden stool. The brim ripped wide like a mouth and began singing:
"Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,
But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!"
Thunderous applause followed the song, and Mark joined in almost involuntarily, to the surprise of the people around him. He couldn't help but appreciate a well-composed rhyme.
Professor McGonagall unrolled a roll of parchment, which Mark recognised was the list of students.
"When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted," she said. "Abbott, Hannah!" she called out the first name.
The girl to whom it belonged shuffled out of the line and went to sit on the stool. The hat took a moment, before declaring-
She proceeded to the table underneath the yellow and black banner to the cheers of her new housemates.
Susan Bones was next, and she too was sorted into the house of the loyal. Terry Boot and Mandy Brocklehurst were sorted into Ravenclaw and joined their house underneath the blue and silver banner.
Lavender Brown was next, and she joined Gryffindor underneath the red and gold banner to what Mark reckoned was the most open reception, while Millicent Bulstrode joined Slytherin under the green and silver banner to the most reserved welcome.
Mark looked at the impatient faces seated at the tables and realised that the dinner was held up by the sorting. His thoughts tapered off to food, and he wondered what would be served for dinner.
He suddenly realised that Hermione Granger had been sorted into Gryffindor, and now Neville's name was called.
Mark patted his new friend on his back reassuringly, as he saw Neville steel himself for the sorting. He almost stumbled on the way, and after sitting down put on the hat, which covered his eyes.
The hat seemed to be taking longer than the others it had sorted before, and Mark could make out Neville arguing with the hat in whispers. After another minute, the finally shouted, "GRYFFINDOR!" in what he thought was an insistent tone. Neville seemed to storm off angrily, forgetting the hat on his head, drawing laughter from all the tables.
Mark watched his friend seat himself beside the twin Weasleys, who had greeted him enthusiastically. His eyes wandered onto Mark, who he gave a wave.
Mark gave him a congratulatory thumbs up, before turning his attention to the sorting. Two twin girls, Padma and Parvati Patil were separated into Ravenclaw and Gryffindor respectively. Mark found this interesting.
He noticed the hall break out into loud whispers, and Mark realised that Harry's name had been called. The short boy sat on the stool before the hat was placed on his head.
The hat took about thirty seconds before calling out "GRYFFINDOR!" Harry seemed to slump at this, and his hands came back to his side, which Mark noticed had been gripping the edges of the stool until then.
The reception which the boy received was the loudest yet. Even students at other tables were applauding, with students from Gryffindor going crazy. Fred and George were yelling, "We got Potter! We got Potter!" Harry seemed to shrink in the attention he was receiving, even being patted on his shoulder by a ghost in wearing a ruff.
Mark was surprised by the fact that there were no names between Harry and him and hesitated a moment before proceeding to the stool to put on the hat.
"What do we have here?" a voice spoke in Marks mind. "Interesting, very interesting indeed. At last, another has finally walked into Hogwarts."
"Uh, Hello," said Mark, before asking "What do you mean by that?"
"I'm talking about your unique ability, Mr Smith," the hat replied, emphasising his name.
Mark froze at this; He hadn't planned on revealing it to anyone. The hat sensed this, and continued,
"Oh don't you worry Mr Smith. I'm bound to secrecy after all. Now where to put you?"
Mark relaxed at this; he listened to the hat's scrutiny of his character
"An excellent mind, with a thirst for knowledge I see. Hard working, yes, and brave too. Hmmm. Oh my. Ambitious, and cunning as well" it continued.
"Your memories are very illuminating indeed. You've seen a lot haven't you?" it asked in a sympathetic voice.
Mark could sense his mind being rifled through, and he silently wondered if the hat was truly sentient; it evidently picked up on this thought.
"Oh yes, Mr Smith. I'm really sentient, in the manner that you use the term," it said in an offended tone.
"I mean no offence sir," Mark answered. "Do you have a name?" he asked hoping to placate the headwear.
"My, my. I haven't been asked for that in many years. Yes indeed. My name is Elijah," it answered merrily.
"Do you have the same ability as me?" Mark asked.
"In a manner of speaking. You may want to read up more on it in the library if you wish"
"Oh. Thanks, I guess"
"So now Mr Smith, back to the question at hand where do I put you?"
"Wherever you decide," Mark offered. It was Elijah's job after all, and he was adequately experienced in his opinion.
"How about Ravenclaw? That's where you'll be expected to join"
Mark shrugged inwardly. Elijah continued
"Hufflepuff may even help you make friends. You certainly didn't mind it when you talked with your friend on the train."
"Really? Even Slytherin? You won't be welcome there, given your parentage"
Mark thought about this, keeping his emotions in check. "I'll manage"
"Well, then you leave me no other choice. You are a rare wizard Mr Smith, and I hope to talk to you again. Now let me send you to the only house that you truly belong to-"
"GRYFFINDOR!" the hat shouted.
Harry joined in the applause, as he watched Mark place the hat on the stool before walking towards their table. The Weasley twins and Neville were applauding the loudest, as they welcomed their new housemate to their table.
He had taken the longest to get sorted; a little longer than even Neville, according to Percy Weasley beside him. He'd learnt that it was called a 'Hatstall' when the prefect had explained it to Hermione Granger.
He watched as "Thomas, Dean", who was darker than Mark and taller than Ron, joined the Gryffindor table. After "Turpin Lisa" was sorted into Ravenclaw, it was Ron's turn. Harry crossed his fingers under the table and a second later the hat had shouted, "GRYFFINDOR!"
Harry clapped loudly with the rest as Ron collapsed into the chair next to him.
"Well done, Ron, excellent," said Percy Weasley pompously across Harry as "Zabini, Blaise," was made a Slytherin. Professor McGonagall rolled up her scroll and took the Sorting Hat away.
Albus Dumbledore, who Harry recognised from the Chocolate Frog Card earlier, had stood up to address the students. He seemed to be in a genuinely happy mood; evidenced by his smile, which was as wide as his spread arms.
"Welcome!" he said. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!"
Harry was caught unaware by the eccentricities of the Headmaster. As Percy put it succinctly "He's a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit mad, yes."
Any further thoughts were quelled by the appearance of the feast, followed by an exclaimed "Oh yeah!" from Mark down the table. Harry piled his plate with a little of everything.
Not used to being allowed to have as much as he wanted, Harry was a bit hesitant at first but relaxed considerably on witnessing others eat. Mark was attacking his plate with manners that would have made Aunt Petunia proud. He was still managing to eat faster than everyone else around him except Ron, who unconstrained by the shackles of table manners, was shovelling food into his mouth excitedly.
The food was all delicious, and the ghost in the ruff seemed to think so too.
"That does look good,"
"Can't you — ?"
"I haven't eaten for nearly five hundred years," said the ghost. "I don't need to, of course, but one does miss it. I don't think I've introduced myself? Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington at your service. Resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower."
"I know who you are!" said Ron suddenly. "My brothers told me about you-you're Nearly Headless Nick!"
"I would prefer you to call me Sir Nicholas de Mimsy —" the ghost began stiffly, but sandy-haired Seamus Finnigan interrupted.
"Nearly Headless? How can you be nearly headless?"
Sir Nicholas looked extremely miffed as if their little chat wasn't going at all the way he wanted.
"Like this," he said irritably. He seized his left ear and pulled.
"Ooof. That must have hurt," Mark commented, seeing the shoddy job that someone had done in beheading the former knight. Harry agreed with the succinct sentiment.
As they finished their food, desserts appeared. Harry reached for his favourite, treacle tart. Some of the students started talking about their families. Seamus told about his muggle father and magical mother, while Neville talked about how his gran had brought him up, and how they had tried to force magic out of him.
Harry couldn't help but notice how their situations were almost opposite; the Dursleys had evidently sought to stamp out his freakishness, according to what Uncle Vernon had revealed that day.
Besides Harry, Percy and Hermione were talking about the lessons. Glancing up to the head table, Harry saw Hagrid drinking deeply from his goblet. Professor McGonagall was talking to Professor Dumbledore. Professor Quirrell, who he recognised from the Leaky Cauldron, was talking to a teacher with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin.
It happened very suddenly. The hook-nosed teacher looked past Quirrell's turban straight into Harry's eyes — and a sharp, hot pain shot across the scar on Harry's forehead.
"Ouch!" Harry clapped a hand to his head.
"What is it?" asked Percy.
The pain had gone as quickly as it had come. Harder to shake off was the feeling Harry had gotten from the teacher's look — a feeling that he didn't like Harry at all.
"Who's that teacher talking to Professor Quirrell?" he asked Percy.
"Oh, you know Quirrell already, do you? No wonder he's looking so nervous, that's Professor Snape. He teaches Potions, but he doesn't want to — everyone knows he's after Quirrell's job. Knows an awful lot about the Dark Arts, Snape."
Harry watched Snape for a while, but Snape didn't look at him again.
Once the desserts disappeared, Professor Dumbledore got up to speak again. The hall fell silent.
"Ahem — just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few start-of-term notices to give you.
"First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well."
Dumbledore's twinkling eyes flashed in the direction of the Weasley twins.
"I have also been asked by Mr Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors.
"Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their House teams should contact Madam Hooch.
"And finally, I wish to inform you that that the rooms on the right-hand side of the third-floor corridor are out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a painful death. Please do not fret; there are some dangerous experiments being performed there, which would not be safe for curious souls who wander there," he reassured.
The whispers amongst the students died at that. Professor Dumbledore continued,
"Now, before we retire to our beds, let us sing the school song!" He drew his wand from his robes smiling jovially. Harry noticed it was almost black and had small knots at little distances along its length. Dumbledore gave it a flick, and the lyrics of the song appeared in the air, written in a flowing golden ribbon.
"Everyone pick their favourite tune!" The students joined him singing,
"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts"