First off, I started to write this in the "questions about your fic that don't deserve their own thread" thread, but quickly realized that there's so much written here, and more than one question, that it probably did need its own thread. I'm working on another outline for another story that will likely never see the light of day. Slytherin!Harry, starting from year 1. If you know my style of writing, you know that I like canon rehashes, but I like having enough small divergences to make it different, but not enough so the overarching plot of the story fundamentally changes. I also like to simply or straighten out the plot, so it works smoother. This is all just theorycrafting at the moment. Of course, Slytherin!Harry has been written about quite a lot, but there's always a lot of traps that they fall in to. Like, there's a bunch of them where Harry still befriends Ron and Hermione despite being in Slytherin, Draco is still his rival, and stuff like that. I don't want bashing in my story, or a huge amount of cliches. So, Ron isn't going to be cursing Harry at every opportunity and frothing at the lips, just because Harry's a Slytherin. Truthfully, he shouldn't get much screen time at all, as I don't really desire simply having Ron be Draco's replacement as a rival (even though there are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between them). There is the big issue though. Harry's a Slytherin, so nothing should happen the same. How does Harry still get pushed along the path of figuring out about the Stone, and going after it? 1) The obvious solution is that he doesn't. He does nothing in regards to the stone and either someone else figures it out, it gets successfully stolen, or the teachers succesfully defend it. The whole thing could be resolved without any input from Harry, without him even knowing anything is going. That brings up two things 1A) What is Harry doing this year then? Most stories have some sort of plot to them, and this would just be Harry learning magic during an uneventful year. That's the most realistic perhaps, but the most boring. Year 1 stories intrinsically have this flaw where they're usually super boring, and that wouldn't help, and wouldn't even be worth the time to write. So, it is possible to come up with another plot for Harry to follow, while the Stone situation gets resolved offscreen. 1B) Voldemort comes back. Quirrell successfully gets the stone, and brews whatever concoction will bring Voldemort back. This could be interesting, but would run into the similar problem of 1A, in what would Harry do next year? If Voldemort is back, the Chamber of Secrets incident would be completely different, and likely wouldn't involve the diary at all. Personally, I would do an "On the Wings of a Phoenix" style Voldemort, where nothing is black and white. 2) Harry discovers the Plot, and decides to get involved. Firstly, why does he get involved? 2A) Harry is in Slytherin, he craves magic, thirsts for knowledge. He wants to solve the mystery, or perhaps even use the Stone for himself. 2B) Realizes that someone is trying to steal the Stone. No one believes him, especially when his prime candidate is his own Head of House. Takes matters in his own hands. The whole thing is a bit more tricky than just picking out a number from a list. So, perhaps we start with what we do know, stuff that doesn't change with the planned divergence, which is probably just the overdone "Draco gets to Harry's compartment on the train first" idea. 3) Harry is with Hagrid when Hagrid get's the stone out of Gringotts. There's a few important things that are noted. 3A) Hagrid has a letter from Dumbledore, giving him permission to access the vault. 3B) Hagrid says the item is "very secret, Hogwart's business. Worth more than his job" to tell Harry what it is. Now, that doesn't actually put a physical value on what the object is, only that it's important to Dumbledore. 3C) The item is physically small 3D) Vault is protected enough that it has no keyhole, only a goblin can open it, but isn't deep enough to be guarded by dragons. Not guarded by dragon's doesn't actually mean anything. 3E) Hagrid says the only place safer than Gringotts is "maybe" Hogwarts. That's a fair amount of information given. Of course, there are some things that don't make sense. If the item is so important, why is Hagrid picking it up? Hagrid was busy trying to get Harry his letter for like a week, he could have gone to Gringotts at any time during then. Did Hagrid have the orders to pick up the Stone the whole time? Very coincidental that Harry and Hagrid just happen to get to Gringotts before the robbery. I reread book 1 recently, and there's a lot of things that are like there, where it seems like Harry is really lucky. It's no wonder why there's so many fics based around the idea that nearly every event was carefully manipulated by Dumbledore from the start. It's not even that hard to believe - heck, the idea is even mentioned at the end: "D'you think he meant you to do it?" said Ron. "Sending you your father's cloak and everything?" "He's a funny man, Dumbledore. I think he sort of wanted to give me a chance. I think he knows more or less everything that goes on here, you know. I reckon he had a pretty good idea we were going to try, and instead of stopping us, he just taught us enough to help. I don't think it was an accident he let me find out how the mirror worked. It's almost like he thought I had the right to face Voldemort if I could...." Anyways, this story isn't about conspiracy theories, or even how bad JKR is at number (so many examples in HP1). So, I kind of want to smooth out some of the oddities. Like, when you change Harry to Slytherin, there's no reason Harry should be lucking across all the answers that he did. Examples. 4A) Harry just happens to gets a Dumbledore chocolate frog card that mentions Nicholas Flamel 4B) Harry visits Hagrid and just happens to see a newspaper about the Gringotts break in and the date it happened 4C) Harry and friends just happens to come across Fluffy 4D) Harry and friends mention Fluffy to Hagrid, and he just happens to mention Nicholas Flamel. Hermione just happens to have a book at the ready that mentions Flamel after not being able to figure it out for months. 4E) Harry just happens to see Snape getting his leg bandaged while talking about Fluffy to Filch (though Snape mentioning Fluffy to Filch should have been a sign that wasn't him, unless Harry seriously thought Snape would bring Filch in on the crime for some reason) 4F) Harry just happens to see Snape running into the forest to browbeat Quirrell. Snape just casually mentions the Stone with Harry within hearing range. 4G) Harry just happens to come across what sounds like someone threatening Quirrell in the room. Harry thinks it's Snape (with later context I think it's actually Voldemort? not sure.) 4H) Harry just happens to come across the Mirror of Erised. Dumbledore just happens to mentions how it works "just in case he happens to run across it again." 4I) Harry just happens to come across Quirrellmort drinking unicorn blood in the forbidden forest. As you can see, there's a lot of bullshit that happens to make sure Harry is in the right place at the right time, to get the information that is needed. My goal is to cut out the majority of the stuff and have the plot rely less on luck, on more on Harry's ability to solve a problem. Of course, that means it still has to be a plot Harry wants to solve. In that situation, point 2A is probably in the ballpark of what I'm going for. There's three subcomponents here that are important. 5) Harry realizing something is even wrong at all. 5A). Harry learns that Gringotts was broken in to. In canon, Ron tells Harry about the robbery before they even get to Hogwarts. It's not until later at Hagrid's that Harry learns the date. Learning that Gringotts was broken in to is really the catalyst for everything. It can be easily shifted to being a single event (learning about the break in, and the when it happened at the same time), and it can be done as easily is simply seeing a copy of the Daily Prophet at the first breakfast or something like that. 5B) Harry has to place significance on the fact that Gringotts was robbed, and that they were there that day (side note, Malfoy was there that day as well). Something has to happen for Harry to think that him being there that day was more than just a coincidence. 5C) Harry has to place all the facts together. The Article mentions how the vault was actually emptied that day. Harry realizes that Hagrid empties a vault that day. Hagrid says it was very important Hogwarts business, Dumbledore's orders. Hagrid says that the only place safer than Gringotts is Hogwarts. 5D) Harry has to come across Fluffy somehow. And, he has to realize it's guarding a trapdoor. He then does some research on it, discovers that it's a Cerberus, and in the past, they've been used to guard stuff. Places two and two together. 5DA) Harry gets his invisibility cloak, and is exploring the castle. Willing decides to have a look at what's on the third floor forbidden corridor 5DB) Harry gets his invisibility cloak, and sneaks to the library to soak up as much knowledge as possible. Similar situation as what happens in canon, except instead of coming across the Mirror of Erised, he comes across Fluffy. 6) Harry learning what the object is. 6A) This is difficult. Harry knows the object is small. He know's it's important to Dumbledore (though he might question why Dumbledore didn't pick it up himself). He know's it's probably valuable in some way. He knows that someone wants it enough to break into Gringotts to try and steal it, which Harry learned early on would be incredibly foolish to do. Honestly, there's not really enough information to go on unless Harry makes some huge assumptions, which would likely be quite heavy-handed. Other options are for him to come across it accidentally, either just researching magical items at random, or come across someone talking about the Stone, either just happenstance with nothing to do with the Stone at Hogwarts, or a teacher talking about it and Harry happens to hear. I don't like either of those, as the whole lucking into clues thing is what I'm trying to avoid. Perhaps Harry should just ask someone what is hidden, and come up with a situation where they would tell him the truth (such as Quirrell telling) 6B) What happens if Harry doesn't learn what the item is? Would he still go after it? 6BA) If he doesn't, what happens? 6BB) If he does, why? Would he go down the trap door to simply solve the mystery of what the object actually is? It's not a terrible idea, but the thirst for knowledge has to be great, but for this to be believable, he'd have to be ignorant of someone else inside Hogwarts trying to steal the object, UNLESS the whole idea was that he wanted to steal the object before someone else did. After all, if someone is trying to steal it, it has to be important, right? 7) Harry discovering that someone is trying to steal it 7A) How does Harry come across this? 7B) How does Harry correlate that someone tried to steal it from Gringotts, and is also now trying to steal it from Hogwarts? Is it the same person, a group of people acting together, or multiple people/groups unrelated to each other 7C) What does he do with the information once he realizes that someone at Hogwarts is trying to steal whatever item it is. If he thinks with his head, he'd likely think that if he's aware of it, then the professors are aware of it. Would that be something that would stop him from pursuing the mystery? As you can see, there's a lot of things going on, a lot of pieces to the puzzle that have to be solved. There's a lot of questions here that are open to suggestion. There's also some other factors to worry about. Like, once all this is said and done, where does Harry learn that there's more than just Fluffy guarding the Stone? Perhaps the idea of Harry getting caught off guard by more traps is a decent idea. Or, maybe Harry can deduce that there's probably more protections somehow. Like, perhaps he wonder's why there's even a trapdoor at all, and why not just have 20 feet of solid stone with no entrance. I think number 5 is the most important point here that needs to be solved, and it kind of goes with number seven. I think it's doable, and I think it can be stretched over months. It would almost half to be, if I'm not having Harry randomly come across important clues by happenstance. Like, Harry can learn about the Gringotts robbery during the first week of school. He then needs to somehow correlate that the object being guarded by Fluffy is the same that Hagrid got from Gringotts. That can be done without a huge leap in logic, but it can't all be done in one sitting either. However, I want to avoid Hagrid giving any information away, but I still want Hagrid to be part of the story even though Harry in Slytherin (which shouldn't matter to Hagrid). Firstly, Harry has to discover Fluffy to begin with, which I think only really makes sense after Harry has the invis cloak, which happens at Christmas. Thats a few months for the story to simmer, and do other minor plot things. Perhaps at some point, Harry gets stumped. Somehow, this whole thing has to turn into a mystery for Harry, one that he wants to solve. Perhaps it's just a character quirk - he saw the Cerberus guarding a trapdoor, he read up on them and learned that they've been traditionally used to guard things, he knows Hagrid got a package from Gringotts that was nearly stolen. It's not a huge leap in logic to conclude that the item Hagrid took from Gringotts is what the Cerebus is guarding. Harry just has to do his due diligence to figure that out. Anyways, perhaps Harry gets stumped at some point. Perhaps Harry's curiosity gets the better of him. There's two ways this can happen. Perhaps Harry makes the leap of logic that if there's a Cerebus involved, Hagrid likely had something to do with it. As a reader we know that Kettleburn is actually the Care for Magic Teachers professor at this time, but Harry knows that Hagrid likes big scary monsters, so perhaps Harry goes to Hagrid to learn more about it. Perhaps Harry simply goes to Hagrid, because he's the only person he knows that has a connection to whatever the item is that is being hidden. Either way, he's lead to Hagrid somehow, and that can lead to Harry learning that all the teachers have protections set up, and that Fluffy is just the first. The whole Norbert thing can probably happen sometime during this as well, but that whole plot is just a setup in canon for Harry to discover Quirrellmort drinking unicorn blood in the forest. With how I see this playing out, I can see maybe Harry learning about something in the woods drinking unicorn blood, but Harry never actually getting a detention and coming across Quirrellmort. Like I said, I don't know any reasonable way fro Harry to discover what the object actually is, not without luck. Like, either he overhears Flamels name, and correlates it with the Stone, or he overhears Snape talking about the stone directly. I don't like either of those. Perhaps the better idea is that the fact he can't figure out what it is is what drives him to actually going down the trapdoor. Perhaps he sees the whole thing as some sort of challenge. Additionally how does Harry discover someone is trying to steal it? Unlike the idea of figuring out what the object is, I think it's probably possible for Harry to discover that someone is trying to steal the stone, without it being in some arbitrary manner. Firstly, if someone wasn't trying to steal the stone, there wouldn't be such an elaborate trap. That's not flawless logic by any means, but it's there. You can sort of assume that if someone went through great lengths to actually rob Gringotts despite the risks, then they might go through great lengths to try and steal from Hogwarts as well. Getting actual proof is a different story. He'd have to notice Snape limping or something like that. I'm not exactly sure. Lastly, what Harry actually does with this information. He's Slytherin!Harry, not Gryffindor!Harry, but regardless of label, he's still Harry. Everything has to line up for him to actually want to go through the trapdoor, as opposed to getting a teacher. Perhaps he simply can't find a teacher, and things have (somehow) lined up in such a way the he suspects Snape as a culprit so he can't go to him. That's if he thinks a thief is after it. If he wants it for himself, he'll simply go. The conclusion can have options as well. Things can go as canon. Harry prevents Voldemort from getting the stone, he black out, wakes up in the Hospital wing after burning Quirrell to death. Or perhaps, Harry gets the stone, keeps it for himself. Or, maybe Harry agrees to Voldemort's deal. Harry gives Voldemort the Stone, and Voldemort promises to give Harry his parents back. That's not to mention a very important question - why does Dumbledore even have the Stone? Does it take Flamel a year or more to renovate his house, and leaves it in Dumbledore's possession while that's going on? That's assuming that they have some elixir to hold them over during this whole time as well. Or perhaps I simply go with the common trope, of the entire thing being a trap to lure Voldemort out into the open, and that the stone is fake. I like that option the most. After all, in the first few books, plenty of witches and wizards still think that Voldemort is out there somewhere. It's only when they're present with that as an actual factual possibility where they decide to stick their heads in the sand and ignore it. Thoughts?