I'm not going to treat Slytherin as if it's one entity, I'm going to pretty much avoid single trope involving them. So, none of that Harry having to prove that he belongs in that house or anything like that. The house is made of individual people, with individual opinions. Sure, they might have preconceived notions as to who Harry is, but I'm not going to have them treat Harry as if he's a Gryffindor spy in Slytherin, or even just outright treated as their mortal enemy with everyone being a mini Death Eater in training. I don't want Harry to just be outright shunned like we see all too often. If anything, I would rather have them see Harry as some exploitable resource. Perhaps exploitable is the wrong term, but they see him as someone they want to get in good graces with to further whatever their own agenda is. Like I said, I'm starting off with the train as the first scene in the story. One of the first things Draco asks of Harry is if he was really raised by muggles. Harry's opinion of the Dursleys is very negative, but it's not like he hates every muggle. I'm not just going to have Draco go guns ablazing and have Draco be a bigot right off the bat, trying to get Harry to conform to his same views, but Draco finds out pretty quickly that Harry knows very little about their world. He's not appalled at Harry, he's appalled that Harry's heritage has been kept from him - even Hagrid was appalled at that. He realizes that Harry will be malleable, and maybe exploitable. He realizes that Harry isn't necessarily ignorant, he just doesn't know anything about their world at all, one way or another. Now, to add a bit of levity, and to emphasize that they're only 11, I have Draco immediately try and get Harry to become a fan of his quidditch team, before he can form any other opinions. After all in canon, Draco must know that Harry is a halfblood before they even meet, yet Draco still tries to extend an offer of "help." I do agree that Harry would actively be looking for as much information as possible. That likely wouldn't be a secret. You can even have him be thirsty for knowledge, thirsty for a culture that he can call his own, seperate from the Dursleys'. It's not that farfetched for Harry to actually be interested in what Draco tells him regarding wizarding traditions or whatever. After all, I tentatively named the story "Greatness, At Any Cost" For the troll scene, I can simply see the teachers arriving in time to prevent the troll from killing hermione. So then hermione has a choice to make. She can drop out of Hogwarts, or she can continue, knowing that she has no friends and that she nearly got killed. Perhaps Ron feels like the whole thing went to far, and he's apologetic after the fact. Maybe his brothers learn of what he did and step in, or perhaps Ron is a more sophitiscated person than is usually shown in fanfiction. Perhaps Ron tries to make it up to Hermione somehow, and they slowly become friends anyways. I'm not sure if there's a way to realistically stretch that to the point where they would discover anything regarding the Stone and someone end up going after it. I do want to avoid the whole trope of just swapping out characters and still having the same thing happen. So, I've had an idea on how to actually get Harry to the Stone, if that's the direction I want to take. The answer is Quirrellmort. Harry getting sorted into Slytherin should change some things, and perhaps Quirrellmort will actually view Harry in a different light. On one hand, he's annoyed at the whole prophecy and losing his body thing. On the other hand, if he can exploit a situation to his benefit, he will. And, if he can kill two birds with one stone, even better. I can see Quirrellmort noticing Harry acting like Tom Riddle was when he started Hogwarts, so very thirsty for knowledge. So, Quirrellmort dangles that in front of Harry. Quirrellmort want to test Harry's character and resolve. Perhaps he doesn't just dangle whatever dark magic in front of Harry, hoping he bites. There's more to power than just knowing dark magic. But, Quirrellmort can talk about things like that without suspicion, due to his position as DADA professor. Perhaps he manages to build a report with Harry. Perhaps events line themselves up, and Harry asks Quirrellmort about Fluffy, or what it it's guarding. With how I'm picturing it playing out, I don't think Quirrellmort would just outright tell Harry that it's the Stone. He would give Harry enough information to go on, enough to tempt him. If Quirrellmort does it just right, perhaps he can even get Harry to go after the stone himself - perhaps Harry thinks it can bring his parents back to life, or maybe Harry is just so thirsty for knowledge that his desire for it is high enough to risk it. Either way, Quirrellmort get's Harry to go after the Stone. And regardless of the outcome, Quirrellmort will be satisfied. He uses it as a test. If Harry fails and gets injured, even killed, ohwell. But if Harry proves himself and manages to get the Stone, that's great as well. I can see Quirrellmort happy that he didn't have to get through all the traps himself (not that any of it would be difficult). Ultimately, Quirrellmort does want the stone for himself, so perhaps he follows after Harry. So, Harry would have to get the Stone out of the mirror, which means he would want the stone, but not actually want to use it? I guess he could simply want it to study it, or simply for what it represents, and doesn't really have interest in immortallity as an 11 year old, and the concept of infinite gold doesn't mean as much when he already has a vault full of more gold than he knows what to do with. Maybe that's when Quirrellmort shows up, and offers a deal he can't refuse. Quirrellmort will do his best to bring Harry's parent's back in response for the stone. Whether or not Quirrellmort actually goes through with that, I can see it both ways. On one hand, he probably sees one's attachment to their parents as a weakness. On the other, he knows that true resurrection is impossible unless they soul still lingers via horcrux or similar immortallity gimmick, which is extremely unlikely. Easy solution is for Quirrellmort to give Harry the Resurrection Stone. That's a fair trade, one Stone for another. Quirrellmort might not even thinks the Resurrection Stone works, as perhaps he has no dead friends or family that would appear when he uses it. Of course, all that would only work if it was actually the real Philospher's Stone, and not a replica. I like the idea of Dumbledore borrowing the Stone for the sole reason of dangling it and trying to get Voldemort out in the open. But, the idea of him using the real stone for that is kind of iffy.