Poison Pen

Harry has had enough of seeing his reputation shredded in the Daily Prophet and decides to do something about it. Only he decides to embrace his Slytherin side to rectify matters.



17. Are These Tests Really Necessary?

It was now the middle of November and the Christmas hols were fast approaching. With Umbridge out of the way and the auror that Madam Bones provided in her place, the DADA lessons were quite exciting. Harry and his friends were learning a lot.

Harry was adjusting to the schedule he and Lord Peter had worked out. He didn't have free time anymore. Between the Remedial Potions twice a week, studying with Hermione and Ron whenever she could nag him into it, plus Quidditch practice, Harry wasn't sure how he managed the meetings with the goblins and Lord Peter once a week and Healer Atwaters twice a week. Thank Merlin for Dobby!

Harry's estate management meetings with the goblins were thankfully only two hours long. They were currently going over his portfolios in both the muggle and wizarding worlds, keeping up with market trends. Lord Peter sat in on these meetings to briefly detail his progress of Lord Harry's emancipation suit against the Ministry. Lord Peter also reported the audit for Grunnings was almost finished. They were still compiling the data.

At least so far they'd managed to keep Dumbledore, the old meddler, out of the loop. With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, it wouldn't be that way for long. As soon as Lord Peter filed, everything would go arse over teacup.

The meetings with Healer Atwater varied in duration. He was busy healing the damage done to Harry's body over the years. Plus, he had to undo the damage that the remedial potions were causing without leaving signs that Harry was being helped.

The exercises and books that Healer Atwaters gave him helped Harry to understand just what Snape was doing and the damage he was causing.

"Sir?" Harry asked one night.

"Yes Harry?"

"Why is it that Snape hasn't found any memories about me being Oliver Twist? It is one of the reasons I dread seeing him. I keep thinking he'll find out."

Healer Atwaters had no love for the potions master. He had no problem with Harry's lack of respect for Severus Snape. Therefore, he made no attempt to correct the disrespect or to force Harry to add the title of 'Professor' in front of the man's name. It was patently obvious to him that the man couldn't teach and therefore held no claim to the title.

"Well Harry," the Healer said, waving him over to a chair. "I have a theory about that. Have a seat while I explain."

Once they were comfortable, the healer started, "I was concerned about it at first when your barrister, Lord Peter, came to me. However, I have noticed an odd quirk in your mind that I couldn't explain away until he mentioned your secret."

Harry frowned but said nothing.

"The fact is, Harry, that you have developed the ability to lock away certain parts of your thoughts and memories that you don't want to share or that bring you pain. I believe this is an innate part of your mind and it was created when you were a child. It is where you 'push' everything you don't want to deal with. A form of natural occlumency often seen in abused children."

Harry frowned as he thought about what Healer Atwaters said. "Do you mean when Snape does what he does, he's actually tearing down my defenses? Is that why it hurts so much?"

"Exactly." Here the healer was a bit uncomfortable. "I am spending most of our sessions repairing the damage and helping you shore up your defenses."

Harry straightened a bit. "So basically he's tearing down and your rebuilding. What happens if he manages to break it down completely?"

"What would happen, Harry, is that you would develop two very distinct personalities. Right now, they are still connected, should that connection be severed you will have two separate personalities. One, shall we say the child, who first felt the need to hide is your Slytherin side. The other, for wont of a better term, would be the side everyone expects to see in you. You are the Boy-Who-Lived, Dumbledore's Golden boy."

Harry listened thoughtfully as the Healer continued.

"With the need to protect yourself as a child, you developed your Slytherin side very early in your life. You had to hide all of your natural abilities so that you would not be punished. This included your intelligence and your magic. When you finally re-emerged back into the Wizarding World, everyone expected a confident, heroic young wizard and your mind adjusted to fit that role."

"Well the sorting hat did say that I would do well in either Gryffindor or Slytherin and I chose Gryffindor," Harry mused, with a slight frown.

"Remarkable. I didn't think anyone could influence that ancient scrap of fabric," Healer Atwaters remarked. "But getting back to what I was saying. Keeping your intelligence hidden left you no outlet for the frustrations caused in your dealings with the Wizarding World. Therefore your Slytherin side created Oliver Twist and hid him safely away. We must be careful not to allow these two sides of your personality to split completely."

"So how is it that Snape hasn't caught on?" Harry asked, directing the subject back to the problem at hand.

"When you are standing in front of him, what side are you showing him? Your Slytherin side or your Gryffindor side?"

Harry shrugged. "My Gryffindor side, I guess. It's what he expects of me."

"Ah ha! Exactly!" Healer Atwaters exclaimed. "So while you are standing in front of him, your Slytherin side, the one that has always protected you, grabs all those memories you don't want him to see and hides them. It is also sometimes called, survival instinct. Severus Snape isn't to be trusted, so it hides those memories you don't want him to see."

"But he still sees plenty of my past," Harry protested.

"Yes he does but then he only sees fragments of your memories and not whole sets," he explained. "Again, it goes back to survival. He would get very suspicious if he found nothing, now wouldn't he?"

Harry nodded and thought over all of his sessions, and the bits of memory that Snape saw. "But how?"

"Again, your Slytherin side decides what the man sees or doesn't see. You are a natural Occlumens and what that man is doing is tearing down your shields. Your natural instinct for self preservation shunts him over to memories on your Gryffindor side. I believe he is doing it either on Dumbledore's order, or Riddle's."

One thing Harry liked about this healer was he wasn't a sheep like the rest of the Wizarding World. He refused to say "He Who Must Not Be Named," or "You Know Who." Although, he did say names have power. So he refused to say Lord Voldemort, or the Dark Lord, for him it's Tom or Riddle.

Harry scowled. "Could Snape be doing this because he hates my father? He's always comparing me to him," Harry asked.

"Don't worry, Harry. Your mind shields are working very well," he reassured. "Which brings me to another point. Your curse scar. I would like to try something, if it's alright with you?"

Harry raised an eyebrow. "I'm listening."


Hermione sighed. She couldn't find Harry again and he was late for their study session.

Harry!" she exclaimed, when she finally caught up with him in the library. "We need to study for our OWLS. Where have you been?"

The teen sighed as he looked up from the homework essay he was working on. "I've been here since dinner, Hermione. Where did you think I would be?"

She huffed angrily as she sat in a chair across from him. "These exams are important, Harry!"

Harry closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I know Hermione. I know. Look, let me finish this Potions Essay then I'll go back to the Common room with you."

"Alright Harry," she replied with a long suffering sigh.


All eyes looked at Hermione Granger as she screamed out a denial a couple mornings later. It was the day that Twist's article came out. Many pure bloods, including Draco Malfoy, snickered while reading the article. Many of the half-blood and muggle-borns shook their heads in disbelief.

"Hey Granger!" Draco Malfoy sniped from the Slytherin table. "Better study hard, if your grades are good enough I might just hire you as my secretary!"

The Slytherins burst into laughter as Hermione Granger stormed out.

Neville Longbottom started to read aloud what had gotten Hermione so upset:

Are These Tests Really Necessary?

With the Christmas Hols coming up, everyone's thoughts are turned to going home, holiday shopping, seeing family, and enjoying the holiday season. Except for a select few, that is.

It is noted by many that Ravenclaws are research obsessive, along with one Gryffindor. OWL and NEWTS exams are less than six months away. Time to get out the day planners and work up a study guide. But for most students, there is plenty of time to study, why worry when Christmas is almost upon us? Right?

After watching Hermoine Granger man-handle the Boy Who Lived into studying for their OWLs several times this week, it begs the question, why are these exams so important?

Well, the answer should be to get better jobs, a career you want, or to get accepted as an apprentice. However are they?

Let's look at the statistics:

Outstanding Wizarding Levels, or more affectionately called OWLS, are the first of two major sets of wizarding exams. Passing them allows a student to take the next step and go forward to their NEWTS (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests) classes.

In the case of Potions, Professor Snape will only accept those students that have passed their OWL potions exam with Outstanding (O). That's great, as certain careers require high NEWT level potions scores, but if you don't get an O or an Exceeds Expectation (EE) in the class then your career choices are limited.

Did you know less than four percent of all fifth years get the required O in potions, and most of them are Ravenclaws and Slytherins? An occasional Hufflepuff or Gryffindor may get into the class, if they are brilliant enough. However, the Gryffindor student usually drops out within the first six weeks due to stress even if they qualify. It is well known that Professor Snape seems to make it his life's mission to drum out any Gryffindors that have the gall to make it into his NEWT level potion class.

So what does this say for those wanting careers in their chosen fields that require Potions NEWTS, especially healers, aurors, and potions mastery?

Now let's say you have passed everything and have graduated Hogwarts with O's and EE's. Now what? The career you want is just waiting for you, right? It depends. Are you a pure blood? If not, then your career choice has just narrowed appreciably.

If you are a pure blood and have the right scores on your NEWTs, you can do just about anything you want. While you may start in a lower level job at the Ministry, you are guaranteed to advance regularly and there is no limit for advancement.

If you are a half-blood, you may start in a low level office position or as a clerk. After that, it depends on if your pure blood ministry-employed relative is willing to call in a favor for you to advance to the next level. Even then, you have to be in high standing with your pure-blood connection. Your chances of getting beyond senior secretary are extremely small.

If you have high enough NEWT grades and have pure-blood connections, you can probably take on an apprenticeship in your chosen fields such as healer and hope for advancement to senior healer.

If you are a muggle-born. Not going to happen. The only ministrial positions open for you are secretarial, custodial, or food service. There is no advancement, only long hours and little to no benefits. The only fields where muggle borns stand a chance are healing and auror corps. Apprenticeship is almost non-existent.

Don't believe me? Check with the Ministry Personnel Office and their job listings. They also have a standard questionnaire for various job openings. In small print at the bottom of most of the forms, it reads, "Muggle borns and those with creature inheritance need not apply."

My questions to you are:

How many Department Heads are muggle-born?

How many Department sub-heads are muggle-born?

How many senior secretaries are pure bloods?

What is the ratio of pure blood to muggle born clerks?

How many Ministers were pure bloods? Half bloods? Or Muggle-borns?

According to my research, I found, no department heads and sub heads to be muggle-born or half bloods.

Almost all senior secretaries are pure bloods with one or two exceptions.

I had a hard time working out the ratio. I do know that most clerking positions are a jumping off point for better positions for pure bloods. They are however, as far as most muggle-borns can advance. The turn over rate in clerk positions within the ministry is 93 percent. Why is that?

There has never been any Minister of Magic who wasn't a pure blood.

It is a documented fact that 95 percent of all muggle borns who have graduated from Hogwarts either leave Britain or return back to the muggle world for further schooling and better jobs. These students are some of the brightest and best of our graduates.

Depending on their pure blood connections, most half-bloods also leave to seek employment outside Britain.

So, coming back to our OWLS and NEWTS. Why take them if they are so worthless for the majority of our students? It would seem their only purpose is to justify Hogwarts existence as a school for the minority of pure-bloods.

--Oliver Twist

Editor Note. Several copies of the current employment questionnaires are printed in their entirety on page 5. --XL


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