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.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5554780/1/Poison-Pen

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14. The Learning Curve

Molly was beyond furious as she wadded the Quibbler into a tight ball and slammed it into the dust bin. How dare they print such lies! She would never abuse her children! Just wait! She'd send that arse of an editor a howler he'd never forget. He'd never know what hit him! Ignoring the food waiting to be cooked she hurried to collect writing supplies.

"Molly?" Arthur's voice called as he made his way downstairs and into the kitchen. "Is breakfast ready? Did my copy of the Quibbler come yet?"

"No, breakfast is late and that--that rag is in the bin where it belongs!" She loudly sputtered. "How dare they slander our good name? Just wait until I send that . . . that. . . Xeno a howler. See if I don't!"

Arthur fished out the crumpled periodical and carefully smoothed it before reading. He was just lifting his cup of tea to his lips when he saw Twist's column on the front page. A quick scan told him why his wife was so upset. His cup dropped abruptly back to its saucer. "MOLLY! STOP!" He commanded loudly.

"Really Arthur there is no need to shout," Molly chided as she laid out her quill and ink on the table.

"Molly. Don't send the howler! Don't you see it'll prove to everyone this Twist is right," Arthur said, setting the paper aside before pulling his wife onto his lap.

"Please Molly calm down. I'll go see Xeno after breakfast and see what he has to say," he sighed, tightening his arms around his dismayed wife. "Maybe I'll be able to forward a note to Mr. Twist requesting he not use our family to make his point in the future."

"But Arthur. . ."

"No dear! No howlers. I forbid it," he commanded sternly, tapping a finger on her nose. "It would only serve to prove him right."

"Am I an ab-b-busive mother Arthur?" Molly sobbed softly into his shoulder.

"No, Molly-wobbles. You just let your temper get away from you sometimes." His arms tightened in a warm hug as he comforted his wife.

0o0o0o0

Harry was sitting at the breakfast table when the owls delivered the morning mail. Hermione gave the owl next to her plate his payment and took her copy of the the Quibbler. Setting aside a piece of toast, she hurried to unfurl the paper. Harry found it amusing that she'd taken a subscription to a paper she once called, 'Next to useless.' When he'd called her on it she simply replied that Twist's column came out a day before the Prophet's and she only got the Quibbler for that reason.

Many other Gryffindors, along with most of the school, took both the Quibbler and the Prophet as well ever since Oliver Twist started writing

"Well, this is interesting," said Hermione as her eyebrows rose to her hairline.

"What?" Ron asked, as he started to scoop a pile of scrambled eggs into his mouth.

Hermione eagerly began reading Twist's column aloud for her friends. When she got to the part about Molly Weasley's howler, " . . . I remember listening to Molly Weasley airing the Weasley family's soiled linens for thirty minutes in the Great Hall. All it proved was she had a very grating, strident voice and seemed to take great delight in shaming her children and ruining breakfast for the rest of us. . . ."

Ron's face turned fiery red as spewed his half chewed mouthful across the table and onto Harry, who had the misfortune to be sitting opposite the furious red head.

"Hey!" Harry exclaimed, jumping back, as Ron, with a shaking hand, jerked the paper out of Hermione's grasp.

"I'm going to bloody well kill him!" Ron shouted, rising to his feet as he read the article. "That bastard better damn-well hide for the rest of his life!"

Harry struggled to contain his laughter. 'Darn good thing I'm writing anonymously,' he thought.

"5 points from Gryffindor, Mr. Weasley for such an unruly display at table," said Prof. McGongall. "And another 5 for language," she sniffed.

"But. . . but. . . Professor. The paper. . . " Ron shouted, waving the crumpled periodical in her face.

The Great Hall had gone quiet as all eyes turned to the Gryffindor table.

"You know," Harry said, spelling himself clean before returning to his seat. "Twist has a point. Why isn't there a ward against howlers? And you have to face it Ron, your mum can be very unforgiving with her howlers."

"Oi! Don't you remember she was the loudest in that bunch last week?" shouted Seamus. "I'm glad she ain't my mum. I tell you! Off her trolley, she is!"

Ron whipped around to hex the Irish lad, only to come face to face with Professor Snape. The potions master stood, arms folded across his chest. "10 points for drawing a wand on a fellow student, Mr. Weasley. Care to try for more?"

Prof. McGonagal huffed, straightening as she glared at her fellow colleague. "Really Severus, I had everything in hand." Severus Snape smirked as he returned to his place at the Head Table.

When Ronald Weasley sat back down, The Head of the Gryffindor House turned to Harry. "Mr. Potter," she said sternly. "The headmaster has better things to do than to play with the wards for the convenience of students."

Minerva sniffed loudly as she walked towards the Head Table. All eyes followed her while many eyes darted to the ceiling, expecting more owls to wing in bearing red letters only to be disappointed.

"Yea, like meddling in my life," Harry grumbled softly, rolling his eyes, earning a look from Hermione. "This Oliver Twist makes a lot of sense. You know?"

Albus sat uneasily at the head table while Filius was calmly discussing the article with Pomona Sprout. It would seem they were two of the few who had not suffered from Twist's previous column.

"Well, I would say Mr. Twist is very arrogant if he finds this all amusing, I surely don't," Prof. Sinestra said, breaking into the discussion. "The very idea of us promoting child abuse!"

"I think you missed the point, my dear," Filius responded. "It's not that we encourage abuse, but rather that we allow it to continue." That said he turned once more to his meal.

Albus winced slightly as his eyes moved to the Gryffindor table and to the messy haired young man eating quietly with his friends. Did he do the right thing by Harry? He knew that Lily's sister wasn't the best role model for the boy, but he would at least be safe from death eaters while with her. He continued his musings while conversation ebbed and flowed around him.

"True but how many students besides the Weasleys get howlers?" asked Pomona. "And I'm not talking about that barrage we got last week." She shuddered from the memory.

"Normally," Severus Snape sneered, looking over his tea cup. "We get about four or five a month, most from Molly Weasley. The rest are usually sent to other Gryffindors. Although, I do remember one being sent last month to a Ravenclaw. Something about failing DADA. . . "

"Yes. Yes," Filius said, waving it off. "I've talked to both student and parent about it and it will not be repeated. However, I happen to agree with Mr. Twist. Why are we allowing howlers to get through? I know that the wards can be adjusted and it wouldn't take that much time or magic to do so."

Everyone looked over at Albus who was busy stroking his long beard. "Albus?" Prof. McGonagal asked. "What do you think? Albus?"

"Think? About what, my dear?" He responded after she poked him with her elbow.

"The wards, Albus! Will you be setting them to eliminate howlers soon?" She replied in a huff.

"Ah yes. The wards will be tweaked soon," the headmaster said absent-mindedly. "Maybe around the holidays, when the students are gone."

0o0o0o0

Arthur, after talking with Xeno Lovegood, made his way towards his office. He made a quick trip to the loo before he greeted his secretary.

He had been stopped by a few of his friends asking about the article and heard many more comments on his way through the ministry. Arthur sighed. The article was right, Molly's howlers didn't add to the prestige to the Weasley name, nor did they serve to rein in their errant offspring.

Arthur knew for a fact that by third year Bill and Charlie were immune to her tirades, and the twins ignored them quite effectively after their first year. Ron however, seemed to be thoroughly cowed by them. Or, perhaps, a better word would be ashamed. Arthur sighed and shook his head. How could he not be aware of the hurt? Of the shame a howler brought to a child in front of their peers?

Arthur sighed. It was going to be a long day.

0o0o0o0

"Croaker, another report from Sparkplug."

"Oh?" the Head of the Unspeakables asked, looking up from the paperwork piled on his desk.

"He's chatted with ol Loony Lovegood," the agent said as he placed the report on the desk. "Seems the Twist article is right. Xeno has a special room all set up for howlers and cursed letters. Hehas the room so heavily fortified that even a heavy duty reducto blast couldnt dent it. Been fielding howlers for years and has it all down to a fine bit of spellwork. Might be a good idea for us."

Croaker leaned back in his chair. "I've read that article and I'm amazed. Mr. Twist would make a great operative."

"Huh?" the man replied, caught by the sudden change in subject. "How so, boss? He's just a lad, right?"

"He's canny. Knows how to poke a bees nest and not get stung. Everyone is so focused on the howler portion of the article that they miss the heart of it."

"And that is?"

"If you aren't part of the solution, then you are part of the problem."

0o0o0o0

The Leaky Cauldron was busy as usual. Tom was filling drink orders when ol' Xeno Lovegood came in to drop off the latest batch of the Quibbler. Naturally, over the course of many weeks since Xeno had hired that Twist lad, the Quibbler sales in the Leaky had tripled. Tom pulled out the cash box were he had stashed Xeno's share of the take. Here ya be, Xeno. What has Mr. Twist been up to this time?

"Thank you My Good Man," Xeno said, taking the heavy cash box. "I added a few more copies this time. Mr. Twist was in fine fettle this week."

Tom picked up the copy and whistled as he read. "Blimey! Merlin Save us! He sure isn't pullin' any punches, is he?"

Xeno laughed as he left.

"Cor, blimey, what be he goin' on about this time?" asked one of the regulars.

A dirty, withered hag picked up a copy and started to read aloud to the listening patrons. As she read, the Leaky got deadly silent.

"Always thought them Howlers was a waste a good magic. Sure makes ya feel better when ya send one, tho'. Hate to be on the receivin' end," said an elderly wizard in the far corner.

"I got me a 'owler from ol' Moll onced. Cor, glad I ain't married ta t'at'un. She 'as a voice ta put a banshee ta weepin' when she's full on," called out another patron, rising his mug in agreement.

Several patrons nodded and returned his salute.

Tom mulled over the articled. Rubbing his chin thoughtfully, he gave a nod like he made up his mind.

"Whatcha thinkin, Tom'o?" the hag who read the article.

"This Twist lad knows what he's talkin' about. I hate to be him when he is known. Too many will be wantin' his hide before long. Merlin Save Us, but he is correct. Sure smarts a bit when a lad has ta point out the obvious ta us ol' folks."

"How's that?"

"If ya aren't part of the solution, ya are part of the problem."

0o0o0o0

An insane laugh echoed off the grimy stone walls of a darkened room. Tom Riddle, aka Lord Voldemort, laughed at the humiliation of a traitorous, pure blood family. Served them right! Blood traitors, the lot of them. He cackled his way through the column until he came to the paragraph urging the wizarding world to stand united against him.. How dare this insolent brat! Severus would find out who he was and then. . . .

His shrieks and curses echoed through the dank house as he shredded the paper in his hands. Nagini and Pettigrew scurried for cover, praying his anger would cool before they were summoned.

0o0o0o0

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