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.



11. The Point Being?

Harry put down his copy of the Quibbler. Change was slow in coming, but from the increasing numbers of letters to the editor questioning everything from the quality of education to the lack of a trial for Sirius Black, it was creeping in. Granted the pace wasn't as fast as he would have liked, but it was there. The Prophet no longer sought to destroy his reputation since the switch to 'new' management. It was a relief. At least he wasn't being called an attention getting brat anymore.

There had been no sign of old snake face since last spring. It seemed he was keeping quiet, trying to convince everyone the Ministry was right in denying his return. Well, there was nothing Harry could do about that and truth be told, Harry welcomed the peace. As far as he was concerned Voldie could lay even lower . . . like six feet lower in fact.

Sirius was away again on some useless mission for Dumbledore. Harry figured that the old coot was deliberately keeping them apart. It wouldn't do to have Sirius close by, Merlin forbid, the man might just pursue the matter of his innocence or worse, try for custody. Harry rubbed a hand through his messy hair. How he hated waiting, and he'd heard nothing from Lord Peter on this matter in a while.

A heavy sigh crossed his lips. It seemed that the quieter Voldemort was, the less peaceful Harry's sleep. Lately there were dreams about a long corridor with a lot of doors. Harry looked it up in his divination books and didn't like the interpretations he found there.

One interpretation was the hallway was a new opportunity and could signal spiritual enlightenment. 'Huh!' he huffed mentally. 'A new path? Oh right, I wonder where it leads and just what, or who, I'll find at its end! Wonder if it forks? I have a senile, meddling old coot at one end that thinks of nothing but running my life and a megalomaniac trying his best to end said life. Some pathway.'

'Somehow,' he mused, 'I don't think that's what these dreams mean. Oh well.' Harry looked at the time and groaned. If he hurried he had just enough time to get to Snape's office for his first Occlumency lesson, or as Dumbledore refers to it, his "remedial potions" lesson. He wasn't looking forward to his time with the greasy git and just had a feeling these lessons were doomed to failure from the get go.

Harry stood, shouldering his book bag and began his weary way to the dungeons. He flinched when he heard a familiar voice call out behind him.

"Oi mate! There you are. I been lookin' for you." Ron's grating cheerfulness washed over Harry as he turned to respond to his friend.

"Hello Ron, sorry I can't stop to natter. Got to get to my remedial potions," Harry explained with disgust. " But, if you want to join me . . .?"

"S'ok mate. Wouldn't want to get in your way!" Ron replied with a shudder. " Guess I'll leave you to it then. See you later in the common room?"

Harry's only answer was a brief wave over his shoulder as he disappeared down the stair. 'Hmmm, maybe Snape does have his uses,' he thought.


Later that night Harry begged off the chess game that Ron tried to coax him to play, claiming a screaming headache. He retired to their dorm room, jumped into bed, pulled his curtains and sealed them with privacy spells. Then he drew out parchment and ink and set work with a shaking hand.

"Dear Lord Peter,

I am happy to say I will be able to attend the meeting you have set up before the Winter hols. I look forward to finally being free of Dumbledore's manipulations.

Currently he is forcing me to take Occlumency lessons with Professor Snape. Please understand, if I were actually getting lessons in the mind arts, I would not be upset. However, I am not.

My so called first lesson consisted of Professor Snape standing me up in the middle of the room, pointing his wand at my head and shouting, "Clear your mind, Potter!" followed immediately by, "Legillimens!"

He then expected me to throw him out of my mind. How? I have no idea as Professor Snape never gave me any instructions. Nor has he given me material to study the theory involved. Before my first lesson, I looked for books discretely in the school library and found none on the shelves.

Tonight was the first lesson and I am currently have a blinding headache with no relief. I was unable to make it to the infirmary before curfew. Please forgive the shakiness of my hand in penning this.

I have no idea on how to go about remedying this situation. I don't want to tip my hand too soon, but any help you could offer on this matter would be most appreciated, and my head would feel a lot better.


The next morning, Harry had a note by Lord Peter waiting for him along with vials of head ache and stomach soothing potions.

Dear Lord Harry,

Your note was delivered by your very irate house elf. Please take the potions along with this note. They should help somewhat. Also please note:

According to Wizarding Law, for either Headmaster Dumbledore, or Professor Snape, to teach you this technique, they must have written permission from your legal and magical guardians and even then, it must be taught by a licensed Legilimens who has signed a magical oath to not reveal anything they accidentally discover in said student's mind. I highly doubt either one of them met these criteria from the research I was able to do.

Again, your rights, it seems, are of no consequence. From your description of your first class with Professor Snape, he has been antagonistic and vicious in his verbal abuse towards you. The good professor has made it his business to make your life at Hogwarts as unpleasant as possible. And therefore, is an unsuitable teacher for such an advance area of Magic.

Have no fear. I will procure a more compatible tutor in this field for you. For now, do nothing we can not risk exposure at this time.



The school was calmer now that the toad was gone from Hogwarts. After Twist's column came out, the Board of Governors got an earful from irate parents and other family members. Many letters for allowing such a psychotic torturer to bring dark artifacts to school. Dozens more for allowing the Ministry to send such an incompetent instructor to teach a core subject. It turned out that Umbridge didn't have a Mastery, or even an '0' on her NEWTS in the subject. Even worse, she'd failed the course altogether when she had attended Hogwarts. She was passable as a Charms tutor in which she got a EE, and even that was being questioned by the Board.

Amelia Bones had, upon searching, found several Blood Quills in the woman's desk. How they got past the wards no one knew.

Cornelius Fudge had distanced himself from Dolores Umbridge when the story broke in the Prophet. The last anyone knew she was currently awaiting trial. It was, in public opinion, a given that she would be sent to Azkaban. Of course, that left the DADA position open.

Amelia Bones had offered an auror who was currently restricted to light duty due to spell damage as a temporary DADA replacement. Harry was relieved that Auror Edward Johnston, Angelina's cousin, was a decent instructor. He really didn't have the time to start a dueling club like Hermione had been pushing for.

Now, all Harry had to deal with were Snape's lessons, the reoccurring dreams and ol' Riddle. His work was never done.


Everyone eagerly awaited for the weekly delivery of the Quibbler as the owls swooped in with the morning mail. It looked like almost every student in the hall got a paper. For a few minutes little could be heard but the rustling of papers. Then it began.

Students started grumbling and glaring at the Head Table. Professors McGonagall and Snape didn't disappoint when they stood and started shouting at each other.

Hermione sat in shocked silence as Neville read that mornings' article aloud.

The Point Being?

Last time I pointed out the fact that Dolores Umbridge was totally unsuited to teach. This time around I will discuss other weaknesses on the staff of Hogwarts.

First I would draw attention to a Professor, one who should have long ago gone to his rest.

Professor Binns has long been established as the Professor of Wizarding History here at Hogwarts. While he may have been a good instructor at one time, this is no longer true. You see, he is a ghost and it seems death has done him no favors. He has been stuck on teaching the Goblin Wars since I became a student. Not to say they aren't important mind you, but I personally think there is a much richer tapestry to our history than just that one subject.

I have several questions for the administration of Hogwarts. Did someone neglect to mention to Professor Binns he had died? Is he still paid a salary? Could he pass the test for teaching certification if it was given him? Is Hogwarts administration too cheap, if he is not paid, or too lazy to hire a competent instructor for History?

As it now stands, I would venture 95%+ of the students consider History of Magic as either a free period or nap time. We learn far more of History studying on our own . . . if we did not we would never pass our History OWLS and NEWTS. And our parents pay for this??

Another sad excuse for a professor is the Divination Professor, Sybil Trelawney. Going to her class can be very entertaining if she is in one of her prediction modes.

Entertaining that is if you are not the one who's death she is foretelling. A pool is going around at the number of times she will predict Potter's death this year. Last year it figured out to 245 times and Potter is still with us.

Let us not forget that her classroom smells cloyingly of incense and she, herself, of sherry. Very unprofessional, if you ask me.

Lastly, another Professor who knows his subject forwards, backwards and inside out, but is incapable of effectively conveying that knowledge to his students in a positive and encouraging manner is Professor Severus Snape.

Professor Snape, while an admitted genius and one of the premier Potions Masters in the world, is totally unsuited to teach the subject. Like many of genius level, Professor Snape has neither the patience nor the understanding to teach young people this most exacting and demanding art.

His frustration at having to deal with pupils he considers 'ignorant dunderheads', leads to daily vituperative rants containing cruel and degrading insults that discourage and shame his students. His juvenile tantrums, bordering on bullying, make his classes the most dreaded and hated in school.

This in turn leads to the destruction of the desire to pursue advanced potions study in most of his pupils. Unfortunately, every student lost to his brutal verbal assaults and bullying means one less Auror, Healer, or future Potions Master.

The only students exempt from this sadistic behavior are the Slytherins. This is because of the extremely biased favoritism he shows his own House, Slytherin.

If you were to check the points deducted from all of his classes for the past seven years the acute discrepancies between Slytherin and the other three Hogwarts houses would be most noticeable. Don't believe me? Write the Headmaster and ask for a copy of all disciplinary actions (detentions, points taken, etc.) taken for specific years. He is required by Wizarding Law and the Hogwarts Charter to provide a certified copy.

It is your right to have information pertaining to your child as a concerned parent/guardian of a Hogwarts student, past or present. In fact, according to the charter, all parents/guardians are required to be notified by owl promptly when a student faces any disciplinary action, or is injured on school grounds. This holds true for all students, muggle-born, half blood or pureblood.

Speaking of points. I have a copy of the points taken since Potter has been at Hogwarts. The numbers are laughable, so laughable it is pathetic.

For the past seven years (including the five that Potter has attended) read thus:

Professor Snape has taken points off for breathing too loudly, asking questions, not asking questions, sneezing, and tardiness even a note. Percentage wise Gryffindor earned the most points taken and the least points given. Hufflepuff comes in second for points taken and third for least points given. Ravenclaw comes in third for points taken and second points given. Slytherins seldom had any points taken, even if they were clearly in the wrong (even with witnesses) and are given unearned points, sometimes for something as simple as chopping an ingredient properly (even if they were doing nothing at the time)!

Did you know, The Booke of Discipline lists every point given and taken, House affiliation, Professor involved, and the reason for the action. And here is the kicker, Headmaster Dumbledore has to sign off on all actions be it points given or taken and detentions on a daily basis, so he has to know what's happening. He can not plead ignorance.

In the past ten years Professor Snape leads in the number of points deducted. Of the many points deducted from Gryffindor, Professor Snape is responsible for almost 90+ percent. Professor McGonagall comes in second and is responsible in points deducted from Slytherin by 65%+.

In Potter's first year, Slytherin was clearly in the lead for the House Cup until the leaving feast, when the headmaster gave all those points to Potter and his cronies for "service to the school." It caused the House Cup to go from Slytherin to Gryffindor by a margin of less than 30 points. It was the first time in several years that Gryffindor has won the Cup. It was the first time in decades that the Headmaster awarded that many points to one house.

The House of Snakes has yet to regain the Cup even with the war of points going on.

Makes one wonder just who is winning the House Cup and why? Doesn't it? Let us not forget each year, the Sorting Hat calls for House Unity. How can there be House Unity with all animosity this going on?

--Oliver Twist


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