"Mr Potter," Professor Flitwick began, "do you really feel that the amount of force you used against those three boys was appropriate? Professor Dumbledore informed us of your unusual status, but surely you could have been less brutal."
Harry realized that this was one conversation that was likely to become very tedious, very quickly. "The human mind is a negative feedback mechanism, and the more humiliating the incident, the longer it will be burned into the brain. It does wonders for teaching manners."
With the professors glowering at his flippant response, Harry gave a casual shrug of indifference and tried for a more innocent look. "Tell me, Professor Flitwick, do you really feel that the lack of punishment for bullying and harassing the other students by those three 'boys' was appropriate?" Harry did his best to look like an eager young student waiting for a lecture to begin.
The professors, for their part, shifted uneasily in the chairs they were sitting in, apparently preparing for a long discussion of events with Harry.
Flitwick scowled slightly as he regarded Harry. "I thought those students were being punished. When we passed along student complaints, both Albus and Severus told us they would take care of the problem." He paused for a moment to look closely at Harry. "Are you telling me that they were not punished?"
Harry shrugged his shoulders again. "Honestly, I don't have any direct personal knowledge. From what I was told by more than one student, however, it would seem that no, they weren't punished in any real way. Moreover, those who did complain seemed to find themselves in the hospital wing shortly after every complaint. Does that seem to indicate that the offending students were being effectively reprimanded?"
Flitwick frowned again before looking to the other Head of House. Professor Sprout looked unhappy as she turned to face Harry directly. "Well, is that why the complaints dropped off? I thought it was an indication that the problems had ceased."
"Maybe you should be asking your students these questions yourself," Harry offered in return. After a rather awkward moment of silence, his stomach growled loudly. "Would it be possible to get some sandwiches? It's been a very long time since breakfast."
Flitwick nodded quickly before calling out, "Blinken!" With a soft pop! an elf appeared by the professor.
Harry felt his eyebrows rise involuntarily. He had no knowledge that professors had their own personal house-elves at the castle. Flitwick seemed to catch Harry's surprise, for he gestured to the elf and kept his eyes on Harry. "Blinken is not my personal house-elf. Instead, she is assigned to me as a Hogwarts professor, and as long as I am an instructor here, Blinken treats me as though I were a proper Master."
Harry nodded his acceptance of the information, but Flitwick had already turned back to his house-elf. "Would you please bring us some sandwiches and tea? And perhaps a butterbeer or three for Mr Potter?" Blinken smiled happily before disappearing with another soft pop!
"Thank you," Harry said politely. "Back to the point, though, why do any of you trust that Death Eater to be an educator of children? Does no one monitor him to make sure his actions are appropriate? And does the person in charge of the hospital wing not report back to the Heads of House when a student is injured?"
Professor Sprout seemed shocked at Harry's blatant accusations, regardless of the kind words he had used, but Flitwick merely looked like he had eaten a Super Sour Sherbet Lemon. He recovered enough to answer first. "As for the injured students, no, Madam Pomfrey does not generally inform us. She does tell the Headmaster of every incident, but she only lets us know if anything serious has occurred that requires an overnight stay. Between being a professor, a Head of House, and monitoring the wards on the castle, we don't really have the time to deal with lesser matters such as who is sick for some reason. Most people are in and out in less than an hour. Maybe we should suggest some changes or something..." Flitwick trailed off thoughtfully. Whilst he was thinking, Blinken reappeared with a tray of food and drinks. After setting it down on an end table, the house-elf returned, presumably, to her usual duties.
Harry helped himself to two sandwiches and a butterbeer, letting Flitwick and Sprout talk quietly with each other for a minute or two. It seemed utterly ludicrous that a person nominally responsible for keeping track of up to a hundred students would receive no notice of injuries, ailments, or other problems concerning those very students. Students here were clearly dumped into a sink-or-swim pool, and if what those on the train had said was true, no effort had been made to harpoon the sharks.
This suggested deeper problems, and Harry was disinclined to get involved. Perhaps finally agreeing to attend Hogwarts was a mistake after all. It would certainly make things difficult for his own plans if he were constantly dealing with idiots and their fumbling attempts to neutralize his own resources.
After devouring two sandwiches, during which he somewhat absently noting how rich the food was in flavour and basic quality of ingredients, Harry decided he wanted to get the rest of his answers regarding Snape before Dumbledore returned. He cleared his throat briefly to get the attention of the other two professors.
"Would you mind answering a few of my questions about Snape?" Harry asked politely.
Flitwick sat back and studied the ceiling. "What makes you think he's a Death Eater?"
Harry smirked. "Please, as the head of the so-called brainy house, don't act like an idiot."
Sprout huffed and shifted noisily at Harry's flagrant disrespect, but Flitwick sighed before looking back at Harry. "Honestly? Because Albus Dumbledore swears that Snape can be trusted and is a spy for our side against You-Know-Who. Snape seems to be bitter and twisted most of the time, but I have to say that he's first-rate at Potions and their applications. I'm not sure he knows how to teach, but he does know the material better than many who are entitled to be called Potions Master. He's nearly as good as his original mentor."
Harry slowly let his gaze move to the fireplace. "Thank you for your candid answer. In reality, the evidence of Snape being a spy goes both ways. Personally, after reviewing the evidence and many Pensieve memories from different witnesses, coupled with events from this summer . . . I don't trust him. I think he's either working for himself or is in truth actually aligned with Voldemort, especially since his rebirth."
"What?!" Flitwick shot to his feet, and Harry realised for the first time just how diminutive the man was. "What are you talking about? And what do you mean that Voldemort has been reborn?"
Any opportunity to reply was curtailed, as the merry trilling of the phoenix in the corner indicated that the Headmaster was returning. Moving his chair so that the back faced the solid wall rather than the door, Harry waited patiently. After mere moments, the Headmaster and Deputy Headmistress walked in together. Both returning professors picked up a cup of tea before seating themselves next to Flitwick and Sprout, forming a semi-circle of professors facing Harry.
"Mr Potter," Dumbledore began after sipping from his teacup, "do you realize that the charges you are levelling against Professor Snape are going to make a great many things very difficult? In fact, you may be placing the lives of many innocents at risk!" Clearly Dumbledore was less than pleased with Harry.
Harry smiled blandly at the Headmaster. This was going to be fun. "I prefer to think of it as eliminating a major risk of serious injury or death for the students under your care. Or do you think that some lives are intrinsically more valuable than others?"
Dumbledore blinked twice before returning to an external state of calm. "And what are you referring to? Severus is not a threat to the students here."
Harry continued his bland, mindless smile. He hoped that it would irritate the Headmaster, as legend held the man to be nearly unflappable. "You mean that letting his Slytherin slugs terrorize, brutalize, and sexually abuse other students without reprimand was helping all those students in some magical way?"
Dumbledore sat back in his chair. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
Professor McGonagall shifted in her seat, leaning forward to look more closely at Harry, a stern and disapproving gaze making his hackles rise.
"Really?" Harry felt his irritation truly rising now. "So you are telling me that you didn't receive unceasing reports from the matron of the hospital wing of injuries to students? Suspicious injuries? You did not notice the lack of Slytherin student injuries? You did not notice the steady stream of accusations of student abuse from the other Heads of House to your not-as-tame-as-you-think Death Eater?" Harry's voice had become increasingly cold. "For a man who is reported to be extremely observant with at least a genius-level IQ, as well as supposedly being very bloody sneaky, I find your statement to be fallacious at best."
Harry was still very irritated and on the verge of a dangerous state of anger. At the same time, he was inwardly pleased to see Dumbledore visibly reacting now and starting to look ever so slightly annoyed. "What do you know of Death Eaters or Severus?" Dumbledore's own voice was frosty.
"Heard any new prophecies lately, old man?" Harry casually drawled in imitation of Malfoy's superior attitude. Dumbledore's look of utter shock caused Harry to make a mental note to send a copy of his sensory monitor to his tutors. Otherwise no one would believe that Harry had caught Dumbledore completely bent out of joint.
Professor McGonagall, however, recoiled as if slapped. "Show some respect, Mr Potter! Were school in session, I would have you in detention for a month!" She seemed honestly upset and affronted at Harry's casual and mildly insulting demeanour.
Harry stared back at McGonagall. "Oh? And how should I address someone who is clearly lying to me? And, for that matter, lying to all of you? Someone who has been withholding critical information from me for a great many years now?" Harry then turned his attention back to Dumbledore. "For a leader of the Light side, I'm not very impressed."