Chapter 1 : The Hufflepuff Method
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A/N: This little fic found its way into the light in the aftermath of serious sugar rush on April Fool's Day. Ever lovely and talented Mistress coaxed me to write it down. Sadly I didn't get it in the queue when Lord Voldemort was the reigning validator, but hopefully you lovely readers will enjoy its over the topness, complete AUness and overall mayhem. Consider yourself warned.
Betaed by very helpful charlottetrips. =)
Lord Voldemort turned on the orange plastic chair and faced a kind looking, blonde counsellor in her twenties who definitely was a muggle-born or a squib. Gone were the days when his name instilled immediate fear to fellow wizards. He sighed and rubbed the slits where his nose used to be. That and the gray pallor on his skin were the only things left that reminded him of his former glory. Those truly were the days.
“Lord Voldemort. Vol-de-mort,” he enunciated carefully and watched as the counsellor scribbled his name down on the attendance list.
It wouldn’t do that his court-ordered rehab session had him posing as a gurdyroot of all things. It would all show up in his permanent record. The Daily Prophet had had a field day when it was decreed that due to the Ministry of Magic’s brand new rehabilitation program for the wizards with nefarious tendencies, he would be forced to spend a full month in rehab to weed out his addiction to using the Unforgivable Curses.
“Yes, Mr. V.,” the counsellor said and gave him a laminated name tag with his initial. “Would you be so kind and stop using Avada Kedavra on those innocent little birds outside of our window?”
Voldemort winced at the mention. He had tried to limit his addiction to inanimate objects like the collector’s edition of dolls bearing the likeness of Harry Potter, but for obvious reasons they just didn’t fill his bloodlust the way extinguishing a life did.
“I honestly didn’t mean to,” he muttered gloomily and watched as some of the feathers glided down the window pane.
“Do not worry Mr. V.! You have come to the right place. Our clinic specialises in hopeless cases, like yours,” the counsellor said with a bright tone that distracted Voldemort from his dark thoughts. “We use the Hufflepuff method: group hugs and talking about your feelings.”
Voldemort shuddered at the prospect of such torments. They certainly brought out the big guns for what a brochure had labeled as a gentle healing experience to reach inner peace.
He spotted a dusty vending machine in one corner of the room. With a Sickle he got a paper cup of stale coffee while waiting for the meeting to begin. Seven of those ugly plastic chairs were scattered in a formation that loosely resembled a circle. He sat back in one them and watched with mild interest as the counsellor welcomed five other people to the group.
Among them was Lucius Malfoy, who sneered at the counsellor when his name was asked and Bellatrix Lestrange, who fiddled her wand with the fervency equaling a manic pixie. The werewolf, Fenrir Greyback, was included for some reason, as well as two batty, old ladies who apparently had difficulties ceasing to poison people in funerals, which led to more funerals and more poisonings, until the Ministry caught the elderly versions of Bonnie and Clyde and gave them the ultimatum: rehab or jail.
“Welcome to our group for the criminals with deadly intents. Now that all of you are here today, let’s start with learning to live without a wand, until those pesky urges to kill people fade away. The big part of your recovery is admitting that you do have a problem, and you all have taken the important first step by coming here.” The counsellor beamed at Voldemort and the rest of the participants as if she was very proud of them.
“Mr. V.? Your wand, please?” He gave it away with a sigh and the counsellor handed him a stuffed unicorn toy to hold instead of it. It was velvety soft on his arms and its horn sparkled with all the colours of the rainbow.
The counsellor was now trying to wheedle the wand away from Bellatrix Lestrange by bribing her with a large sugar quill. After she had succumbed to the lures of the sweet confection, Lucius Malfoy lost his wand only to find himself swaddled in a pink princess print snuggie. Greyback’s jaws were glued shut with a sticky lump of strawberry taffy and the murderous grannies were quieted with mugs of steaming hot cocoa.
Voldemort realized that in a matter of moments his formerly fearsome army leaders had been tamed into garden-variety wizards with Hufflepuff methods. It was truly terrifying. If Harry Potter’s army had purely consisted of Hufflepuffs, they would have won the last battle with glitter cannons and Care Bear tactics.
The counsellor smiled at them in the most innocent way.
“Mr. M. Why don’t you start with telling us what brought you here?” This revived Lucius Malfoy from his pink reveries. He fumbled with his necktie and searched for the words.
“Mostly I’m here because of the Ministry,” Malfoy said, “But lately my wife and son have been implying that I should find a new course for my life, since being a Death Eater didn’t really cut it.” His pale cheeks now sported a hint of pink tinge as he confessed this to the group.
“My wife dislikes my dark ploys to crossbreed house elves with leprechauns to create the ultimate pint-sized mercenary army to work at my bidding. She says I have too much time in my hands. So yesterday she let me know that it’s either this or a really expensive divorce.”
“Excellent sharing Mr. M.!” The counsellor said. “Thank you. And what about you Mrs. L.?”
Bellatrix had eaten half of her sugar quill by now and was getting rather hyperactive. The black strands of her hair were flying wildly around her head and her eyes glittered darkly. She cackled maniacally.
“Okay, Mrs. L,” the counsellor said with a soothing voice like one would use while approaching a jittery rhino. “I’ll just add an addiction to sweets to your information sheet and we’ll get to know you later when you’re not coasting on a sugar highway.”
As an answer Bellatrix bit into her sugar quill with a vengeance and snarled when the counsellor beckoned in two male nurses who tried to take it away from her. The ensuing fight over the mastery of the half-eaten quill was similar to trying to bathe a disgruntled cat. Bellatrix hissed and clawed her way to freedom, but before she managed to jump from the window and make a break for it, the nurses hit her with Petrificus Totalus.
She thudded on the floor into a crouching position still licking her precious quill. Saliva steadily dribbled from the corner of her mouth on the floor where it gathered into a small pool.
To think that she had been his second-in-command during the war, Voldemort thought. No wonder that whole thing went to the pits.
When the commotion around Mrs. L. had subdued, the counsellor turned her attention to Fenrir Greyback. Unfortunately his jaws were glued so tightly with taffy that no one could figure out what he was growling.
The two tiny old ladies were much more willing to chatter. The one with a purple shawl confessed that they in fact were not as much addicted to poisoning people, as they were fond of funerals and the flower arrangements. Since all their relatives had died ages ago, their social calendar was severely lacking until they realized that funerals had plenty of people willing to reminisce old times. The other old witch with a blue shawl nodded on and off during the discussion and snored like a steamroller on steroids.
Who would have believed that such a loud noise could come out from such a small, wrinkly little witch. Voldemort watched her with fascination. It could be used as a weapon of mass destruction. Amplify that noise and even giants would come crawling and begging for mercy. He suddenly realized that his group was watching him expectantly.
“Mr. V.? Would you like to introduce yourself?”
How do you introduce the baddest wizard of all times, he thought ruefully. He could snarl and frighten them, but unfortunately it had turned out that a potion made out of your father’s bones, enemy’s blood and other selected body parts gave him a severe case of halitosis. The graveyard breath was equally off-putting as it was blood curdling.
In the end, he waved half-committedly.
“I’m Lord Voldemort and I’m addicted to using the Unforgivable Curses. I may have cursed a few of your relatives on my relatively long run to become the sole dominator of the wizarding world. But as those plans didn’t quite materialize the way I was planning to, I was ordered here by the Ministry.”
The counsellor nodded thoughtfully and made some notes.
“I have misused magic from a very early age. I never knew my mother or father, and no one taught me about the wizarding world before the school.”
“And how does that make you feel?” The counsellor asked with interest.
Voldemort hugged the sparkly unicorn tightly. He felt an odd prickling sensation in his eyes and then the hot tears stung like acid as they ran down the planes of his gruesome cheeks.
“I feel like I never had a chance to be good. Like I was damaged from the start.”
The counsellor nodded and waited for the inevitable downpour.
“No one even expected me to be good. And after a while, living in that orphanage and being beat up to black and blue by other boys, you lose your will to try to be a good guy.”
“First you try to survive, then you want to get even and in the end you decide that you might just as well be at the top of the food chain while you’re at it.”
His cold heart, which had been unmoved for a better part of the century, suddenly constricted painfully. It was beginning to melt, like the ice age had come to an end.
“I’m not proud of the choices I made, but it was my way to get even.”
The counsellor was remarkably placid considering that the mass murderer of the century had just poured his heart out. She twirled her pencil and stabbed the air with it.
“You may not have had the best starting point for your life, but everyone of us have had to face the fact that it’s our choices that fuck things up. We all make mistakes, some just on a bigger scale than others.”
Voldemort nodded. His puny heart hurt like hell. Like it had been shattered to hundreds of icy pieces and now he had to gather them from the floor and Spellotape back together. He wasn’t sure if one could fix the heart like that, nor that it would ever heal, but he was grasping at the straws here.
“I did that. On the very big scale.”
“'The change starts within ourselves', like Helga Hufflepuff used to say. Oh, and she said that 'you can never have too many cookies', but that goes without saying.”
Lord Voldemort nodded thoughtfully. He didn’t even gripe when at the end of the group meeting they all hugged each other. Although he did keep his mouth shut, to avoid sudden conking of his fellow addicts. And who knew, maybe eventually the Hufflepuff tactics would help him vanquish the bloodlust that swam in his veins. One could always hope.