I am Lord Voldemort, and I was one step away from conquering Wizarding Britain.
October 31st, 1981 began as a fairly normal day — arranging raids, crucioing incompetents, lazing about on my throne — yet it seemed that everything my followers did irked me.
Bellatrix crouched at my feet, sneaking glances and occasionally emitting dreamy sighs, exactly the sort of behavior that caused me to turn myself into a nose-less snake. Rabastan Lestrange was playing a game called Curse the Recruits, the recruits were screaming, Nott was paging through one of my Dark tomes, and Lucius had disappeared to go brush his hair or something. There were worse ways to spend Halloween, I supposed.
“M-my Lord!” a nasally voice cried, its owner scurrying towards my throne. “I have information on the Potters.”
I paused for a moment, contemplating the Death Eater’s words. The Potters were Dumbledore’s minions, the ones with the prophesied child. They’d defied me three times. I should know; I keep a list of these things.
“Speak quickly, then,” I snapped, “I don’t like to be kept waiting.”
The short Death Eater cowered at my feet, and I noted that he was particularly talented at cowering.
“I’m s-s-sorry, my lord. I’ve gained their trust, as you ordered me to, and I can tell you that…” – he took a shuddering breath – “the Potters may be found at Godric’s Hallow.”
He rattled off the proper address, stumbling over every other word. The man was clearly incompetent, but he had been useful.
I said, “I am immensely pleased with this information…”
What was his name again? I narrowed my eyes at the still shivering man’s unremarkable, brown hair. That was the trouble with giving all your followers masks. They all looked so similar. After a moment of silence, I murmured, “My faithful servant.”
“Thank you, my l-lord,” he simpered, bowing again and again. By the fifth time, I’d become peeved and, with an idle flick of my wand, slammed him into the stones.
“You are dismissed.”
The bleeding man stumbled from the room.
Seizing the opportunity to escape my followers, I gracefully rose to my feet.
“I shall be busy for some time. Do not kill any of your fellow Death Eaters without my permission” — I sternly eyed Bellatrix — “We hardly need a repetition of last Valentine’s Day.”
Bellatrix bowed her head sullenly. “Yes, my lord.”
After a moment, she perked up. This was almost certainly a bad thing. “May I help you dispose of the blood traitors, my lord?”
“No,” I said a touch too quickly.
Clearing my throat, I clarified, “This is a simple mission for I, the Dark Lord Voldemort. Your addition would be unnecessary.”
I turned away from my pouting follower. Bellatrix was a wonderful asset: loyal, powerful, and bloodthirsty. Yet her eagerness could be grating. I walked quickly down the gloomy hallway, swept through the heavy door, and — my ears popping as I exited the wards — apparated mid-stride.
I appeared in the middle of a quiet street in the village known as Godric’s Hollow. I had been here once or twice before to observe Dumbledore’s residence. Know thy enemy and all that.
It was still fairly early in the night and a few trick-or-treaters wandered between houses. They stole glances at me and my, to quote them, bloody brilliant costume.
None of them so much as glanced at one particular cottage, though smoke drifted from its chimney. Considering children and their gluttonous fixation on candy, I could only presume I’d found the correct address.
I didn’t bother with the subtle approach. In a moment, the door was blasted off its hinges and the screaming had started. Again, I’d like to stress that this had, so far, been a perfectly normal day.
The father was quickly dispatched, and I merrily climbed the staircase, following the hysterical sobs of mother and child. I’d never considered myself a violent man, but there is a certain satisfaction in winning, even if my opponents are severely outmatched. So what if I liked to draw it out a bit?
The Potter woman flung her arms out in a pitiful shield. She looked feral, eyes wide, limbs shaking. “Not Harry! Please, no, not Harry. I’ll do anything!” she cried.
I offered her a chance to live because, contrary to popular belief, I can be nice. I’m also quite the conversationalist when my companion isn’t trying to lick my boots. Seriously, who does that? But I digress.
The Potter woman had finally used up my patience, and I killed her with an Avada Kedavra. I laughed, the sound nearly drowning out the baby’s sobs. So this was the child of prophecy, was it? Pathetic.
“Avada Kedavra,” I said. The baby watched the spell curiously. He wailed, I cackled, and the room turned green.
Suddenly, I experienced a sensation that felt suspiciously like dying horribly, and I lost consciousness. My memory of the next few years is rather confused.
That day marked the end of my reign and of the First Wizarding War. It also began my second life. This time, I was going to do things a bit differently.
I am Harry Potter, former Dark Lord.
In retrospect, I have absolutely no idea how Horcruxes work.
I probably shouldn’t have made one, let alone five, based on only three paragraphs of description which mainly centered on the mechanics of the ritual and not the effects. But I had limited access to the Restricted Section, at the time, and I was a very enthusiastic youth.
I had originally assumed that they would make my body invulnerable, but that was clearly not the case.
Perhaps they bound me to the world, allowing me to possess those weaker than myself. Obviously, the Potter child had succumbed to my greater force of will. I supposed that made as much sense as anything.
On that note, what about the prophecy? This would be easier if I knew it in its entirety. It was possible that I’d already fulfilled the blasted thing. My body was incinerated by my reflected spell. Did that count as being vanquished? I was Harry Potter, now, and I could hardly vanquish myself.
My questions would go unanswered for some time.
The Dursleys immediately sensed my evil. This was particularly impressive since I took several months to properly remember my time as a dark lord, yet they deemed me a monster upon my arrival at their doorstep. Amid the humiliation of diaper changes, tentative steps, and lisping words, I took great satisfaction in my caretakers’ building horror. Even as a baby, I could still strike fear into the hearts of filthy muggles.
It started small as I relearned the art of wandless magic. Forget to feed little Harry and Dudley’s bottle explodes. Insult him and your tongue starts to swell up. Go ahead, lock him in a cupboard. He will always find his way out, and you will somehow find your way in.
Even misfortunes that could not possibly be my fault, such as Vernon’s demotion at work, were attributed to my malice. I, of course, never argued against anything that made me seem more powerful.
The Dursleys eventually decided that they feared my dark presence more than Dumbledore’s threats. They dropped me off at the orphanage, the firehouse, and deep in the wilderness. They even called Child Protective Services on themselves. Repeatedly. Yet I was always back by morning.
I blame Dumbledore.
I was five years old when Petunia Dursley realized that she would never be rid of me. I know this because she began sobbing while insisting that she would never be rid of me.
Thick as they were, the Dursleys eventually realized that the only way to live unharmed was to accommodate my desires. It was the childhood I had always dreamed of.
During those early years, I had a lot of time to think.
From a few expeditions into the Wizarding World, I cobbled together the state of things. I had obviously vanished, and my followers had either been arrested or rejected me. Meanwhile, everyone believed that Harry Potter was an amazing and incredibly talented child (a not inaccurate belief).
I’ll admit that I’d grown weary of being a Dark Lord. It was boring, the Death Eaters were irritating, and I had no particular interest in reigning over a nation of mindless sheep. There was a certain charm to fighting against Dumbledore, and murder is a good stress-reliever. But perhaps it was time to discard my previous life. This new identity could open doors that my previous self had foolishly closed long ago.
It was time to return to my first dream.
To be honest, I hadn’t planned on the whole Dark Lord thing. It just sort of happened.
I’d always wanted to be a professor, either of Defense Against the Dark Arts or just of the Dark Arts. The latter wasn’t exactly taught at Hogwarts, however, and Hogwarts was my first true home. My greatest desire was to return to it and live there. Forever.
With my original Horcruxes created and hidden away, I might have become as much a fixture of the school as poor, idiotic Binns. That dream was crushed by Dumbledore. His first official act as Headmaster was to deny me the position. After a very strenuous job interview, I might add. Offended and heartbroken, I cursed the DADA post and stormed out of the castle.
So there I was: depressed, unemployed, and increasingly intoxicated. I slumped across the Hog’s Head’s bar, accompanied by a few of my old Slytherin buddies. We were reminiscing, telling racist jokes, and complaining about all the Muggleborns stealing our jobs. At some point, we got onto the topic of the abysmal education provided by Hogwarts. Turning away a young, eager, intelligent — if slightly evil — job applicant showed a startling lack of foresight.
“Kids nowadays don’t know anything,” I slurred. “I bet the six of us could take out every one of the half-wits they’re graduating and show them exactly how much they suck at defending against the Dark Arts. Then they’d have to hire me.”
That’s the last thing I remember of that night.
A few days later, I woke up in an alley with a pounding headache. By the time I’d gotten home and downed a hangover potion, The Prophet had arrived. In my drunken haze, I’d killed six Ministry workers and declared myself the Dark Lord Voldemort (I never would have picked that name had I been sober).
Once you’ve done something like that, it’s exceedingly difficult to get a job around children. I know. I tried.
The next several years were spent struggling to legitimize my movement. I commissioned uniforms, made inquiries with Europe’s darker creatures, cobbled together an ideological banner with which to rally new recruits...Recreating the Dark Mark alone took me nearly six months. Natural genius aside, I have no idea how I managed that while smashed.
My power base was entrenched in the Pureblood, Slytherin alumni as my drinking companions benefitted greatly from convincing their allies to join me. Not only were they tied to my will with dark magic, but they were also desperate to cover up the details of our drunken escapade. An embarrassment like that would be a crippling blow to their rapidly declining oligarchy.
In retrospect, the situation could have been worse. I might have joined forces with dozens of pompous fools and admitted cowards, but at least I was their leader and therefore best.
I stroked the parchment of my Hogwarts letter with fondness.
The youngest Dursley nearly wet himself at the deranged smile on my face. That was an expression usually reserved for our little “chats."
...These usually involved quite a bit more screaming than chatting. Still, I always healed him at the end, so it’s not like he had anything to complain about.
My “loving” relatives were more than happy to ship me off to Hogwarts where I would be far, far away from them. The desire was mutual. Even with training, the three were barely tolerable.
If I’d known the scar would be this much trouble, I would have worn a hat. I slammed the door shut on a particularly persistent fan. Sure, I liked groveling as much as the next dark lord, but for a stranger to actually try and kiss my robes? Honestly! Whatever happened to keeping a respectful, reverent distance?
Wandlessly locking the door of the shabby, silent shop, I took a moment to catch my breath.
“Good afternoon,” a voice murmured. I practically jumped out of my skin. How in Merlin’s name had he snuck up on me?
“Mr. Ollivander,” I said to the pale-eyed, elderly man. Nearly fifty years had passed since I’d last seen him, yet he hadn’t aged a day. Clearly I wasn’t the only immortal wizard in Britain. I quashed the urge to ask him how he’d done it.
“Yes, yes. I thought I’d be seeing you soon. Harry Potter.” He spoke my name with a strange emphasis.
While I pondered the wandmaker’s dark secrets, the man chattered inanely about nothing in particular. His mask of absentminded insanity was admirable. He handed me one wand and another and another still. Before I could even give them a wave, he snatched them from my hand. He proceeded to do this with every wand in the bloody shop. If I hadn’t been certain he’d taken precautions against such paltry attacks, I might have stabbed him with one of his wares. I was Lord Voldemort, for Merlin’s sake! I could easily force the cooperation of even an unsuitable wand.
An unsettling glint appeared in Ollivander’s silvery eyes. Mumbling to himself, he dug out a holly wand. It hummed beneath my fingertips, warm to the touch. Unconsciously, I smiled at the familiar sensation and swung the wand around in a rain of colorful sparks.
Wrapping it up, he muttered. “Curious…curious…”
I was beginning to suspect something was curious. I inquired, with careful politeness, “Curious?”
“Curious,” he agreed. He rambled on about my wand for some time before finally coming to a point. “It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when its brother – why, its brother gave you that scar.”
“What a coincidence,” I squeaked.
He stared at me intently, and I could feel my stomach drop. He knew. I could see it in his watchful eyes, the taunting tilt of his head. Ollivander knew exactly who I was or, more precisely, who I wasn’t. My gaze darted to the wrapped wand in his hand. If I was fast, I could probably grab it, kill him, and run in a minute, maybe less. I’d have preferred to avoid murder for a few more years, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Seemingly unaware of my frantic thoughts, Ollivander continued, “I think we must expect great things from you, Mr. Potter…After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things. Terrible, yes, but great.”
…Was he supporting me? That sounded suspiciously like a compliment. I said, “Thank you, sir, for the help.”
“Anytime, Harry Potter,” the man rasped.
Stepping into the train station as the Dursleys’ car squealed away, I had never been happier. I was returning to Hogwarts, and it had been far too long since I’d been home.