AN: This is thanks to Slytherin66. He released a plot bunny and it demanded being written.

Once again, this is not beta'ed. If you see a glaring mistake, please be kind enough to gently let me know in a PM. Thanks, Ree

Picking battles

It started early in his Wizarding World life. Tom Riddle insulted one of the Hogwarts house-elves. Not that it amounted too much at the time. The elves continued doing their job and he discovered another pastime. Looking back now, Tom knew that was the beginning. It was an obvious progression.

That first insult happened in his third year. He threw a plate of biscuits at one of the creature's head declaring them unfit for consumption. The truth of the matter was that he wasn't in the mood and Dumbledore had made him mad, so he took it out on the elf. After that first incident, he had gloated to himself about finding a new set of scapegoats.

By time he reached his fifth year, the elves were avoiding him. They would wash his laundry, make the bed, clean his space, but they would only go near him if a professor told them to.

When he made it to Head Boy, they were barely doing anything for him. His room was only cursorily cleaned. Though his robes were cleaned the same as always, his uniform was treated the same as his room. The elves made a point never to be in his general vicinity nor near a professor when they wanted to send something to him.

He was unable to afford a house elf when he left Hogwarts, so he didn't see the trend continue. It wasn't until he was brought back to the flesh, that things started happening. His followers elves would avoid him unless they were ordered by their masters. Not one would do as he said or come to his call. That irked him, so of course he took his displeasure out on the worthless little vermin every chance he had. It was better than venting his ire on his followers.

Sitting here at Malfoy Manner, Tom, now called Voldemort by all but the most foolhardy, came to the conclusion that house-elves talked to one another, and that they have all decided that he was not to be treated nicely.

Glaring at the long eared creature that scuttled past the door where he was sitting, he shifted his attention back to the once lovely Slytherin green robe he had wanted to wear that evening. It was now covered in stains. He knew were such stains came from. He had seen them often enough in that Muggle orphanage he was forced to spend his childhood in. The dark blue and pink streaks came from not sorting colours when doing the washing. Dropping the robe on the bed, he opened his smalls drawer and noticed that they were all stained as well.

Donning on the least reprehensible pair of pants, he pulled out a black robe from the wardrobe and then went to look for his socks. Finding none, he pulled his wand out and stalked down the hall. The next elf he saw was going to die.

This was now a war.