PLEASE NOTE: This isn't a story so much as an anthology. Each chapter is a stand-alone unless specified otherwise, but each centers around the concept of evil being performed accidentally. I want to say I've never committed accidental evil, but there was that tater-tot casserole incident when I was first married. We no longer speak of it.
I don't own any of the characters you recognize, and I especially don't own a Horcrux … at least, I don't think I do … but if they can be made accidentally …
1. A Lesson in Fractions
(aka, Albus' Mistake, Take One):
"Severus … did you hear me?" asked the concerned voice of his mentor-slash-friend-slash-parole officer, Albus Dumbledore.
Severus had, in fact, heard him just fine. The words Albus had just spoken … "Harry must die" … were circling his brain at breakneck speed. "Harry must die … Harry must die … Harry must die."
"Severus?" the voice called out again. He re-opened his eyes, wondering when, exactly, he'd closed them, and looked into Albus' weary face.
Unbidden, a small smile crept across his face. "Harry must die" Then a little gurgle erupted from his throat, which he tried his best to pass off as a cough. "Harry must die"
"It is quite a shock, I know," intoned Albus, who had obviously misread his student-slash-colleague-slash-charity case's reaction. "I hardly wanted to believe it myself," he added in a sad, sad voice.
"Harry must die" In a last-ditch attempt to keep his emotions in check, he downed his drink – a very fine Bourbon whiskey he'd gifted to the Headmaster specifically so said Headmaster would have a decent drink to offer him during these lovely little soul-searching, gut-wrenching sessions. Unfortunately, he'd forgotten to consider the extremely high alcoholic content of this particular brand. He could feel the warmth spreading, could feel his heart thawing, and yes, could even feel that giddiness he normally associated with discovering that a Gryffindor has forgotten his homework. "Harry must die"
Setting his empty glass on the hideous spindly-legged table next to his seat, he stood. He was a strong man, fully in control of his emotions instead of the other way around, and yet … "Harry must die" … he couldn't hold it in any longer.
It started with a bouncing of his leg. Then he was swinging his hips, back-and-forth in an exaggerated semi-circular motion. His left hand was held in front of his stomach, and his right arm reached above his head, with that hand waving. He continued his hip movements as he began turning around in place. He was even humming, not that he realized this, as caught up in the moment as he was.
He instantly froze; the tone of that voice could not be ignored. Allowing his right arm to drop, and flattening his feet on the ground he turned his head to the side and looked at Albus. Unfortunately, he'd not yet thought to stand straight, leaving his bum poking out at a most unflattering angle.
"Are you … dancing? … Severus?"
Finally straightening and turning his full body in Albus' direction, he deflated slightly. "Yes Headmaster, I was dancing. I admit, I am a bit out of practice, but surely it wasn't so bad as to be unrecognizable."
"No, no, it was certainly energetic enough," Albus assured him, but he spoke while resting his face on his hand, which as luck would have it perfectly hid his smile. He'd seen better dancing that time a drunken Flitwick decided nice-kitty-pretty-kitty-Mrs. Norris wanted to salsa dance at the After-Yule Staff Party. "But why, pray tell would you be spontaneously dancing at a time like this. I've just told you that Harry must die."
"Precisely, Headmaster. The little brat is going to die. I must be in practice so I can dance on his grave."
With a put-out sigh Albus continued, "Have you forgotten, Severus, how very likely it is that you shall also die in this war?"
Snape scoffed at this idea. "Not bloody likely, not now that I have something to live for."
"But don't you even want to know why Harry must die?"
"Not particularly," he added with a dismissive wave of his hand as he retook his seat. "Honestly, Albus, you had me at 'Harry must die'."
"Horcruxes, Severus," Albus said, knowing that was enough of an explanation.
It was a good thing he was sitting, otherwise such a statement might have made him faint. Always quick on the uptake, Snape had already processed the implications of Albus' use of the plural. Needing a good, stiff drink, he picked up his glass and downed its contents in one go. Or at least, tried to, until he remembered – two seconds after he'd upended the empty glass over his open mouth – that he'd already done that.
Setting the offensive glass down again, he looked over to see the Headmaster twinkling at him as he directed the Bourbon bottle toward him. Grabbing it out of the air by its neck, Severus rested it on his leg. "Horcruxes, you say? He was even madder than I'd given him credit for. I assume this means" (don't smile, don't smile, don't smile) "Potter must die" (DO NOT SMILE) "because he is a Horcrux." (There – didn't smile!) "How is that even possible? I mean, hasn't the Dark Lord been trying to kill the boy? Why would he try to kill his own Horcrux?"
Far too calmly in Severus' opinion, given the man's proclaimed love for the boy, Albus explained his wonderfully brilliant theory about split souls and accidental magic, and Severus could feel the blood draining from his face. His happy dance suddenly felt like it had been a lifetime ago.
"But … but …," he sputtered, not believing such a (admittedly self-proclaimed) brilliant man could make such a colossal mistake. "Surely you know better than to think Potter was the only Horcrux made that night."
"Whatever do you mean? He killed Lily, then he tried to kill Harry. It couldn't be more simple … or is it simpler?"
"You're more simple, you dimwit." Oh, Severus was definitely in a snit if he was calling the Headmaster names. "He hadn't just killed Lily … he'd killed James, too. That means two pieces of shredded soul, not one. And that's being conservative."
Albus' own face was now the same shade of white as his beard. "Conservative?" he managed to whimper.
"When had he last made a Horcrux – while he was still building his power? And how many had he killed since beginning his war, hmm? By the time he attacked the Potters, he'd personally killed dozens. Oh, plenty of wizards and witches considered mudbloods, blood traitors and half breeds. But also the near recruit who rather stupidly asked how he could smell people's fear without a nose … the Muggle teen who asked if anything else had fallen off, and then pointed to his privates, and then called him 'Madam' … and who can forget the waitress that brought decaf and tried to pass if off as regular – but the Dark Lord always knows – and she was dead before the pot hit the floor. And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head."
Tapping his lengthy index finger on the side of his whiskey bottle, he continued as if he was lecturing a class of particularly slow students. "His soul wasn't split – it was fractured. If your theory is correct, and each separate piece of his soul was set free upon his body's destruction, then there are two possibilities. First, they all went into Potter, which I think we can immediately eliminate as possible given his noticeable lack of pure evilness and blind ambition. Vile little miscreant he may be, but even I can acknowledge he doesn't have what it takes for world domination. Not to mention, he still has his nose. No … the little stray pieces of soul, the 'soul sperm' if you will, went into separate items."
Albus slumped into his chair as Severus rattled on, clearly on a roll now. "Assuming that your assertion is correct that the soul sperm would prefer a living host, one must ask, did the Potters have any pets? And if so, what was their fate?"
"There was only a goldfish," Albus recalled. "Hagrid took it. He accidentally killed it when it jumped out of its bowl and tried to bit his finger."
Severus upped his glare to full strength. Honestly, it was like talking to Potter. Or worse, Weasley. "And that didn't seem the least bit suspicious to you?"
"Well, at the time, I rather thought Hagrid had been … playing with his umbrella again. He does like his pets, you know."
"Very well," Severus replied, "so thank Hagrid for ridding the world of a fraction of the Dark Lord's soul. But if that was the only living host, then the soul sperm –"
"Would you please stop calling it that, Severus," Albus implored. "That makes it sound so…"
"Tawdry? Clinical? Would you prefer I call them something cute and fluffy, like 'bunnies'?" Not waiting for an answer, he continued, "To continue, the soul sperm would have attached themselves to the nearest inanimate objects, those obviously being the furniture and other assorted objects in the room. Would you happen to know, Headcase, what happened to the Potters' possessions?"
"Ah, well, you see … I was too busy with various end-of-war events to sort through everything at the time, so I hired one of those Muggle storage houses, and placed everything in safekeeping. Unfortunately, when I forgot to pay the bill one year … they sold everything."
"You mean to tell me that pieces of the Dark Lord's soul were sold off in a Muggle yard sale?"
At the slow, somber nod of Albus' head, Snape tightened his grasp on his bottle of Bourbon, and bringing it to his lips, downed about a third of the bottle in a series of gulps.
That clinched it. Dropping the bottle carelessly onto the floor, he abruptly stood. "You'll have to pardon me, Albus. I just remembered I left a student boiling – I mean, I left a student with a boiling potion, yes that's it, a boiling, highly volatile potion. I really must go check on it-him. It will probably take a few hours, so you shouldn't be concerned if you can't find me later. I'll just be down in my dungeon hideaway with a student and his highly volatile potion, and not running to the highly immortal Dark Lord to beg forgiveness and pledge undying loyalty. Must be running …"
As the door slammed shut behind the retreating Potions Master, Albus muttered to himself about how refreshing it was to see Severus care so for the well being of his students. Around him, the portraits of the past Heads of the school rolled their eyes. Finally, Fortescue was brave enough to speak up.
"Ah, Albus … I don't really think he's checking on any potion. Perhaps I'd best explain …"
Two months later
A young mother carried her crying baby into the sitting room. Her precious angel was hungry again – weren't newborns always hungry – and she'd found it passed the time faster if she sat down to watch the telly while little Angelica fed. Well, that and she was a bit freaked out by the baby's clothes dresser.
When the couple from downstairs had given it to them, she'd been so happy to save the money it would have cost to buy one that she'd never questioned why people who'd never been particularly nice to her in the past was being so generous. No, she'd simply thanked the couple and taken the furniture.
It had been a dull pine; the tiny lion's-head-shaped pulls its only appealing quality. There were even singe marks on the legs, as if it had been caught in a blast or fire of some kind. So her husband had removed the hardware and sanded the wood, and because they knew they were expecting a girl, he'd painted it a bright pink and decorated it with yellow, orange, green, and blue butterflies, complete with glittery wings and happy smiley faces.
The problem was, when the room was dark, and the moonlight crept across the floor and stretched to the dresser, and she was sitting nearby holding her little one, she would swear she could hear the thing growling. Her husband had just laughed, writing it off to first-time parent jitters. But she wondered …
At about 2am, there really wasn't much of a choice on the telly. She flipped past the all-night news (too depressing) and a rerun of Masterpiece Theater (too boring) and the music video channel which hardly ever even showed videos any more, and finally settled on an old episode of Dr. Who. Which ended three minutes later, but by then the babe was comfortably using her arm as a pillow, and so she just let the next show come on. it was an infomercial, so she shifted her attention to her sweet little girl.
"Do you have furniture that groans?" a voice asked, drawing her attention from the way the baby's nose wrinkled back to the telly. There, on the screen, were two men and a woman, all dressed in weird jumpsuits in bright red with gold trim that looked like gaudy versions of army pilots' suits. The one in the middle – the one doing the speaking – looked like he'd past his prime years ago and was slowly coasting downhill. He had frazzled hair long enough that he'd had to pull it back, with a matching beard down to his waist. Behind his old-school half-moon glasses were very tired but still friendly eyes, and right now he was asking her if her lamp ever threw temper tantrums.
The tall, good looking black man to his left asked if friends and relatives had laughed off her concerns. He assured her that they would believe.
The third person, a lady who reminded her more of an old-fashioned School Marm than a – well, she wasn't really sure what they were – but the woman said they specialized in aged items, which she clarified as those items made before 1982.
With a wink and a smile, the hippy-Santa announced, "We're the Furniture Whisperers, and we can help. Contact us today."
She almost laughed at the seriousness in his voice, for this had to be some kind of joke. Maybe a new Monty Python type show. She almost dismissed it entirely, when she heard a faint growl coming from Angelica's room, followed by the sound of wood scrapping on wood. Impulsively, she picked up her phone.
Across the country, an old squib by the name of Arabella Figg hung up the phone, and went to her fireplace to shout, "We got one!"
Notes: I tried to do this seriously, really I did, because the basic premise of the story – that when Voldemort's body was destroyed, logic dictates that there were at a minimum two soul shards (or as Snape calls them, soul sperm) and therefore at least two Horcruxes created. Accidentally, of course. After all, Tom had just killed not one, but two people; and every murder splinters the soul, not just a select few.
Unfortunately, Snape started dancing his jig, and it just went downhill from there.
Also, my apologies to Dr. Venkman – but at least I didn't steal the StayPuft Marshmallow Man. As far as I know, he didn't franchise, so I'm cool.
As for other 'chapters'; the idea for this anthology popped into my head and simply would not leave me alone until I typed it out. I have four more chapters outlined, and ideas for another three or four, so expect more in the future. Whether that's a promise or a threat, I leave up to you to decide. Just don't expect any of them to be serious works of literature either.