~ House Elves are unpaid indentured servants
~ They staff the entirety of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: They cook the feasts, clean the dormitories, carry the student's luggage, and whatever manual labor needs to be done at the school
~ They primarily go unnoticed
~ They have talent for telekinesis and apparating
~ They have an affinity for wine making
Now, what the Wizarding World doesn’t know, is that although Helga Hufflepuff instigated hiring house-elves onto Hogwart’s staff in the 11th century, it was the desire of Salazar Slytherin’s to breed house-elves into the school’s personal staffing unit. He brought his family’s personal House Elf to Hogwarts as his indentured servant and appointed him “Head-Elf”. This elf was management of 20 or so elves coming from wizarding families that had died out and wished to continue their contribution to wizard society. Eventually, their success encouraged house-elves from other various circumstances to also ask for employment at the school. Elves live to be around 200 years old and they hardly breed, so over the generations, only around 100 or so house-elves were gathered or birthed into this established Hogwart’s staffing unit.
When Tom Marvolo Riddle attends Hogwarts, he is stalked by a particularly grievous elf with one drooping ear. Riddle finds it suspicious at first and grows angry with the elf,
“What is so appealing about the tails of my robe, elf?”
“Your middle name - pardon me for overstepping my boundaries sir - is it truly Marvolo? As in Marvolo Gaunt?”
Tom stopped dead in his tracks and paused, looking seriously at the gray wrinkled creature. No one knew of his mother’s maiden name, as far as he had researched, how would they know? She had never attended the school. Embarrassed of this mentioning of his mother, Tom snapped,
“What do you know of it?”
The elf slowly widened the edges of its mouth into what must have been its version of a smile.
“Follow me, Master. I have something to show you.”
Without hesitation, the elf turned and walked down the hall in the direction of the lavatory. Tom, intrigued, followed.
“Why are you taking me here? I demand to know at once. And how have you come to call me Master?”
“I will show you, come.” the elf replied. He swung open the door to the loo, of all places, and bowed deeply, holding his arm out to welcome Tom as if he were royalty. Once inside, the elf walked around to a large sink and pointed.
“Look closely, Master. You will see.”
Tom began to think this was a crude joke, but he glanced around the plumbing anyway and noticed a snake engraved on the side of the tap. He turned it, but nothing happened.
“No… no,” the elf muttered, shaking his long pointy ears. “You must say ‘open’ with your snake tongue.”
At this, Tom snapped his head around and stared down the elf, livid.
“How DARE you know my secrets, elf! How do you know who I am? Who are you?! ANSWER ME!!” Tom backhanded the elf, smacking him hard across the face and knocking him to the ground. The elf didn’t even flinch, just picked himself up, brushed off his shall and proceeded to explain, as if Tom’s outburst was a completely normal response.
“Master, I am the fourth descendant of Salazar Slytherin’s ‘Head-Elf’ at Hogwarts. We have been entrusted with the task of secretly serving and protecting his blood-line while they are in the castle. In 1721 my father was house-elf to your grandfather, Sir Corvinus Gaunt. I have been waiting here for you since your birth.”
Tom soaked in all this information quickly and quietly. He nodded in approval, thinking how authoritative his predecessors were to leave him with a tool such as this.
“Very well, Elf. I will use my Snaketongue.” Tom focused his gaze on the engraved snake and spoke to it, coercing it to open. There was a clicking noise from the sink drain and the sound of metal pipes moving behind the wall. A hole opened up on the floor before him. Next to him, the elf got almost giddy. It was the first time the creature had witnessed the Chamber being opened and he praised his Master’s success.
“You are truly the Heir of Slytherin!” He cried out, bowing so low his long nose pressed against the ground. “In 1925, Master Gaunt was sent to Azkaban. He ordered my father to serve Hogwarts until the day the Heir of Slytherin arrived. But master, my sire died, passing the honor on to me. I swear to follow you, my Lord.”
Tom raised an eyebrow at the elf, finding this change in affairs very useful and extremely convenient. With a renewed purpose and boosted ego, he slid down into the Chamber of Secrets, followed closely behind by his newly indentured servant.
November 1st, 1981.
Elf follows through on his orders to bring the unconscious Amaryllis to an oceanside cave *Drawing B in Northern England, thinking about what Master said, She is to be kept well tended! Treat her with the upmost security - for this child is my greatest treasure. He seals the entrance and returns to the Potter house in search of Voldemort, finding the place in shambles. He hears baby Harry’s exhausted crying, but quickly hides in a bush upon noticing a running motor above him. He watches Sirius Black land a flying motorcycle in the backyard and franticly enter the house with his wand drawn. Elf hears mumbled arguing and moves into the garden to get in closer hearing range. He’s a bit surprised to see the silhouette of half-giant Hagrid inside, holding Harry, but concludes they know nothing of Amaryllis (the Potters had been very careful, indeed) and watches as they leave the house. Hagrid flies away on Black’s motorcycle and Sirius apparates in search of Peter Pettigrew. Elf then enters the house to take a few things before the Muggles swarm the scene:
First, to complete phase three of their initial mission. James’ wand is still lost somewhere in the house, but obtaining Lily’s is the goal. Elf goes upstairs and stands in the very spot where Voldemort had killed Lily, staring down at her dead body, he asks himself, Where had his master gone? If Mrs. Potter had obtained her wand, could it be she put up a fight, somehow? He searches Lily’s body, but her wand is clearly not in her possession. Reaching inside his shall, he reveals a sliver of wood resembling a small wand and gives it a wave. The floorboard next to the window begins to shake and jump until Lily’s hidden wand shoots out like a bullet into Elf’s tiny hand. The side of his mouth turns up in a proud grin as he promptly slips the wand into a magical hidden pocket under his shall. Heading downstairs, the elf muses, With phase three of the mission complete, it is time to begin the final phase. But only with Master can we proceed.
Elf searches for something to keep the girl busy while he focuses on tracking down his Master’s whereabouts. He decides on a toy hippogriff stuffed animal, a Dancing Doxy, and a few books that were littered on the floor. Bringing these things downstairs, he eyes Harry’s toy broomstick given to him on his first birthday, shrugs, and snatches it from the corner. One more item wouldn’t hurt. Walking into the kitchen, he magically shrinks the toys to fit in a picnic basket along with some fish from the cooler, a loaf of bread and, shrugging again, an unopened bottle of wine. He turns and apparates out the back door.
Over the next four months, the house-elf searches for his master while upholding Head Elf duties at Hogwarts, and returns to the cave every evening with food, wood, and sometimes an entertaining object for Amaryllis (these objects are sometimes inappropriate for her age, so she finds other purposes for them. Some of these objects she ends up using to her benefit during adventures at Hogwarts). She turns 5 years old and soberly accepts that she will not have a party this year. It’s a dark and lonely time for her and she suffers from boredom and abandonment abuse, but also finds solace through the living things in the cave (glowworms, rats, insects, shrimp, amphibians, blind fish). On her birthday, she gets Elf to allow her access to the cave opening, “The only way out is the crashing ocean, I’d like to see you try escaping that way!” Soon after that, she convinces him to let her accompany him on parts of his search for their ‘Master’. They have 2 chapters of adventures together in their journey to the Albanian Forest - France and Italy.