Chapter 4: How the Crumple-Horned Snorkack Got It's Name
Disclaimer: Same as the last, plus The Chronicles of Narnia created by C. S. Lewis.
Summary: Luna's fairy tale.
A/N: Special thanks to BellonaBlack, Pipenerd, and Sorg for ideas and suggestions they probably don't even remember making, it was so long ago. :)
"A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July -
Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear -
Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream -
Lingering in the golden gleam -
Life, what is it but a dream?"
-Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There
Once upon a time there was a boy named Tom Riddle.
He lived in an orphanage, and today was his seventh birthday.
This meant cake, pretending to like the other kids at the orphanage, and them pretending to like him.
They didn't like him, he knew. They thought him too strange, a quiet, thoughtful, child. Being remotely thoughtful was something beyond the other kids. For that matter, it was beyond most adults Tom had encountered.
He knew the entire rest of the world couldn't possibly be this boring, that there had to be some interesting people who did think, now and then. After all, Tom loved books, and those were obviously written by some interesting, thoughtful, people. He wondered if those people felt as alone in the world as he did, and this is how they reached others, finding kindred spirits.
Tom would sometimes lose himself completely in books. He was especially drawn to stories of heroes going on great quests to magical faraway lands. His favorite was about a girl around his age who was utterly bored by her mundane surroundings and found adventure by following a rabbit with a watch, a girl after his own heart. Now, THAT'S what he needed, he thought. Unfortunately, one wasn't likely to have a talking rabbit with a watch turn up to make your day interesting. Still, though, he'd imagine himself accompanying the girl on her adventures. He thought he'd found a genuine friend in the girl in the book.
It was then that he heard a strange voice in his head.
"What would it be like to really lose yourself in a book?" the voice asked. "Could you picture it, actually being in a book?"
Right. He needed to get away from the orphanage, right now, if it was making him hear voices in his head. Despite what he was certain some thought, he wasn't mad.
"Are you sure about that?" the voice asked.
"Very sure," he thought back.
"You're hearing voices in your head, and answering them," the voice replied.
"Only because this place leaves me with only myself for good company," thought Tom.
"You should get out, take a stroll, then," said the voice.
"I'm about to do just that," Tom replied.
"Following the advice of the voice in your head? And you're not mad?" the voice asked.
"No, I was going to do that, anyway," Tom answered, firmly.
"Are you sure?" the voice asked.
"Yes!" Tom answered, hopefully not out loud. And, he was sure. He often wandered when he was bored. And, he was often bored. "I just have to figure out where I want to go. Then, I will," he thought with certainty.
"Where do you want to go?" the voice asked.
"Anywhere but here," Tom answered.
"Then, it doesn't really matter where you go," the voice said.
Infuriating. But, there was something familiar about what the voice had told him that he couldn't quite place. That just made it even more infuriating. Nevertheless, he couldn't deny that it was good advice. Of course, this voice in his head had to be some sort of inner monologue, so of course he'd give himself good advice.
"You give yourself good advice, but how often do you follow it?" the voice asked.
Tom sighed, and was certain some fresh air would clear his head.
One wouldn't think there would be interesting places to explore in the part of London the orphanage was in, that is if one didn't allow himself to see things others didn't notice. Tom always saw things others didn't notice. Most would just not really look at what was around them, just walking through their mundane lives, thinking mundane thoughts, as if they wanted their world to be boring. This part of London had little to offer in the exotic, so Tom simply made do. He couldn't get any of the other children to share his fascinations. They just refused to see the possibilities.
For example, some of the older houses in the area. There were some he was certain were somewhat alive, feeling different than others. Tom couldn't understand how most failed to notice this. He never had to be told, beforehand, that some of the older houses were said to be haunted. He could always tell exactly which ones were. He wanted to know the stories these places had to tell.
Some gained his curiosity for a different reason. Some homes had large, locked, gardens. He'd read about these, and wanted to see one, up close. He stood outside the gates of one, really wanting to see what was on the other side.
"Why don't you look and see?" The voice was back.
"It's locked, and forbidden," Tom answered.
"But, you're curious," said the voice.
"Yes, but..." Tom began.
"What would Alice do?" the voice asked.
Tom sighed, again, and replied, "Alice would find a way into the garden, and explore. She rarely listened to the good advice she gave herself."
"Oh yes," the voice answered. "Good advice. Stay with what's familiar, what you know. Don't go exploring strange places. You never know what you might find."
"Hmmph..." Tom said, words, for once, failing him.
The voice continued: "She just... had to go do it, though, didn't she? But then, we can't all have that sort of spirit. Most resist the call to adventure. It keeps them out of trouble."
"What sort of adventure could I find in a garden, anyway?" asked Tom.
"Who knows?" the voice asked with amusement. "That's what makes it an adventure."
"Yes, but..." Tom said, again hesitantly.
He noticed that a mist had risen. This gave him a very strange feeling, and he wondered why.
He looked through the locked gates. He could see part of the garden, but only a small part of it. He then noticed the strangest thing. There seemed to be small lights dancing. He felt like he should know what that meant, but he couldn't think clearly and logically, at the moment. This frightened him.
"Now, there's something you don't see every day," the voice said.
"Maybe I should go back..." Tom thought.
"Yes, maybe you should. Back to where things are safe and oh so boring..." replied the voice.
"This could be dangerous," Tom reasoned.
"Well, not everyone can hear the call," the voice replied.
"No, but I CAN," Tom affirmed.
"So, what are you going to do about it?" the voice asked.
He knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to do exactly as Alice would. The gate was locked, yes, but it would be a simple matter to climb it and learn the garden's secrets. He wondered why no one ever did that.
He suddenly realized that flowers were blooming in the garden in the middle of Winter. How...?
"Most wouldn't think of it," the voice said. "Most simply walk by, every day, and THEY don't catch their eye. Most cannot see. Those who can feel pressure not to. It's understandable if you choose to pretend not to see. You'd fit in with normal people, better."
"They're boring," said Tom.
"Yes, they are. But... I understand why you'd want to be like them," the voice said.
"I do NOT want to be like them," Tom said, angrily.
"They don't have to think about anything other than what's right in front of them," the voice replied. "Of course, look at what's right in front of you... But, I suppose you can just pretend you don't see it. You can choose a normal, boring, mundane existence."
Fine, Tom thought. He knew he shouldn't, but... He could never deny what he was seeing. He could to others, but never to himself. He'd always wonder...
What did those normal, boring people matter, anyway?
"Now, THAT'S the spirit," the voice said.
His decision made, he climbed over the gate. It was surprisingly easy.
It was a beautiful garden.
It was also much larger than he thought it could be. There simply didn't seem to be this much room from the outside. It was impossible, yet here it was.
He followed the dancing lights, that seemed to be drawing him to... somewhere. As he drew closer, they became more clear. They looked like... fairies?
But, that was impossible. Fairies only existed in stories.
"Yet, there they are," the voice told him.
As he followed the fairy dance deeper into the garden, he noticed the flowers were much larger than they should be. They also seemed to be... watching him? And, he noticed it was suddenly awfully... warm for the end of December.
"Happy birthday, Tom," the voice said. Tom suddenly realized the voice was coming from outside his head, now. He spun around, to see a cat grinning at him, before it... vanished.
"Oh, bugger..." was all Tom could think to say.
Queen Alice of Wonderland was sitting on her mushroom throne contemplating riddles when the Cheshire Cat came, bearing news.
They had a visitor.
Sometimes, she would take an audience with her visitors. The Cheshire Cat was insistent she take this one.
"Oh, you'll like him," he told her.
"You've introduced yourself, I expect?" she asked.
"Oh, but it would have been so rude not to," he replied.
"Good," she said, amused. "So, why do you insist I take a personal interest in this one?"
"Oh, but you MUST. It's his seventh birthday," he answered.
"Is it?" she asked.
Well, that was certainly... something. It was on her seventh birthday that she made her first journey to Wonderland. Or, was it that was when Wonderland came into being? No matter... Obviously, her story had made quite the impression on the boy.
"So," she asked, "what can I expect?"
"He reminds me a lot of you, when we met," he answered. "He has your curiosity, and I think he's even less patient than you were."
"Well, my dear," Alice replied, "you have an uncanny knack for trying one's patience. You would have infuriated Job, I think."
Not that she could hold it against him. After all, he was just what she had made him... or what HE had made him... Or THEY, the ones who set everything in motion, with their magic, the ones who had made her their own...
Bloody rude flowers.
The Tiger-Lily was the only one with any manners, Tom thought.
He'd considered trying to pick the lot of them, but he remembered they had told Alice something about a protecting tree. He recalled that they didn't say that the tree would get physical about things. He imagined a violent tree taking swings at people, and decided that would be very unlike a tree. But, considering where he was, somewhere nothing behaved as it normally should, he reasoned that it was probably best not to risk it.
He really needed to leave this garden, though. He remembered that this would lead him to the Red Queen, and he really had no desire to meet the Red Queen. This would lead to playing an elaborate chess game, and, while Tom found chess quite interesting, at seven, he'd hadn't the opportunity to learn to play it well, at least well enough for the stakes he'd be playing for, here. Besides, she'd insist on offering him a biscuit when he really didn't want one, especially if he didn't want one.
And anyway, that wasn't the Queen he wanted to see. But, he thought sadly, she surely wouldn't be here. After all, she'd left, many years ago, left and was living her life. His Alice was long gone.
But then, he thought, if this was a dream, and surely it was, anything was possible. Except, it didn't feel like a dream. The Dreamworld felt very different than this, as one noted when one realized one was dreaming. He reasoned that he MUST be dreaming, but he clearly wasn't.
"Curiouser and curiouser," said Tom, as he wandered out of the garden.
If he wasn't dreaming, then he had to be in a very real place. But, Wonderland could not be real. There were rules governing the world, and this place defied every single one of them. The only possible explanation was magic, and magic didn't exist. Tom knew that.
But... He'd had some interesting experiences during his seven years, that had, as far as he could tell, no simple, reasonable, explanations. He considered, for a moment, that perhaps magic DID exist. But surely, if it did, everyone would know it. Of course, people didn't seem to notice so many things that Tom did. He was... special, he'd been told. And, he was here, which pretty much settled the argument. Perhaps.
Maybe he really was mad, after all.
"Well, of course you are," a now familiar voice said.
Tom looked up, and there was the Cheshire Cat on a tree branch, fortunately not a violent one.
"We're all mad, here," said the Cat. "I'm mad, you're mad."
"I'm NOT mad!", Tom said angrily. Well, maybe he was a bit mad, but not in the way the Cat was referring to.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
"I knew you'd say that," Tom countered.
"Of course, you did," said the Cat.
"And, Alice wasn't mad, which proves you wrong," Tom said, certain that, at last, he was winning an argument with this infernal feline.
"Isn't she?" the Cat asked. "Her Majesty is Queen and Creator, after all. All of this came from her mind. It's... a reflection of how she saw the world, out there."
"No one can shape a world as they see fit," said Tom.
"Is that so? You can tell her that, when you meet her," said the Cat.
"I can't meet her, because she can't be here," Tom said, annoyed.
"Why not?" asked the Cat.
"Because..." Tom began, gritting his teeth. Tom was losing his patience, he knew, which never led to good things, here, but he had to maintain some reason... "She's out in the real world, living a real life. It's been in the newspapers, and someone can't be two places at once!"
"How do you know?" asked the Cat.
"It's impossible," said Tom.
"And, how many impossible things have you done, today?" the Cat asked.
"At least it's well after breakfast," Tom conceded. "But, we have bodies and souls. She'd have to have more than one body..."
"That's very convenient for her, yes," the Cat said.
"And we CAN'T have more than one soul. You'd have to be able to split the one you have," said Tom.
"Yes..." said the Cat.
"And, that's impossible," Tom concluded.
Tom felt really stupid saying that, all things considered. What was impossible in a place like this? How could a place like this exist? All he could think of was... magic.
Well, either magic existed, or he was quite mad. He preferred the first option, even though it was the least logical one.
"You're tense," the Cat noted.
"OF COURSE, I'M TENSE!!!" Tom shouted.
"Perhaps you could use a soothing cup of tea," the Cat suggested, before disappearing, again.
Right, Tom thought. If he was certain of one thing, he'd never be able to actually drink a cup of tea in this place. Still, though, he knew this place, however mad, had it's rules, it's way of doing things, it's own internal logic. He knew, from the Cat's words, exactly what was coming next.
He wouldn't have any tea, he was certain, but he'd have to try, anyway.
So, he set off towards inevitable destiny.
Tom loved stories of heroic quests, finding the boon, winning the fair maiden. And now, he was off on one, himself.
He would face the dangers and general annoyances of Wonderland. Be it jabberwock, bandersnatch, twins fighting over a rattle, he would face it. Nothing would come between him and his beloved Queen Alice. He would find the tea, and do what no visitor had done before. He would successfully drink a cup. Then, he would be worthy of his Queen.
He paused. This place was really getting to him, he realized.
No matter. He decided, right there and then, that when he chose a course of action, he would see it through to the very end. Now, to find the damn tea...
Wait, he needed a plan. One didn't simply go stomping around and expect to get anything done. No, he needed to work out exactly how he was going to accomplish the tasks he'd set for himself.
Though he'd never been here, directly, at any rate, he knew this land. This was how he'd avoided the Red Queen and her chess game. The Tea Party wouldn't be with the Cards, so, if he was careful, his head would be in no danger of rolling. If he played his cards right...
This place really was getting to him.
Everything was puns. Wordplay and numbers. Words and numbers had power, here. The way the number forty-two recurred in this place... Perhaps the greatest knowledge lay in that number's mystery...
For all it's seeming nonsense, there was much to learn in Wonderland. For example, the tale of the Walrus and the Carpenter. Tom thought that tale told a terrible truth, the gullible get gulped.
Now, how to find the tea party... Where was that damn Cat when you needed him? Oh well, there would be signs. There were always signs.
There was a potential problem, he realized. The Mad Hatter had been imprisoned for a time by the White Queen. He was free now, Tom remembered. But, it was no longer perpetually six-o-clock for him, no longer always tea time. Yet, the Hatter was still drinking his tea, so if Tom could find him, tea would be had.
Was Hatta still in the White Queen's service? Alice had disrupted everything on her ascension to the throne, so perhaps not. So, the Hatter could be in his home, he could be with the White Queen, or... He could be anywhere.
Tom suddenly realized he had no real clue what to do.
He was frightened, for a moment, but just a moment.
Alice was never frightened, and she didn't have his knowledge of this place when she first came here. So, he wouldn't be, either. There was a way. There was always a way. He'd just have to think of what it was, but he was always a clever boy. He knew he could. He knew he would. He would make things happen.
He saw something in the distance. Serendipity. Mushrooms.
And, with mushrooms, he was certain, would be a caterpillar. And with a caterpillar would come advice that would aid him in his quest. This was how these things were done.
Yes, he would find the proper road, find the Mad Hatter, and then find the elixir, the tea, and drink of it. Then, he would find his Queen. Everything in it's proper order.
One interesting thing about being a Goddess was Alice's form was however her mortal visitors perceived her. She looked at her hair, blonde and scraggly, her dress... Mr. Tenniel's drawings, of course. She didn't need a mirror to know her eyes were especially large. She felt the familiar crown on her head, and the large scepter appeared in her hand. She waited for her audience.
Then, with perfect timing, she saw him approach.
He was a pretty boy, she noted. And, a bit tentative. There was an internal conflict, she observed, as, since becoming Queen and Goddess, she could always read her visitors. It was only fair, really, since most who came here had read her. He was so preoccupied with his surroundings, he'd hadn't seen her, yet.
"Hello," she greeted, smiling.
The boy jumped, startled. His expression was priceless, Queen Alice thought.
A girl's pretty voice pulled him from his musings. He looked up.
Sitting on the mushroom as a throne... wasn't a caterpillar.
Tom had forgotten things are often backwards in Wonderland.
His Queen had found him, and he'd hadn't even found the tea, yet.
It was the happiest birthday he'd ever had. Not that his previous birthdays provided much in the way of competition, mind you. He and his Queen laughed, they played, they swam in the clearest pond he'd ever seen. Of course, the pond was enchanted by fairy magic, not muddy and dirty like any he had encountered. The air was different, too.
"It's clean," Alice explained when he mentioned it. "London is a rather dirty place, I'm afraid. The air can choke you."
"Air shouldn't choke," Tom said.
"No, it shouldn't," Alice replied.
"Someone should do something about it," Tom concluded.
"Perhaps you will, some day," said Alice.
"What can I do about it?" he asked.
"Whatever you choose, whatever you set your mind to," she answered.
"I'm not like you. I don't have your magic," Tom said.
"Oh, you have magic, Tom. You'll learn how to use it," Alice said. "And now for tea."
At last, tea. And sweets, too.
Tom was about to take a sip when he thought of something he'd once read.
"Is it true," he asked, "that one shouldn't eat or drink anything in a fairyland?"
Queen Alice looked startled.
"That's what some say," she answered.
"You ate and drank here, and now you belong to the Fae," Tom said.
"Yes," she confirmed.
He put the tea down, quickly.
"I've got to go back," he said.
"You don't have to," she answered. "You can stay here, with me."
"No," he said.
"Don't you like it, here? Isn't this so much better than where you're from?" Queen Alice asked.
Yes, yes it was.
"I do love it, here," Tom said. "I love... being here, with you. You're... my first real friend. But I can't stay."
"Why?" she asked.
When Tom was older, he was able to answer that question, but now... He couldn't. He just knew he had to return home, such as it was.
"Tom," she told him, "If you ever want to return, just wish it. I'll hear you."
"Thank you," he said, gratefully.
It was then that something nestled against him, something he'd never seen, before. It... What was it? He didn't remember ever seeing anything like this, or reading about it.
Queen Alice smiled with delight.
"What is it?" Tom asked.
"It's something new!" Alice said with excitement. "We haven't had a new creature here in so long... We must name it!"
"What will you call it?" Tom asked.
"You discovered it," Queen Alice decreed, "so you shall name it."
Tom looked at the small creature. He was going to give this species it's name, so it needed to be something good. He tried to think of a name that would fit Wonderland. It had a single unusual horn...
He announced: "I'll call it... the crumple-horned snorkack!"
"Then, the crumple-horned snorkack it shall be," she agreed, happily.
The next morning, Tom awoke, in his bed in the orphanage. He remembered that magical night.
"It was all a dream..." he said, quietly.
Just then, he saw something out of the corner of his eye, a familiar creature with a single crumpled horn. The creature seemed to smile at him, before it left.
Tom learned, over the next few years, that he did have magic, just as Alice said. He learned many other valuable things, too.
The older kids in the orphanage had always been cruel, in that naive way only children can be. He had to develop the strength and will to survive them. Yes, the world was Dog Eat Dog, and he'd have to be the most vicious dog in the yard.
He was different. He could do things others couldn't. He'd discovered the power within himself that Alice had spoken of, the power to make things happen, the power to control. One was either hammer or anvil, and now he would most definitely be the hammer.
He wondered what this magic was, where it came from. He wondered who his parents were. He'd concocted all sorts of fantasies. Maybe his origins were of another world. Maybe he was the lost child of gods. Whatever he was and wherever he came from, he knew one thing for certain, that he had a great destiny. Still, there was so much to learn. He read everything he could get his hands on, absorbing all the knowledge he could find, but it wasn't enough. He needed to find others like him. He needed a teacher. He'd once read that when the student is ready, the teacher will come, but that was ridiculous. Or, so he thought, until the day Albus Dumbledore arrived at the orphanage.
Tom learned he was a wizard. Further, he learned that wizards had their own culture, away from this common rabble, called muggles. And, there was a school where he could learn how to utilize his gifts. When he arrived at Hogwarts, he felt as though he had truly come home.
It was at Hogwarts that Tom met his second true friend, a Ravenclaw in his year named Xeno. Tom had been sorted into Slytherin, though he didn't understand why. What he did understand was that he and Xeno weren't like most others, even among witches and wizards. Tom had quickly learned that most witches and wizards were as blind as the muggles. Tom knew Professor Dumbledore didn't like him, and his hostility only increased after Tom's sorting. Dumbledore had no love for Xeno, either.
Xeno listened to Tom's tale of his adventure in Wonderland with fascination. Xeno wanted to visit the fairylands, and agreed with Queen Alice's assessment of the air in London.
"Why does Dumbledore dislike you?" Tom asked Xeno, one day.
"It's because of my grandfather," Xeno answered. "He's been causing a lot of trouble in Europe, I'm afraid. Mother disapproves, so she moved here with Father. I'm told I look like my grandfather, though. So I guess that's who Dumbledore sees when he looks at me."
"That's... stupid," Tom said.
"That's the way it is, though," Xeno concluded. "Maybe that's his problem with you? Related to anyone notorious?"
"I don't know," Tom answered. "I have no idea who my family is."
"No one's ever looked into it?" Xeno asked, shocked.
"No," Tom answered, sadly. "There were no records at the orphanage. My mother died right after giving birth to me. She left me with only my name."
"Well, that's a start," Xeno answered. "I know someone, a Professor at Oxford. Oxford has a lot of fairy magic about it..."
"I know," Tom said. "That's where Alice was from."
"There's more connected to Oxford than Wonderland," Xeno said. "Anyway, this Professor I know... He's a squib... That's someone from a magical family born without magic... Very rare... His name is Marius Black. He has access to extensive family records, both magical and muggle. I'll ask him to look into it."
Tom could hardly believe what he was hearing. Answers, at last?
"Thank you," he said, gratefully.
The next term, Xeno told Tom what he had learned.
"You're descended from the founder of Slytherin House. You're the last living descendant, in fact. Even further, you have a blood connection to the Deathly Hallows."
"The Deathly What?" Tom wondered.
"Oh, I forgot," Xeno said. "You were raised by muggles, so you've never read our own fairy tales."
Xeno then told Tom the Tale of the Deathly Hallows, the story of three brothers given objects of power. He explained that there were those, called Questers, who believed the tale was a true story. Xeno's notorious grandfather was one such Quester. And, it seemed, Tom was descended from one of the three brothers. If the Deathly Hallows were united, those who weilded them would master Death, itself.
"We have to find them," Tom said.
Alice had told him he had the potential to change the world. He now knew his destiny, why he was put on this Earth. Xeno had told him of the situation his own grandfather had caused, that had plunged muggle Europe into war. Shortly, as the bombs that fell on London testified, wizards were no longer safe from the muggles and their weapons. Diagon Alley suffered some major damage during the air raids.
"We have all this power," Xeno told him, "all this magic, and we're doing nothing. The air, water, and land are being poisoned, we're being bombed, and we're doing nothing."
"We will do something, you and I", Tom said, with determination.
Yes, they would change the world. They would create a paradise. And, with the Deathly Hallows, they would master Death. No child would have to suffer as Tom had, as an orphan. Tom and Xeno would bring Deathlessness to the masses.
Tom and Xeno made plans, and researched. They were also, unfortunately, having disagreements during their fifth year at Hogwarts. It seemed Xeno wasn't approving of some of the methods Tom suggested in bringing about their new world.
"There's a muggle saying," Tom said. "You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs."
"Said by Robespierre, if I remember correctly," Xeno replied. "The Reign of Terror didn't create a better world."
"This is for the greater good, Xeno," Tom said.
"That's what my grandfather always says," said Xeno.
Each was certain the other would come around, though, as they celebrated Tom's 16th birthday. Tom had been invited to spend the Christmas holidays with Xeno's family, the Lovegoods, near Oxford. Since Tom's birthday was New Year's Eve, that would be celebrated there, too. Xeno was the best of friends, Tom thought. Then, he thought of his very first friend. He missed her...
Tom was talking about his seventh birthday as he and Xeno walked towards the woods at twilight. Tom was the first to notice the mist.
"Xeno," Tom said, "you wanted to meet the Fae. I think you're about to."
Sure enough, Tom saw the dancing lights, again. He was about to urge caution, but Xeno was drawn like a moth to the flame, just as Tom had been, years before.
"Xeno, wait!" Tom ordered. But, Xeno followed the lights. Tom followed Xeno, protective of his friend. As before, it was soon much too warm for Winter, and Tom knew they had crossed over into a fairyland. Was he back in...?
"Hello," a melodic female voice said from above them.
Tom looked up, and perched on a branch... It wasn't her. Though, the fae did look much like his Queen, blonde and petite. She had, however, large, silver, moonlike eyes that reflected the light. A true full blood Sidhe, Tom realized.
"Hello," Xeno greeted the Sidhe. "My name is Xeno. My quiet friend is Tom."
"I'm Morgan," the Sidhe replied, gracefully jumping down from the branch.
Xeno was enthralled, Tom thought. He was about to try to snap Xeno out of it when he heard another female voice behind him.
"Hello, Tom. It's been too long," the voice said.
Tom spun around. It was Alice, only looking older, Tom's own age.
"Come," she commanded. "We have a lot of catching up to do."
"But," Tom said, "my friend is enchanted by your friend."
"Then we should give them some privacy," Queen Alice said, with an impish grin. She took his hand, and Tom knew the heat he was feeling wasn't entirely from the actual temperature.
"You're... beautiful," he told her as they walked.
"You're rather pretty, yourself," she replied.
"You're also older," he said.
"Aren't we all?" she asked.
"Yes," he said, "but... When I first visited Wonderland, you still looked seven, despite being there for..."
"I can look whatever age I wish," she answered. "You wanted me that age, then. I think you prefer me like this, now." Her grin had become much like that Cheshire Cat of hers.
Tom intended to resist, he really did. But, he felt the monster in his trousers beginning to rise. With the usual perfect timing, they came across a magically clear pond, enchanted as the one from years before was.
"I think it's time for another swim," Alice said, as she disrobed, and stepped into the water.
Now, Tom was feeling far too hot for his clothes, and the monster in his trousers was raging to be freed. So, he complied, and joined Alice in the cool pond.
This was, he realized, an even better birthday than his seventh one.
After, they talked. They spoke of many things.
"Will you accept my invitation to stay with me in Wonderland as my Consort?" she asked him.
"No," he told her, regretfully. "I have so much to do in the world."
"You can do it with me," she told him.
"No, I... can't be your Consort, your subject," he said.
"You wouldn't be my subject, but my King, ruling beside me," she told him.
"The world needs me more than you do," he said. "It's suffering, and things will only get worse. Humanity is destroying itself. I have to do something..."
"I know," she said. "The Fae have long foreseen this. We're going to change the world, but these things take time. But, we can plan, long term. I want you with me when we do."
"I wouldn't be your equal, if I accepted your offer like that," he said.
"Tom," she said with worry in her voice, "I know what you intend to do... It's not worth it. It will destroy you, just as surely as you'll destroy others. That is what Evil does."
"You're sounding like Xeno," Tom said, annoyed. Why did those he loved always have to argue with him?
"Then you should listen to him," she said, "if you won't listen to me."
"You're the true Queen of Hearts," he said. "Despite everything you've seen, despite what we just did, you're still the innocent, loving, Anglican girl that fell down the rabbit hole."
"What we just did was an act of love," she replied.
Yes, he knew, it was. He loved her, and she loved him. But, she was too compassionate to do what needed to be done. And he couldn't be her equal if immortality was given to him by her grace. He needed to achieve Godhood, himself, to truly match her, to be her balance, to be the Red King to her White Queen.
Leaving her again was the hardest decision he had ever made.
But, Tom's mind was set. When he and Xeno returned to Hogwarts, he set his plans into motion. He'd kept secrets from Xeno, since he knew Xeno would strongly object to what he was about to do. One of these secrets was a chamber deep within Hogwarts. Tom sent the basilisk within to attack students, eventually killing one of them. After that, the attacks had to stop, of course, to prevent the closure of Hogwarts. Hogwarts was, to Tom, his home. Fortunately, he'd already chosen a scapegoat, a half giant Gryffindor, to take the blame.
Now, you may wonder, knowing the consequences to the school if a student died, why Tom unleashed the basilisk in the first place. It was simply a means to an end. Tom had learned of a path to preserve his life called Horcruxes, which would just cost him pieces of his soul. Creating a Horcrux required an act of murder, which split one's soul, thus allowing one to place a portion of it within an object.
His first murder was the hardest. He had nightmares leading up to it. He told himself, though, that it was for the greater good, the ends would ultimately justify the means. He needed to be strong.
He was successful in creating his first Horcrux. That night, though, he had a visitor, a crumple-horned snorkack. It looked at him accusingly before disappearing. He could never explain why that visitation gave him a sense of dread. He developed a phobia about the creature, afterward.
That summer, Tom found his muggle father and grandparents, and killed them. He framed his wizard uncle for the crimes, gaining the Deathly Hallow that had been in his family's possession, the Resurrection Stone. He bound it to himself by making the ring in which it was set a Horcrux. He never told Xeno of this, since Xeno would never understand, being weak with compassion. Just like Alice.
Losing bits of his soul, Tom discovered, made things much easier. Tom never used the Stone to contact the dead, but he found it very useful to create an army of inferi, the living dead, to guard yet another Horcrux.
Besides, what need did he have for his Ravenclaw friend when he could surround himself with those who worshpped him, who never questioned him? One difference between Slytherins and Gryffindors, Tom noticed, was, while they both sought glory, while they were both arrogant, while they were both utterly ruthless in pursuing their goals, while they both put so much importance in Houses and bloodlines, the Slytherins were up front about it. Dumbledore and most Gryffindors believed in the superiority of Houses and specific bloodlines, though they denied it. It showed in their actions. They were also very quick to use the darkest magics when it suited them, as much as any Slytherin. They were simply self rightous about it, deciding that if they did it, it was good. Such hypocricy sickened Tom. No, Tom decided, there was no good or evil, only power and those too weak to seek it.
So, he sought. He understood the power of names, and changed his own to one the Wizarding world would come to fear, Lord Voldemort.
Losing his soul was so freeing...
Many years later, Queen Alice visited him one fateful Halloween night.
Everything was coming together. There had been a prophecy that warned him of the one threat to his plans. Very nicely, he'd be able to eliminate this threat while it was a mere year old, and gain another of the Deathly Hallows in the process, as one just happened to be in the possession of the family he was about to destroy.
He chose this night because of his old, now long lost, friends. He sent Xeno a letter.
He had put in place the most advanced magical defenses to keep out unwelcome visitors. He wasn't surprised that Alice passed them. But then, she wasn't unwelcome. He was pleased that she appeared on the night of what would be his greatest triumph.
"Did Morgan summon you?" he asked.
"She and Xeno were rather... surprised by your letter," she replied.
"They don't appreciate my gift in celebration of their daughter's first birthday?" he asked. "What better gift for a young moon goddess than a blood sacrifice?"
"It's not a blood sacrifice if there's no blood," Alice replied. "Besides, we left that practice behind a long time ago."
"No one appreciates the classics, anymore," he said with an exaggerated sigh. "It's no one they know."
"That doesn't matter," Alice said. "Besides, you don't think I'd want my goddaughter's birthday tainted by this, do you?"
"You're Luna's godmother?" he asked in surprise. "Congratulations." He was genuinely pleased. That surprised him, too. For all his power, he'd found so little to please him, of late.
"Don't do this, please," she said.
Tom replied: "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it."
"You really think you're that?" Alice asked.
"We are what we choose to be," Tom replied. "You taught me that. If you can be a modern Goddess, I can be a God. It's simply a matter of finding that within yourself, and not letting others limit you. I will deliver my people..."
"I've met an incarnation of that particular aspect of the Divine, you know," she told him. "He was in the form of a lion. Very interesting neighbors Wonderland had. But trust me, you're not Him. You have no idea, anymore, what He was truly about. Again, don't do this."
"The truce between Fae and Wizard prevents you from interfering," he pointed out. "So, what makes you think you can deter me?"
"I'll try appealing to your reason, if you haven't lost most of that along with your soul," she said, bitterly.
"Ah, and how am I being unreasonable?" he asked. "Really, I'm doing your goddaughter a favor. Besides, I must do this. There's a prophecy."
"There's always a prophecy," Alice replied. "Prophesies can be averted."
"That's what I'm going to do," Tom said. "So, again, how am I being unreasonable?"
"You can always walk away from this," she told him. "I suggest you do."
"Really?" he asked. "Did you know you were my inspiration? When I learned that it was possible to split a soul..."
"Yes, I knew", she interrupted. "And my soul was never truly split, just... in different planes for a while. I saw the potential in you when I met you. I knew you'd be a great wizard, for good or bad. I wanted it to be for good..."
"Naturally," he interrupted her interruption. "You still see things in those terms... Very limiting..."
"Enlightened would be my term," she said. "But, my point is that we see something, and in trying to prevent it, will often bring it about."
"You expect me to believe that you're wanting to save me?" he asked, his anger growing.
"That's part of what I'm trying to do, yes," she answered.
"Am I not a lost cause already, according to your beliefs?" he asked.
"According to my beliefs, redemption is never a lost cause," she answered. "But, that's not what I'm warning you of, here. Prophesies tend to be cryptic, you know."
"This one sounds rather clear cut," he replied. "But, I thank you for your concern. And, I expect you to be gone when I return."
With that, he left the last thing that made him human, and to his eyes weak, behind.
She wasn't there when he returned. Of course, it would be many years before he did. He did misunderstand what appeared to be a clear cut prophesy, after all, and it cost him dearly.
He would always be haunted by her, though. The night he restored himself to a human body several years after the Halloween disaster, he made a point of having the ritual performed in a graveyard, because Folklore suggested that the Fae avoided those places. He kept iron objects with him at all times, lest she pay him another visit.
He even feared the crumple-horned snorkack.