Authoress's note: My thanks to Snapegirlkmf, for her help with the history for Aislinn and Voldemort described in this chapter. This story is based upon her excellent tale Return to Prince Manner, where she gives her readers glimpses of Voldemort's history with Titania and her people. This chapter is my attempt to tell that tale, and I hope I have done Snapegirlkmf's characters justice in my retelling.
The title for this chapter also comes from Snapegirlkmf's story, and is Queen Titania's name for Voldemort.
Thanks to those who have reviewed, I would love to know what you think of this chapter, especially my ideas concerning Parseltongue.
The young man ran with an effortless grace which could only be learned through years of practice. Every step and even each breath he took was carefully controlled, for he had no desire to be captured and brought before the Queen of Faerie for judgment. He was grateful for the darkness which had always been his friend, for it afforded him the protection he so desperately needed to avoid any guards sent to prevent his escape. Already he had killed one of their number, and he had no doubt that if they caught him they would avenge their comrade's death.
Even as the thought crossed his mind, three warriors clad in armor which could only have been wrought by fae magic passed his hiding place. But Long accustomed to concealing himself in the deepest shadows, he remained utterly still until the guards had passed.
He had always loved the dark, for it afforded him the concealment he needed so that he could do whatever he wished. Even during his years at the orphanage, he had often slipped quietly out of bed without waking the other children, using what he learned later was his magic to move unseen about the building and grounds. In this way he had taken revenge on the children who had teased and tormented him, taking pleasure in such acts as the killing of Billy's rabbit. He had felt no remorse after the death of the small animal, simply a cold satisfaction that the little nuisance would never bother him again.
His nighttime wanderings had continued even after he went off to Hogwarts, where unknown to the stern librarian he had devoured every book he could obtain from the restricted section. It was there he first learned of the fae and their strange elemental magic. And he had made up his mind then and there to find a way to master not just the power which was his birthright, but the magic of faeries as well.
It wasn't until he had left Hogwarts and begun his work at Borgin and Burkes that he found a way to achieve his goal. For hidden amongst the dark texts his employer collected was a slender volume. He spent many nights studying its pages, fascinated by the history and customs of a people which not only muggles, but wizards considered to be mere legend. But it wasn't until the final sentence that he found what he had been seeking. For the chant he read called upon the High Queen of Faerie herself, asking that she accept the services of a mortal wizard for a year and a day in return for the gift of knowledge.
He spoke the words with every appearance of humility, though it took all of his strength to maintain that facade when he first saw Titania. Not until that moment did he understand the truth behind the old legends, that these ageless immortal beings were connected to the primal forces of nature in ways which no witch or wizard could even begin to fathom. It took all of his strength to meet her gaze with confidence, and return her offer of friendship with the courtesy and poise which his old teacher Horace Slughorn had so admired.
He didn't even try to suppress his wonder as Titania opened a long forgotten door into her realm. Here he was, Tom Riddle, being welcomed into a world which few wizards believed existed. He could hardly wait to begin his duties.
As promised Titania kept her bargain, giving him the position of Court Wizard.
A meaningless title, for the faerie queen only requested his presence at court whenever she wished to acquaint her subjects with the intricacies of mortal enchantments. Often Titania would send for him, so that he might give the noble fae lords a demonstration of the magics which mortal sorcerers and sorceresses wielded. He preferred the hours spent translating texts. If nothing else it was amusing to read of the fae's views of mortal magic.
Curiosity and the unbroken will which had assured him a place of honor at Hogwarts drove him to learn all he could of the fae's musical tongue. He knew that Titania's court had marveled at the speed with which he had learned every phrase, and it had taken all his skill to suppress his amusement at their astonishment. For what had helped him to master their language wasn't the power of intellect alone, but his proficiency with the language of snakes.
He had never ceased to marvel at the prejudices of wizards against dark magic, or their readiness to believe the old tales that Parseltongue and all who were destined to wield its power were evil. For unlike many in the wizard world he had gone to the trouble of researching its origins. And the knowledge he had gained from all those hours of reading wasn't dark. On the contrary, he learned that once the serpent language was a noble tongue, spoken by Asclepius himself to the sacred serpents who taught him the ancient secrets of healing. He suspected that many in both Muggle and wizard worlds viewed the serpent as a symbol of evil and darkness, because of the story of the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. He had pursued that theory with relentless purpose, even going so far as using the serpent tongue to seduce and bind Aislinn to his will. It was a remarkable language, for it possessed that same liquid fluidity which set the fae's musical tongue apart from any other in mortal and immortal realms. He took great pleasure in that secret knowledge, practicing every phrase and subtle nuance, until he heard the words for which he had waited so long.
"If I didn't know better, I would swear that you were a noble fae lord, for you speak as one who has known our language all his life." What made that comment all the more satisfying was that it came from Sarai, Titania's trusted captain of the guard.
But always present was the unwelcome knowledge that he was a mere child compared to these ancient beings, and that no matter what he said or did he would never be anything than a young mortal wizard on a futile quest for the secrets of immortality. It was this realization which drove all thoughts of keeping his word to Titania from his mind, until even his desire for knowledge dimmed in comparison to his need to prove himself worthy of learning the fae magics. Darker thoughts followed, until he made the decision which would decide his eternal destiny.
He knew all too well that the queen did not trust him, that like any wise monarch aware of his reputation she had ordered his movements carefully watched.
A cold smile lit his face, for all of her precautions had not been able to keep him from seducing her favored child. It had been ridiculously easy to win her trust, to accept her offer to tutor him with the expected deference and gratitude that a daughter of the royal house was willing to give him instruction. He had marveled that a race skilled in glamourie and the telling of half truths had not seen through his guise of pretended friendship.
He had been an eager pupil, and often during their lessons he had cast the fae princess subtle hints and looks which she could not fail to notice. His conquest had been ridiculously easy, for Aislinn was more than willing to take a mortal sorcerer for her lover, and readily believed his pretty speeches and promises that he would take her to wife once his term of service was complete. Of all the things he had learned during his time in the faerie realm, he would remember his night with Aislinn for years to come. To him she had been more than a successful conquest; it was his way of telling Titania and all her court that a mortal was just as devious, cunning and clever as they, that they who counted themselves superior were not all knowing.
Not even Sarai, the trusted Captain of the guard had been able to track his movements, and he was sure that she suspected him of treachery.
She might have centuries of experience, but he took great delight in thwarting every effort she made to bring him before Titania for questioning and judgment.
Only one thing he regretted. While at Titania's court he had learned of the fae's most sacred art, a discipline forbidden for mortals to learn. It was this which infuriated him beyond description. That he who had been Hogwart's brightest
who had always loved the night in all its guises could never become master of the fae's Dance of Shadows. How he wished that he could have learned it, so that he could corrupt yet another magical art and twist it for his own ends. He might not be able to perform it, but he knew all the signs that a skilled practitioner was close. Which was how he sensed the subtle shift of shadow just before a silveron sword descended where he had been standing a moment ago.
He met the triumphant eyes of Sarai, and in spite of himself he couldn't suppress a shudder. For never had he seen a face so cold, so hard, so merciless.
She might be only half fae, but he realized in that moment that she would slay him without the least remorse. Such was the nature of every fae creature, and for a moment he found himself wishing that he too might attain that inhuman coldness when confronting an enemy.
Sarai's voice had an edge as sharp as her drawn sword as she held the blade to his throat.
"You have led me a merry dance, Tom Riddle. I warn you now that my people never forget an insult, and what you did broke every code of honor both here and in the mortal world. Don't imagine that you can evade fae justice there either, for there will come a day when you will answer to Titania for your crimes. I name you oath breaker, defiler and murderer." He struggled to keep his face impassive, for he knew that the oft used phrase names have power was birthed in this realm. He didn't even want to think about the fact that with those words, Sarai had made sure that he would be forever marked by the power of her invocation. Neither time nor distance could break its hold, thus insuring that there would be no escaping the High Queen's wroth. He met the warrioress's gaze with cool defiance,
"You will have won only if you can capture me, Sarai Kinsalari Valinek. And I will make it a pursuit which will test every spell and trick you have ever learned in the arts of war."
Through halls and rooms of exquisite beauty the wizard fled, determined to elude the fae warrioress at all costs. But he had not reckoned on her intimate knowledge of the royal palace, or her determination to fulfill her Queen's orders. No matter where he went, or how fast he ran she was always behind him, and would surely have captured him if he hadn't thought of a clever plan.
In one last desperate effort, he recalled the words which Titania had used to open a gate between her realm and the mortal world, and decided to put a theory he had developed over his months with the fae to the test. He waited until the moment he entered one of the palace's grand ballrooms whose walls were composed of mirrors. Then he spoke the words he had committed to memory, but unlike Titania's invocation they were not in the liquid tongue of the fae. Instead the dark syllables of Parseltongue slipped effortlessly from his lips, turning the wall before him into a portal lit by dark fire.
Sarai could only watch in shock as her quarry escaped, furious and disappointed that she had not been able to capture the mortal wizard. With a heavy heart she sought out Titania, knowing that the queen would not seek her bed until she was given news of the traitor's capture. She found her monarch and friend in the throne room pacing restlessly back and forth.
"I am sorry My Lady; the fae captain curtsied gracefully before her monarch. I did all I could, but. Sarai hesitated for a moment before adding. "Aislinn taught him well my Queen. And I suspect he took your lessons on warding and the magics of concealment to heart. He is many things, most of all intelligent and a skilled wielder of magic." You might also be interested to know that he has a twisted sense of honor, and is always ready to test his skills against an enemy he deems a worthy adversary."
The High Queen turned to face her friend and trusted Captain, and Sarai glimpsed for an instant the mother in mourning beneath the mask of the fae queen. "Aislinn is a skilled mage in the ways of fae magic. Her tutors always speak well of her, and unlike her brothers she is always willing to explore her magical potential in many intriguing areas. I'm not surprised that she helped Riddle master the few magics we agreed to teach him."
"What did he seek to learn from you? Few wizards ever come here, and those that do often ask to learn The Dance of Shadows, or our spells of war."
"He requested that I teach him the secrets of immortality," A cold smile briefly illuminated Titania's face. "But of course I did not give him that knowledge, for he would use that gift in ways I don't even want to contemplate."
"I am sorry that I couldn't bring him before you for judgment. He deserves a harsh sentence for what he did."
"I do not blame you my friend, for that one is as cunning and devious as the snakes he loves. A true heir of Slytherin. If not for his treachery I would have asked him to remain at my court after he had finished his service, for he is destined for greatness.
But he has forfeited that chance this night, and I am more than willing to wait until an opportunity comes to see that justice is done."
So it was that he who would become Lord Voldemort escaped back to the mortal world, confident that none in the faerie realm would or could seek him out and demand retribution for his crimes against the royal house. He could not know that one of the greatest queens in fae history had immediately sworn to take vengeance upon the mortal wizard who had seduced her beloved daughter. Or that the offspring of his night with Aislinn would become a friend to the boy destined to bring about his downfall.