Ladies Man: Extras

Nagini—Lakshmi (for What-Ansketil-Did-Next)

Nagini's origins are the same as every other viper in the jungle of the Indian subcontinent: she begins life as a humble, wild animal with exceptional hunting skills and even more exceptionally adept at avoiding larger predators that would hunt her. Humans are a common sight, dangerous bipedal animals, and in her youth she avoids them to the best of her ability until she is large enough to discover how delicious they are compared to common forest fare.

She is the largest snake that the local tribe has ever seen, fat on the flesh of pigs and wandering children, and as old as a fully grown man, so she was captured and has since been worshiped as a vessel of the serpent-goddess Manasa.

For the first few months of Nagini's capture she is kept caged so that she will not flee or kill the villagers in their sleep. They mean her no harm, and keep her bedded on an altar covered with fragrant orchids, lotus, and mango leaves, accompanied by daily offerings of food and incense. When they finally release her, she strikes and devours a young boy in retaliation before settling in her shrine and allowing them to worship and adore her. They both fear and love her. They approach on their knees, bowing until their foreheads touch the dirt, placing brown, roasted piglets before her, offering the corpses of their dead, and draping fine golden jewelry and brightly colored cloth across her enormous body. They love it when she sheds her skin, and drug her on fermented fruits and incense until the feelings of their hands tugging away at her peeling flesh is completely painless. They decorate everything with her skin: their doorways, their beds, and their clothes. She is a symbol of prosperity, fertility, and rebirth. With the guru's blessings and spells she grows even larger and stronger.

India has a wealth of snake charmers, and Nagini likes the men who come around and play lovely music for her and likes them even more when she gets to eat them, but a foreigner with a face like the moon completely enchants and intrigues her. He introduces himself as Voldemort. The snake charmers can communicate well enough with their pungi-flutes and swaying movements, but she has never before met a human who can speak as snakes do.

However, they only speak in brief passing. He is not interested in her; his focus is always on the tribe shaman and the magic the man knows. For the first time in a long time, she is dissatisfied. When she leaves her temple to go about the village, she circles and wanders until she finds him and then watches him when she thinks he isn't looking. He carries a thin, straight stick of wood that serves the same purpose as the shaman's enormous, gnarled staff, but Voldemort's is much more powerful despite its size. It reminds her of the way a newborn serpent is much more deadly than the adults in that the child cannot control the amount of venom he injects into his prey. Voldemort can do things with his wand that the guru has only dreamed of.

Much to her displeasure, Voldemort does not stay long. The tiny, tropical paradise has little to offer him, and he departs after less than two weeks. For several hours Nagini is inconsolable, and the villagers flee her shrine in throes of terror, several of them convulsing and dead, the flesh black where she'd bitten them.

Nothing can be the same after Voldemort, the little village is forever changed, or at least Nagini is. The village that has been her home, her nirvana for so long, now seems undesirable and dull. The great viper longs for movement, she misses the thrill of the hunt, the rush of power as she feels her prey thrash and die in her monstrous coils. She wishes to be wild again.

Nagini abandons her godhood to pursue the man with flesh the color of milk, and since the villagers would rather kill her than allow her to leave, she kills them, and the entire village, save for a sacred boy with a tail, rots in her wake.

Voldemort has not gone as far as she feared, and she tracks the scent of his footsteps easily. The people that she comes across shriek and run away at the very sight of her, abandoning laundry and livestock alike, and they grow in number the closer she gets to civilization. Snake charmers are sent to her, but she ignores them, snapping irritably at their black, bare feet when they try to follow her.

She finds him staying in the home of a wealthy nobleman, hovering over unraveled scrolls. His foreign face makes it difficult for her to determine his expression, but he smells unsurprised to see her hanging from the drapes that spread across the walls and ceilings like a mass of flowering vines. He looks up at her through golden wire and molded glass, his eyes the same black ichor color as his hair.

"Salutations," he hisses.

Nagini does not respond at first, tightening herself around the chandelier and tasting the air around him.

His lips thin and he sets his glasses aside, crossing his legs and extending one hand to beckon her. "Come here, lovely one." His fingers curl like pale leaves shuttering themselves away from the night.

She hesitates only a moment before descending, and the length of her body is so impressive that she can almost touch the ceiling and the floor simultaneously. As it is, her heavy weight forces her to drop a few feet, landing with a deep, resounding thud on the rugs below.

"What do they call you?" He asks.

"Nagini." She says then bows her enormous head abashedly.

It sounds pretty enough on both serpent and human tongue, but if he were a native speaker of Hindi then he would realize what a plain name it is, ordinary, and unimpressive. It is the simple, general word that means no more than "female naga." "Female cobra." Despite the fact that she is idolized and worshiped, there is nothing regal about her name. It is the name of a common serpent.

His long, white fingers press under her jaw and push her triangular head up until their eyes meet. His face is inhuman and hungry, and a demonic smile curves his thin lips. Her tongue flares out, and she tastes power and old, dark magic. The village shaman's flimsy sparks are nothing compared to this; this is so much more.

'This is a god,' she thinks.

"Goddess Nagini," he hisses, clearly pleased. Very pleased. She stretches toward him. He says her name so wonderfully; from his mouth it sounds imperial, it sounds like the name of a real goddess, not that of a lowly viper with mortal flesh for scales instead of divine jade.

"What would drive a goddess to follow after me, a mere passerby in her realm?" He asks out of some twisted courtesy; he can guess full well why she has abandoned her throne.

The words spill out easily. "I hate them. They worshipped me, but I was just as much their prisoner as their goddess. I long for the wilds, for my freedom; I miss the thrill of the hunt and kill. Their world was too tiny, too small minded. I've outgrown them like an old skin," she gushes, "You are the most powerful human I have ever encountered. The guru is a clumsy foal compared to you, for all his magics have allowed me to grow. I am drawn to your power."

His lips are slightly parted, his eyes slightly narrowed, but she can smell the wonder on him.

"Yes. Oh, yes, I see," he breathes. His pale hand extends and strokes the scales of her neck, nails lightly scratching. His touch leaves tingling after-effects, and she is reminded of when the virgin girls would soak their hands in oil and bathe her, running their tiny, delicate, fleshy fingers along the length of her body. Scented oil, meant to dull her senses and keep her caged without the need for bars.

"I believe I can grant your wish, lovely Nagini," he says. It is the beginning of a beautiful relationship between monster and beast. He beckons her to lie across his shoulders, and when she does his eyes go wide with surprise and awe, and the little chair groans and buckles under the added weight. It brings a savage grin to his face, and when he stands with her and leaves the study room, the first servant that sees them shrieks and falls to her knees, spilling tea everywhere as she bows and babbles prayers, mistaking Voldemort for the god Shiva. The nobleman too takes it as a sign from heaven and goes to great lengths to provide Voldemort with the finest riches and luxuries.

They find quick companionship in one another, Nagini and Voldemort. He calls her a "kindred spirit" and grows fond of her, as he does not other humans. She is his confidant and most loyal comrade. He is her god, her father, her master, and her beloved. His strength gives her strength, allowing her to outgrow and outlive the common vipers she was born from. She sees the world and all its different smells and flavors.

At the height of his power and influence he keeps her mostly to himself, sequestering her away in his private chambers when he is traveling around Great Britain. She hates the cold and the wetness. When he is home, he struts around with her massive body draped around him as if he is Shiva again. From the way the other humans bow before him, it is clear to her that he pretty much is an immortal trapped within mortal flesh, and in those days she does not understand why he does not choose to shed it and find divinity in death and rebirth.

Except that, in time, he does die, and he is reborn. There is an accident of some sort, and his immortal soul sheds his flesh body like an outgrown skin. With nothing to bind her to the island country any longer, she leaves it for warmer climates and sunny hillsides. Albania.

When Voldemort returns to her, she witnesses the truth of Hinduism with her own eyes. Her master is brought to her as a frail, sickly child, but his memories survived his reincarnation. He is still himself. She coddles and cares for him, keeping him close and warm within her layered, sinuous coils and layers of love. When his illness fluctuates and wreaks havoc on his tiny, bite-sized body, she gives him the milk of her venom until there is hardly a drop left in her. She is his mother, his confidant, his disciple, and his beloved. He grows strong on a diet of her body's deadly nectar.

Quickly, a plan begins to form and take shape like a hatchling growing within an egg, a plan that will restore her beloved master to his former glory, greater glory even. He won't be as he was before, the contributions of the blood and milk of animals has seen that his homunculus will be more than human, and in truth she finds herself eager to find out if he will take after her in appearance as he once took after his mortal parents.

"Nagini, my lovely, my most precious one, come to me," he croons to her from over the body of Bertha Jorkins. A dark ritual has been prepared, and Nagini finds herself at the core of it, quivering with anticipation. It is primal and tribal, and reminds her of the old days when she was worshipped in the jungles of India.

His breath is shallow and shaky, and his arms are withered and frail, but his red eyes glow with the same power and determination that they possessed when she first saw him. "Now, I shall make you a true goddess."

Author's Afterthoughts:

A badly titled piece, considering this really has nothing to do with Lakshmi other than India and Hindu, but whatever. I couldn't help but want to obsessively stick to the "L" theme. I couldn't help myself! D:

I intended to write this from Tom's perspective like the main seven, but once I started I just had to write it from Nagini's eyes. She's just too irresistible and I was too eager to give her some juicy history. So, it's more about how Tom had affected Nagini than Nagini's affect on him (as you just read), and I expect the other extras will probably be the same. Besides, extra is extra, that means it doesn't have to follow the rules of the main course, yes? Yes.

See you next week, snarklings!