Title: Snake Charmer
Fandoms: Harry Potter/Good Omens
It is in the year 1938, in a village near Little Hangleton, that Crowley finds the boy.
He has such havoc in him.
Crowley recognises, in the child's hissing thoughts, in the sharp, quick turns of its mind, a distant relative of himself--a human with a demon's soul and something of a demon's power. A wizard. Part of that species born eons ago, when a fallen angel first dared to mate with a human, first dared to produce a human child...
Tom, his name is. A simple name. A Muggle name. And Riddle--not so simple, not so Muggle--although the father is, of course, but the child is not. Most definitely not. And oh, Tom has such potential. Crowley can taste it.
It's still something of a surprise, though, when Crowley slithers up to him along the warm grass and is greeted--not with a human's speech, a human's tongue, but a snake's. The child is polite. Almost unnaturally so. His eyes are quiet as he sits at the edge of the playground and watches the other children play; his mouth barely moves as he talks to Crowley, quiet, silver syllables slipping along the air, making Crowley curl with joy. Crowley, of course, returns the gift as best he can--by telling the boy stories he wants to hear, needs to hear, about the beauty of power and how to gain it. Such an eager young pupil. They sit under the bright sky and talk, as snakes are wont to do, of dark things--Crowley curled around the boy's warm throat, hissing, as Tom tilts his head back against the tree and listens.
The fruit of knowledge is not so important here. The child is clever, and will find it everywhere. No. What Crowley has to tempt this one with is power--and so he does, gently breaking the bonds of the boy's already thin conscience, introducing him instead to the pleasures of logic. Illogical logic. The desire for freedom, despite the fact (and Crowley knows this well, doesn't he?) that there is no such thing.
Still, Tom won't get to where he needs to be--a place where he can use his magic, where he can split the world with chaos--unless he discovers that magic first. So Crowley helps him with that too, curling about Tom's arm as the boy grips a makeshift wand of splintered wood--directing Tom's power through that crude medium, ensuring that Tom discovers his nature far earlier than most young Muggleborns do. So that Tom, when he finally does go to Hogwarts, will be far better than the others--poised, despite his tender years, to make the most of Slytherin. To wind quickly up the ranks of power; ironic, that, a snake climbing the ladder, but Muggles never did know how to play that game.
'I know you're more than you seem to be,' Tom says to him one day, and kisses his mouth--moist snake-skin just veiling Crowley's fangs, but Tom knows better than to show him fear. Tom only smiles--opaque, ineffable--and Crowley's surprised to feel a ruffling along the surface of his mind, as of wind over water, before Tom points at a fallen feather in the gorse, says 'Burn', and watches the feather sift to the earth in ashes.
When Tom does get his invitation to Hogwarts, a few months later, Crowley feels something very like paternal pride--and when Tom bids him goodbye, the warm clasp of his hand around Crowley's belly meaning everything of parting and nothing of regret, Crowley knows that he doesn't need to wish the boy luck.
Snakes, cold-blooded as they are, have no need for affection.
'Be well,' are the last words Crowley hears from Tom before Tom leaves Little Hangleton. But when Crowley sees the Mark hovering above a Muggle house three decades later, cast green and bright from one yet another arm bearing the dark, curling snake, Crowley recognises it as what it is--Tom's greeting to the world, clean and effervescent--Tom's greeting to Crowley, his tribute, so that Crowley looks up at the lit sky and smiles.