This is based on a Skype roleplay between Tumblr users lady-of-gorgon (me!), patchworkprofessor, and cronathetwitchy. It was spontaneous, so plz do not think too hard about the logistics. This is maybe in What it Means to Lose Control universe or maybe in some other universe where Stein has somehow wound up on Medusa's side.
Watch out for graphic animal death.
Crona was hiding something. It was obvious; subtlety was a skill they lacked entirely, and Medusa's probing gaze weighed heavily on them. They kept trying to look away but glancing at her from the corner of their eyes, like a shamed dog.
The problem was that Medusa had no idea what they could possibly be hiding, and a certain someone kept interrupting her concentration: Stein, who was quite useless right now, giggling to himself only a few feet away. With a sudden intake of breath, he grabbed the sleeve of her lab coat urgently.
"The spiders are everywhere," he said, his voice strained.
The first time he had made that pronouncement, Medusa had frozen in place, only her eyes darting to the dark corners of the room, the edges of the windows. But by now she understood: he meant not physical spiders but some kind of hallucination that only he was privy to. Nothing she had to concern herself with. She pulled her sleeve out of his grip and glared coolly at him. "Why don't you go count them," she suggested, and he obeyed, shuffling off to the corner of the room and mumbling to himself.
Then, without turning back towards Crona, Medusa slid her gaze in their direction. They failed to notice her gaze; their attention was directed in the direction of their own room down the hall.
"Is there something bothering you?" Medusa asked in her most innocent voice.
Crona jumped half a foot and looked back at their mother. "N-no, Lady Medusa," they said, still not meeting her eyes. Their gaze flicked once towards the far side of the lab, where she kept—ah.
Moving at a leisurely pace, Medusa went to the covered cage against the far wall. Two pairs of widened eyes followed her motion, and in one smooth motion she whisked the cloth off the top of the cage. It was empty. Only Crona flinched.
Her lips pursed and her brow wrinkled as if with concern, Medusa turned to her child. "Have you seen Andromeda?"
She hadn't meant to keep a pet snake, really, but by mere chance the viper had had a nest in this dilapidated old building before Medusa had made it her own, and it seemed unfitting to chase her namesake animal out of the place. Andromeda was an old name, one she'd given one of her first magic snakes (before she'd stopped naming them), but somehow it seemed to fit the she-viper. Out of little more than habit, she had been feeding it, and protecting it from Stein's itching scalpels. She'd failed to consider that she needed to protect it from Crona as well.
Crona clutched their arm, shaking, still not looking at Medusa. "No, I… I don't think so."
"Haven't you?" Medusa raised her eyebrows. "It seems that she's taken quite a liking to you recently."
"She… She did…" Crona shifted. "I hope she's okay…"
"Indeed." A reasonable concern, perhaps, with Stein around. But Crona hadn't looked in Stein's direction. They still seemed like they were trying their hardest to disappear.
"Perhaps I can send Doctor Stein to look for her? His soul perception might make itself useful. But I can only imagine what he might do if he found her…"
Crona cringed and squeezed their eyes shut, and Medusa understood, and with an analytical sort of finality she knew what had to happen. She opened her mouth to speak—
-But Stein had heard his name and dragged himself over. He clutched the hem of her coat.
"Please—" he started to say.
"No," Medusa answered, wholly uninterested in whatever he intended to beg for. She kicked his hand out of the way and then turned a steely glare back towards Crona. "Where is Andromeda?" she demanded in a voice that revealed that she already knew the answer but that Crona had damn well better tell her.
The child shriveled. "I… She… might have found her way into my room."
"I see." Medusa folded her arms. "If you intend to let a mere animal commandeer your room, perhaps you'd be better off sleeping elsewhere tonight. The dark room?"
A sharp intake of breath. Crona shook. "P-please don't put me back there! She just… looked so comfortable, and I didn't want to move her…"
Medusa watched them through narrowed eyes. "You care about my Andromeda, don't you."
Crona's lips trembled around words they couldn't form.
"Very well. Then if you don't wish to spend the night in the dark room, come along." She brushed past Crona, her head held high. Crona fell into step behind her uncertainly. "Have Ragnarok ready."
A pause, and then the telltale sound of the black blood weaponizing. "Yes, Ma'am," Crona said, voice barely audible.
As the two of them passed Stein, he got to his feet as well, moving like a rag doll. Medusa saw herself as if from the outside for a moment, leading this strange procession down the halls of her laboratory. The chill of Crona's ice-cold doorknob brought her back into herself. She pushed the door open to find Andromeda curled up in Crona's bed next to their night light, sleeping soundly.
She turned to Crona and waited. They knew what to do.
Crona shuffled into their room, raising Ragnarok in a shaking hand. Stein filled in the empty space behind them, his eyes wide and eager, laughter tripping out between his lips in a way that crawled up Medusa's arms.
"Quiet," Medusa snapped, and she would have enforced the order with a vector if Stein hadn't bitten his lip and clapped both hands over his mouth. It would have to do. She turned her focus back towards Crona, who was still shuffling forward an inch at a time. "Now, Crona."
Crona flinched once more; then, in a quick motion, they brought Ragnarok down and sliced Andromeda in half. The snake writhed for a desperate moment and then was still. Blood spattered across Crona's wall.
Medusa stepped forward and grasped her child's shoulder, almost in approval. "Good."
But Stein drowned her out with a shriek of laugher. "Everywhere! Pieces everywhere! Taken apart… piece by piece…"
She sent a sharp glare over her shoulder. "Have at it, then," she commanded. "Perhaps Crona can learn from your enthusiasm."
He didn't need to be told twice. With a hiss of pleasure, he shoved past the two of them and knelt by the bed, driving his hands into the desecrated coils of her snake.
Watching him, Crona's eyes darkened. "I see… So… even the snakes," they said tonelessly. Their head twitched to side as if to turn towards Medusa, but they didn't complete the motion. "You're a snake witch. Should I not care about you, either? I've never really known."
Medusa squeezed their shoulder too tightly, watching Stein toy with Andromeda's corpse like a child might play with spaghetti. She couldn't seem to look away. But what she had to tell Crona is obvious: "You know the answer to that, Crona. All you need to do is obey."
Crona gave a numb nod. Stein, oblivious to the conversation happening behind him, took out a scalpel.
"Stein, that's enough."
He turned to look at her, his eyes wide, the grin fading from his face momentarily as she spoiled his fun.
"The rest is for Crona to take care of. I have other business for you."
She pushed Crona forward, and Stein reluctantly shuddered to his feet to get out of the way. Mechanically, Crona began chopping the snake into pieces.
Standing by her side, Stein stared with his wide eyes at Crona. His hand clenched around his scalpel, and Medusa gripped it with the same force that she had applied to Crona's shoulder moments before. "Not now, Doctor."
He quaked under her touch and was silent.
"I want her disposed of by supper, Crona. For now, Stein and I have something else to attend to."