He'd made it to the last spell.
Days and days of enchanting and casting and cursing, and finally, the agonizing process would be over.
There were quite a few things that could potentially go wrong. But then, that had always been the case. And not once, even when he was younger, did Tom ever fail to produce his desired outcome.
Strategy was a different story. He'd made a few strategic mistakes in his lifetime. He could admit that.
To himself. In private. On rare occasions.
But no one could ever surpass his knowledge of magic. Of that he was certain.
Thus it was with complete confidence that he cast the final spell that would end the long and tedious ritual he'd begun days before.
And it was with complete confidence that he chose to ignore the unusual sound emanating from the area where the spell had hit.
And it was with somewhat less than complete confidence that he disregarded the small black spot that had appeared above him, which vibrated and pulsed and seemed to be rapidly growing in size.
And it was with complete and utter annoyance that he realized the now-giant hole had begun to suck in everything around it, including him.
"Shit," he muttered.
Loki was having a relatively pleasant afternoon.
His brother - and he used the term so loosely he might as well have called him "fellow sentient creature" - had been spotted moving from Vanaheim to Muspelheim, and still had not made any attempt to return home.
That was fortunate, considering Loki was currently impersonating their father, the King, and ruling Asgard with an iron fist... of peace and non-interventionism and a healthy appreciation of the arts.
Quite a lot of lounging.
What was the point of ruling, otherwise?
The statue that the King of Asgard had commissioned for his fallen favorite son - which was actually commissioned by the King of Asgard's fallen favorite son himself, who was very much not fallen and not the actual favorite son but more like a close second - had finally been completed.
To celebrate, Loki had organized a public festival in the large courtyard underneath the statue, so that citizens could enjoy Asgard's bounty in the shadow of a giant, benevolent him.
Everything was going swimmingly. So, at first, he decided to ignore the tiny, impossible black spot that had appeared in the middle of the blue sky, which he only saw because he was looking upwards in order to judge the height of his ego project and make sure it was visible from the Bifrost.
But then the spot started to grow and expand, and when it got big enough to block the party's view of the statue, he finally started paying attention to it.
The ominous, vibrating darkness exploded in a whir of sound and fury and differential equations. Then someone fell out of it, which, by that point, Loki had already been expecting. He knew a damn wormhole when he saw one.
It was a human, of course.
Because the universe thought he hadn't had enough of those, apparently.
He was being thrust upward, and for a while gravity seemed to be unable to make up its mind, and then he was falling quickly toward the ground.
He landed in grass.
The trip - if that was what it had been - had left him with an overwhelming feeling of nausea. He stood up quickly, blinking painfully in the bright sunlight. He'd just managed to catch a glimpse of what looked like a courtyard packed with people before he noticed a crowd of men marching toward him, carrying... were those swords?
Had he gone back in time?
The men surrounded him but did not attack. They stood in a circle with their weapons pointed directly at him, and he made a strategic decision to hide his wand, as it was unlikely he could curse a dozen swordsmen as quickly as one of them could stab him. And anyway, he did not want to risk his only weapon being taken away if he were captured.
...Which, he supposed, he had been.
Then a tall, regal-looking old man strode across the courtyard. He reminded Tom vaguely of Dumbledore, or some version of Dumbledore that seemed less whimsically arrogant and more willing-to-kill-you-without-a-second-thought arrogant. He was missing an eye, and he did not appear to be carrying any sort of weapon.
The men, who must have been some sort of guards, cleared a path for him. He walked right up to Tom and surveyed him in an appraising sort of way, as if determining his potential. Or perhaps his fate.
"We have," said the man, "a perfectly respectable interstellar transportation device right over there." He pointed at a long, thin bridge in the distance that seemed to glow in a rainbow of colors. "Is there a reason you thought dropping a wormhole onto my courtyard in the middle of my soiree was necessary?"
"Who are you?" Tom demanded, running through a list of possible explanations in his head for where and when he might be and not finding any logical matches.
"I am Odin," the man said with dramatic importance, "King of Asgard. And as King, I must politely demand in return: who are you?"
A tiny, inconvenient, menacing idea was making its way from the back of his head to the front: there was a chance he might have gotten himself into something he could not get out of.
"Asgard? There is no such place," he said, hoping to coax more information out of lethal Dumbledore.
The "King" stared at him for a moment, then turned to his men. "You hear that?" he said to them. "We don't exist! Pack it in before we disappear in a puff of existential uncertainty!"
The men laughed, and Tom used the distraction to survey his surroundings.
Everything from the clothes to the architecture seemed... alien to him. Or possibly Greek. There was an ocean in the distance, and even though the sun was shining, he thought he could see stars starting to emerge right through the blue of the sky.
And somehow, though it felt unfamiliar and erratic, he could sense some kind of powerful magic emanating from this Odin person.
At least, he hoped it was magic.
"I will not ask again," Loki warned.
But the human stayed silent.
Fair enough. He had a right to choose his fate. Loki nodded to the guards and they seized the slightly confused-looking Midgardian, walking him out of the courtyard in the direction of the Dungeons. There was no resistance.
"Carry on," Loki told the crowd, and the band struck up its lively tune again.
He made his way back to his settee and summoned for wine, hoping no more ridiculous humans fell from the sky since, apparently, that was a thing now. At some point he would have to go down and interrogate the one that did, but…
He could leave it for later.
There was no reason to deal with it now.
Let the fool suffer in the Dungeons for a while.
But every time a Midgardian entered his life, everything seemed to go downhill from there. It was as certain as death - which, coincidentally, was how his interactions with Midgardians usually ended.
So, deciding to get the inevitably painful interaction over with, he meandered away from his guests and transported himself to the Dungeons. Parties were always horribly boring until nighttime, anyway.
He walked slowly past the Palace Guard post and the entrance to the Vault, then down the stone steps to the cell block.
The door was stuck.
He pushed, and pushed, and then rammed it with his shoulder. Something heavy was blocking it on the other side. Annoyed, he blasted the door away with magic.
The scene was... unfortunate. The floor was strewn with the bodies of his guards, and many of the prisoners were yelling and pointing further down into the dungeon.
He followed the trail of victims and noticed that not one of them bore any sign of trauma. Not a stab wound, or a decapitation, or even a caved in rib cage.
They were just... not alive.
He wasn't too terribly worried about this surprisingly interesting Midgardian escaping, because there was only one way in or out of the Dungeons. So he took his time, turning corner after corner until, finally, he found him.
The man seemed oddly calm for a mortal that had been dropped onto an alien planet and then immediately imprisoned. But that made some amount of sense to Loki, as the pile of bodies behind them also suggested a few things about this human's personality.
The human had something in his hand that Loki couldn't see, and when he raised it in the air, a massive wall of bright orange flames appeared between them.
Ah, that was it: he was a witch. Human witches were so unbearably dull, but they did try awfully hard - you really had to give them credit for their persistence.
"Tell me where I am," the human demanded.
"As I said, you are in Asgard."
"What is that? A city? A country?"
"Yes? All of those things?"
Hoping to ease the tension, Loki removed his disguise. They looked at each other properly for the first time.
"You're a wizard," said the human in some mixture of disbelief and annoyance.
"I am a sorcerer, thank you very much."
"Fine, then, 'sorcerer,' tell me where I am."
Loki shrugged. "I don't know how many times I can say 'Asgard' before it just loses all meaning."
"I don't understand," Tom said, getting anxious. His carefully controlled Fiendfyre did not seem to intimidate the King at all.
"Well, perhaps if you dial the dramatic fire spells down a notch, I can explain it to you."
Feeling that information was more crucial in that moment than wanton murder (though not nearly as satisfying), he released the curse and the prison became dark again. The only light now came from the odd, buzzing walls of glass that kept the cells closed.
"So you're a witch of some kind?" the King asked casually, breaking the silence.
"No," said Tom. "I'm a wizard."
"Makes sense. 'Witch' is too generic. You need something that really drives home the medieval fantasy aesthetic you have going."
"I beg your pardon?"
He pointed at Tom's robes. "I've become intimately familiar with human fashion of late, and it does not look like that. Or, at least, it hasn't for three or four centuries." He was not making any sense at all but clearly thought he was overwhelmingly clever. "Not that Midgardian fashion today is anything to write home about."
"'Midgardian?' What are you talking about?"
"Midgard is Earth. Where humans live. And fight. And generally ruin things for the rest of the galaxy."
Tom could feel his nausea returning. "Are you- are you saying I'm not currently... on Earth?"
"You see," the King said, shaking his head, "this is what happens when humans don't know what they're doing and decide to meddle with magic."
"Do not speak to me about 'meddling' with magic," Tom muttered. "You have no idea-"
"Let me guess: some sort of transmigration spell gone wrong? Or maybe temporal transference?"
"How did you-"
The King sighed loudly, interrupting him on purpose, and Tom was tempted to try killing him right that second for no other reason than that he was an incredibly arrogant bastard.
Then, sigh completed, the King asked, "what year is it for you?"
What the bloody hell kind of question was that?
Though, in a reality where "what planet is this" was also, apparently, a standard inquiry, he wasn't sure why he was surprised.
"Nineteen sixty-two," he said slowly.
The King made a face. "Yikes."
"Well, if I've kept myself properly apprised of Midgardian affairs, which I have, the current year is two-thousand seventeen."
The human had turned pale and started to pace back and forth. Loki considered killing him out of mercy, as he looked quite miserable, and it would probably have been the kindest thing to do. But he decided to entertain himself for a bit longer. Priorities.
"What is your name?" he asked.
The human stopped pacing and stared for a moment, either deep in thought or having an aneurysm. Then after a while he said, "I am Lord Voldemort."
Loki stared at him. What a name. "Is that, like, some kind of title? Do you own land?"
"I thought Midgard didn't have kings and lords anymore? Except for that one place... What was it called?" It was on the tip of his tongue...
"My name has no connection with-"
"Great Britain! That was it. Though, that implies there is a Lesser Britain. Is there a Lesser Britain?"
"No I- please stop talking."
Loki stared at him again. "Is that an order?" he demanded in his most sinister voice - the one he reserved for superheroes and people with eyes missing.
"Well, no," said the human, "I said 'please.' So that would make it a request."
"Are you going to kill me?" the human asked casually, almost as if he didn't care about the answer. Had the poor thing given up all hope?
"Unclear," Loki said.
"Well, if you should decide to do so, at least tell me first how you managed to transfigure yourself into the likeness of another without any sort of potion."
Potion? Potion? "Potion?" Loki laughed. "Are you sure you're not from sixteen sixty-two?"
- 2017, apparently
In a fit of anger he raised his wand, which seemed to be working but was feeling somewhat sluggish. Reluctant.
"What is that?" the King demanded.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" He shot a curse at lightning speed toward the insufferable man, hoping to see a shower of body parts and viscera.
But the King dodged it with ease and, completely ignoring the fact that he'd just been attacked, walked right up to Tom as if he were asking him for directions in the street.
"Is that... is that a stick?" he asked, pointing at Tom's wand and making a pathetic attempt to stifle his laughter.
"It's a wand, you idiot."
The King snorted loudly. "That's even worse! And I thought the Sorcerer Supreme was bad with her arm waving and such."
Tom visibly cringed. "Do not ever call me that."
"Whatever your name is. Look, I was a boy once too, playing with magic, thinking I knew all the ins and outs-"
"I am not a 'boy.' I am thirty-fi- …I am older than thirty."
"Thirty?" The King laughed - a high-pitched, arrogant, over-dramatic laugh. "Thirty?" he said again. "Oh, how darling. The little mortal is almost half a century old!"
Mortal? Hardly. "How old are you, then?"
The King smiled. "Eternal."
"What the hell does that mean?"
"Technically, in human years, I would say I'm about nine-hundred... something. Maybe. You lose track after a while, to be honest."
There was a moment, somewhere between the word "nine" and the word "hundred," in which Tom felt like he'd had a small stroke.
"I'm sorry?" he blurted.
"Oh," the King said, tilting his head to the side and frowning in mock pity, "does your magic not include immortality? How unfortunate. It comes standard for us."
"Are you going to kill me or not? Because I honestly cannot stand here and listen to you talk any longer."
- still 2017
Loki's eye was twitching involuntarily. He could feel it. "You know, I wouldn't be so quick to antagonize an obviously superior magician without expecting retaliation-"
"I thought you were a 'sorcerer-'"
"-and from what I've seen, your magic is pathetically weak."
"That's hardly fair, considering I was taken out of my world and thrown around time and space, then dropped face-first onto this unimaginably obnoxious alien planet and forced to deal with, well, you."
"Poor you. You wormhole-crashed my party. I have no sympathy."
"I'm guessing you wouldn't have any sympathy regardless."
"You are not wrong."
They stared each other down for a while.
Loki was getting bored now, and he had guests waiting for him. Might as well kill the human for his insolence, then make it back to the courtyard in time for roasted Asgardian potatoes.
"So," he said, "I suppose we should try to kill each other now."
The human nodded. "Yes, we ought to do the thing properly."
As soon as he'd finished saying the words, he was blasted off his feet and thrown the entire length of the Dungeon corridor, landing like a rag doll against the wall at the other end.
"Rude," he coughed.
But before he could make it to his feet, another spell was barreling toward him in the form of a massive ball of fire. He just managed to avoid it, and the entire prison block behind him exploded.
Using the smoke as cover, Loki made a copy of himself and headed back up the corridor toward the painfully arrogant and annoyingly powerful little human, conjuring daggers left and right and throwing them in the general direction of his target.
He managed to get a few solid hits in before the human conjured some kind of glowing shield to block the rest.
Mister Wizard appeared to be wounded, and when the shield faltered, Loki took his chance. Almost as if showing off his trademark, he called to existence a pile of snakes and threw them at the human with glee.
But the snakes hit an invisible wall before they could make an impact, fell to the floor, and turned their heads in unison to stare at the human.
Something was happening. It sounded a bit like a pipe had broken and was spewing gas everywhere. The human was hissing at the snakes like he was having some kind of verbal seizure, and then the snakes were turning around and advancing on Loki. He tried to dispel them, which should have been easy, considering he was the one that conjured them in the first place, but they were unaffected by his magic.
If Thor had been there, he'd have been laughing with great satisfaction.
He backed up toward the wall, the writhing snakes biting at his heels as he retreated.
It was like he'd been handed an extra wand. The snakes bit and constricted the idiotic King like loyal little soldiers, and Tom used the time to try to figure out how to get home.
He recalled the spell he'd attempted to use for the ritual and tried to replicate whatever horrible mistake he'd made that had gotten him to this unbearable place. Frantically, he cast the spell at the wall with all the strength he could muster, but nothing happened.
He tried again, feeling desperate, and he thought he might have seen a tiny black speck appear in the air in front of him before he was hit on the head and everything went dark.
Images were flashing before his eyes - images of himself. School, school, his father, murders, school, Basilisk, murders, Dumbledore, school, the Blitz...
He knew what was happening and he pushed back. Hard.
Legilimency was the first type of magic he'd ever performed. No 'sorcerer,' no matter how alien and immortal, could best him in that.
Slowly, the images started to change. Now he was seeing a boy on a horse, with another boy beside him, a younger version of the regal King the sorcerer had been impersonating, a bright blue cube, and what looked like a war-torn city.
When he regained consciousness he found himself lying on the ground, and the King, or whatever he was, lay beside him.
"Nice daddy issues," the King muttered.
"Same to you," said Tom.
"I do not have daddy issues."
"Nor do I."
There was a silent agreement between them not to discuss whatever they had seen so that they could resume murdering each other properly. With gruesome violence.
But an odd sucking sound was coming from their right, and they both turned their heads to see a large, black hole cutting its way through space-time. Before either of them could react, it had begun to pull them violently toward the vast nothingness inside it.
"Shit," said the King.
a/n: This was a thing that, once thought of, had to happen. Never in my LIFE has anything flowed so easily out of my brain and onto the screen. No clue if I'll continue it, but there it is. A thing that exists.