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And the Wicked Die Alone by Wingless

Format: Short story
Chapters: 3
Word Count: 25,007
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature

Genres: Horror/Dark, Romance, Angst
Characters: Regulus, Bellatrix, Lucius, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 06/25/2007
Last Chapter: 12/13/2007
Last Updated: 12/14/2007

Summary:









His estranged brother considered him soft and naive, a fool mindless enough to believe them. His noble family considered him a coward who abandoned his life of servitude to the Dark Lord. All the more, he considered himself a wicked simpleton. But even in his final moments, Regulus Black never stopped hoping that someday someone would see him as a hero.


Chapter 1: Bitterness
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Chapter One
Bitterness











He was always the cryptic one, the enigmatic one. The one that always made sense, but, yet, never made sense. Everything was hidden with him; never was he open with others, never was he free and wild like his rumbustious elder brother. He was the silent one, the dark one, the one that kept secrets and observed his surroundings with a sharp eye. He was the younger one, the loved one, the one that quietly accepted his fate. He was the one that never doubted, never questioned, never argued, but above all, he was the one that changed.


From a very young age he was a follower. A follower to whatever it was his parents told him to follow. He had no voice, no opinion. He merely followed, accepted and believed. Prejudice, specifically against Mudbloods and blood-traitors, had been bred into him, and he had no reason to believe otherwise. Society led him to believe that he was superior to Mudbloods and blood-traitors on the mere basis of his pure blood. Family led him to believe that he was superior to society on the simple basis that he was a Black, and Blacks were considered to be like royalty. Therefore, he accepted these beliefs, which quickly hardened into solid truths in his eyes.


He was Regulus Black. He belonged to one of the most marvellous and splendid families of all time. His status was like that of Kings, his wealth beyond measure, and his name was known everywhere in the magical world. He was considered lucky, a young man to be envied, from a lineage to crave. His life had been handed to him on a silver platter, decisions already made and hardships already disposed.


So why -- why did he feel the urge to abandon his predetermined life?



*

October 1977




His eyes slowly travelled along the wide expanse of blackboard, attuned to the fancy script that continued to inscribe itself upon it. He was dimly aware of the icy chill that lingered in the dark dungeon. It left him feeling empty, the coldness stealing away everything from him. It was disconcerting, this feeling of loneliness. What little warmth there was did little to ease him as he gazed cryptically at the rotund Professor Slughorn at the front of the vast room.


He never was fond of Potions class. With an inward sigh, he glanced into his obsidian cauldron, his lips drawn into a tight line. What were they doing again? A subtle wrinkle on his brow was the sole sign of his lack of memory. He stood before the cauldron, watching as slim fingers quickly poured some of the viridian liquid into a small vial. Lost in a sudden flurry of thoughts, a quick frown flashed across his face.


"Honestly, Black, can you pay attention at least once in your life?" growled a voice beside him. Glinting eyes of the clearest blue watching Regulus critically, and a small mouth shrank into a dismayed scowl. Regulus glanced sidelong at his partner, a mere lift of a dark brow serving as a single sarcastic reply. He thought it was ironic how some described his lack of words as “inattentive". A chuckle threatened to spill from his lips. Regulus was kind on the eyes, standing at an average height for a boy of fifteen years. His build was slightly thicker than the lean frames common in the Black family, with heavy shoulders and a sturdier figure. With a face that contrasted between soft and sharp, his broad cheekbones and long, prominent nose portrayed the signature beauty of the Black family. Apathetic eyes spoke out with a plea for silence, the irises a light hazel, dappled with grey. Hair as dark as his family name was swept out of his eyes in sleek waves, thick tresses cut neatly just below his ears. Wintry hands grasped a dark wand, waving it simply over the bubbling potion, which promptly vanished from sight.


"Oi! Are you out of your mind? Class isn't nearly over, we might still….” whispered his Potions partner.


Regulus remained silent, darkened eyes roving towards Slughorn as he called for attention.


"Enough! Mark your phials and give them to me. I want a two-foot essay detailing an analytical response to the consumption of this potion by next Monday. You're free to go."


"How do you do that?" Rosier asked, glancing at Regulus, his face pensive as he pondered his question.


"Good sense of timing, I suppose," Regulus replied casually, a momentary flash of amusement in his eye. Rosier scowled at him as he put his things away. Evan Rosier was tall, with a lean build and imperious gait that emphasized his beliefs of superiority over others. His face was often described as something akin to the angels, with his luminescent skin of snow white and enigmatic eyes that shone with a gleaming cobalt hue. His hair rested in tousled waves of a gleaming bronze, swept away from his eyes.


"You and your smarmy remarks…" Rosier glanced behind him darkly, slinging his bag over his shoulder. "I'll see you in the common room then?"


"Round supper?"


"Yeah." Rosier replied. With a nod, he abandoned the classroom with the rest of the Slytherins. Regulus watched as the rest of the class left, feeling slightly relieved he hadn't joined his fellow Slytherins today. It seemed they finally understood his need of space. A twinge of joy on his mouth, he grabbed his book-bag and was the last to stride proudly from the classroom, robes billowing in his wake.


It wasn't that he didn't like being around them. It was just common knowledge that Regulus Black liked to be alone. He was the brooding type, enjoying the golden peace of silence, and Slytherins were far from silent. A grin found its way onto his lips; he felt relieved that there was no one around to witness this casual display of emotions. He enjoyed being around his friends, that was for sure, although they weren't really his friends. A Slytherin did not have friends -- it was unbecoming and led to tangled relationships. He wouldn't deny that he was probably closest to Evan Rosier than anyone else of the bunch, but he wouldn't exactly admit it either. Slytherins were more comrades than anything. They stuck together as a house, but they wouldn't hesitate to betray each other if it meant they would gain something. Regulus was fine with this -- hell, he had betrayed countless of his comrades with the gratifying knowledge that he had gained something, whatever it may have been. It was just a simple fact of life. Slytherins did not have friends.


His feet led him towards the din in the Great Hall, and quickly his smile was replaced by his usual stoic expression. He wasn't particularly hungry , so he shifted towards the Slytherin table, grabbing a sandwich with the intention of making a quick departure outdoors. The Great Hall was in its usual clamour, laughter reverberating off the walls to ring in his ears unpleasantly. The voices were loud, too loud for his tastes, and he had to resist the urge to wrinkle his nose in disgust. He wanted very much to hex someone until they were beyond recognizable, but instead resorted to watching the stone floor as he crossed the hall to leave. He could escape this chaos, he was nearly there...


However, he hadn't planned on running into someone, literally. With an oomph!, Regulus stumbled in his steps as a thin body collided with his. He stepped away quickly, his wand out and ready in an instant.


"Merlin's beard, I'm such a duffer sometimes! I didn't mean to walk right into you, I'm terribly, terribly sorry!" A tall girl stood before him, looking the worse for wear. Her bright brown eyes were apologetic, and she smiled warmly at him, her face pink with embarrassment. "Are you ok? You're not hurt, are you? Oh, I'm so sorry!"


He stared at her with forbearing eyes, trying to place her image. Her voice betrayed her Scottish roots. She was a lanky, shapeless girl with twisted, sharp angles and a wild head of golden curls that bobbed around her heart-shaped face. She was incredibly freckly; little spots spread out across her nose and cheeks in flecks of cocoa brown. Regulus was slightly shocked by her odd appearance, and he stood there for a second or two watching her large, sepia brown eyes apprehensively. Her thin nose looked like it had been broken once before and her grin was crooked, filling him with a disconcerting feeling. His eyes darted towards the red and gold insignia of Gryffindor on her robes and a feeling of unease grew within him.


What sort of Gryffindor apologizes to a Slytherin, no less sink to smiling? Regulus was baffled, but naturally, his face was devoid of emotion. He sidestepped the girl, who he guessed to be at least a year older than him, and sauntered towards the large double doors.


"I'm fine," he replied monotonously, his voice carrying over to her. He could feel her curious stare burning between his shoulder blades. He wanted nothing more than to just whip around and return it with his own disturbing stare, but he refrained, mainly because he enjoyed being the boy who never showed emotion.


Stepping through the threshold and onto the grounds, Regulus felt a blissful grin take hold of his features. Forgetting the girl instantaneously, he was overwhelmed with a relief for the peace and quiet outdoors. The sun was scintillating gold, warming him thoroughly. It chased away the chill of the dungeons, emboldening him to laugh an unexpected laugh -- a laugh that was much darker with shadier company. As it was, he was filled with pure mirth; worries and burdens momentarily forgotten. It was a moment of his own, for him to call his, a moment unscripted by the writers of his life.


He was never aware of those large, dotty eyes watching him with lingering curiosity.



*

January 1978




Regulus had always hated the rain. It filled the air with melancholy feelings of discontent. Whenever it rained, drama ensued. Make-ups, break-ups, duels, challenges, brawls, cat-fights… With a sigh, Regulus flipped over onto his back, staring a hole into the ceiling, scratching his chin thoughtfully. So many hormonal adolescents stuck under one roof was just a calling for trouble. He could almost smell trouble brewing in the distance, nearing ever closer. Dratted rain.


It pounded perpetually against the stained-glass windows, a constant tapping that brought forth an erratic rhythm that irked him to no end. He closed his eyes, revelling in the quiet of his mind, trying his best to ignore the constant pattering against the windows.

Lying on his four-poster in the empty Boys Dormitory, Regulus felt a familiar feeling of loneliness return to him almost lovingly. A sigh escaped him as he turned onto his side, eyeing the dark wall opposite him sullenly. He didn't enjoy these rather offensive feelings of loneliness and dislike. It was unsettling how often they appeared in his mind and heart. He supposed that the loneliness was from his lack of involvement with his fellow Slytherins, but a part of him knew it was something greater than that. He liked to think he was as dark as the rest of them, but his heart wasn't quite into erratic taunting. Regulus shook his head and rubbed at his temples tiredly. The rain gave him too much time to think.


Hurried steps began to rush up the stairs outside the closed door. Regulus turned, eyeing the door apprehensively. The old oak door slammed open and a breathless Rosier rushed in with a roguish grin on his pale face. Regulus's eyes twinkled at his lack of composure, finding amusement in it.


"Oi, Black! Harper's smuggled some broomsticks from the Gryffindor team -- you've got to come down -- "


"What's the point?" Regulus enquired.


Rosier looked at him, slightly startled. "What do you mean?"


"I'm asking you what the point is. What's the point of having their broomsticks?" Regulus's eyes had darkened as he gazed at Rosier's almost angelic face. Rosier frowned at him, a baffled glint in his eye.


"What kind of question is that? We can tamper with their brooms and fix the next match in our favour -- "


"Again, what is your point? We tamper with their brooms and win a Quidditch game? What is it we're gaining here exactly?" Regulus's unexpected remarks disconcerted Rosier, who faltered at the exasperated boy before him.


"What's your bloody problem?" Rosier snapped, glaring at the expressionless Regulus.


"The only problem I have is being stuck here." Regulus regarded the Slytherin with a steely eye and an almost condescending glare. "There's absolutely no point or gain from defeating Gryffindor. They're just a damned house -- what would I gain from defeating a house? You're all too daft to comprehend what's going on. Why would you want to be stuck here, pulling off mindless, petty pranks when you can be out there, helping the Dark Lord purge this world of tainted blood? It baffles me just how daft you idiots are."


Rosier scrutinized him, his blue eyes narrowed as if he was unsure what to make of Regulus and his proud words. His mouth was set in a straight line and Regulus couldn't help feeling a little unsure himself -- were his words too big for him? He watched as Rosier opened his mouth, readying to speak.


"I can't exactly believe I'm saying this, but you're right," Rosier said quietly, his voice warmer than usual. He gave a rumbling chuckle. "I never thought I'd see the day when I agreed with you, the great and noble Regulus Black, from a family worth envying. I take it that's why you've been so off this year? The others were beginning to talk -- said you were weak-minded and lost your nerve."


Regulus gave an uncharacteristic laugh; it was short, abrupt and rolled with amusement. Rosier was shocked at this odd sound coming from such a sombre lad, but laughed a moment later.


"You're not all that bad, Black. I'd never have thought you'd be so loyal to the Dark Lord." Rosier leaned back against the wall, crossing his arms over his chest with a smirk. "So, I take it your parents are urging you to join too?"


Regulus sat up, raking a hand through his dishevelled hair. "Not conspicuously. They dropped subtle hints here and there last summer. 'Course, I'm joining straightaway, moment school's out."


"Why wait?"


Rosier's abrupt question startled Regulus momentarily. It almost seemed as if the question was a test. He looked down at his bare feet, tracing swirling patterns against the stone floor. Pursing his lips he wondered; would it be wise to join the Dark Lord so quickly? He glanced up at Rosier, observing him thoughtfully.


"Why rush things? I wouldn't be able to do much here at Hogwarts, unless I left. Moreover, leaving would be highly suspicious for a person of my status and heritage. There'd be questions as to why I left, and merely leaving could pass as evidence I work for the Dark Lord. The Dark Lord's victorious now because all his penetrations are stealth work."


"Well, you'd be in touch with others in our generation. It'd be a chance to get some new blood into the Dark Lord's cause," Rosier replied casually, his eyes watching Regulus almost inquisitively.


"Technically, that'd be the one of the very few advantages. Weigh up the pros and cons, Rosier, and you'll find which weighs in favourably." Regulus stood up, slipping into some black shoes and promptly abandoned the Dormitory.


"Hey! Weren't you just keen on joining a minute ago?" Rosier called after him.


Regulus grinned to himself as he sauntered down the spiralling staircase. "Better for me to stay alive longer than to get killed straightaway, Rosier!"


"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"


Regulus snickered lightly at the infuriated groan that echoed upstairs. I should badger him more often. Too interesting to pass up. He shook his head lightly, tiredly running a hand over his brow. He wandered into the Slytherin common room, a vast room with dim lighting. An imperious fireplace did little to warm the cold room. Regulus gave a yawn, casually waving as fellow Slytherins greeted him respectfully. There was a grand tapestry of emerald green hanging over the mantelpiece, portraying an ancient snake arched in a malicious pose. High-backed armchairs cast heavy shadows over the cold, stone floor, which was carpeted in majestic rugs of silver and black. Regulus passed through the room, his face pensive as he began to wander the hallways in an almost reckless fashion.


He assumed it was evening -- sleeping for the past two days had left him groggy and disoriented (though no one could tell with his indecipherable face). From the sight of the empty hallways, Regulus concluded that it was well into the night, thus explaining the lack of students wandering the school. He rubbed his eyes tiredly, his gaze skimming over the gleaming walls listlessly. Without really planning to, he found his feet wandering upwards in a soporific fashion. Pulling out his wand, he tapped the crown of his head and the strange sensation of an egg cracking over his head slid over him, causing him to shiver slightly. His disillusionment charm in place, he slipped through corridor after corridor, his mind wandering here and there. He was lost in a haze that was only penetrated when he barrelled into an invisible form, falling backwards as this form shoved him away.


"Ow! Damn, I ought to wallop you, you spiffing prat!"


Regulus narrowed his eyes; he recognized that voice. "Sirius?"


His voice was questioning, probably the most emotional his voice had ever been in the last three years. He reversed the disillusionment charm quickly and glanced upwards, glaring slightly as a head appeared out of thin air. A chiselled face of silvery skin floated steadily and mussed, sleek hair of a gleaming sable hung dashingly in eyes of dappled grey. The defined black brows furrowed in a bemused fashion, unable to understand anything about his younger brother. His face was thinner and narrower than Regulus's, as was his long, wiry frame when it appeared from under the invisibility cloak.


"What are you doing out so late, little brother?" Sirius Black watched him with an almost hawkish eye, his pale mouth set in an exasperated line. His hair fell with an odd sort of eloquence into his eye. Regulus felt a quick rush of envy towards his elegant brother, but he stamped out the feelings swiftly.


"I could ask the same of you," he replied darkly, shifting to stand up.
Sirius regarded him silently before lending a hand to him. Regulus hesitated before grabbing it, feeling a wave of warmth.


They both watched each other in a tense quiet, neither able to make out the other. Regulus guessed it had been a year and a half since he'd last spoken to Sirius, and a couple of months since he'd last seen him. He still remembered their last conversation – which was most likely the only time he'd ever spoken so rashly and emotionally. Something ignited inside him and he suddenly glared at Sirius whose eyes had narrowed. He didn't really understand why he felt so heated, why exactly he yearned to wallop Sirius, but he surmised that it had something to do with when Sirius left home. Regulus could still remember how drained he felt after their quarrel, a mere fourteen year old feeling the pain of abandonment. He remembered how flushed Sirius's fair face was, how his hair stood up on end, how scathingly he condemned the Black family. However, above all, he remembered his baleful words.


All he heard was horrific shrieking and yelling, curses thrown blindly through the air. The tension was thick in the atmosphere and left Regulus breathless with trepidation. His stomach churned unpleasantly and worry was heavy in his mind. Footsteps approached the oak double doors and Regulus darted away, swiftly running up the spiral staircase and hiding in his room.


"Damn you! I don't need anymore of this smarmy lifestyle! I refuse to be a part of all this pureblood fanaticism!" A ring of curses echoed unpleasantly in the hallway. His roaring words rang out in his ears and Regulus frowned in bemusement. He could hear clattering and banging coming up the staircase. His heart pounded in his chest. What was happening? His mother's hoarse shrieks carried up the stairs.


"Get back here you ungrateful little -- "


"Don't you talk to me! You have no right to talk to me!"


"How dare you speak to your mother like that?! Apologize to her now!"


"What're you going to do? Curse me?" Sirius's maniacal chortling unnerved Regulus vastly. "You're too cowardly!"


Regulus was finding it hard to breathe when he heard the curse. His eyes widened and he fell against his door almost fearfully, clutching the frame apprehensively. They hadn't actually done it, had they? Carmine light filtered through the crack beneath the door.


Sirius's screams would forever ring out in Regulus's ears, a never-ending reminder of his contempt and agony.


"I hate you! I hate you! I hate you, I hate you, I hate you! Damn you! Damn you to hell! You'll get what you deserve! Damn you, damn you! I hate you all! You'll all die one day and then you'll see just how powerful your blood really is when it’s spilled beneath you! You mollycoddled prats! You'll see what it’s really like when everything you have is gone! YOU'LL LOSE EVERYTHING!"


It seemed to go on endlessly, Sirius's torturous yells filling Regulus's eyes with tears. And then it all stopped. The curses, the screaming, the shattering glass. It was over.


Regulus heard a door slam and through the thin walls (those thin walls.. he cursed them for being so thin) he could hear a wretched gasping. Pity crashed against him wildly, only to be replaced by fear. He could hear him packing -- Sirius wasn't leaving, he couldn't be...


However, when the trunk slammed shut Regulus realized the inevitable had finally caught up. The door creaked open quietly through the interminable silence that had taken a hold of the house, and he realized that Sirius was sneaking away, not wanting to confront his parents once more.


Regulus couldn't stop himself. He opened his door and raced after his brother's slumped form, reaching out for his shoulder. Sirius jumped when his hand touched him, almost flinchingly, and Regulus wheeled him around. He gave a gasp, his eyes widening.


Dried blood was caked around his nose, a dribble spilling from his white lips. His eyes seemed sunken and empty and Regulus was terrified. Sirius watched him as he gazed in horror at his face, from the purpling bruises to the red welts across his pale neck. His mottled skin was ashen and sickly and Regulus felt the urge embrace his brother suddenly.


"Don't leave, Sirius. Please don't," he cadged. He refused to cry in front of his brother, but Sirius seemed not to care. Tears filled his injured brother's eyes.


"I'm sorry, Regulus."



"Morna mentioned you awhile ago," said Sirius.


Regulus jumped at the unexpected remark, his heart racing. Sirius’s silver eyes penetrated his so easily, discomforting him. Regulus looked away, glaring instead at a niche in the wall.


He didn't bother asking who Morna was. Sirius knew how proud he could be and with a sigh, he slouched against the wall, rough hands shoved into his pockets.


"Morna Allaway, sixth year, Gryffindor. I overheard her talking to McKinnon. Said she ran into you last week," Sirius remarked, lazily eyeing the disgruntled Regulus. He finally caught his brother's eye, searching the stormy depths deeply. "She didn't understand why you didn't take the mickey out of her. Frankly, I don't understand either. Don't all Slytherins despise Gryffindors?"


Regulus watched him through dishevelled strands that obscured his vision slightly. Sirius returned his cryptic gaze with an empty stare of his own. He'd never admit his admiration for Sirius to anyone, but inside he knew he loved his brother, no matter how terribly he had betrayed his own kin and blood by running away and rejecting the pureblood fanaticism. To Regulus, Sirius was a bloodless being, an untamed animal that was free from such beliefs. In a way, it saddened him that his brother had deserted him for some worthless Mudbloods and blood-traitors, but he accepted the fact that his brother was a condemned man.


"Allaway.. I've run into her a few times," Regulus confessed. A shock of wild golden tresses flashed in his mind's eye, a smiling face hidden beneath. "I don't fancy taking the mickey out of anyone though. Too troublesome to waste my time on."


Sirius's eyes softened the slightest, as if he'd just seen Regulus in a whole new light.
"When I think about it, you're the only Slytherin who hasn't taken the mickey out of any other student. You would've been great in Gryffindor..."


Regulus's eyes hardened and his muscles clenched almost painfully. A lump had risen in his throat, bobbing up down against his oesophagus. "Gryffindor? Can't you accept the fact I'm in Slytherin and that I'll remain a Slytherin? Your wishful thinking never did rub off on me well brother," he answered icily.


Sirius’s dark brows furrowed, a glare overcoming his angular features. "Maybe if you accepted that fact you wouldn't be so damned emotionless!"


Regulus inhaled sharply and he took a threatening step forward. Fingers curling into a strained fist, his hands shook at his sides.


"I hope you're not implying what I think," he whispered quietly, his face as stoic as ever. Sirius gave an infuriated hiss and strode forward swiftly, grabbing a fistful of his collar and shoving him against the wall roughly. Their faces were mere inches apart -- they were so near that Regulus could pick out every single light freckle across his brother's thin nose, the shadows that clung like monsters to his raging eyes, and the furious snarl his lips were curled into. Sirius searched his face with a desperation that made Regulus's resignation waver, but it was gone the next moment when Sirius sighed and released him.


"Go on. Wallop me. Feel something."


Regulus frowned, staring at him bemusedly. Sirius stared at him pointedly. "I want you to hit me."


"What?" He was glad his voice wasn't shaky, like his insides were. He was utterly confused -- what had happened to that rising urge to punch his brother? His frown deepened and he glowered at Sirius. "What are you harping on about?"


"You have issues, Regulus. All those unresolved feelings, yeah? I know you're pissed off with me, so I want you to hit me. Better than all this nonsense where you hide your emotions. It's not healthy." Sirius stepped forward, placing his hands on his shoulders, watching him with a softening eye. "I do care about you, you know. You're my brother..."


Regulus shrugged his shoulders and Sirius's hands fell away limply.


"You lost the right to care a long time ago, Sirius."


He turned and began to walk back to the dungeons, trying to even out his ragged breathing. He could hear a snarl from Sirius behind him.


"You're just like the rest of them! Cowardly, abhorrent, fanatical -- " Sirius broke off and hesitated before speaking again. "Unfeeling bastard!"


Regulus whipped around and swiftly swept back towards his brother, his face tetchily calm. He didn't stop until he was before him, until he was so near he could feel the furious heat radiating from his body. He tilted his head condescendingly, nodding slowly.


"You're right, Sirius. I do have unresolved feelings." And before Sirius could react, he walloped him hard in the face, his fist connecting solidly against his nose.


Sirius stumbled back with a gasp, hissing in pain as blood spurted from his nose. Watching Sirius clutching his nose, he thought of how people always told him he was lucky to be a Black. But Regulus realized bitterly just how wrong they all were. No, he was far from lucky. He turned, unruffled by his brother's tormented moans, and continued towards the Slytherin Common Room, images running together in his hazy vision as he refused to let the tears fall.


Why'd you have to leave me?



*


We are the lucky ones,
we shine like a thousand suns,
when all of the colour runs together.

-Dark Waltz by Hayley Westenra



*





Author's Note:
And there you have it -- the first chapter to a short story based on Regulus. This has been playing in my head, releasing basic plot bunnies inside my mind for about, oh, a week and a half. I apologize if you find it boring and too drawn out, but in my head, Regulus seems like that. Someone who needs to be drawn out, someone who observes thing with a critical eye. This first chapter focuses on Regulus and his overall personality, his relationships with other Slytherins and Sirius, and his reaction to new things. My favourite part of this was his interaction with Sirius. I rather wrote it how I interact with my siblings -- emotions tend to run around wildly in tense conversations and the mood jumps from here to way over there. I wanted to portray Regulus as someone who missed his brother but didn't want to admit to anyone, so he puts on an icy front to mask his honest feelings.


I only intend for this story to be about seven chapters. Each chapter has a specific theme that leads to the end -- in this chapter; the central theme is luck and envy and leads into the theme of abandonment and family for the next chapter. I've outlined every chapter and know just what I want to write, what'll happen. :) Next chapter focuses on Regulus' family life and their constant attempts to influence him.


Special thanks to Daisy (Cybachiq) for beta-ing. :) I really appreciate it!

Disclaimer: Everything Harry Potter related belongs to JK Rowling, except for Morna Allaway, the slight plot, and anything else noted otherwise.


Chapter 2: Ancestry
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Chapter Two
Ancestry













Blood. It had to be the most sacred  thing within him, more so than his heart, his lungs, even his brain. It lifted him to a status near royalty. Because of his blood, he was born into the world knowing that he was better. He was better than all of them. He was born knowing that there was no one who could make him feel inferior without justification. He was born knowing he could do so much to cleanse the Wizarding World.


Therefore, when his family tried to coerce him into joining the Dark Lord, he readily accepted, on the condition that he joined only in his last year of Hogwarts. His family didn't object -- they were simply filled with a sick happiness and morbid love for their only acknowledged son. In their minds and hearts, he was their only son.


Only son.


Those words would forever ring a bell of chilling dread inside him. He didn't like the fact that he was now seen as their only son. He also didn't like the feeling of abandonment he felt when his brother had left him alone. However, he knew he wasn't alone and he knew that in a way his family had driven his brother away themselves. Knowing that his brother sought to elude any association with the pureblood fanaticism filled him with so much loneliness that it swallowed him whole, leaving him with a guilt for the fact that he would always be the ideal son but never the ideal brother.


Regulus Black never heard expressions of love from his family. He secretly wished they would tell him, but they did not. It took him a long while before he understood that it was not him they loved, but his blood. His purity. His heritage. His ancestry. He meant nothing to them as a person; he was merely a pawn to be used for gain. In a way, it made sense to him. He came from a grand legacy, all of whom had been placed in Slytherin, and all of whom were rooted in the Dark Arts. Slytherins only looked after themselves.


All he wanted, however, was love.



*



June, 1978




"Over here, Regulus!" A familiar voice pierced the air like a shrill whistle, cackling, mocking, and comforting all at once. Hiding a grin as he stepped off the Hogwarts Express, Regulus breathed in deeply. Shafts of light splayed out erratically, golden rays filtering through the beams above. Specks of dust floated almost ethereally, reminding Regulus of fairy dust. For a moment he was caught in the memory of Sirius telling him Muggle fairy tales, but he quickly shook off the feeling of nostalgia that took hold of him. Pursing his lips, he impatiently pushed through the throng of parents and students until he found the source of the familiar voice.


She grinned wickedly at him, her twilight eyes twinkling with mischief. Long and lithe, Bellatrix Lestrange was a supple woman with elegant features that would have been described as pleasant had her eyes not held a glare that emphasized her seething ambitions and hatred. Her face was chiselled and clean, a glowing complexion of alabaster white. She had a strong jaw and a full mouth, with heavy-lidded eyes that made her every move seem sultry. Her long gleaming locks of the darkest black hung with an elegant and passionate fashion, large waves that were tamed to look presentable. Regulus cast a brief smile her way and embraced his cousin.


Bellatrix pulled away quickly, ruffling his hair with a smirk. "You're coming to my home tonight, ickle Reggie."


Regulus raised a brow curiously but he didn't bother to question her. He was generally used to the lack of welcome when he saw family. Bellatrix grinned at his silence, her opalescent teeth gleaming sharply. "Your mum's in no mood to hold the feast tonight. She's been rowing with your father again," she said almost cheerfully. Her eyes darkened when she mentioned his father, Regulus noted. "I told her Rodolphus and I would be more than happy to hold the feast instead."


"I see," Regulus said softly, his eyes gazing ahead of him in a ponderous manner. It must've been a pretty big row if she won't hold the feast... Traditionally, his parents would hold a feast for the vast Black family at the start of every holiday. It was generally festive, in the Black family's own twisted way, but Regulus always found himself enjoying it. Specifically, he enjoyed being in Bellatrix's presence. He wouldn't lie if asked -- Bella was his favourite cousin, if not his closest cousin. She was the one he turned to after Sirius left. It didn't matter that she was ten years older than him. All that mattered to him was that she was his mentor, his friend, and his family.


"You don't mind if I talk to mum first, yeah?" Regulus enquired.


Bella made a humming noise, stroking her chin thoughtfully before nodding slowly. "Sure, but be wary of your father. He's in a frightful mood."


Regulus gave an affirming sort of grunt and let Bella take his arm into her firm grasp. He was always surprised how long and bony her fingers were when they curled around his arm. It was a disconcerting feeling, like thin vines encircling a throat. Gazing off, Regulus touched his throat gingerly. He closed his eyes , swallowing hard just as the sensation of being squeezed into a narrow tube took hold of him. Regulus never did like Side-Along Apparition. It felt like aeons but it was merely seconds as a strange feeling of shooting from a pipe sped them onto hard ground.


"I think she's locked herself in her quarters. Your father's probably prowling the gardens, so make haste." Bellatrix said. Regulus nodded gently, striding through the spherical hall. Bella had Apparated them to his family’s summer villa in France. Regulus was never fond of it, finding it too vast and empty for his liking. The entrance hall was grand, a great domed ceiling furnished with scarlet stained glass windows that depicted ancient Black ancestors. The centrepiece of the hall was a majestic staircase with a balcony that overlooked the entirety of the room. Regulus probably liked the balustrades along the balcony most; rich with an ancient elegance. Crossing the marble floors, he turned and began to walk up the staircase, listening as Bellatrix made her way towards the kitchens. He could hear her shrill voice scolding the house elves from the hall. Smirking lightly, he continued up the stairs until he found himself in a dark hallway. There were niches carved in the walls, aged torches sitting within, burning with uneasy flames. Paintings lined the wall tastefully, moving portraits of noble witches and wizards. Turning his nose up slightly, he continued down the hall with slow steps.


His face was obscured by the dark, the dim lighting casting long shadows over his chiselled features, softening them. Time seemed to pass slowly, almost as if there was no such thing. The silence disturbed him; quiet as he was, the silence of his home had always left him uncomfortable. His eyes shifted to the side, noting the sudden absence of Uncle Alphard's portrait. He suddenly stopped at the end of the hall, hesitating in turning right.


Laughter. He could have sworn he heard laughter. Whipping around, his eyes probed the darkness before widening considerably. Two boys chortled, their giggles reverberating against the walls. One was thin and slender, the other a bit stockier, and both were darting to and fro tagging each other.


"Tag! You're it!"


"Not for long!"



Regulus's heart felt like lead. The boys of his memories continued to dash about in a crazy manner; they had been no more than three and six, unclaimed by society's requirements. As he watched them, their small bodies began to shimmer and gradually faded against the vermillion walls.


He turned around sharply, hastily wiping his eyes with the sleeve of his robes. Why was he remembering such things all of a sudden? Hissing under his breath, Regulus turned the corner and continued up a second flight of stairs until he was upon magnificent double doors of mahogany. He rested his hands upon the thick handle, leaning heavily against the door with closed eyes. He could hear her, faintly. He assumed she was hiding in her private quarters from the very soft sounds of her hoarse weeping. A pang shot through his heart; he couldn’t bear to hear her like that, no less see her in such a state.


He opened the doors timidly, stepping in; his body slouched as if he was four years old again. "Mum?" he called gently, biting his lip childishly.


The weeping hushed instantly. Regulus took in the sight of his parents' impoverished sitting room. The deep plum velvet hangings were pulled shut in a hasty fashion, sunlight shining through the cracks. The vast rug was overturned in a corner, wrinkled and covered in wine stains. Regulus frowned as concern flushed through him. He noticed the ripped portraits and shattered glass. One fallen photograph stood out to him though, a black and white photograph that moved. Stepping fully into the room, he knelt to pick up the intricate brass frame, gazing at an older reflection.


The man in the picture was contemptuous, a condescending glint in his charcoal eyes, framed with thick, black lashes. His face was pale, his cheekbones wide and pronounced, his chin strong and stubborn. His nose was sharp, slightly crooked along the bridge. Straight brows were set heavily over his self-important eyes. There were the makings of a moustache just above his small mouth, but still the face appeared young and solemn. Regulus narrowed his eyes, his gaze travelling over the man's thick and wavy hair which was combed back tastefully. A spidery crack was split into the glass, as if something small and round had been thrown against it.


Regulus would have been lying if he said he respected and adored his father. On the contrary, Regulus often felt awkward around Orion Black. He loved him, undoubtedly, but he didn't respect him. His father was caustic and biting and Regulus disliked the relationship between him and his mother. There were many late nights when Regulus had lain in bed, listening to their screams and wondering vaguely if they hated each other, or remained together so as to not worry their children. It was nights like those where Regulus had sought solace from his older brother. However, that changed after Sirius left.


Shaking his head, Regulus called out again. "Mum? Are you ok?" His voice sounded so weak... Regulus felt a flash of annoyance surge through him, but he quickly ignored it as his mother's familiar voice echoed from the half-open door ahead of him.


"Regulus, dear, is that you?" Her voice was hoarse, but it had always been hoarse, as far back as Regulus could remember. Her voice had a false, dulcet tone to it, a sound only heard when she was caught in a whirlwind of emotional distress. It was rough and throaty and it often unnerved others. No matter how it disconcerted others, it was a voice that had always comforted him. Smiling only slightly, Regulus pushed through the door and into his parents' private quarters.


Walburga Black lay sprawled on her belly on the four-poster in front of him. Her scrawny body looked so thin and ragged that Regulus was filled with a fear for her health. He rushed towards the bed, wrenching the scarlet hangings fully open. The room was dark but for a thin beam of light which spread out over her trembling body. She turned slightly to look at her son, her narrow face unsettling him. Regulus climbed onto the bed, frowning at her.


"What happened, mum?" His voice was low and controlled and he resisted embracing her emaciated body. There was a lingering beauty, but her reedy body seemed to overshadow that aspect. Her thick hair of ebony tresses hung in a crazed fashion, like a heavy curtain surrounding her generally svelte face, wispy ends floating near her knobbly elbows. She was clad in a silky nightdress that hung loosely on her skeletal frame, a pure white that glowed beautifully in comparison to her dull, ashen skin. Her face was freckled, much like Sirius's (he had always taken after his mother) and her eyes remained large and captivating, an alluring silver that enraptured many. Her nose was long and thin, her mouth full, pulled into a pouting frown.


"Just a petty row with your father..." She waved it off as it was nothing. Judging from her tear-stained face, Regulus was pretty sure it was far beyond 'petty'. "Well, don't you fancy hugging your mum after all these months?"


Smiling wanly, he leaned forward and embraced his frail mother. She gave a light chortle and pulled away, giving him a smirking smile. "I'm sorry we're not holding the feast tonight. Your father isn't in a very giving mood, I'm afraid." Her eyes filled with tears suddenly and she gazed off, defined brows curling in thought.


Regulus watched her silently. Her dejected slouch made him want to hug her again and give her one of those sloppy kisses he used to give her as a child. But he refrained, desperately trying to keep up his general indifferent composure. Walburga turned back to face him with a watery smile.


"Bella's waiting for you, dear," she whispered quietly, her voice empty. Regulus remained still, refusing to move. His mother heaved a great sigh, her body trembling slightly. "Regulus... I'll see you tonight…" She was beginning to grow irritated at his disregard towards her goodbyes. He eyed her blankly, mouth pursed.


"What happened?" He reiterated his previous words. Walburga's face hardened and pulled back into the dark of the shadows. A scowl formed on her lips, a glare burning from her eyes.


"It's none of your concern, boy! Just leave!"


Regulus frowned at her sudden change of mood. Why can't you just tell me? I already know, but I need to hear it from you, mum. He reached for her thin hand, much like Bellatrix's. It was icy to the touch. Regulus felt the need to warm it for her and so he gave her hand a comforting squeeze. She tensed, but gradually fell against the headboard of the four-poster with a sniffle. He hoped desperately that she would talk to him, that she would give him the chance to comfort her, but she remained silent, growing stonier by the second.


"Good afternoon, mother," he whispered, when her refusal to speak anymore to him became obvious. Regulus released her warmed hand, the four-poster creaking when he stood. He left her room, making his way back to the entrance hall. As he entered the hall, he was sure he could hear the sounds of her sobs once more.


A lump rose painfully in his throat and Regulus felt something wet well up in his eyes once more. He wanted terribly to just run back in and ease his mother's pain, but he refused to give in to temptation. After all, pure-blood nobles such as himself weren't supposed to betray any sort of emotion to anyone. They were not supposed to comfort people.


As he sauntered down the hallway, he felt as if the portraits were watching him with shrewd eyes. He could hear whispers, but he couldn't make out what they were saying. Still frowning, he looked up from the ground and halted as he saw the two boys again. The leaner boy was propped against the wall, his head bowed into his knees as he wept. The shorter boy was crouched before him, watching him curiously, his round face filled with a sort of sympathy.


"Don't cry... Mummy says big boys aren't supposed to cry, 'member?"


 The boy crawled to the other's side after a moment's hesitation and gently tugged his head out of his lap. Pudgy hands held his face endearingly as pale lips planted a big moist kiss on his cheek.


"Is your boo-boo all better now, Sirius?"


 Sirius's young face gazed at his brother’s lovingly, his hand ruffling up the boy's hair. However, quick as a flash, he tapped his brother's shoulder and swiftly ran down the hall.


"You're it, Regulus!"


"That's not fair!"



He strode past, memories in tow, wondering bemusedly why he couldn't let them go.



*




The evening was a night of splendour, spent with dark waltzes danced by elegant couples from the esteemed branches of the Black House. The villa was brightly lit; a gleaming beacon in the black of the night, filled to the brim with surreptitiously led lives. There was the tinkle of courteous laughter, accompanied by the gruff vocalizations of weathered old men. A sighing melody lilted in the air, a sweet aria melting with the music. Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Black's engagement was joyfully announced. Glasses clinked, heels tapped, and for the first time in his life, Regulus was struck by just how boring it all was.


It had to be his fifth time abandoning the ballroom. As he strode with conviction down a secluded hall, Regulus couldn't help but feel a sense of calm wash over him, and marvelled at how quiet it suddenly was. Of course, chattering voices still danced upon the air into his dainty ears, but it was much less... loud. Closing his eyes, he leant against a wall, wiping a hand across his damp brow. He couldn't take another moment of his mother's sudden occupation as matchmaker -- really, why couldn't she have introduced him to Rosier's fair cousin instead of that inbred cow?


He concluded it was unfair of him to judge though... Regulus let a sigh escape him, along with ghastly images of his prospective future. He decided he would enjoy his few moments of seclusion for now; he could already hear the sounds of Walburga searching for him. An aloof grin snatched at his mouth suddenly, a light chortle fleeing him. He opened his eyes, and was instantly caught by an obscure visage in the mirror across him.


He found his image to be rather disconcerting. Regulus tended to avoid looking into mirrors; oftentimes, he was unsure whether he liked what he saw. His esoteric face was unlit in the shadows of the hall. He had often been told that he was the spitting image of his father in his younger years, but looking at himself, he wasn't so sure. With the same stocky build and broad facial structure, they looked quite similar, but his nose was more long like his mother's late aunt Dorea (she had died sometime last year, a batty old woman). His eyes and hair were trademarked to the Blacks; large, enigmatic and grey, sleek, gleaming, and black as the family name. Of course, his hair was wavy in comparison to the typical sleek locks of his family, but many accredited that to his father. He had his mother's full mouth and his father's dark eyebrows... As Regulus contemplated his reflection in the mirror, he found himself wondering which part of it all was actually him.


Stepping forward, he peered curiously into the oval mirror, running tapered fingers along his skin, feeling his bones and face. Who was he, exactly? In the chaos of the Blacks, Regulus came to the realisation that he was a lost face amongst a crowd. He frowned at himself; he didn't want to be the same. He wanted to be different. Unique. He wanted to stand out as his own person. He remained gazing at his reflection for a long moment and then came to the decision that he would do all he could to stand out as himself. A self-assured smile adorned his lips timidly.


"Hiding again, little Reggie?"


Regulus started, but only minutely. He turned, his shaded face betraying little surprise. "I could probably name you a list of places far more suitable for hiding, dear Bella," he remarked imperiously. Bella squinted at him for a moment, unsure whether he was teasing or not. Then she saw the mirth in his eyes and smiled.


"Always the cryptic one, my boy..." Bellatrix shook her head amusedly and moved to lean beside the mirror. Clad in resplendent robes of dusky silk, her skin seemed to glow even in the dark. She crossed her arms over her chest, watching him with a smirk. Regulus looked away from her, his eyes travelling towards the ballroom.


"So, what do you make of Cissy's fiancé?" Bella asked casually.


Regulus glanced back at her, curious at her sudden change in demeanour. Her eyes were unfathomable; they were endless depths that threatened to swallow him in the madness of her mind. There was an unusual crease between her immaculate brows and Regulus was quick to notice her clenched jaw. He felt slightly surprised; Bella was never one to reveal herself so openly to others. A feeling of gratitude and pride swelled inside him as he watched her candid emotions fly across her snowy face.


"He seems the decent sort," he replied slowly, watching her from the corner of his eye. She gave a tight-lipped smile and stood up straight. She began to pace back and forth for a few moments, gazing straight ahead with steely eyes. Regulus stepped back and watched his cousin pace, obviously in discomfort from her tense stature.


"You don't need to be so worried, you know," he said. His eyes followed her uneasy frame with interest. Bella halted her pacing to glare at him.


"I'm not worried!" she snapped irritably, resuming her speedy steps. Regulus laughed aloud, the chortles loudening when Bellatrix twitched in surprise at the sound of the odd noise. She glowered at him and stepped back to rest her head against the wall, gazing determinedly at the ceiling.


Regulus crossed his arms, settling himself comfortably before he spoke. Bella's eyes flickered down to stare at him, but her body remaind stiff, angled towards the high ceiling. "She's not a little girl any longer, Bella. She can take care of herself now," he said gently, regarding her with a soft gaze. Bellatrix heaved a sigh and settled for sending him a fixed look.


"It’s just that I'm concerned for her well-being.” Bellatrix admitted. “Cissy deserves the best blood to join with. The Malfoys aren't the worst of it, I suppose. I know Lucius quite well, truth be told, but I'd rather she marry a Rosier than a Malfoy... It's just odd seeing Cissy so... giddy. I dare say... Lucius must be quite gifted in the art of courtship." Bellatrix frowned momentarily, gazing off into the distance. Regulus mirrored her frown, curious about her relationship with Lucius Malfoy. To know him quite well, she'd have to have spent a great deal of time with him, but surely that wasn't possible? Bellatrix's life was devoted towards the Dark Lord...


His face relaxed quickly when comprehension dawned on him. Not meeting her eyes, he said quietly, "I imagine she felt the same when you married Rodolphus." He could feel Bellatrix eyeing him curiously. Clearing his throat, he asserted with her prior thought, changing the subject. "But the Rosiers are a bit more tasteful than the Malfoys... Did you see Abraxas's robes? That color was atrocious."


Bellatrix sniggered in a very unladylike way and Regulus grinned. "Ah, Reggie, we shouldn't gossip about foolish old codgers now. We all know Abraxas is a bit touched in the head," she drawled callously. Snickering lightly, Regulus opened his mouth to reply when another familiar voice tore through their conversation.


"There you are Regulus! I've been trying to find you for ages! Come, come here!"


Expressionless, Regulus turned and embraced the oncoming Narcissa Black warmly. He pulled back, holding her at an arm’s length to look her over. "You look resplendent this evening, cousin," he said smilingly.


"Thank you, Regulus," she laughed breathlessly. Narcissa returned the smile, her sharp blue eyes luminous. Her lustrous locks of fair blonde hair were pulled into an eloquent French Twist, a few tendrils having escaped to frame her petite face. She was flushed, most likely from dancing, Regulus inferred. Her pretty smile, a purely un-Black tradition, was glowing and radiant, even in the shadows. She was slender and sylphlike, a tall and willowy being that exuded grace and sophistication. Her velvety silver robes clung to her frame, a cerulean blue detailing trailing up the hem and sleeves. A sapphire glinted at her throat, a diamond gleaming on her hand. Regulus glanced at Bellatrix, marvelling at how different the two women were.


"Well, fancy that Cissy! Has this Lucius won over your fair heart?" Regulus teased her smilingly. He could feel Bellatrix watching him closely and he knew she could see through his smile.


Narcissa, on the other hand, didn't. She gave a light giggle and Bellatrix sent him a knowing look. Regulus raised a brow at her blatant joy, disapproval flashing across his face. Narcissa noticed it immediately and sobered up, looking down momentarily before glancing up at him once more, her face calm and serene. Bellatrix nodded behind her, rolling her eyes sardonically.


Ignoring his teasing remarks, Narcissa shook her head almost haughtily. "I was just looking for you. Lucius is quite eager to meet you, Regulus." Her chilling voice made Regulus smile slightly; this was the Narcissa he knew, a sharp difference to the Cissy he knew.


"As am I, dear cousin! Why don't you lead the way?" She gave a terse nod and Regulus offered her his arm in a gentlemanly manner. Looping her thin arm through his, she led him back into the crowded ballroom, a silent Bellatrix following. Narcissa began to speak idly, her eyes raking over the throngs of aristocratic people.


"Lucius was just telling me about his many pastimes. He expressed interest in Duelling and explained in great detail his years in the Duelling club at Hogwarts... I mentioned your own fascination for Duelling and he became quite intrigued," Narcissa articulated in a seemingly absent manner. She watched him from the corner of her clear eyes for a quick moment before exchanging an odd glance with Bellatrix. Regulus narrowed his eyes at this, suddenly understanding her true intentions perfectly. Steering him to a tight group in the left corner of the ballroom, he suddenly felt his stomach churning anxiously. He licked his dry lips nervously before willing himself into a relaxed composure.


"Could you come over a quick moment, Lucius?" Narcissa called lightly, watching a blonde-haired man converse in whispers with the withered man beside him. He turned quickly, keen eyes moving from Narcissa's figure to Regulus's form. His eyes raked over him studiously, as if he was committing his image to memory. Regulus found he was normally quite accustomed to this, but the dagger-eyed gaze of Narcissa's fiancée left him unnerved. Of course, he kept this to himself and returned Lucius Malfoy's scrutiny with his own.


He was a formidable man, standing tall and proud, his back impeccably erect. His features were sharp and angular, and would have been quite attractive had his gaze not been so... penetrating. Nerve-wracking. Regulus found the eyes to be the most disconcerting feature of this man. They were neither large nor small, abnormal irises in average eyes, picking and probing mercilessly at others. They were a steel grey, so pure and bright they seemed white. He had a colourless complexion that left Regulus believing him akin to a vampire. His locks were such a light blonde they seemed white; silken strands slicked back and tied by an emerald ribbon. His slim and sinewy frame wore magnificent robes of various shades of greens and blacks; he was a man who was undeniably handsome but clearly menacing at the same instant. Regulus disliked him immediately.


"Dear, this is my cousin Regulus Black. Regulus, this is Lucius Malfoy." Narcissa looked between the two with a critical eye. Regulus found that together, they seemed the most perfect of couples.


Lucius gave a bow, a few strands falling free from their bonds. Regulus stiffly returned the bow, observing him closely. "It is quite an honour to meet a man such as you, Regulus," addressed Lucius in a voice that sent chills running down his spine. Suppressing a rising urge to shiver, Regulus gave a polite nod.


"As it is with you, Mr. Malfoy," he assented, the barest of pseudo smiles gracing his lips. Lucius returned the smile, his teeth catching in the light. Another shiver ran down Regulus's spine.


"Please, call me Lucius."


"Lucius, then," he acquiesced. Lucius's smile brightened, but Regulus noted how it did not reach his eyes. Those cold, calculating eyes... he thought disgustedly, his gaze following Lucius's as he turned to Bella.


"Ah, Bellatrix, how do you do? You are simply radiant this evening..." Lucius took Bellatrix's proffered hand and brushed his lips against it. Regulus let his mind drift off while Bellatrix and Lucius greeted each other politely. Regulus found their conversation to be trivial and fake, and all the false words and meanings began to disconcert him.


"Narcissa was telling me earlier of your interest in Duelling. From what she has told me, you're quite the prodigy. I would dearly love to see you at it sometime... I'm quite the fan of Duelling myself, having once been in the Duelling club at Hogwarts..." Lucius watched him with icy eyes, chilling Regulus deep into his bones. Inwardly, Regulus commended him and his skill of charm.


It was all done well, to put it simply. Regulus had recently revealed an interest in serving the Dark Lord to Bellatrix and Narcissa during the winter holiday. His cryptic words, the underlying meanings... Regulus nodded his head, returning Lucius's penetrating stare with an intense stare of his own.


"You're quite the celebrity at Hogwarts yourself, Lucius. Your skill is known far and wide. I'm greatly honoured to be in your mere presence," Regulus replied, another fake smile dancing at his mouth. He glanced at Narcissa, warming his unusually cold eyes. "I'm not as talented as Narcissa gives me credit for. She does like to sugar-coat things." Narcissa playfully swatted his arm, shaking her head gently at the smirking Lucius.


"Oh, ignore what he says, Lucius! He's simply superb," she gushed, her voice unusually warm as she placed her hand on Lucius's arm. Lucius merely smiled, glancing at Narcissa for a moment. Regulus watched their little 'moment,' both simply gazing into the other's eyes as if speaking wordlessly.


It was about a minute before Lucius suddenly looked at Regulus square in the eye. Regulus felt like this man was acquainting him with chills.


"Well, Regulus, I'd be willing to show you a few things..." Lucius began slowly, glancing once more at the smiling Narcissa, who nodded minutely. Lucius looked back at him, a smile gracing his lips. "It could be quite useful to your education..."


An odd sort of excitement bubbled up inside Regulus at these words. His dislike for Lucius was quickly drowned by Lucius's almost innocent offer, but anyone with any sort of experience with the Black family (and many others) would know the true intentions of his words. Suppressing a grin, Regulus settled for smirking lightly, a dark mirth in his eyes. Lucius mirrored his smirk, awaiting an answer.


"Ah, Lucius, I take great pleasure in accepting your generous offer! Anyone would be highly privileged to learn under you and from your experiences," Regulus praised, watching the Malfoy closely. Lucius's face darkened almost nightmarishly, his mouth leering at him.


"Wonderful! You won't regret it, m'boy... You won't regret it one bit... Now, Narcissa, what was it you..."


Regulus simply nodded, slipping away with a courteous farewell. Somehow, those words had sparked yet another chill that ran icily down his spine. Scowling, Regulus unconsciously ran his hand against his back comfortingly, weaving in and out of the crowds of laughing people until he was at the far edge of the room. He pressed his back against the wall, leaning his weight on one leg. A twisted happiness giggled in his veins, leaving him slightly breathless. He had done it. He was on his way to greatness. His parents would be proud when they heard what had happened this evening... They would be immensely proud... A smile dancing at his lips, Regulus let his eyes rove along the room imperiously. He had made his own decision… He was on his way to being his own person…


He was going to be trained in the Dark Arts by Lucius Malfoy, a loyal servant to the Dark Lord. Chills, this time not from anxiety, ran down his spine. Heart thumping, he closed his eyes and began to go back over his conversation with Lucius. He wanted to prove his worth... He wanted to make the Blacks proud of his acts, and not because of his status. He felt exhilarated, he felt liberated, he felt... fear. Suddenly, Malfoy's words rang out in his mind...


"You won't regret it, m'boy... You won't regret it one bit…"



*




Apprehension. It was all he felt when Bellatrix had first Apparated him to the Malfoy Manor. It had been his first meeting with Lucius; his first training session. Regulus had not been lying when he said Lucius was known far and wide for his Duelling skills. The man was utterly fantastic and Regulus was often left gasping for air on the cold floor of his study. Bellatrix often lingered, watching with a critical and slightly maddened eye in the corner as Lucius taught him mercilessly. Regulus did not complain once, remaining silent lest asked a question or asking a question himself.


Their first meeting had left his nerves tangled like a twisted spider web. Bellatrix had Apparated him to Lucius's study; a vast room with grand shelves of books pressed to nearly every corner of nearly every wall. A magnificent plum rug carpeted the hardwood floor. Regulus had instantly been drawn to Lucius's frigid gaze, transfixed by the utter passion within them. He gave him no flowery speeches, nor inspiring words. He gave him the biting truth, the bitter slap of harsh reality, the silken words that forever remained in his memories...


"Ambition has no use for weakness. You, boy, have ambition, but you also have weaknesses. You fear me; I can see it in your eyes, even if your face is incalculable. Eradicate the fear. Fear is for the weak; fear is for the dead. The Dark Lord has no use for fearful bastards."


Bellatrix had helped in his training too; Regulus was often in awe when the pair Duelled. They were passionate and fearless, their intense dedication towards the Dark Lord's cause shining through in luminous waves. They were ruthless and harsh, almost crazed, but Regulus understood their euphoric obsession with the Dark Lord. He was attracted to their untamed selves, their wild elation and liberation. They were so dedicated and determined that Regulus devoted his every waking second to perfecting his technique, and to executing flawless curses and charms. He was so enraptured by the allure of the Dark Arts that he never noticed how lost he became. Regulus was merely somebody else's tool.


It was around the end of the summer holidays when Lucius commented on Regulus's growth amidst yet another duel. He stood but an arm's length from him, his dark wand trained at his heart, as Regulus's was. Both were panting hard and Regulus could see the sweat glistening on Lucius's fair brow. His face was flushed and a few strands had escaped the ribbon on the back of his head. Regulus imagined he didn't look much better, as he was more drained than Lucius was. His lungs were stinging and his muscles aching, but he was proud.


Bellatrix stood near the end of the room, perusing the bookcases and occasionally snapping open a dusty book to skim through. Her dark hair was pulled from her face, tied into a neat knot at the nape of her neck. She was a mere shadow beneath the dying flames of the torches above. Regulus let his eyes wander towards her for a moment before snapping back to Lucius.


Both watched each other with sharp eyes, keenly aware of the other's intentions. Regulus needed to disarm him, make him immobile. He needed to trap his opponent into surrendering. Refusing to narrow his eyes, he gave Lucius a fixed stare, unblinking. Lucius returned the stare, his eyes chilling him to the bone. Moments passed, both men gazing tensely into each other’s faces when suddenly, Lucius's brow gave the faintest of twitches.


Shouting, Regulus leapt to the left, red sparks narrowly missing his shoulder. With a stumble, he spun around and sent a blasting curse in Lucius's direction. Lucius nimbly stepped out of harms way, laughing cruelly. Their artful dodges and limber manoeuvres continued in an odd sort of dance, until finally, Regulus caught Lucius in a leg-locker curse. As his body thumped to the ground, Regulus stepped toward him, a grin threatening to overcome him. However hard he tried to suppress it, though, Lucius noticed and smiled a smile of his own.


"You're quite good, Regulus, but really, have you forgotten this is a mere leg-locker curse?" Lucius whispered softly, his face gleaming with perspiration. Before Regulus could reply, he smirked and cried, "Crucio!"


Regulus let out a cry as he doubled over, hot pain searing through his veins like wildfire. All he could see was white, but it didn't matter because it was the excruciating pain that worried him most. A torturous sensation ran through his muscles, as if they were being ripped and torn repeatedly. His head felt like someone was slamming it heavily against concrete and his bones felt like they were being shattered and regrown all at once. He felt a maddening heat and a frightful cold simultaneously as his skin underwent a terrible sensation of being pulled off. He couldn't tell if he was screaming or not, but he could just barely feel the salty tears on his lips. It felt like an eternity before his eyes could make out anything, but when they did, he began to wish he was blind.


Images… Images of Sirius and Narcissa, of his mother and father, and Bellatrix. Of Evan Rosier and even Andromeda. They all came to the forefront at his mind and suddenly they were all screaming at him, shouting and shrieking about what a disappointment he was. They slapped at him; they kicked and punched him, they bit him and he could feel the hot blood on his skin, soaking his robes. He could see himself, grinning like a sadistic murderer, and one by one, his crazed image began to run each of them through with nothing but his sharp wand. One by one, their screams died out until his was the sole voice.


And then it all stopped. The pain was slow to ebb away, but the mental agony ceased instantly. He was dazed; where was he again? His ears were filled with the fading echoes of his screams and the furious pounding of his heart, but there was another sound. He could hear a snickering beside him and just faintly, a female voice countering a curse. His vision was all black, but it slowly began to diminish to reveal lights and colours.


"You took it too far, Lucius." That was Bellatrix… Regulus could just barely make out her foggy form. He heard more snickering and then an exasperated sigh.


"Get up, boy. That was just a taste of it. If you can't handle a mere thirty seconds, what use will you be to the Dark Lord? Speak up, boy!" Regulus looked over his scowling face before turning to Bellatrix, trembling slightly. He couldn't help it; his muscles felt like jelly and would not halt their irritating quivering.


Bellatrix sighed again, holding out a slender hand to Regulus. "Quit badgering him, Lucius. You know that he's gotten much better."


Regulus grabbed her hand, ignoring the dizzying feeling that overtook him. He nodded a slow thanks to Bellatrix, dimly aware that his head was throbbing thunderously.


Lucius watched him, his lips curled back in a sneer. "He's not ready. He may have gotten better, but 'better' isn't going to cut it, Bella," he snarled, turning and reaching down to grab his wand. Regulus stared at his back.


"Expelliarmus!" His voice was a roar, reverberating off the walls eerily. The pure fury was unmistakeable, as was the raw hatred. Unexpectedly, Lucius's body flew a few yards away, colliding with a sickening crunch against a bookcase. Ancient books fell to the ground, a cloud of dust enshrouding his slumped form.


"So he's not ready, eh Lucius?" Bellatrix's laughter echoed cheerily.


From across the room, Lucius gave a disgruntled groan. Bellatrix laughed harder, clapping Regulus on the back roughly. Regulus winced as a series of stings exploded between his shoulders, but he ignored it all the same, preferring to watch Bellatrix's beaming face chortle at Lucius's predicament. It was so surreal to see such an odd glow within her and it puzzled him for a moment. But then it came to him as a quick thunderbolt that left him stunned.


She's proud of me... She's actually proud of me.



*


Come away oh human child,
To the waters and the wild,
With a faery hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping
Than you can understand.

-Stolen Child by Loreena McKennitt



*




Author's Note: This chapter took longer than I expected, but I am immensely pleased with the result. I didn't quite get to portray Bellatrix's passion for the Dark Arts and the Dark Lord, but I'm quite content with how I portrayed her relationship with Regulus. I wanted to show that she has a human side, or at least had one. I didn't want her to be some madwoman, because I truthfully don't believe she always was one. :) I also wanted to introduce Rodolphus, but that didn't happen, so meh.


I've been trying to keep it as canon as possible while still maintaining some sort of reign on this. Anyways.. I hope you enjoy. :D


Very special thanks to Daisy (Cybachiq) for beta-ing. :) Thank you SO much!


Disclaimer: Everything Harry Potter related belongs to JK Rowling, except for Morna Allaway, the slight plot, and anything else noted otherwise.



Edit: I'm not planning on changing Regulus's appearance based on DH. Other than that, I'll probably include everything revealed about his character in this story. Also, I apologize for how long chapter 3 is taking -- I have it finished, but my beta is extremely busy. I might send it to someone else.


Chapter 3: Butterfly
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Chapter Three
Butterfly











His parents always told him that sentiments were fickle. In a way, they reminded him of butterflies, so little and insignificant at first. But later evolving and transforming into fragile creatures of beauty. Chrysalis, caterpillar, cocoon, butterfly. Butterflies went through one of the most awe-inspiring changes in the world. Emotions though... He found them to be a nuisance, sensations not much worth the time.


As a young boy, he never understood why his parents seemed so emotionless. He could not quite grasp the concept that emotions were a weakness and that to remain unfeeling was to simply remain. He did not understand why his kin refused to smile, laugh, or let any sign of feeling flash in their eyes. Only when privacy and secrecy was at its peak did they reveal feelings. He had found it unnatural as a young boy, but as he grew and changed, his opinions evolved to incorporate the influences of family and friends.


His parents looked down on change. It was indecent and unbecoming to change, his parents often told him. Again, his parents' sentiments towards everyday life left him puzzled. If change was so unseemly, how could he grow without appearing shameful to his family? His father had replied with a smart rap to his head, ‘tsk’ing in disapproval.


And so it was that Regulus also grew to look down upon change and feelings, for feelings were due to be changed, and change was an abhorred act. He developed a keen dislike for such insignificant things.


He always did love the fleeting butterflies though.



*


September 1, 1978




He pushed his trolley dutifully through the barrier, relishing the warmth of the gently heated day. Bellatrix followed him at a casual pace, her face hardly restrained by the disgusted leer on her face. Regulus could not blame her; even he felt a little soiled being around so many Mudbloods at once.


"I can hardly imagine why that Dumbledore even lets them attend Hogwarts," Bellatrix muttered irritably, moving ahead of him. "They reek a terrible stench…"


Regulus had to resist the need to laugh aloud as he steered his trolley through the thickening crowd of parents and children. He felt a sudden pang of loneliness. I'm such a hypocrite… I go looking for at least a minute of seclusion and when I'm surrounded by these ghastly people, I suddenly feel lonely? Argh...


He glanced back at Bellatrix, his train of thought running towards her and his parents. He did not mind that it was only Bellatrix seeing him off; or so his demeanour seemed to say. Bellatrix finally noticed his blatant staring and turned around to face him fully.


"Your constant staring is unnerving. Either quit it or tell me what's going on inside that mind of yours," Bellatrix snapped suddenly, her eyes flashing in annoyance.


Regulus managed to restrain most of his flinch, but it was undoubtedly there and Bellatrix's irritation turned to shame.


"I'm sorry, Regulus, I really am... Your father is just so..." Bellatrix looked away, tensing her shoulders and wrinkling her nose in revulsion. She swallowed, as if trying to get some bitter taste out of her mouth. "It doesn't help when Walburga sides with him too, even though she knows he's utterly wrong. She's such a strong woman; why can't she be strong with Orion?" Bellatrix glared into the distance, suddenly oblivious to Regulus's presence.


He merely watched her, trying to restrain the growing fury inside him. Bella was never one for subtlety when it came to matters concerning his father. Regulus, for the most part, was quite used to Bella's disgust, even Narcissa's disgust, but there were times when he wished that they would heed the firm fact that he was in fact his father's son. He wished they would not bring his mother into it. He had spent years listening to them fight, listening to his father's hypocritical, demeaning affronts to his mother, and then chastising Sirius for simply glaring at her. He hated it, all the tension and disrespect in his respectable family. They were all like walking contradictions; would it not simply be easier if they merely respected each other and continued on with their own beliefs, cultures, and traditions? Regulus frowned and looked down at his feet, biting his lip. He loved his mother and his father. He would do anything for them, anything to please them and make them proud. He once told Bellatrix he wanted to feel like a respected member of the family. Bellatrix had laughed at him and told him he did not need to do anything; he was already respected and he already had a place in history.


"Don't look down, Regulus. It's a sign of weakness," Bellatrix's sharp voice cut through him like glass and he was harshly reminded of his mother's piercing shrieks when scolding Sirius. It made him rather irritable. He looked up, narrowing his eyes only slightly to let her know he was not pleased in the slightest.


Bellatrix sighed when she caught the irked spark in his cloudy eyes. Her shoulders slumped and she looked defeated for a moment, something akin to disappointment reflecting from her eyes. Slightly baffled, Regulus became even more confused when she suddenly squared her shoulders and fixed herself with a rigid expression.


"Get on then, Regulus. Take care at school." She moved towards him and embraced him rather stiffly. Regulus frowned at her brusque behaviour and tensely returned the embrace.


"You too, Bellatrix. Tell Rodolphus I'm sorry I couldn't make it the other day," Regulus replied plainly, casually looking past Bellatrix, who nodded with a furrowed brow. Both nodded to one another, and Regulus dragged his trunk off the trolley and pushed through the crowd, wondering vaguely what had happened between them just now. A plaintive expression found its way on his face; he did not like leaving on bad terms, especially not with Bella, of all people. He pursed his lips, frowning. He would rather just turn around, hug Bella, and apologise, but he knew she would find it yet another sign of weakness. However, as Regulus boarded the Hogwarts Express, he mundanely felt their relationship was somehow the thing become weaker.


It confused him. Her behaviour as of late was so... different. She had kept her normally brusque attitude at bay around him. She would let down her defences every now and then to mentor him when he was down. She looked out for his best interests. She had pruned him of his flaws, refined him into a young, respectable man who sought a life of servitude. She was his protector, like Sirius. Bellatrix and Sirius. Cousin and brother. Light and dark. Two enemies who fought for different causes. Two family members who were always there for him. Bellatrix, tending to his dark side, ensuring his love for You-Know-Who. Sirius, weeding out the hate and sowing the goodness, trying his hardest to save him from the shadowy future. Bellatrix and Sirius.


Two people who loved him unconditionally. Regulus swallowed hard. Bellatrix, no matter how hard she was, would never hurt him without good reason. No doubt she had a lesson hidden somewhere in her cold words.


Other students darted through the corridors of the train, dashing in and out of compartments excitedly. Passing by a gaggle of nervous-looking first-years, Regulus turned to glance in through every window in search of an empty compartment. He did not care all too much of seeking out any Slytherin friends. They had a knack for finding him where ever it was he hid. It was unnerving at times, but for the most part Regulus was fine. He was, after all, a secluded fellow, which was also perfectly fine. No one ever did have qualms over his need for space. Smiling smugly to himself, he continued to look for a compartment, sidestepping a pair of girls who hushed considerably as he walked on absently.


He quickly reached the end of the car and found an adequate compartment, which he settled into comfortably. It took him all of five minutes to sit down and stretch his legs over to the opposing seats, tilting his head back to shut his eyes wearily. He was not all too excited to be returning to Hogwarts this year. He was not too sure why; he supposed it was all the trifling rivalries and pettifogging drama that came with school. Perhaps even the simple fact it was slowing him down in life too. Many would tell him that that was just maddening - how could finishing school slow down his life? Regulus would generally remain silent if asked such a question, but he knew the answer loud and clear in his mind. He was not destined to become a famous Hit Wizard or an Herbologist or a Potions Master. He was not destined to become a future Headmaster, nor the Minister of Magic. The answer was simple: he was destined to follow whatever path his parents chose for him. Be it following the Dark Lord or even working for the Quibbler, Regulus knew that even if he were posed with the question of his future, he would undoubtedly choose whatever it was his parents favoured. So, naturally, knowing just what it was his mother and father wanted of him, Regulus had realised long ago that his education was near pointless in comparison to the destiny his parents desired for him. Of course, he would never reveal this to anybody. He appreciated the vital knowledge Hogwarts had supplied him and he knew that had he not gone to Hogwarts, he would not have learned half the things he knew to this day. Of course, most of it his parents would find unnecessary, such as Ancient Runes and Divination, and even Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures. They considered such topics useless - their minds were more focused on history and the Dark Arts.


Pursing his mouth only slightly, Regulus crossed his arms over his chest. Why was he thinking so much? All he really wanted was to just kick back and relax, to sleep peacefully the entire ride to school. His frown began to ease and Regulus felt naught but content as calming sensations took a hold of him. He was quite pleased with his summer, even if he spent most of his waking moments around the vile Lucius. Regulus still could not place it; the man seemed wicked to him, more wicked than any human could be. However, Regulus was grateful for the techniques and curses he had learned from the man. Much of what Lucius had taught him could never be learned at Hogwarts. Lucius had spent much of the summer focused on Duelling and the Dark Arts, even ideal stealth methods. Nevertheless, there were various occasions where Lucius had brought out books and made Regulus study. He made him understand what horrors the Muggles had inflicted upon witches and wizards in the past. He made him study ancient texts and poetry related to grand pure-blooded wizards. He pulled out heavy books banned throughout the wizarding world, filled with black-hearted secrets and unlawful rituals. He touched lightly upon subjects like mysterious Horcruxes and nefarious potions. Regulus learned more in that summer than he had in his life, and for that, he was immensely grateful. Uncrossing his arms, he let his hands fall limply to his sides. Gazing ahead with dull eyes, he began to fidget with the hem of his sleeve when mocking voices echoed unpleasantly from behind the door.


"Sod off, Lestrange!"


Regulus frowned; that voice sounded distinctly familiar. It was a soft and gentle voice that told Regulus much about the person. He would reckon she was proud and confident, almost carrying herself elegantly. However, he could hear the insecurities in her voice. A smirk found its way on his lips.


"What's this, McKinnon? You think you're too great to even speak to us? Got some filthy swine to defend your honour?"


Regulus narrowed his eyes. That was Rabastan Lestrange. He would know that voice anywhere, spending so much time with the youth. He was a seventh-year who had nervous, twitchy moments, but Regulus found him to be a rather amiable. Standing up, Regulus slid open the compartment door, poking his head into the hallway.


The commotion was further up, as Regulus was in the last compartment. He could see Rabastan's tall frame up ahead, twirling a pair of wands in the air with a laugh. He was a long-legged fellow with a sinewy body and narrow face. His high cheekbones were more pronounced by the horrid lighting of the hall, his thin, pointed nose casting a long shadow over his face. He had thin, dark eyes filled with a sadistic sort of mirth that unnerved many and a somewhat small mouth that often stretched into a wide-mouthed grin. Regulus raised a brow at the goatee he now sported and wondered where that had suddenly come from.


"Give us back our wands, Lestrange, right now," said a fair-skinned girl through gritted teeth. Regulus instantly recognized her as Marlene McKinnon, a Gryffindor seventh-year who was wicked in hexes, curses, and Duelling. Regulus had had his share of Duels with her - all in the Duelling Club, of course. He was astounded, bewildered as to how Rabastan had gotten his hands on such a Duellist’s wand. She was a petite witch with a small frame. She was thin to the point where she seemed fragile, and her stark-white skin did little to combat that label of frailty. She was mildly freckled with gleaming eyes of brown hidden behind large spectacles that often sat unbalanced upon her tiny button of a nose. Her hair was often askew, chestnut waves pulled into a bun held by a large purple quill that served to overwhelm the small girl. She was well known throughout Hogwarts as a loud-mouthed, haughty teen with severe mood swings, best friend to...


Regulus's train of thought suddenly collided into a memory and he blinked in surprise, his mouth forming a little 'o'. He quickly regained composure though, his brow twitching merely once before he surveyed Marlene's closest friend, Morna Allaway. She remained a lean stick of female who appeared so shockingly dotty, he tended to feel overwhelmed in her presence. He didn't know much about her, except that she was practically in love with Benjy Fenwick, who had graduated from Hogwarts the year before; if he remembered correctly, they started dating around early May (of course, this was information acquired through unavoidable rumours). Narrowing his eyes, he remained inside his compartment, regarding the scene with a steely eye.


Rosier stood beside Rabastan. Regulus could tell without looking he was smirking his telltale smirk, and he nearly grinned by just how well he knew Rosier. Rosier had his arms crossed over his chest, his clear eyes filled with an icy amusement. Rabastan and Evan exchanged glances snidely.


"I don't take orders from a filthy Mudblood like you, McKinnon," Rabastan snarled, his mouth distorted in an ugly fashion. Morna glared at him, her face flushing indignantly. She took a step forward, but McKinnon quickly put a hand on her arm. Morna took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Regulus ventured to guess she was counting to ten backwards, and the thought brought an entertained grin to his lips. Rosier gave a sharp laugh that caused her to jump in surprise.


"Well, look at this! Pathetic Allaway's taking orders from McKinnon! What'd you have to do, McKinnon? Sell your house?" Rosier laughed again, that same laugh that chilled many to the bone. Regulus knitted his brows, watching the Gryffindors closely. A fire seemed to ignite in Marlene's bright eyes and she darted forward, her arm pulling back.


"Marlene, no!"


Regulus's eyes widened as Marlene's fist collided solidly against Rosier's face. A nasty thud sounded and Rosier stumbled backwards with a pained yelp. He regained himself quickly, brushing a slender hand against his lip. Glancing down, he glared at the trickle of warm blood against his thumb before turning his gaze back towards the girls. Marlene stood defiant, her chin raised, her face glowing with pride. Her taller friend stood behind her, trying her hardest not to bite her lip in apprehension. Regulus saw how her fingers began to fidget with the straying threads of her robes.


Rabastan pointed Marlene's wand at her as Rosier pulled out his own. Rosier's bleeding lip pulled back into a loathing snarl, and Regulus could've sworn he heard him growl with feral hatred.


"Apologise, Marlene, just apologise -- "


“Oh, hush Morna, they're not going to do anything to us. Think about it -- what could two, mindless oafs do to us?"


She giggled lightly, her dimpled face smiling.


With an infuriated cry, Rosier lunged towards Marlene, but he never made his target. Regulus leapt out from the compartment and grabbed Rosier's shoulder, pulling him away roughly. Rabastan whipped around and glared at Regulus with dark eyes.


"What are you doing, Black?"


His hissing voice brought Regulus's gaze up to his quickly and he swallowed hard. What was he thinking, jumping out like that? In front of Rabastan, no less? He inhaled sharply, averting his furious gaze as he sidestepped him and stooped to pick up Morna's and Marlene's dropped wands. He handed them to the girls, twitching as skin brushed skin. He turned his back to them and narrowed his eyes at the two taller boys, struggling not to whip back around and glare at them until they left to a compartment. However, he did not turn, and the girls did not leave, and Regulus was left feeling too warm for his own good.


He could not think of a good excuse for his actions; how could he, when he did not even know why he interfered? He could hear erratic breathing patterns behind him, unnerving him terribly. A frown found its way on his face as he looked up at his cousin's brother-in-law. His brows knitted together and he began to think hard and fast. The first thought that came to mind, though, was one that baffled him.


What would Sirius do?


A pensive expression came over him as he thought about that. What would Sirius do? A rush of memories flooded him, but he stood his ground, ignoring the onslaught of shouting, weeping, and laughing that echoed in his mind. His hesitance and indecision faded away until an icy face of stone shone through, eyes hardened as they gazed unwaveringly at the older boy. He would not back down though, not now, not when it suddenly came to him. He just stared at Rabastan, whose brow furrowed bemusedly. His eyes roved Regulus's face curiously, easing until he finally looked away.


Regulus's mouth twitched with amusement. "Didn't your parents ever teach you not to hit women?"


Rosier heaved a great sigh, glaring a hole into the ceiling. "What are you harping on about now, Black?" He spat disgustedly. His eyes leapt to Morna and Marlene, still standing behind Regulus.


Regulus ‘tsk’ed in disapproval. "Really, Rosier, how could you even think it? Beating on a woman? You should be ashamed. Save your strength for more significant tasks." He fixed a pointed stare on Rosier. Seconds ticked by slowly until Rosier nodded, taking the hint sullenly. He looked towards the Gryffindors, his eyes narrowing specifically towards Marlene.


"Don't think this is over, Mudblood. You should have your little servant watch your back from now on," Rosier hissed, his eyes glinting. He glanced at Rabastan before pushing past the pair of girls rudely; stalking down the hall and slamming open a compartment door. When the two Slytherins disappeared, Regulus turned around to survey the girls.


Morna watched him with a grin, albeit it was a hesitant grin. "Thanks Regulus," she said in a soft and gentle voice. Regulus's eyes twitched for a moment as he recognised her voice as the one he had heard earlier… He inwardly chastised himself for being so slow, when he suddenly comprehended her usage of his first name.


His confusion must have been written over his face as Marlene suddenly burst out laughing.


"I do think that's the first time I've seen Regulus Black look confused!" Morna smiled at her friend's comment, nodding slightly. Marlene shook her head with a grin and patted Morna's arm.


"I'm going back to the compartment. Coming?"


Morna nodded vaguely, still watching Regulus closely.


"I'll catch up in a minute, 'kay?"


Marlene nodded, curiosity suddenly burning in her eyes. She turned and darted down the hall, disappearing into a compartment. Morna glanced behind her for a moment before switching her gaze back to Regulus, who felt highly uncomfortable.


She looked down, frowning before she looked at him again. She opened and closed her mouth a few times and Regulus suddenly registered that she was struggling to say something. Regulus watched her, the slightest of frowns tugging at his lips. Morna quickly noticed his impatient and inquisitive stare and burned crimson with embarrassment.


A few more seconds passed in silence and Regulus grew annoyed. When she refused to speak, Regulus heaved a great sigh. "Well? Are you going with that McKinnon or what?"


Morna looked away quickly, scratching her nose. "Erm... I was just wondering why you stopped them."


She looked back at him, her brown eyes blinking curiously as a sort of determination took over her. Regulus stepped back, raising a brow as he pondered how best to answer.


Why did I do that?


She waited patiently, her hands moving to cross in front of her, body swaying in a slight, absent manner. Regulus glanced at her face for a few moments before tearing his gaze away. Turning from her, he shrugged nonchalantly and strode calmly to the end of the car. He could feel her gaze on him, her eerie and curious gaze with her too-big eyes. Without turning around, he said casually, "Who says I've stopped them?"


"What's that supposed to mean?"


Regulus gave an abrupt chuckle, piercing the silence that was so quick to settle between them. He heard a light thump as she jumped in surprise, a muffled sound escaping her. Smirking, he looked over his shoulder at her.


"Rosier will be on the hunt for McKinnon. I daresay your lives will become just a tad more difficult."


Before she could reply, he strode back into his lonely compartment and slammed the door shut, wondering why he even bothered to answer her.



*


Mid October, 1978




"Hurry it up, Black! The match is in fifteen minutes!"


Regulus gave Rosier a proud glare before turning back to spreading strawberry jam on his toast. He took a slow bite, relishing the sweet luxury that rolled across his tongue, swallowing reluctantly when Rosier's constant foot tapping grew more impatient. His heated glare burned at his back, but Regulus shrugged mentally. Indifferent to his companion's growing annoyance, Regulus took another bite before taking a sip of coffee.


"Black! Get up off your arse and get to the locker rooms!" Rosier nearly screamed at him. His shout went unnoticed, as the few who were left in the hall were queasy Hufflepuffs who could not so much as down their breakfast before the game. Regulus took yet another bite, chewing especially slowly and loudly for Rosier's benefit.


A strangled yell rang out as Rosier lunged at Regulus's back, grabbed him by the back of his robes, and attempted to drag his team-mate to the Quidditch pitch. However, Regulus had anticipated such a move (it was so easy to read the fellow, even from behind him) and scooted swiftly to the left. Holding down a snicker as Evan Rosier pin wheeled on the spot to keep from falling face-first onto a plate of eggs, he finished off his toast with an especially amused glint in his eye. He stood on his feet, grabbed the back of Rosier's robes, and proceeded to drag him to the Quidditch pitch.


Rosier grumbled as he shook free of Regulus, moving to walk alongside him. "Does humiliating me pleasure you?" he muttered under his breath, eyes as twisted and convoluted as a coming storm. Regulus bit down on a rising chortle and merely shook his head.


"No, but torturing you does."


"Oi! Is that a joke I hear coming from Regulus Black? Cor, what is this world coming to?" Rosier mocked, his eyes alight as if with lightning. Regulus found it hard to hide the smile that eagerly leapt to his lips and Rosier staggered on his feet, grabbing his chest as if he had just had a heart attack.


"A grin? Merlin's pants, the world must be coming to an end!"


"Oh come on -” Regulus struggled to get a word in, but Rosier was too caught up in humiliating him.


"Is he fighting for his dignity? His pride? Goodness! Everyone duck and hide! The end of the world must be near grim!" Rosier's eyes were the size of golf balls and he clutched at his head as if the world had gone mad. Regulus found a chuckle escaping him as his team-mate ran back and forth in front of him.


"Rosier, sometimes I can't tell if you're male or female. Your mood fluctuates too much."


Rosier halted mid-step and slowly turned around to look coldly at Regulus, whose face was as calm as ever. On the inside, however, he was falling over himself with laughter.


"You'd better take that back, Black."


"Should I now? Hm... Well, there's no time now, seeing as how there's a match in about, oh, eight minutes? A wonderful beating planned for those 'puffs -- "


"Cor! The match!"


In a quick and sudden movement, Rosier grabbed Regulus's arm roughly and he pulled him outdoors, where a dreary sunlight greeted them blandly. The sky was a canvas of dappled grey with foul clouds of purples and blues painted furiously across it. What little sun there was trickled out in silvery rays that moved erratically as clouds moved ever so slowly. Despite the promise of dratted rain, the day was shifting between warm and crisp, masking the oncoming storm with pleasantries.


Regulus found himself scowling at the thought of rain. Rosier, however, glanced at the sky, ecstatic. "Hufflepuff won't stand a chance in this weather. We'll beat their sorry -- "


"Rosier, hurry it up!" Regulus called behind him as he ran off. He heard Rosier jump in surprise and his following footsteps. The pair darted quickly, realising that they only had about six minutes left to change and gear up. Rosier caught up with him, muttering lividly under his breath.


"So late, so late... Harper'll have a cow... all Black's fault..."


Regulus would have rolled his eyes with extreme sarcasm, had he not been running desperately to the Quidditch pitch. Typical of Rosier to blame him, the prat.


Well… I did wake up late... And I did take my time eating... Regulus glared, amidst his thoughts, when Rosier suddenly pulled him towards the locker room.


"Are you daft or something?! The locker rooms are over there!"


Glancing behind him, Regulus realised his thoughts had distracted him and he had been running towards the Forbidden Forest. Shaking his head, he ran into the locker rooms behind Rosier, slamming the door shut behind him. The rest of the team instantly walloped the pair, and many choruses of insults and jibes were directed toward them.


"Black! Rosier! What the hell took you idiots so long! The match is in two minutes -- wait, what're you prats talking to me for, gear up!"


The resounding bellow rang out in Regulus's ears, who felt utterly nonplussed. Someone had pushed his gear into his arms and both he and Rosier quickly changed into their Quidditch gear, lacing up armguards and whatnot. Harper, the Quidditch Captain, paced back and forth before them, his head bowed as he murmured tensely. He was an incredibly tall seventh-year, with dark brown eyes and curly locks of thick, blonde hair. His nose was long and pointy, his chin jutting out at a sharp angle.


"Harper, it's only Hufflepuff -- " Regulus began to say, but Harper's irate shout cut him off.


"Only Hufflepuff? Only Hufflepuff!? Black, this is the first match of the year, of the season! This is the opportune moment - we have to make the most of this! We need to be ahead before anyone else has a chance to catch up -- BLACK! Are you listening!?"


Regulus nodded dumbly, refraining from saying anything else. From the looks of it, Harper's head was just about ready to blow off, and when it did, it would not be a pretty sight.


"Thirty seconds to go!" shouted someone near the double doors that led to the pitch.


Harper's eyes nearly bugged out and he grabbed Regulus's shoulders savagely, dropping his head to whisper furiously in his ear. Regulus desisted from pulling away in disgust, succumbing to the Captain's need to talk to him. His guttural voice ripped at Regulus's ears.


"Listen Black, Hufflepuff's got a new Seeker, called Collins, yeah? He's a particularly nasty one, you'd never know he's in Hufflepuff. He's particularly adept at pulling off the Plumpton Pass. I've been watching him during practice. He's --"


Something akin to a bullhorn sounded in the distance and a magnified voice began to echo in the stands.


"Let's give a round of applause to the Hufflepuff team, led by their Quidditch Captain, Wilford Arterbury! And introducing their new Seeker, Edward Collins -- what a handsome devil!"


Thunderous applause resounded, roaring in the Pitch, whistles, screams, and catcalls ringing in the air. Harper quickly glanced to the opening doors, talking quickly now as Rosier handed Regulus his broomstick.


"He's a sly one, really quick at pulling off fouls like Blagging and Blatching without getting caught, so watch out for him --"


"And now for the Slytherin team, led by Quidditch Captain Isaiah Harper... Yay..."


Regulus assumed the announcer was either Hufflepuff or Gryffindor, possibly even Ravenclaw, but the voice was highly familiar. Regulus held his broom tight and followed the team onto the Quidditch pitch. The applause was thunderous, but distinctly less than the cheers for Hufflepuff. His eyes wandered through the stands, skipping over the three-quarters occupied by gold and black clad students before landing on the Slytherins. Silver and green glimmered there, emerald banners whipping in the escalating winds. Regulus rather enjoyed the few times when Slytherins united.


The teams lined up, facing off in the middle of the oval-shaped pitch. Edward Collins stood just opposite him, a smirk dancing viciously at his pale mouth. Collins, with his heavy build and stocky frame, did not fit the Seeker mould. He had a broad jaw and heavy-lidded eyes the colour of the sea. His nose was so long that Regulus felt the amusing urge to just grab it and shake him around. His auburn hair was combed back with a taste of perfection and Regulus thought he could see the makings of a moustache on his upper lip. He instantly disliked him, a feeling very similar to when he had first met Lucius bubbling up in his gut.


"Scared, Black?" hissed Collins, his mouth drawn into a sneer.


An eyebrow rising, Regulus let out a soft chortle.


"You wish, Collins."


"I don't wish Black -- I know," whispered Collins, his eyes dark and cloudy.


Regulus was about to retort when the young Madame Hooch cast a stern, hawk-eyed glare in his direction. Her coal-black hair stood on end as the wind danced through it.


"You know the rules, lads," she called in her chirping voice, fingering the silver whistle around her neck.


The boys all nodded, exchanging grins and glances as Madame Hooch strode to a large, quivering chest, her black and white robes billowing in her wake. With one hand poised above the latches and the other raising the whistle to her lips, she eyed both teams with her strict gaze.


Her voice was terse as she called, "Mount your brooms, please." Blowing hard in her whistle, the match commenced with a bang.


Regulus shot upwards with fourteen others, leaning against his broom with a determination of sorts. His eyes travelling back and forth, he flew slowly, unlike Collins, who flew back and forth with an unparalleled speed. Rising higher and higher, he ignored the commentary that echoed in the stadium.


"And the game begins with Slytherin in possession! Isaiah Harper takes the Quaffle and he passes to Chaser Evan Rosier -- back to Harper, back to Rosier, back to Harper -- what kind of ploy is that, completely useless -- "


"Miss McKinnon!"


"Sorry Professor. Chaser Anson Donalds intercepts the Quaffle, passes to Chaser Luke Gorbold -- damn, Slytherin impedes on justice again as Slytherin Beater Hugh Jernigan sends a Bludger his way. Ouch, that looks painful - oh yeah, sorry again, Professor. Erm.. oh, there it is. Harper takes the Quaffle, weaving around like a right git -- sorry, sorry! He faces off with Hufflepuff Keeper Patrick Milburn -- and, and... Drat! Slytherin scores!"


Regulus nearly rolled his eyes at McKinnon's biased commentary, but as it was, they were occupied in a search for the Snitch. He roamed high above, trying to keep out of sight. Occasionally, a Bludger would whir past his head or he would fly low, only to have Harper bellow at him from across the field. Regulus did not mind; he could live with ruptured eardrums as long as he got to fly. It was rather difficult for him to describe, for the feelings he got while flying high were those of exhilaration, relief, and utter happiness. Flying was a joy in his life that Regulus could not live without. Sure, it had dropped down a bit on his list of priorities in the recent years, but it remained one of his loves, one of his passions. Grinning to himself, he looked up, something catching his eye. He could not tell what it was from his distance, but he kept an eye on it all the same.


"Get your head out of the clouds, Black!" roared Harper as he zoomed by, the large, crimson Quaffle held firmly under his arm. Regulus nodded to himself, leaning down against the broom, his eyes roaming the air.


"Scared yet?" Collins flew past and Regulus was left with a horrid taste on his tongue. Scowling deeply, he struggled to compose himself and shot off after the Hufflepuff, still scoping the skies. As he passed the suspended teen, he let the darkest of laughs escape him.


"No, but something tells me that you are."


As the words left his mouth, a golden sphere darted downwards, silvery wings beating too fast for human eyesight. It fluttered, a whirring sound whispering mockingly before it was snatched by the wind. Regulus refused to let the slightest bit of emotion cross his face, feigning a search as he watched the Snitch shoot down in a spiralling motion.


A collective gasp sounded in the stands when Regulus shot down, body and broom nearly vertical with the sudden drop. He accelerated, gritting his teeth as the wind slapped at his face.


"Oh, oh! Slytherin Seeker Regulus Black seems to have spotted the Snitch!" cried McKinnon mournfully. "Where the hell is Collins?! Oh -- it's now a race of time, ladies and gentlemen! Collins and Black are neck-and-neck in their chase for the Golden Snitch!"


Out of nowhere, or so it seemed, Collins came up beside him, eyes watering against the gusty winds. Thunder rolled ominously in the distance, marking the climax of the game as both Seekers came closer and closer to the emerald grass. Regulus groaned with effort as he reached out a hand, his fingers grazing against the golden body --


Wham!


Collins collided heavily against him and Regulus found himself hurtling downwards, his broom zooming off to crash into the ground. With a sickening crunch, Regulus fell to the ground. Another thump sounded and a second body crashed beside him.


Bellowed choruses of "Foul!" pierced the air, Slytherins roaring out against Edward Collins. Regulus blinked stars from his eyes, feeling queasy suddenly.


"That's obvious Blatching! Foul!" Harper's voice hollered to Madam Hooch. The yellow-eyed referee shook her head though, her thin lips pulled in scowl.


"Mister Harper, I'll remind you that I am refereeing, and I do not appreciate Captains seeking to impede my authority! This was obviously an accidental collision!"


"Are you out of your --"


"Mount your broom, please, Mister Harper!" shouted Madam Hooch, her voice shrill.


"I'll attend to my Seeker first!"


There was a muffled assent from Hooch. Dazed, Regulus hardly noticed as wiry arms pulled him to his feet. "Feeling ok, Black?"


"Simply marvellous," he murmured, looking at Harper's snide face with a frown. Suddenly, lightning flashed on the horizon, illuminating the darkening sky. Clouds rolled, thunder rumbled, and if Regulus's mood could get any fouler, it did. A rapid crack echoed gently in the gales and quite expectedly, rain began to fall in thick, powerful strokes that stung on contact.


Regulus stood stock-still as the rain soaked his robes, his face scowling. "I hate the rain," he muttered furiously and in a single movement, he stooped and grabbed his quivering broomstick. Harper gave a barking laugh and clapped him hard on the back, oblivious to how sore Regulus's body was.


Regulus mounted his broom, glancing at Collins, who flashed him a cocky grin. In an instant, Regulus realised that the collision as intentional. He sent an icy look his way and took off in the air, scowling as the game began. McKinnon, who had been murmuring to someone beside her the whole time, resumed commentary.


"A nasty crash, folks, but both Seekers seem intact," McKinnon said boisterously. "Drat..." she added, under her breath, magnified to an audible level by her bright orange megaphone. "The game resumes with irksome rain, Hufflepuff taking possession of the Quaffle! Gorbold passes to Donalds, who seems to be flying back and forth to avoid a Bludger that Slytherin Beaters Jernigan and Jernigan -- yes, I said Jernigan twice, seems the pair are cousins -- oh, ouch! That looks painful! Donalds drops the Quaffle, and Slytherin takes possess -- wait a second, Hufflepuff is still in possession! Donalds dropped the Quaffle into Chaser Scott Rowland's hands - brilliant! Rowland makes his way down the pitch and... YES! Ten for Hufflepuff!"


Regulus bit his lip, concentrating hard on his search for the Snitch. Of course, with McKinnon's unnerving and rather humorous commentary, he was having a bit of a difficult time. Not to mention, his head was pounding in a thunderous fashion similar to the blasted storm in which he was stuck. His muscles and limbs felt as if they had been stretched beyond their limit, stretched until it felt like they were laced with fire. And judging from the constant ache along his entire back, he did not doubt that he was bruised pretty badly. He furrowed his brows and flew back and forth, moving higher and higher above the game, ignoring the pain as best he could...


Soon, McKinnon's voice and the general applause was a soft murmur hidden in the storm. His hair plastered to his head and his drenched robes whipping around, Regulus felt very heavy. Paying no mind to such a disturbing thought, he continued to search for the Snitch.


He was not sure how much time had passed, but he guessed it had been around forty-five minutes so far. In this time, he ventured lower to hear what the score was, only to quickly shoot back up with humiliation. Hufflepuff was in the lead, standing at 70, a far cry from Slytherin's mere 20. Collins would come up to sneer at him every now and then and Regulus hastened his search.


Collins had just flown toward him again, chortling madly. "You'd better hurry it up now, Reggie-poo!"


Regulus gritted his teeth in frustration, shooting downwards, away from Collins. And that was when he spotted it.


Regulus could have sworn that the Snitch was aware of his gaze. Hissing, he sped off after it, urging his broom to give off an extra spurt of speed. The Snitch moved towards the stands, bobbing up and down to graze upon the heads of roaring Hufflepuffs. They were bellowing something unintelligible to Collins, their shrieking voices mingling with McKinnon's blaring commentary. She was screaming something about the Snitch and Slytherin, but Regulus let all thoughts about her commentary and Hufflepuff go, until all that remained was the Snitch and him.


It continued to dance through the air erratically. He could hear Collins’ whizzing broom not too far behind him, so Regulus leaned forward on his broom to accelerate. However, just then, quite suddenly, the Snitch was zoomed upwards and Regulus had only seconds to barrel roll to the right to avoid a high column of wood. Cursing under his breath, Regulus shot up after the Snitch, flying faster and faster until it was only mere arms length away. Regulus reached out, and for the second time that evening, his fingers brushed against cool metal. Collins came up on his right, so close that their brooms bumped against each other. His face was flushed against the cold as his fingers reached out to grasp the Snitch…


Collins grabbed the tail of his broom unsuspectingly, pulling it backwards in a hazardous fashion. Regulus found himself slipping off his broom and falling into the stands, all the while watching as Collins displayed the wriggling Golden Snitch in his hand. Regulus crashed over a couple of fifth year Gryffindors, landing hard on his bruised and aching back. A loud snap sounded and a stabbing pain sang out near his shoulder blades.


Bastard, he thought, before falling unconscious.



*




The first thing Regulus was aware of was a chorus of voices. Female voices. They were cruelly loud, singing out in waves of unrecognizable words. He had not the slightest idea where he was until a familiar voice whispered in his ear.


"Irritating, innit?"


Regulus would have jumped out of surprise, had his head not been throbbing awfully and his shoulders not screaming in agony. He moved a hand to feel his head, twitching in revulsion when he felt a sticky substance along his hairline. He felt further, discovering thick gauze. He opened one eye to inspect his hands. Scarlet streaked his fingers. Moving slightly, he glanced around and recognised the hospital wing. His gaze fell down beside his bed and his eyes widened momentarily.


"Allaway?" He started, surprised at the gravelly sound of his voice. Frowning, he glanced at her with narrowed eyes. "Why are you here?" Without really knowing why, he looked her over for injuries. She was perfectly intact, save for a purple bandage pressed between her bronze brows. He stared at it, transfixed by the sheer oddness of it.


Noticing his stare, she blushed with embarrassment. "I got a horrid boil. Marlene made me hide it behind this ruddy bandage," she explained quickly. Regulus closed his eyes, nodding absently. A unique way to cope with a boil, no doubt. Morna coughed, brushing a bushy strand of gold fuzz from her face. "I came here with my cousin. You crash-landed on her during the match." She gestured needlessly to a gaggle of Gryffindor girls giggling around a bed.


Regulus's eyes snapped open. The match. The match. What happened? He sat up straight in the bed, ignoring the spurts of pain, and turned to Morna. He opened his mouth but she rolled on.


"Hufflepuff won. It was 220 to 30." She looked as if she were going to say something more, squirming uneasily beside him. Regulus watched her quietly, his face blank.


"Where's Harper?"


"Your Quidditch Captain? I heard he was plotting to kill Collins with the rest of your team. Don't know why, really. Hufflepuff won fair and square, after all," she said gently, her voice trailing off into a murmur. Emotions rippled across her face like a river when it rained. Raising a brow, he let a wry smile grace his lips.


"You're wondering how I fell."


Her eyes widened and a blush tinged at her cheeks. She nodded her head quickly. Regulus resisted the urge to chuckle.


"He Blagged. He shouldn't have won. By all rights, there should be a rematch..." Regulus met her baffled gaze.


"What are you talking about?" She shook her head slightly. "What's 'Blagged' supposed to mean?"


It was Regulus's turn to look baffled. "How do you not know what Blagging is?" he asked incredulously. Morna's eyes hardened in irritation, and she turned away, refusing to look at him.


"I'm not a fanatic like you and all the other Quidditch players around here. So are you going to tell me what Blagging is?" She turned her head slightly towards him, her eyes filled with a curiosity towards his openness with her.


A slight smile twitched at his mouth. Deep down inside, there was a part of Regulus that screamed out furiously, steadfastly, against his mere conversation with this girl. But even deeper, there was a sudden appreciation for her and her casual words. She was the only Gryffindor who made an effort to talk to him. He did not understand why -- would the other Gryffindors not chastise her for consorting with his likes? A sudden thought struck him way down in his core, knocking the breath out of him. What was he doing, talking to her? What would the other Slytherins say? Regulus looked down at his palms, his eyes grazing over the blood dried on his fingers. He suddenly felt uneasy.


"Regulus?"


She put a small hand on his shoulder. Her single touch suddenly inflamed his skin, a scalding sensation sweeping over him. He wanted very much to shrug his shoulders and watch that soft, pale hand fall away from his shoulder like some dead thing. He wanted very much to move into that warmth radiating from her freckled hand. He wanted very much to stop feeling anything about that... that hand splayed so innocently across his shoulder, unaware of the emotions it stirred.


His mouth felt dry suddenly. "It's... It's a foul in Quidditch. It's where another player grabs the tail of your broom." He watched her from the corner of his eye. She was frowning, as if deep in thought. There was a small line creased in her brow and she moved her other hand to chew unconsciously on her thumbnail. Leaning her weight on him, she began to speak.


"So. Collins grabbed the tail of your broom. He pulled on it, didn't he? You lost control of your broom, landed on my dear cousin Ainsley, and got her wand stuck between your shoulders. Oh, not to mention the fact your head almost split in half when it hit the seat. And those nasty bruises on your back."


Regulus gritted his teeth, breathing hard through his nose. She was much too close for his comfort. Oh, but you like it, don't you Reggie?


He frowned, wondering when his mind had turned on him. He could smell her; a gentle scent of morning rain that was fresh and clean. Biting his lip, he breathed raggedly through his mouth to avoid inhaling her scent. She noticed his breathing in an instant, though, and leapt away.


"I'm sorry! I completely forgot you were... injured,” she faltered, realising how contradictory her words were. She scratched the back of her neck nervously, chewing her lip mercilessly. "I look like an oaf, don't I?"


Regulus decided immediately that something was wrong with him. Therefore, he took matters in his own hands. He refused to meet her gaze as he freed his body of emotion, turning his back to her.


"You should leave before anyone sees you talking to me."


The sudden coldness in his voice unnerved her. He could see her shadow shifting anxiously. "Regulus?" she asked, sounding very small and tiny.


"Leave, Allaway. I can't be seen around you." Regulus's voice was harsh, a throaty sound that made Morna jump. There was the squeak of a heel turning and Regulus found himself counting her steps as she departed the hospital wing.


Slowly, Regulus lay back down, trying to ignore the squealing and giggling from the girls around Ainsley's bed. He pulled the bed sheet around him. For a moment, Regulus wished he could stop all time and go back to her warmth.


Tightening his grip on the sheet, Regulus felt very cold.



*


Late March, 1979




Regulus ran down the corridor, his bare feet slapping against the cold, stone floor. Fear pounded a heavy trail through his bloodstream, running a chilling path of dread down his spine. His heart raced along with him, away from that nameless terror that followed him relentlessly. Sweat drenched his body like a fresh coat of paint, dripping into his vision as he ran. He could hardly breathe, a sharp pain searing through his lungs.


A shrieking cackle filled with glee reverberated off the walls, singing out in his ears painfully. It was an inhumane laugh that spoke in waves of insanity, laced with a trickle of paranoia. It was a frightful laugh that made Regulus shiver.


It was getting closer. Regulus gasped as he ran, tears mingling with sweat. He screamed nonsense, his voice joining the echoing laughter. Hissing whispered behind him, calling out to him.



Reggie, it said. Come out and play!


He shook his head desperately, reaching out blindly. Suddenly, the corridor ended.



Reggie!


He whipped around, the bare flesh of his back protesting against the cold wall pressed against him. The hissing grew louder and louder. Out of the looming darkness, a large snake with glimmering black scales slithered forth. It drew up to Regulus's height, its elliptical eyes of vivid green emanating a raw hatred.


Regulus's heart pounded against his ribcage. The snake was still.


Suddenly, it smiled, baring its long fangs.



Goodnight Reggie.


Regulus screamed and fell into a dark abyss. He continued to fall and fall, watching thick droplets of blood fly away from his skin. His heartbeat continued to race.


And then he hit solid ground. He felt the bones in his body shatter and he howled in agony. Red replaced black for a moment, and suddenly, there was a warmth beside him. It consumed his entire being, soothing him. He opened his eyes. Large brown eyes gazed into his. Regulus felt himself drowning inside them. He struggled to recognise who she was, but it escaped him.


Her eyes fluttered to a close, pale lashes brushing against fair skin. Something akin to velvet pressed softly against his lips.



Regulus shot up in his bed, perspiration dripping from his brow. His white shirt was damp, clinging to his frame. His heart pounded relentlessly and he gasped for air. That same dream. It followed him like the plague, disturbing his sleep almost every night. He struggled to remove himself from his tangled sheets and grabbed for a glass of water standing on the side-table. The glass slipped in his grip, shattering into tiny shards against the wooden floor.


He was shaking. He turned his hands palms up, watching them tremble and shake with fervency. What was wrong with him? That same dream. It followed him like a nightmarish plague, driving him to a wild dimension that existed beyond the planes of his mind. Regulus loathed the dream, but yet, he could still feel her soft lips against his.


His eye was twitching from his lack of sleep and unwanted stress. Breathing heavily, he raked a clammy hand through his hair, feeling feverish. When had the dreams started? Regulus found himself thinking back. It all began with a meddling Marlene McKinnon...


"So… What do you think of Morna?"


The outrageous McKinnon leaned against a bookshelf in the library, her brown hair hanging in ruffled waves at her elbows. She watched him with gleaming eyes, a dark smirk dancing at her lips.


Regulus turned a page in the book he was reading. "Does it really matter?"


Her smirk fell into a frown. In a swift movement, she moved towards the table, slamming a fist upon it. Regulus looked up at her, mildly surprised at her outburst. McKinnon leaned forward, her eyes burning with a hateful fury.


"It does matter, Black! Do you know how happily she talks about you when you're kind to her?" She scoffed at the idea that he could be kind. "She respects you and admires you, goes on all about your bloody intelligence and wit and then you pull this stunt? What are you, a heartless git?"


Keeping stoic, he quirked a brow and marked his spot, closing his book with extreme calmness. He looked up at her. "All I did was protect her, McKinnon," he responded plainly.


Marlene frowned in confusion. "What?"


Regulus grabbed his book, slipping it into his bag. Standing up, he brushed past her with brisk words. "What would people say if they saw her laughing with a Slytherin?"


He strode through the columns of books, dust whirling in his wake. Hasty footsteps sounded behind him. Marlene grabbed his shoulder, pulling him around to face her.


"Look, I still don't understand your relationship with her, but I swear, if you hurt her in any way or try to interfere with her and Fenwick, I will mess up that pretty face of yours. I'd rather you stop talking to her, but I don't even know when you two get together. Just leave her alone," she whispered heatedly. Her spectacles were perched on the tip of her nose, threatening to fall. She looked him in the eye, searching them in a determined fashion.


He pointedly looked down at her hand, still grasping his shoulder. Following his gaze, she released him and gave a cough. Regulus turned on his heel and began to depart.


"She talks about you all the time, you know."


Her voice was surprisingly gentle, as if she understood him. Regulus stood still, feeling empty suddenly.


"Sometimes I wonder if she loves you more than Fenwick."



Regulus's heart surged almost painfully. Those words rang out in his ears often, echoing many times over. Each time, he could make no sense of it. Morna was steadfastly in love with Benjy Fenwick. And yet whenever he saw her face in his mind, all he could see was the complete ease and comfort he felt around her. He could feel her warmth, enveloping his very being. Morning rain filled his senses and Regulus found himself eagerly awaiting the rain he hated so much. She was so bright and warm that she reminded him of sunflowers. He loved sunflowers.


Regulus suddenly groaned. What was he thinking? He sat up, drawing his knees to his chest. The bed sheet pooled at his sides. He put his face in his hands, wondering how his feelings had escalated so drastically. When had these changes in feeling occurred in him? Traitorous feelings towards a blood traitor. Violent rage scorched through his veins as he wished dearly that she were a Slytherin. That she were not a blood traitor. That she was not in love with someone else.


He gripped his hair and pulled it as his wrath consumed him greedily. A tear leaked from his eye, washing a single stream down his cheek. In that small moment, Regulus began to wish wildly that he had not been the brother sorted into Slytherin. He wished with such vehemence that he were the one sorted into Gryffindor, that he was the one with the chance to know her.


Sighing, Regulus lay back down, staring hard at the cold ceiling of his dark room. A small light filtered under the crack of his door, the flickering light of small candles all along the corridor. The meagre light was enough illumination to dance along emerald and silver streamers and banners draped all along the room. He glanced along the proudly decorated walls, wondering just how long it had been since his life had revolved around just Quidditch and the Dark Arts.


Too long, he thought grimly.



*

Late May, 1979




Regulus paced along the Hogwarts corridor, his head bowed. His brow was furrowed in deep thought, his lips twisted into an expression of uncertainty. He looked the part of a nervous wreck apprehensively waiting for someone. In a fit of anxiety, he pulled a hand through his hair and straightened his emerald tie. He resumed pacing, chewing his lip.


He paced in a secluded corridor, and was slightly calmed by the fact that no one could see him lose all sanity. If I keep fretting over this, I'm going to go starkers, he thought furiously. He deserved to go starkers, too. His traitorous thoughts and feelings were running away with his future, throwing it all away... Change. It was all a wicked sort of change that would have been laughable in any other circumstance, but all Regulus wanted to do was to fall down and cry. It was all too much, escalating emotions that ran away with his heart. In a single year. Escalation so drastic that Regulus found himself smiling when he imagined her face, chortling when he remembered her constant nervous prattlings, shivering when he thought of her warmth. It unnerved him immensely and Regulus had no idea what to do about it.


There were times when he yearned to reveal all his pent up emotions to someone, but there was no one he could trust. Rosier would throttle him in his sleep for fraternizing with the enemy. Bellatrix would coldly tell him to break off all contact with the girl. And Sirius... Regulus could not deny that his pride was a major factor in his decision not to talk to Sirius. Pride and loyalty to his real family. Regulus heaved a great sigh amidst his pacing.


Once upon a time, he would have appealed Andromeda, but that time was long gone. He had not seen her since he had been ten, preparing for his first year at Hogwarts. He never would have guessed her to be dating a Mudblood, but then again, there were the clear signs of love. 'Dromeda had been the best with emotions, having served as a mild-tempered sweetheart who promoted peace between her sisters. Younger than Bellatrix, she had always seemed wise beyond her years. Older than Narcissa, she had also seemed the most motherly out of the three. Regulus found himself sighing again. She would've known what to do…


He could hear her whispery voice in his mind, as if it had been yesterday. He could see himself, nine years old and sullen because Sirius was off for his second year at Hogwarts, while he was left behind to wait for two whole years. He had hated being born in December, because while he had turned ten soon after, he had not been allowed to attend the next year due to his late birthday. He remembered running to catch 'Dromeda before she got on the train...


"Wait, Dromeda!" Regulus ran to meet his cousin before she boarded the Hogwarts Express. She turned to face him, grinning as if she expected him to call for her. She was very similar to Bellatrix in appearance, but her features were more softened and subdued. Her nose ended in more of a button and her chocolate brown eyes were more almond-shaped than round. Her gleaming auburn hair was cut short into a stylish bob and Regulus was suddenly transfixed with the way the strands bounced.


"Yes, Regulus?"


Regulus shook his head quickly. "Um… I wanted to ask you for advice.." His face burned red.


Tilting her head slightly, she nodded for him to go on, smiling encouragingly. Regulus swallowed hard and inhaled deeply, puffing out his chest in a statuesque pose.


"AmIahorriblepersonforhatingSirius?" he asked quickly, words jumbled together. Andromeda looked flummoxed.


"What?"


Regulus inhaled again, struggling not to run away in embarrassment. "Am I a horrible person for hating Sirius, just because he's going off to have loads of fun at Hogwarts without me?"


Andromeda nodded her head knowingly, chortling lightly. Slinging her arm around her younger cousin's shoulder, the seventeen year old walked them both towards the train. Her voice was very gentle and feathery when she spoke.


"No, Regulus, you are not a horrible person. I was envious of Bella when she first attended Hogwarts without me. I was extremely jealous - so much, in fact, that I never wrote to her at school. She would get so mad at me for not writing when I saw her during holidays that I realised just how green I was with envy. I think, Regulus, that once you recognise how you truly feel, you'll find a much deeper reason for your jealousy hidden." She turned her head to him, her eyes sparkling. "It took me a whole year to abandon my pride, and when I did, I realised that I was scared she would have so much fun she wouldn't miss me like I missed her."


Regulus looked down at his feet. "Oh..."


Andromeda threw her head back and chortled. "Don't seem so disappointed, Reggie! You should go tell Sirius how you feel before you go, or else you'll feel much worse about it later."



Footsteps shattered the memory. They echoed lightly, a steady beat that accompanied a soft voice humming an unfamiliar tune. Regulus whipped around, facing the staircase nervously. A feeble light flickered from hovering candles, casting a wavering shadow over his suddenly resigned face. To anyone else, there was no way of telling who was skipping down the staircase, but Regulus knew in a heartbeat.


He recognised the slight shifting of weight with each step, the hesitancy that coursed through her gait. He could hear the familiar rhythm of her breathing, so relaxing and peaceful. And he could smell morning rain. Sunflowers flashed through his mind. She always took this corridor on her way to the library.


"Regulus?"


Morna's voice was mildly surprised, but her crooked smile found its way onto her mouth. She hefted her canvas bag on her shoulder, evening the weight. "What are you doing here?"


Butterflies knotted at his insides, fluttering their thin wings erratically. Andromeda's advice from the past rang out in his head, and in a swift moment, he decided to follow his heart rather than his mind.


Swallowing hard, he openly stared at her. She was not beautiful, and many would say her lack of curves gave her a plain quality, but Regulus could not deny that there was something endearing about her image. Her hair was as curly as ever, golden and wild, untamed by nature. She irradiated a happiness that Regulus suddenly wished he could supply her.


Her freckled face smiled at him, but the smile faltered when she recognised the feral glint in his dark eyes. "Regulus?" she asked meekly. She stepped forward, a worried crease between her brows. "Are you feeling alright? You look rather flushed..." Trailing off, she gazed up at him, her dotty eyes searching his face.


Regulus's mouth felt dry. Licking his lips, he moved his gaze away from her as he struggled to form words.


"Morna... I need to tell you something..."


Regulus swallowed hard. Feeling more nervous than ever, he made the mistake of looking into her eyes. She was nodding her head, but Regulus was enraptured with her evenly brown eyes. They were like dark pools that threatened to overwhelm him, dusted with flecks of black. He felt dizzy and mesmerised, and, try as he might, he could not pull his eyes away. Her scent filled his senses, her warmth embraced him and he vaguely realised he was standing closer to her than ever before. Gravity seemed to shift and his eyes fell to her pale mouth, taking in the way she bit her lip in concern. His mind was screaming at him, desperately trying to grab his attention, but he was so transfixed with her...


In one short moment, an eternity happened. His hand had somehow moved to cradle the back of her neck, her hair tickling his fingers pleasantly. His mouth tingled anxiously and suddenly, he was kissing her.


It was not a kiss that inspired lust, nor a kiss that meant nothing. It was a kiss that confirmed many of Regulus's and Morna's suspicions that something more could exist between them. Her body tensed against him for a second, than relaxed. Regulus found himself marvelling how her lips felt more heavenly than the velvet-lips of his dreams. He felt very warm and his skin buzzed with a sparkling thrill that jolted his senses. The butterflies inside him were in a state of chaos, flying without purpose. Stepping back after that small age of forever, he gazed at her blushing face, his heart beating frantically.


Tears shimmered in her wide eyes, filling him with a horrid guilt and shame. He felt the need to regret kissing her, to regret enjoying it, but he found it difficult, feeling sure that she had enjoyed it too. Not knowing what else to say, he looked away, murmuring, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have..."


She shook her head hard, tears flying. He felt one hit his hand and trail downwards.


"Don't be… I'm just… Regulus, I'm so sorry." Her lips quivered as she gazed up at him. Regulus felt his heart ripping in two at her heartbroken expression. Regret emanated from her eyes.


"Why should you be sor -- "


"Benjy Fenwick proposed to me... and I accepted," she whispered, her voice torn between grief and joy. She looked utterly confused.


The flitting butterflies inside Regulus fell down with a thud.




*



And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me
And all my grave will warm and sweeter be
For you will bend and tell me that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.

-Danny Boy




*




Author's Note: I apologize! I'm so sorry this chapter took so long! My keyboard and mouse are being faulty. My space bar refuses to work and my mouse stops working every two minutes. I figured I'd get a new keyboard quickly, so I left off this chapter, but I am still using a stupid keyboard and mouse (I'm copying and pasting spaces. How wonderful, eh?). Sorry.


Anyways! I know chapter two was rather dull and description-happy, so I hope you find this chapter to be much more exciting. A Quidditch Match, flashbacks, more interaction... This chapter is almost as long as the first two chapters combined, so I hope that makes you happy, because I love longer chapters. I do hope Morna seemed plausible as a character. And don't worry, Morna is seventeen, which means she's 'of age' in the Wizarding World, so I think she's fine with being engaged to Benjy. She's a year older than Reggie.


Moving on, I think Regulus's emotions moved to fast, but it takes place over a year's time, so meh. I added a flashback of Andromeda randomly, because I felt the end didn't have enough substance to it. I think Regulus needed advice, and it seemed suitable that he look for it in the past. And that kiss... So sorry if its not up to par, and if its sappy and unbelievable (I wouldn't know, I've never been a kissee/kisser before!), but I thought it should be something special.


I was DYING to have Kreacher in this chapter, but it made it retarded, so meh. Anyways. Thank you for reading. :D


Many many thanks to Daisy (Cybachiq) for beta-ing. :) Thank you SO much!


Disclaimer: Everything Harry Potter related belongs to JK Rowling, except for Morna Allaway, the slight plot, and anything else noted otherwise.




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