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24 Hours Shichan Goddess Hour 12: Hour of Redemption “You can close your eyes to things that you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to things you don’t want to feel.” ~Anonymous Mirthless laughter spilled from bloodied lips. “Oh, the irony,” James chuckled, wincing as the movement disturbed his fractured ribs. He squinted into light blue eyes that were a mirror of ones that he knew so well, framed by a face only slightly different from the one that he had committed to memory. The Death Eater’s hair was slightly shorter, leaning towards dark brown instead of pitch black, and his face—his features were no less handsome, but he failed to give the air of confidence and exuberance that graced the face of his older brother. “Hullo, Regulus.” James smiled softly as the man, nay—boy started, looking guiltily to the floor. James continued, undaunted by the lack of response, almost to himself. “The gods must be rolling around on their arses at this…” He smirked bitterly, and turned his gaze back to the floor. In a cold, quiet voice, he commanded, “Get on with it.” Regulus’ hand trembled, his pallor pale as he raised the whip into the air. James grimaced, squeezing his eyes shut as he waited. Regulus raised the whip… But once more, there was no sound of it slicing through the air, there was no flash of fire and agony…there was only the dull, resounding clunk as it dropped to the floor. Hazel eyes popped open as he stared at the whip that was discarded and abandoned from his would-be tormentor’s grasp. His gaze slowly turned once again to the boy’s face, which was hidden in shadow. In a choked voice, strangled with emotion, Regulus whispered, “I…can’t…” ****************************************************************************** Light blue eyes were bloodshot as they glared over at the figure that was sitting behind the desk. The fire cast shadows that danced across the room gracefully, washing everything in a soft, unearthly glow, but it was unappreciated by the three that resided in the room. “It’s been twelve hours, Arabella.” Remus’ voice was a forced calm that he did not feel as he too stared into the impassive eyes of the squib and his tactical commander. The older woman turned her gaze from the fireplace to Remus worried and slightly irritated face. “It’s been twelve hours. Procedure calls for twenty-four hours to search for a missing person.” She searched his face before turning back towards the fire. “You know that, Remus.” “Damn it!” Sirius cried angrily, and pounded his fists into the desk in front of him. “Figg—you know as well as I that they’ve been captured, and we do not *have* twenty-four hours.” “Listen, Black-” “No, Figg, *you* listen! Damn the hell out of procedure, sometimes it doesn’t work and this is one of those times!” The middle-aged woman gave a weary sigh. “Black-” “You *know* that no one has ever survived for more then twenty-four hours in capture, and you know that they’re probably being tortured, and you bloody *know* James and Lily—how can you do this to them? Don’t you know that you’re condemning them to death?!” Arabella grew silent, her gaze turning inward as memories that she tried in vain to squash down washed over her as they had every evening in her dreams since that terrible, terrible night five years ago during the beginning of the war… //“Oh, be careful David!” A younger version of herself, idealistic and naïve leaned over to kiss her fiancé. He grinned at her cockily, twinkling emeralds glowing with silent mirth. “Aren’t I always?” He then disappeared, off to complete another mission as he always did. Only this one …this one was different… It was the last time she saw him alive. There had been an ambush; he had been captured. She had begged her commander to send out a search party for them, but procedure did not allow it. By the time they reached him, he was gone. She still recalled how she had felt when she was given the news that she would never see her love again. That they would never laugh together, never cry together. How they would never get married, never have kids, never grow old together, as their whispered promises had always pledged. // It was a terrible ache that radiated from deep inside her chest, nearly consuming her. It had not waned since and she was ascertained that it never would Could she really condemn others to the same cruel fate? ****************************************************************************** “What?” James asked incredulously as he gaped at the boy. “You…*can’t*?” His voice rose in anger. “You can kill innocent women and children, join Voldemort, the spawn of the devil, disown your own BROTHER but you CAN’T torture a rebel, Black?” Regulus flinched visibly. “But…” He sputtered, desperately seeking compassion in the hard hazel eyes. “I…I *know* you.” He still recalled when the older boy would bring laughter to the dark halls of his house before he and his brother had started Hogwarts. James was always kind to him, always allowed him to tag along when he and Sirius pulled pranks. However, when James and Sirius had left for Hogwarts, there was a huge uproar between Sirius and his parents, especially when Sirius was sorted into Gryffindor. Sirius and James rarely, if ever, were at his house. They left him alone. With them. With so much time of only his parents’ words ringing in his ears, what could he have done but believed them? James snorted, disgusted. “And that really makes a difference? War isn’t all fun and games Regulus.” Regulus stayed silent, and James sighed and turned again. “Stop being an idiot, already, Regulus. Hurry up and get it over with.” “No.” The word was softly spoken, but it held defiance and pride. There was a light in his blue eyes that had not been there for a long, long, time, and James was suddenly reminded of the mischievous little boy that Regulus had once been. “Listen, Regulus, this is really noble of you and all, but you have to do this, Voldemort will torture *you* if you don’t, and you need to stay alive, you idiot!” “No.” After saying yes so many times, after giving in so many times to things that he knew were not right, this word brought relief to his soul, and he reveled in the sheer power that it held. James growled quietly to himself, realizing with a touch of wry humor how utterly idiotic this was of him. Honestly, begging to be tortured! “Regulus…” “I won’t, and you can’t make me. I’ll stop being a Death Eater, I swear I will and I’ll join the Aurors, I’d be useful, I swear I would! That is, if you’d have me…” Hazel eyes gazed searchingly into the sincere, desperate pale blue that bore into him. There was slight plea for redemption in those eyes, and he could sense neither malice nor deception. He dropped his gaze and smiled at him. “I have a much better idea than that…you could serve some use in the Order, if you’d be willing to take risks that would jeopardize your life and could cause you severe bodily harm…” Cerulean eyes lit up, and he answered, as seriously as he could, “I’d do it.” James grinned. “Good, you have to be slightly nutters as well, and since you agreed to the terms listed above, you are definitely a loon…Well then, this is all very peachy, but you’re going to *have to torture me*!” A stricken expression answered him. “I *can’t*.” “Argh!” “Listen, I’ll just have to explain to Voldemort that you’re a pureblood and-” “Don’t be a fool!” James hissed. “He’ll kill you on the spot for disobeying his orders!” The door suddenly swung open, banging into the wall behind it with a crash and they both jumped slightly. From the doorway, a voice drawled, “Indeed.” ****************************************************************************** “This is the traitor my Lord.” Regulus was shoved in front of the throne that Voldemort was sitting in, and crumbled to the ground. “Tell me, Black, I hear that you are betraying me to join Dumbledore’s side…I assume that it is not true. For you know what we do to traitors.” “Yes, m-my Lord.” Voldemort raised a thin eyebrow slightly. “Yes, you know what we do to traitors, or yes, you are confirming the rumor?” “B-both sir.” Voldemort’s eyes flashed. “Wrong answer.” Regulus scrambled to his feet as a sense of pride swept over him. He was oddly calm, though his heart hammered in his chest, and he knew, with sudden clarity that he was going to die. But if this was truly to be the end, then he would die proudly. Honorably. Like his brother would have. “My lo- Voldemort. Your order is for a stupid cause, and I was a git for joining your ranks. I have chosen to resign from the Death Eaters permanently.” Voldemort gave a bark of laughter. “Very well then, boy. I shall grant you your wish. AVADA KEDAVARA!” There was a flash of light, and Regulus crumbled to the ground as life left him, a permanent, triumphant smile twitching the corners of his lips. Outside, it began to rain fiercely from the heavens as the angels wept bitterly at the injustice of the loss of a reformed soul. ****************************************************************************** James was thrown into the cell and groaned as the impact with the hard floor jostled his various injuries. He closed his eyes for a moment, taking in calming breaths as deep as his cracked ribs would allow. After a few minutes of composing himself, he opened his eyes again. “Lily…” He whispered, turning his pounding head to where she still lay slumbering. Slowly, inch-by-inch, he managed to drag himself over where to she was. Her features were at peace, and he smiled tenderly as he gently pushed a crimson lock behind her ear. Darkness crept across his vision as the adrenaline quickly drained out him so that he was spent. He slumped over her, landing on her stomach as he succumbed to the comforting pull of unconsciousness. “Lily…” He breathed, the word nothing more but a small exhalation riding on the labored huff of air. “Lily…” ****************************************************************************** //Lily…// Lily scrunched up her nose in confusion as she stopped in the middle of the forest. Sunshine glittered through the canopy of trees and small birds chirped happily to one another. She was content. She stood still for a couple of moments, and she shrugged. Just when she was going to continue on her way— //Lily…// There it was again. The voice was soft, and the redheaded witch had to struggle to hear it as it rode upon the wind. She could not place the name to the voice that called for her. It was slightly desperate, pained, yet tender and loving. And terribly, terribly sad. //Lily…// Emerald eyes widened. That was James! She was sure of it now. Her keen gaze searched the forest, but she could find no trace of him. The forest noise had stopped, and she found herself at a fork in the road. In one path, there lay peace and happiness and love. In the other, there lay shallow feelings, and a war that she knew she could never win. For who could ever win the war of loneliness? There were two paths—one bright and shining, the other, slightly darkened, filled with uncertainty and trials of suffering. She chose the darker path, the path that had peace with herself, happiness, and love. She chose life. She chose *James*. For when given the choice between heaven and hell, what crazy loon would choose hell? (1) (1) I apologize, but I believe I’ve read this line somewhere, and I cannot remember from where. If I did, (and I’m pretty sure I did) I sincerely apologize and I can only be content with telling readers that this line is not of my own brilliance, but of someone else’s. I hope to find the author and give them due credit. A/N: Chapter 13 will be up tomorrow. Thanks for all the reviews! Does everybody remember who Regulus is? He was briefly mentioned in the OotP when they discussed Sirius’ *lovely* family.

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