"Please, please forgive me,
But I won't be home again.
Maybe someday you'll look up,
And, barely conscious, you'll say to no one:
Isn't something missing?"
It was the third day of the summer holidays. Outside number twelve, Grimmauld place, the bright summer sun was shinning and one or two brave muggle children were playing outside despite the neighbourhood’s bad reputation. Sirius looked at them enviously from his bedroom window, for his parents still refused to let him outside. He was finishing a letter to James. Sirius usually wasn’t one for writing long letters but it was the only way to correspond with the other Marauders. (Other than Bellatrix, of course.) James was the only one his parents allowed him to write to since he was a pureblood. Sirius conveniently forgot to mention that James’ great-grandfather had been blasted off the infamous family tree for standing up for muggle rights. Sirius had just finished writing an idea for another prank when Kreacher hobbled into his room. He bowed low (not as low as he did for Regulus) and began to speak.
“Master Sirius, your father wishes to address you,” said Kreacher in a tone that told Sirius he was bond for a lecture.
Sirius grunted his acknowledgment and bitterly headed for his father’s study. Old Orion Black was looking at a letter. Sirius felt uncharacteristically apprehensive when he realised it was his OWL’s results.
“You did well, son,” said Orion. “You received ‘O’ for Dark Arts class-”
“Defence Against the Dark Arts,” corrected Sirius.
Orion silenced his son with a glare and continued.
“-and Potions,” he finished coldly.
Sirius was surprised. Snape and Lily were the potions geniuses, not him. Sirius smirked as he wondered what Snape would think if he got the same grade in Potions as he did. Bellatrix may have caused a temporary truce between the greasy git and the marauders but Sirius doubted that it would last for very much longer. The eldest Maruader would no longer be at school, which was a pity because she could certainly help them with the map they were making. It was an even greater pity because the Marauders were down to four and Sirius was seeing less and less of his favourite cousin. Bellatrix, to Sirius’ utmost disgust, was starting to look for a husband at her mother’s urging. Sirius’ smirk grew more pronounced. The bloke Bellatrix marries would get more than he bargained for, that’s for sure. Bellatrix would knock the Death Eater and/or Pure-blood mania right out of him…
“What are you smirking at boy?” said Orion sharply, bringing Sirius back to reality.
“Sorry father, I was just…thinking,” Sirius finished lamely.
Orion gazed at his son with the usual disappointment as he continued.
“You know that is your responsibility, as the eldest son, to protect the family honour.”
Sirius nodded. He heard this many times before.
“I have heard, from reliable sources, that you…” Orion paused and looked at his son in a most serious manner. “…associate with mudbloods.”
Sirius tried hard to fight back his anger but it must have shown on his face because Orion was getting angrier too.
“For you sake, they better not be true!” shouted Orion. “First you break all family tradition by being sorted into the mudblood house-”
“It’s not a mudblood house!” shouted Sirius before he could stop himself. “They’re muggle-borns, not mudbloods!”
The moment Sirius had shouted those words, he felt something strike him across the face and knock him of his chair.
“I WILL NOT HAVE A SON WHO IS A BLOOD TRAITOR!” Orion roared. “YOU HEAR ME?”
For one wild moment, Sirius felt like arguing. He felt like telling his father that he was a prejudiced, twisted old man who was more stuck up than the whole of England but then he regained his senses. He was no use to anyone locked in the cellar. Sirius pulled himself back on his chair and looked down at the floor.
“Yes father,” he whispered.
“You’re of age,” said Orion, calming down slightly at the sight of his resigned son. “You’re going to join the Death Eaters.”
Sirius froze. The Death Eaters? But he was going to be an Auror with James. Was he destined to fight against his friend? Was he destined to murder people like Lily and Remus? Was he going to fight against everything he held dear? Would he fight Albus Dumbledore?
“No,” whispered Sirius. “I can’t do it.”
Orion looked like he was about to strike Sirius again but he, by some miracle, restrained himself.
“The Dark Lord is gaining power,” said Orion in a dangerous whisper that was horribly familiar to Sirius. “One of my sons must fight for what is right.”
Sirius stood up. He was a great deal taller than his father and a great deal angrier.
“Believe me father,” said Sirius, his voice rising dangerously loud for a conversation with his father. “I will.”
Sirius stormed out the room before Orion could react. Orion stood quietly for a few moments. After a long while, he finally spoke.
“Kreacher, bring me Regulus,” said Orion slowly.
“Yes, Master,” said Kreacher.
Kreacher did not usually regret obeying an order but, when he led a very reluctant Regulus into Orion’s dark office, he could not help feel sorry for the fifteen year old boy who was destined to serve the Dark Lord and become a Death Eater.
Bellatrix heard something heavy slam onto the ground as she headed towards Sirius’ room.
“Sir?” called Bellatrix. “Are you in here?”
There was no reply. Bellatrix tried the door and crossed her arms when she found it to be locked.
“Sirius, I’m of age,” she said, drawing her wand. “If you don’t open this door, I will and I promise you that it will not be pretty. I will blast it into firewood and I know how much you love this door.”
Again, there was no reply. Bellatrix raised her wand a little higher.
“Come in,” said a gruff voice that Bellatrix instantly recognised as her cousin’s.
When Bellatrix entered Sirius’ room, she realised that the reason for Sirius’ gruff voice was the fact that he had been crying and tried to stop when she came near. She had heard from her Aunt that Sirius had had an argument with Orion. He had been told to stay in his room to ‘regain his senses’ but, from what Bellatrix had seen, he was doing quite the opposite. His school trunk was on the floor. It had been shoved with clothes, books, a broomstick and small bag full of galleons.
“I’m leaving Bella,” said Sirius. “I’ve had enough.”
It took at least a minute for this statement to settle in. Sirius continued to pack while Bellatrix opened and closed her mouth. When she finally found her words, she spoke up.
“B-but...” stammered Bellatrix in horror. “Why?”
“He wants me to join the Dark Lord,” said Sirius angrily.
Bellatrix now had a similar expression to Sirius’ on her face. Sirius continued to shove things into his trunk.
“I’m not joining him, Bella,” snarled Sirius. “Never!”
“Why not?” demanded Bellatrix, suddenly.
Sirius stared at Bellatrix. She was glaring at him angrily and there were tears threatening to fall from her eyes. Bellatrix hadn’t cried in years.
“Bella!” shouted Sirius. “How…how can you ask me that? Do you think I should join him? Do you think I should fight Prongs? What about his Lily? Does she deserve to be murdered by…cowards in masks?”
“But… if you join him …you won’t have to leave us,” said Bellatrix, letting the tears fall. “We’re no family without you.”
Sirius’ anger faded.
“Bella…I wish I could still be part of this family but…I can’t be a Death Eater,” he said. “I can’t fight for something I don’t believe in.”
Bellatrix looked like she was going to argue but she knew Sirius too well to think that she could convince him. It didn’t stop her from feeling betrayed.
“I lo…You make sure that you still wash behind your ears, scruffy,” said Bellatrix, finishing rather lamely.
“I …erm…I’ll see you around Bella,” said Sirius. “Tell Andy and Cissy I said goodbye.”
Both of them knew that the other knew what they had planned to say but, in the house of Black, one does not admit to care for another. They understood, though. In their hearts, both Sirius and Bellatrix knew what Sirius had said was a lie. Bellatrix’s parents would never allow her to see Sirius again but they would meet. They would meet again but the circumstances of that meeting would be very different.
Sirius headed towards the door for the last time. His father had locked himself in his study but his mother was out in full force.
“If you leave,” his mother screamed shrilly, “you’ll never be a part of this family again!”
“FINE!” roared Sirius.
Mrs. Black gave a small scream of despair and her portrait began shouting swears words and insults at her son. Sirius glared at her angrily for a few moments and continued to haul his trunk out the door. The hot summer breeze blew into his face.
“Hey Sir,” came a quiet voice from behind him.
Sirius turned quickly. Regulus stood behind him, outside the house and in the muggle world for the first time in his life. He looked at lamppost curiously for a moment and returned his attention to his brother.
“Didn’t think you’d leave without saying goodbye to your ugly, Slytherin brother, did you?” he asked with a smirk on his face that was hiding his sadness.
What sounded like a small explosion inside the house, told Sirius he had been permanently blasted off the family tapestry. The two brothers jumped at the sound but quickly recovered and looked at each other again.
“Won’t you get in trouble for being out here?” asked Sirius.
“Let me worry about old Orion,” he said. “Anyway, my big brother is a marauder. Insubordination is a…shall we say, family trait?”
Sirius laughed a little.
“Where are you going?” asked Regulus.
“I donno,” admitted Sirius. “James said…that I’m welcome to drop in but I don’t think he meant living at his place.”
“He’ll be alright about it,” said Regulus. “He’s your friend.”
“Well…I’d better get going,” said Sirius.
Regulus nodded to.
“Goodbye Sir,” whispered Regulus.
Abandoning family tradition and, in Regulus’ case, Slytherin tradition, the two brothers embraced for the last time.
“Don’t let them tell you what to do Reggie,” said Sirius. “You make your own choice.”
Regulus froze for a moment.
“I-I will,” said Regulus after a pause.
With that, Sirius left. Regulus wondered if he should have told Sirius that he had taken his place in the Dark Lord’s circle.
No. He won’t have gone to stay with James if I told him. He’d try to protect me but…I’ve got to protect him now. I’ll make sure that Sirius doesn’t become a Death Eater. I just hope he’ll forgive me.
Two Years Later...
Orion had told him how proud Regulus was. He had sat him down in the office that Regulus despised and told him that he was a son worth having. Regulus wished that his father would still stay those words if he chose not to join Voldemort. He wished that he could make his own choices…but in the House of Black, you do what your told if you want to stay.
Two people came to Orion’s house to congratulate Regulus. Bellatrix had congratulated him (not with much enthusiasm) and told him to be careful.
“Do with what ever he says and don’t argue with him,” she said quietly. “Just…be careful, Reggie.”
Regulus knew full well that Bellatrix wanted Sirius to be in his position. Sirius was her favourite cousin and there was no point in denying it. She hadn’t seen Sirius in years and she missed him more than anything.
Andromeda had mumbled her congratulations but made it very clear that she did not approve of what he was doing. Narcissa had not come to Orion’s house to wish Regulus at all. Regulus was closest to Narcissa and they had done almost everything together back at Hogwarts. Regulus was determined to see her before he left so he snatched a handful of floo powder and climbed into the fireplace.
“Narcissa’s bedroom,” he said clearly.
After a few minutes of spinning and confusion, Regulus arrived in Narcissa’s bedroom fireplace. She was sitting on her bed and, when she saw Regulus, had a look of utmost fury on her face.
“What do you want?” she snarled.
Regulus had never been spoken to like this by Narcissa so he hung his head.
“I-I wanted to say…goodbye,” he said quietly.
Narcissa stood up. She had been crying and there were tears running down her cheeks again.
“Goodbye?” said Narcissa in mocking tones. “Death Eaters like you don’t get personal and say things like goodbyes.”
“Narcissa, why are you so-”
“Upset?” she cried. “You want to know why I’m upset? I’ll tell you…EITHER YOU ARE GOING TO GET YOURSELF KILLED OR YOU ARE GOING TO END UP LIKE MALFOY! EITHER WAY I WON’T HAVE A COUSIN ANYMORE! THAT’S WHY!”
“Cissy, you know I won’t do that to you,” said Regulus.
Narcissa trembled for a moment and then ran up to Regulus and hugged him.
“Y-you shouldn’t h-have to g-go,” she sobbed. “I d-don’t want y-you to go…S-Sirius was s-supposed to…not you…”
“Sirius did what he thought was the right choice,” said Regulus firmly. “I didn’t tell him that I’m doing this for him because I’ve got to take his place or…or the Dark Lord might hurt him. He’s not in Hogwarts anymore. Professor Dumbledore can’t protect him.”
“I-I always thought he was a useless old man,” sniffed Narcissa.
Regulus chuckled softly and held Narcissa a little tighter. A loud chime from the living room clock told Regulus that it was midnight.
“I got to-”
“Promise me you’ll come back,” she whispered.
Regulus knew he could not keep this promise easily but he wanted to see his Cissy smile again.
“I promise, Cissy,” he whispered. “It’s time. I have to go.”
Regulus gave Narcissa a small smile and apparated.
Regulus entered the old house cautiously and closed the door behind him. It was a muggle house; an odd place to meet the greatest wizard of all time. He was in a place called Little Hangleton. The house he was in looked as though it had once been grand but it was now a ruin. Regulus’ eyes adjusted to the darkness. Slowly the room he was in came into focus and he immediately wished that it hadn’t. There was a bundle in the corner of the room but Regulus paid little attention to it. His attention was focused on the silhouette before him. The figure was illuminated by a faint candlelight. Regulus fell to his knees when he saw the figure. He knew exactly who he was.
The man before him could hardly be called a man. He was taller than Regulus, a good deal taller than him. His skin was close to his bones and he looked like a human skeleton or a half-starved man. His face was inhuman. The man’s complexion was a horrid off-white and his dark robes clung to his torso but the thing that scared Regulus the most were his eyes. His eyes were scarlet, like blood drops in the snow. Regulus tried to hide his disgust and his fear.
What am I getting myself into…
“Rise,” came Voldemort’s high cruel voice.
Regulus slowly stood up, not daring to look at Voldemort again. He flinched unconsciously as Voldemort drew his wand.
“You are from one of the most respectable pure-blood families in Europe,” continued Voldemort.
Voldemort was whispering and yet, to Regulus, it seemed like he was shouting. His words filled the entire room.
“We are in need of more people like you in the world Regulus,” said Voldemort. “Those who are willing to continue the pure-blood line and purge the world of the filthy mudbloods. Have you seen the monstrosities they are responsible for?”
At first, Regulus didn’t know if he should speak or not but, after a few moments, he took Voldemort’s silence as an invitation to talk.
“My parents have forbidden me to go into the muggle world, my Lord,” said Regulus, “but…some of my relatives have been attacked by muggles before.”
“Then you understand why our task is so important,” said Voldemort. “Hold out your arm, Regulus.”
Regulus hesitated but he slowly outstretched his left arm as his father had instructed him to do.
“Morsemordre!” hissed Voldemort, pointing his wand at Regulus’ forearm.
It was as if someone had jabbed a white-hot poker at Regulus’ arm. It burned so badly, that Regulus almost screamed in pain. He bit his lip so hard that a drop of blood ran down his chin. Suddenly, the pain vanished. Regulus gasped and gripped his forearm. Voldemort removed his wand from Regulus’ arm.
“There is one simple task you must do for me before you can join our ranks,” said Voldemort softly.
Voldemort flicked his wand. The bundle that was on the floor was flung at Regulus’ feet. Regulus could not hide his disgust this time. It was a person. The creature on the floor was a muggle, judging by his attire. It was far too dark for Regulus to see his face but he had never seen a more defeated person.
“Kill him,” said Voldemort.
“S-sorry?” stammered Regulus, confidant that he had misheard Voldemort.
The muggle on the floor stirred and looked up. He looked around and, when he caught sight of Regulus and Voldemort, gasped loudly.
“P-please…let me go…m-my w-wife-”
“Is already dead,” snarled Voldemort. “I saw to it personally.”
The muggle gave a cry of anger and made to attack Voldemort but his legs could support him. He landed heavily and something broke.
“Kill him now,” said Voldemort.
The muggle looked at Regulus with something that was not fear. His face came into view. It was handsome once but now it was scared. The look on his face was one of defiance and hatred. This man was not afraid of death for he had nothing to live for. Regulus raised his wand…but then he dropped it. The muggle’s expression changed to one of surprise. Regulus looked at Voldemort. The fear was etched onto his face but he was not going to falter. He would be brave for one last time.
“No,” he whispered. “I won’t do it.”
Voldemort glared at Regulus. Regulus was frightened. He knew he was going to die. The muggle looked up at Regulus and gave him a grateful smile. He too knew that this was his last night alive but it was comforting to know that there was someone on his side.
“I’ll give you one last chance,” said Voldemort dangerously. “Do it now!”
“No,” repeated Regulus, his voice rose and became more confident. “I am from the noble and most ancient House of Black. We are not petty criminals and murderers.”
“Crucio!” screamed Voldemort.
Every square inch of Regulus burned and seared with unbearable pain. Every fibre of his being wanted to die and melt away into nothingness. But the Dark Lord is not merciful and he never would be. He did not die, not until after many hours with only a lonely muggle at his side.
Sirius looked curiously at Dumbledore. There was no twinkle in his eye, no smile on his face. It made Sirius cold and uneasy. Sirius usually heard bad news from Dumbledore. Ever since he joined the Order of the Phoenix he had heard about all the death Voldemort had caused. But there was something different this time. Something terrible, more so than usual, had happened.
“Professor?” said Sirius. “Why-”
“The found Regulus,” said Dumbledore sadly. “He’s gone.”
Sirius looked at Dumbledore uncomprehending.
“What do you mean by gone?” he snarled.
“He’s dead Sirius,” whispered Dumbledore. "He failed his initiation to become a Death Eater."
“Your wrong,” said Sirius simply. “He’s not dead and he wouldn't have joined him. He promised.”
Dumbledore looked hopelessly at his old student.
“NO! HE’S NOT DEAD!”
Sirius leaped out of the chair and headed for the door. Dumbledore put out a hand to stop him. Sirius avoided Dumbledore’s crystal blue eyes and began to shake uncontrollably.
“But he can’t be dead…he’s just a kid…I was supposed to be the one who joined him…He took my place…I was going to join him but I said no…I said no…”
Sirius lip began to tremble.
“I should have joined Voldemort…Reggie would still be here…”
Dumbledore looked at Sirius sharply.
“You don’t mean that, Sirius,” he said, uncharacteristically harsh. “Voldemort murdered your brother. Will you really join him?”
“I don’t know…Bella…she said that I should have…she said…that we’d be together if…if I did…”
“Voldemort tears families apart. He does not make them,” said Dumbledore. “Despite what your cousin may believe you made the right choice. I’m sure James and Lily would agree.”
Sirius closed his eyes for a moment and then he nodded but the effect of his words on his old Headmaster were profound indeed. Albus Dumbledore was usually a very trusting man but he was now very suspicious of Sirius Black and his suspicion would lead to Sirius undoing.
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