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?
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?"
"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.
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."
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
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.
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