Brother of Mine
Planning weddings was difficult. James and Lily learned this quickly. Luckily they had the help of Hannah Potter, who also recruited Anna Lupin’s help. The two women were able to aid them in whatever way they needed. Alice Longbottom was also thrilled to help her friend and soon the four women had a long list of things they needed to do before the wedding, which had been set for September. This long list frightened James far too much to even attempt to do anything to help them, unless they sorely needed it. His help, however, was not even requested. The top rule Hannah and Anna had for the future bride was that man’s help was often not needed, though they sometimes had good intentions.
It was best to just make them feel useful without actually having them be of any real use.
Meanwhile, the work of the Order increased as Voldemort continued to grow stronger. There were so many more attacks then the Order was prepared to handle. Too much damage was being done. There had been a Muggle family out camping that had been attacked by a werewolf during the full moon. None of the family survived. Dementors had been feeding and breeding, causing the fog that had bewitched London to grow even denser as the days passed. The entire Order of the Phoenix was scared; even Dumbledore wasn’t as calm as he usually appeared to be. The number of Death Eaters just seemed to keep growing and the Order kept losing numbers. In June they had lost another – Cardaroc Dearborn suddenly disappeared.
No one knew what happened, but everyone knew they would never see or hear from him again.
Tensions were running high around the Ministry. The Aurors were taking heat because they couldn’t stop the attacks that were happening, no matter how much they tried. Moody was taking a good amount of slander, people claiming he was losing his mind and perhaps shouldn’t have so high a position. Barty Crouch, who was in charge of the department, was going to extremes to capture Death Eaters. He was even going so far as to allow the Aurors to use Unforgiveable Curses, should they need to. This was something the Aurors in the Order wouldn’t stand for, though they couldn’t voice their opinions for fear of losing their jobs.
St. Mungo’s was almost constantly bustling with activity. James worked late into the night some days, especially when there was a werewolf attack or a giant attack. The Creature-Induced Injuries ward was busy those times and James had seen so many grisly injuries that sometimes he wondered how his father dealt with this day after day for so many years. But James loved his job, regardless. He liked being able to help people. He was especially glad that his training and work in this area now allowed him to heal Remus’s injuries after the full moon. His father would no longer have to do that.
It was much easier for James to just go over to Sirius’s the next morning and heal his friend.
“Going to work?” Sirius asked when he saw Remus walk through the kitchen, quickly grab an apple out of the bowl on the counter, and start towards the front door. Sirius was sitting at the table, a copy of the Daily Prophet in hand as he worked on completing the crossword puzzle. He had some time to kill before he was due to be at the Auror Academy.
“Yeah,” Remus said, stopping for just a moment to look back at his roommate. “I’m running late, see you later.” He took a bite of the apple that was now his breakfast and hurried to the front door. Just as he pulled it open he received a knock on the forehead. Stepping back in surprise, Remus found that Regulus Black had just been about the knock on the front door.
“Regulus?” he said, shock evident in his voice. Remus couldn’t remember the last time he had seen the youngest Black son.
“Lupin,” Regulus muttered, clearly unsurprised to see who he had run into. Now that Remus looked carefully at him, he saw there was something different about the young man. Regulus was just out of school now. There was a difficult transition period, they all knew that, but it looked as though it wasn’t serving Regulus well at all. The man was pale and looked scared. “Is my brother here?”
Remus nodded. “He’s in the kitchen, right down the hall.” He jerked his head in the appropriate direction. Before he started to go off to work again, he tentatively asked, “Is everything alright?”
“Fine,” Regulus snapped. Remus Lupin was possibly the last person he wanted to talk to, save James Potter.
Remus looked at the younger man doubtfully, but he said nothing else. He simply nodded and disappeared down the steps. Whatever Regulus wanted, it was between him and Sirius. Though Remus couldn’t begin to imagine why Regulus would want to talk to his brother all of the sudden. They hadn’t been on good terms in years; especially not since Sirius discovered Regulus had joined the Death Eaters.
Could that be what this was about?
Sirius glanced up when he heard footsteps in the hallway. “What’d you forget?” he asked, thinking it was Remus coming back in, not having heard the exchange at the door. When Regulus came into the room, Sirius instantly stood up, his defences up at once. His brother was a Death Eater. He hated it, but the fact still remained. Regulus couldn’t be here for a good reason. “What are you doing here?” he snarled.
Regulus easily saw that Sirius wasn’t comfortable with him being in his home and, while once this would have made him laugh with pleasure, it saddened him now. Regulus was scared. He wouldn’t admit it at first, but he would now. He was terrified. He was in too far over his head and he couldn’t get out. “I… I wanted to talk to you,” Regulus fumbled out, realising how ridiculous that sounded. Sirius had wanted to talk to him so many times before and Regulus couldn’t even give him the time of day.
And apparently Sirius was still bitter about that. “You want to talk, do you? What about all those times I wanted to talk to you and you told me to bugger off?”
“Sirius, this is important. I need to talk to you.” Regulus had to get out. They were expecting too much of him. The things they wanted him to do, he couldn’t. He wasn’t the kind of person that could kill another in cold blood. He couldn’t. They expected him to, but he couldn’t. Hexing was one thing, but he couldn’t kill another. And he was almost sure he knew something; he was sure he had answers. Sirius would want to hear them!
“About what? How about all those times I wanted to talk to you?” Sirius didn’t know what had happened to him, but he couldn’t stand the sight of his brother right now. Regulus was a Death Eater. He was the very thing Sirius was fighting to get rid of, the very thing he and so many people had gotten hurt trying to do. People he had come to call friends had been killed by those Death Eaters. Now Regulus was standing here in his kitchen, practically begging him to speak with him. Sirius wasn’t going to have it. Regulus always got his way, but not this time.
“Sirius, you don’t understand. I can’t do this anymore!”
“Finally woken up, have you? Or is this some sort of trick? Lure me in by pretending that you’re sorry and then your buddies come and kill me?”
Regulus’s face paled several shades. Did Sirius really hate him so much that he would suggest that? His voice came out in a strangled whisper. “Sirius, I wouldn’t do that.”
Sirius had stepped a bit closer to his brother now and there was a hard distance in his eyes that made Regulus’s insides squirm unpleasantly. “Yeah? I thought you wouldn’t join the Death Eaters either but, well, would you look at that. You joined them.”
“And I’m sorry I ever did, Sirius. You have to believe me!”
Sirius seemed to have not heard Regulus. “Do you know what the people you fight with have done? Do you know I’ve had to help bury people I called friends? Hell, sometimes there weren’t even bodies to bury! Just bits and pieces.” Horrible images of Benjy Fenwick filled his mind and Sirius had to hastily shove them away. He hadn’t even seen the pieces of the man; he just knew it was horrible.
“Sirius, I didn’t do any of that.”
“You mean to tell me you weren’t in Diagon Alley during that last riot back in the winter?” He saw Regulus fumble for a moment and he got his answer immediately. “Go home, Regulus.”
Regulus blinked rapidly. No, he couldn’t leave yet; he had to talk to his brother. He had to tell him what he knew. Why wouldn’t Sirius listen to him? “Sirius, you have to listen to me. Please!”
Sirius shook his head as he tightly gripped his brother by the shoulder and began leading him to the door. “I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to listen to you anymore.” Remembering something very similar that Regulus had said to him after he’d run away from home, Sirius spat, “You gave up any right to make me listen to you when you put that mask on and decided where your loyalties lay.” He pulled the door open and roughly pushed Regulus through the doorway. “Go home, Regulus.”
Sirius mentioned nothing of Regulus’s visit to anyone. When Remus came home later that day and asked what had happened, Sirius brushed it off, saying that it was nothing important. Remus didn’t believe Sirius for a second. He and Regulus hadn’t spoken in ages and Regulus didn’t look as though he had nothing important on his mind and just wanted to chat with his older brother. But Remus also knew that if Sirius didn’t want to talk about something, he was never going to. So Remus merely left the offer to talk about it out there. It was Sirius’s to take if he chose.
It had been two weeks now since Regulus had visited his flat and Sirius decided that he needed to spend time with his best friend, the future husband of Lily Evans, to take his mind off it. When James’s shift at St. Mungo’s ended, Sirius forcibly dragged him to the Leaky Cauldron. The pub was practically empty, as no one wanted to spend much time outdoors. It wasn’t safe. Tom, the barman, could be seen cleaning the same spot on the counter with unfocused eyes, looking as though he was counting the minutes until he could call it a night.
“So, how are your wedding plans coming?” Sirius asked after he ordered two butterbeers. Tom looked utterly thrilled to be able to do something that he nearly bounced off to fill the mugs.
“You’ll have to ask Lily that,” James told Sirius dryly, rolling his eyes. “She won’t let me get anywhere near them.”
Sirius chuckled, thanking Tom as he set the two drinks in front of them. He slid one mug towards James. “That’s women for you, I guess. Were you allowed to do anything but pick me as your best man?”
James took a sip of his drink. “I was allowed to pick who I wanted to invite. It wasn’t that long of a list. You, Remus, Peter and my parents, obviously. Remus’s mum and dad, and Peter’s mum as well. We both decided on inviting the Order, though I dunno how many of them will show up.”
“Frank and Alice will,” Sirius interjected confidently. They had all known the Longbottoms since they were eleven; they had all been housemates. They would come.
“They have to, as Alice is Lily’s maid of honour.”
Sirius grinned. “That’s a good choice. So who’d Lily want to come?”
“Aside from Frank and Alice, just her sister and that thing she’s married to.”
Sirius grimaced. He had heard about their disastrous visit to the Dursleys’. He could understand why Lily would want her sister to be there, but it didn’t mean he had to like the fact that they may be there. He would have to restrain himself from hexing them a bit. It didn’t seem right to make Lily upset on her wedding day. “They’re right gits, aren’t they?”
Sirius nearly choked on his butterbeer. He hadn’t heard that voice in years, not since he was sixteen. What was his father doing here and, most important, what did he want with him? Sirius had thought their lack of communication over the past three years had established that neither of them had anything to say to the other. Sirius knew he had nothing to say to his father and he doubted very much that Orion Black had anything to say to him either. “Father,” Sirius replied stiffly, keeping his eyes averted from the man.
“I need to talk to you.”
This was a record – two Blacks who wanted to speak to him within the same month. Surely the world must be ending. “How did you know I was here?”
“Lupin told me.”
Blast it. Sirius had forgotten he’d left a note in the kitchen to let Remus know where he would be. He knew Remus might begin to get nervous if he didn’t come back for a while. Death Eaters were never opposed to snatching someone off the streets and having some fun with them. He couldn’t be mad at Remus though. Remus’s first reaction was probably that something bad had happened. Why else would his father suddenly appear on their doorstep? And that was when Sirius’s face paled. What if something did happen?
Even if there was a sense of dread in him, Sirius remained indifferent. “What do you want?”
When he finally looked at his father, there was a strange urgent look in Orion’s eyes that Sirius had never seen before. As much as he loathed admitting it, it unsettled him quite a bit. “I told you, I need to talk with you. Privately.” He threw a pointed look at James, who promptly got up and moved towards a table at the back of the pub, though not before throwing Sirius a significant look that clearly told him to fill him in later. Orion took the stool James had been sitting on and stared at his estranged son. “Have you seen Regulus recently?”
Sirius could have openly scoffed at his father. This was what he wanted to talk about? Orion hadn’t seen his oldest son in years and he, of course, only wanted to talk about Regulus. Sirius knew he shouldn’t have been surprised by this, and he wasn’t. He was, however, surprised at the small twinge of hurt that appeared in his stomach. He was always going to be second best to the Blacks, wasn’t he? “Why?” was all he said and he said it in such an indifferent manner that he disgusted even himself.
Orion saw this and his ears tinged red, a danger sign. “He hasn’t been home in weeks and he’d been acting funny before then. He wouldn’t talk about it with anyone, but Kreacher told me he came to see you and I thought maybe he’d come to see you again. I thought he might have told you what was bothering him.”
“No, he didn’t and I haven’t seen him since then.” Why was he being such a bloody arse? Regulus had, more or less, told him what was bothering him and Sirius had pushed him away, telling him to just go home. Had Regulus gone home?
“I’m concerned about him.”
“Big surprise,” Sirius muttered, again disgusted at his childishness. He was nineteen, for Merlin’s sake. He should have been past such things.
“Sirius, I know you hate us all, but this is your brother. You’ve never hated him before.”
“Yeah, but that was before he decided it would be fun to join loony Dark wizards who kill people for fun. But I’m sure you supported that decision.”
Orion’s mouth twitched. “Maybe we did at first,” he conceded. “But this is different. If you’d seen the way your brother had been acting, he wasn’t himself. Something’s happening and I was hoping my son would tell me if he knew anything.”
Thank Merlin the only other person in the pub was James. Tom had long ago disappeared. Sirius didn’t need to feel embarrassed about the scene he was about to make. “So I’m your son now? I wasn’t your son when I was Sorted into Gryffindor or when I made friends with James, Remus and Peter! I wasn’t your son when I ran away and you didn’t even care enough to come after me! I’m only your son now that something’s happened to your precious Regulus! Why don’t you go ask someone who cares?”
Orion starred at his son, who had jumped off his stool during the middle of his tirade. Maybe there was a part of him that didn’t blame Sirius for being upset with him. He must have wanted to get that out for years. But the more dominant part of him wanted to know where Regulus had disappeared to. Walburga was terrified that something horrible had happened to him and, while Orion had initially said he was probably staying at a friend’s, it just wasn’t like Regulus to not visit them, let alone write to them, for so long.
“Please, Sirius, if you know anything, tell me.” Orion was serious. He wasn’t going to let Sirius’s jealousy do something that would end badly.
“Look, I don’t know anything. And I’m leaving. Regulus is fine.” With a nod to James, who instantly got up from his seat, the two left the pub and went into Muggle London.
“So you spoke to your dad?”
“Well, he spoke, I yelled.”
“Didn’t you think that maybe he was right to be concerned and come to you?”
Sirius sighed in disgust and got up from his seat at the kitchen table. Remus revolved in his own seat and watched the man stalk across the room. “Of course I did.”
“But I’m a git and decided to just let my anger out on him. Regulus was scared when he came here, any idiot could see that. But I couldn’t even take the time to really listen to what he had to say.”
Remus frowned and stared at the tabletop. He could understand where Sirius was coming from. He had had nothing but hard feelings towards his family for years, that wasn’t something easy to get past. But he could also see where Mr. Black was coming from. He was genuinely concerned for his youngest son and he wanted to know if Sirius had heard anything that could give him some comfort. As much as Remus didn’t like the man, he could sympathize with him. “Maybe you should try talking to your father again?”
Sirius quickly shook his head. There was no way he was going back to talk to Orion Black. There was no chance in hell that he would do that. “No. Remus, I can’t talk to him again, not after the way I acted.”
“But you don’t know if something really did happen to Regulus. Has anyone seen him in the past few weeks besides you?” Sirius shrugged, determined again to pretend that he didn’t care and Remus saw right through this. “Sirius, you need to get over your problems with your family and face it. Something’s wrong and you just don’t want to see it.”
“Maybe I don’t,” Sirius grudgingly admitted, but he wasn’t going to do anything about it. Not right now, anyway. “I’m tired, I’m going to bed. See you in the morning.”
Remus watched as his roommate left the room, disappearing up the hallway towards his bedroom. The Blacks weren’t a good family by any means. Remus had had his fair share of attacks from them, though obviously not nearly as many as Sirius. Sirius was their son. He was supposed to be the heir to the Black Family and he had done so many things that would make other parents proud, but disgusted his own family.
It wasn’t right, but that was the way it was.
He couldn’t blame Sirius for being upset with his father. After years of not speaking, the only thing that could bring Orion Black to see his oldest son was Regulus. That was something that would get to Sirius. But Remus also knew that whatever happened, it wasn’t good. Sirius had already lost his Uncle Alphard. Remus didn’t want to imagine how he would react if something happened to his brother. Sirius always had hope for Regulus and most of it had been dashed away when Regulus joined the Death Eaters. Yet there was always that small bit of hope that Remus was sure remained.
It was quiet in the morning when Remus got up. Sirius was usually bustling around the kitchen, drinking too much coffee that he was likely to never come down from the caffeine high and cabinet doors were opening and closing as he looked for his breakfast. This morning, however, it was dead silent. Remus groggily sat up in his bed, wiping the sleep out of his eyes. Merlin it was warm in his room. He had a feeling they were in for a brutal summer. Swinging his legs over the edge of his bed, he yawned deeply. He really should see what was going on that made everything so strangely quiet.
When he entered the kitchen, he saw Sirius sitting on the counter, still in his pyjamas, a wrinkled letter clutched in his hand. He looked sick and Sirius hardly ever looked sick. Something was wrong and Remus was sure the answer to that was in the letter. Considering what they had spoken about two days ago, there was a sickening sensation that immediately filled his stomach. Sirius wouldn’t be able to take it if something had happened… “Morning,” he greeted cautiously, his stomach sinking when Sirius didn’t even look at him in acknowledgement. Remus stepped further into the room. “Are you alright?”
Finally Sirius acknowledged him, by furiously shaking his head. “I got a letter from my dad,” he told him in a hollow voice.
No… this wasn’t going to be good. “What did it say?”
“My dad said Kreacher disappeared for a while last night and when he got back… when he got back he said Regulus had come for him. He said Regulus had something important he needed him to do. Kreacher wouldn’t say what it was; he just said Regulus wasn’t coming home.” Sirius’s hand clenched around the letter, crumpling it into a tiny ball. He didn’t need to think about what that meant. Kreacher loved Regulus more than he had ever loved Sirius. Kreacher wouldn’t lie about things that involved Regulus.
Sirius took a deep, shuddering breath. “My brother’s dead, Remus.”
Remus felt his heart sink in his chest. “I… I don’t know what to say.” He couldn’t just say he was sorry, that wasn’t enough. Sirius’s brother was dead and no matter how much Sirius pretended to be indifferent to him, it was all a façade. Sirius had loved his brother; he had showed it every time he tried to talk to him. He had showed it every time he tried to turn his brother’s path around, knowing it would only lead to some horrible. No matter how hard Sirius tried, it didn’t amount to what he wanted it to.
Regulus was dead, regardless.
Sirius laughed harshly. “Regulus wanted out, Remus.” He slid off the countertop and furiously threw the letter in the trash bin before rounding again on his roommate. Remus stayed where he was, knowing it was best to just let Sirius get this out now and do nothing to stop it. “He wanted out! He was a bloody coward for joining and a coward for trying to get out. The Death Eaters probably wanted to make him pay for trying to leave. You don’t just join Voldemort and when you decide you’ve had enough, be given a care package and sent on your merry little way.”
Remus could think of nothing to do except watch as Sirius shouted, raged. He was furious. “Sirius,” he started to say, but Sirius wasn’t finished yet.
“He’s an idiot! He should never have joined them in the first place. I tried to tell him that, but he wouldn’t listen! He thought he was doing something noble, trying to purify the wizards. He was so stupid! He should have realised that he was damning himself by joining them.”
As much as Remus agreed with what Sirius was saying, he couldn’t deny that Regulus had tried to repair the damage he’d made. It was just too late. “He was a kid, Sirius. He was just a kid.”
“And that’s my point! He shouldn’t have had anything to do with it. But that doesn’t matter anymore, does it? He’s always just going to be a kid because he never got to live past that!”
“We’re kids too,” Remus quietly reminded him. “It doesn’t matter if we’re legally adults, compared to everyone else, we’re just kids and we’ve done the same thing Regulus has done.”
“But I doubt Dumbledore would kill one of us because we decided we didn’t want to be in the Order anymore.” In his anger, Sirius furiously kicked at one of the chairs, causing Remus to step back slightly. He had never seen Sirius like this before.
“He was sorry for what he did,” Remus said, unsure of what to do. He carefully stepped up beside Sirius and laid a hand on his shoulder. “You said he wanted out. He must have been sorry.”
“It doesn’t matter. He shouldn’t have had anything to be sorry for because he shouldn’t have done it in the first place!” Sirius’s jaw clenched and he turned away from his friend so he wouldn’t see him hastily wipe away the tears that had formed in his eyes. Regulus was his brother, despite what he had done. He was his brother. Despite everything, Regulus was his brother. And Sirius was never going to get to see his brother again.
Excerpt from Chapter Eighty One: Until Death Do Us Part
“I heard that, Moony,” Sirius muttered, finally tearing his eyes away from his speech and looking up at his friends. “Could you tell me what that’s like? Seeing as you’ve had one already.”
Remus narrowed his eyes at his roommate. “That was low, Padfoot.”
“Yeah, probably, but I’ve got to finish this.”
“Actually, you’ve got to come with us,” Peter interjected.
Sirius blinked. “Why?”
“It’s the night before James’s wedding, it’s customary the best friends of the groom do something that involves dragging him out and throwing him a party before he’s married.”
“But isn’t there a party after the wedding anyway?”
“Yes… but this is something just ‘for the men’ or at least that’s what my mum said,” Remus explained. “So we need to go get James and go do something fun.”
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