Murky ice-water leaks into my mouth, the salty liquid overly-moistening my once dry throat, stretching my lungs to their limit. Darkness incases me, ripping me into shreds as the foul, unspeakable creatures drag me further down. I’m dying. I’m dying for foolishly following Him, allowing Him to use my only true friend for that soul-preserving contraption of his. I’m dying. Stupidly weak. Ridiculously ignorant. I’m dying.
Maybe he was right, my brother. Right to steer clear of the herd, to follow the brighter colored sheep than the dark ones I placed myself around. Maybe he was right. Nonetheless, I’m dying. My throat is shrinking from the excess water; my fingernails peeling off from clawing at the shore, attempting to pull away from the impending doom.
My hand crashes once more against the sharp rock and I catch a grip. Feeling a newfound energy, I pull, freeing my upper body from the unforgiving water. I gasp, cough, choking up dark water. I crawl; crawl until I’m further up, yet my legs still dangle below, taunting the dark creatures that haunt those waters.
“Mum,” I whisper.
But she isn’t coming. Nobody’s coming for me. No one except those vile beasts that snatch at my legs; they’ve had a taste, and won’t stop until they swallow me whole.
I’m dying. They’ll pull me back down as my arms are too weak to fight any longer. They’ll pull me back down...back down into the darkness that I once was so fond of joining yet whole-heartedly regret even peeking at now.
“Mum,” I whisper again, softer that time.
My eyes drift close as those grimy hands below the waters latch onto my ankles, teasing me back into the awaiting open arms of Death. But not yet. No, I squeeze my eyes shut as tight as they will go, my heartbeat increasing at an alarming pace the closer I move to the water. He wants that; fear. He wants me to beg, to plead, to cry. But no, I won’t give Him that. I keep my eyes closed instead, and go back. I go back the way I came: confused, cold, and wet. I go back to the start. I go back to relive it, relive it all to see what I could have done differently, said differently. I don’t cry. I don’t whimper. No. Regulus Arcturus Black does not, and will not, cry. He—I—will go back.
The sun had just managed to creep up the morning I was born. Rays looked through the curtains, shining directly down upon me as I was pulled from my dark, wet room and out into the world. At least, my mother claims that’s how it all occurred. She claims that I was most beautiful creature she ever laid eyes on (temporarily forgetting she already had a son), that I was nothing less than perfect. I was her son; her beautiful, flawless, son. I did everything I was told without question. I fed at the appropriate time, I went to sleep the moment she told me to, and I stopped crying whenever she gave the order. I was the perfect, obedient, son.
My mother was stern, yet she still managed to coddle me. My father was even sterner, not letting anyone in the house slip by with mediocrity or disobedience. My brother.... My brother was different. Though he cleaned his room at mother’s orders and cleared his plate at father’s, he was very different. He would always ask questions, odd questions. He wanted to know why we pure-bloods were better than the others. He wanted to know why the Muggles were useless and dirty. He wanted to know why we couldn’t speak with the children that played around the neighborhood. He wanted to know why. Maybe it was the typical, Black family stubbornness, or the fact that he hung onto Cousin Andromeda’s every word (who herself was oddly different). Nevertheless, my brother was different, and he made no attempt to hide that he wanted that difference to rub off on me, even when I was only eight-years-old.
“Reg, it won’t do no harm.”
I continued staring down at my feet, chewing on my lower lip. “But--,”
“No,” Sirius snapped, placing his hands on my shoulder. I looked up at him, staring into his gray eyes that so easily matched mine. “It’s just a game.”
“Father won’t like it,” I muttered.
Sirius wrapped his arm around my shoulder, guiding me toward the front door. “Father won’t find out. He’s off visiting Uncle Cygnus.”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “I already have him doing somethin’ so he won’t tell. Come on.”
He reached forward, pulling open the door. The cool, summer air struck me, blowing my thin hair about. Sirius only grinned, taking hold of my hand and dragging me outside.
“Button up,” he explained, skipping down the stairs.
I struggled to button my coat and follow him as we moved further and further away from our comforting home. Sirius maintained his eager, chipper, attitude while he forced me along the sidewalk. We were headed directly toward a group of kids that kicked around a small ball in the road. One of the girls playing stalled once we approached, eyeing us with curiosity.
“Hey,” Sirius said, keeping a tight hold on my hand. “Can we play?”
The others soon stopped, one boy picking up the ball. “Do you know how?”
My nerves began to race, but Sirius kept his calm demeanor. “You just kick it around into that space you got down there, right?”
The boy nodded, looking over at the others, before smiling. “Okay then, I guess you can play. You can be on my team and he can go with Sara’s.”
The blonde girl, Sara, took hold of my wrist, peeling me away from the comfort of Sirius’ hand. He gave me a reassuring nod before jogging to his team.
“You’ve played football before?” Sara asked me. I slowly shook my head, causing her to lightly sigh. “That’s okay, just follow after us.”
The three others on our team broke apart, and their little game of kicking around the ball started up again. I lagged behind, not as willing to play the games mother and father forbid us to ever partake in. Sirius, however, never gave them a second thought. He laughed gleefully with the others, trying, but failing, to kick the ball toward my team’s goal.
The ball soon rolled my way, Sara shouting at me to kick it. With a bit more of hesitation, I threw my leg out, my foot connecting quite roughly with the ball. I cringed a bit, but Sara cheered me on. Sirius even shot me a proud grin. That was it. That was all I needed. I took to a jog in shoes that certainly weren’t meant for running. My breathing quickened, but the tingling sensation was something I hardly ever felt before.
I skidded to a halt, nearly tripping. The sharp, deep voice destroyed all of those wonderful feelings swimming inside of me as the volcano of laughter went dormant. I peered toward our house, seeing father standing near the street. His face was stoic, but his body trembled; he was aching to snatch out his wand, I just knew he was.
Snapping my attention toward Sirius, the muscles in his jaw clenched; he could have matched father’s anger with no trouble.
Without another word, I jogged toward the house, hearing Sirius follow closely behind. I skimmed past father, rushing into the warm house. In seconds, the door behind us slammed shut. I stuck close to Sirius then as father towered over us.
“Regulus,” he said, though he kept his eyesight glued on Sirius, “there will be no supper tonight, and your books will be removed from your room.”
My eyes widened and burned, but I kept my mouth shut; arguing back would only worsen the situation. Sirius, though, maintained his odd difference.
“We didn’t do anything wrong,” he said, making an effort at keeping his voice leveled.
Father took in a deep breath before fully turning my way. “Up to your room. Do not speak to anyone, including Kreacher.”
“Yes, father,” I whispered, taking to a run around him and up the stairs.
I burst into my bedroom, seeing that my bookshelf had already been emptied of all the glorious books I loved so much. Throwing myself on my bed, I couldn’t contain the tears anymore. They fell freely on the soft pillow, staining the once perfectly clean silk.
A gentle knock came at my door, but I refused to flip over. The weight on my bed soon shifted, and a hand rested on my back, rubbing in easy circles.
My head sat up a bit at the familiar, warm tone. “Cissy? Why are you here?”
Narcissa, my cousin, continued rubbing my back. “My father wanted to visit. Now, don’t let this get to you, okay? He’s only punishing you to help you. Just...just don’t follow your brother so much.”
“But who else do I got?” I asked, moving so that I could look at her directly.
She let off a tiny smile, reaching toward me to brush aside a few strands of my hair. “You have Bella. You have me. Anytime anything goes wrong, you know you can send me an owl. After your punishment is over, you can stay over our manor.”
I sniffed, wiping at my face with my sleeve. “‘Kay.”
She leaned even closer, wrapping me up in a safe hug. My body managed to relax in her comforting embrace as my thoughts scrambled about in my mind. She was right though. Punishment was only a learning process, and the main subject of my learning was to not fall in line with my ever-so-different older brother.
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