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Regulus Black: Loyalty is a Two Way Street
By Cor_Leonis

Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.
Woodrow T. Wilson

Regulus Black wasn’t always an active participant in Black family affairs. As a young child, he’d sit quietly in the corners or lurk in the doorways, avoiding catching any attention from his father or aunt, lest he become a target of their shrewd eyes and sharp tongues. He was more of the silent type, always listening, cataloguing facts and information in his mind, storing it for later use. He was a bright boy, quiet and loyal, eager to keep up with his older brother and cousins. When they let him, that is.

It’s not really a wonder that he started to follow his family’s politics.

His family fell apart when Sirius went Gryffindor on them. His father watched Regulus more carefully, making sure that the family policies were beat into his son’s head (though not literally) and that Regulus wasn’t showing any of the arrogant, rebellious traits that his older brother possessed. Sirius later denounced the family when Regulus was fourteen years old.

He remembers it well, the shrieking, thundering, wall shaking bellows echoing throughout the house. He had been in the library, reading. He could have been lurking about in the shadows with Kreacher, but there was no need to watch the dramatic affair. He could hear it all with perfect clarity.

If Mrs. Black had coddled Regulus when he was a young boy, it was nothing in comparison to how she was spoiling him now. He took Sirius’s place as the rightful heir and favourite son, and was rewarded with endless packages of sweets and even a new broom, though he wasn’t nearly as good at flying as Sirius was. His father watched him keenly, giving abrupt praise on rare occasions, quite outside the realm of his usual caustic words. Regulus had finally reached the status he longed for and he intended on staying there.

Intent on being everything that Sirius could not, he devoted himself to following in his ancestors’ footsteps. He was not about to cause his father and mother any more grief, and he researched the family bloodlines with no avail. The Noble House of Black had quite a magical history, and the blood that pumped through each and every one of their veins pulsated with magical properties that were both strong and powerful. Black blood was made up of the very finest; his ancestors were those of wit and incredible intelligence, some of whom were spectacular duellers, political activists, and entrepreneurs.

He watched his family carefully, eager to show his cousins that he wasn’t like Sirius at all. He talked with them about the pureblood cause and even read essays by notable pureblood wizards and witches that supported it. He wanted to prove that he could be a loyal follower of the Dark Lord, whose name was being whispered throughout the household.

“You’re a bit young to be thinking about that, aren’t you, Regulus?” Narcissa scoffed one night as she sat outside with him.

No longer a young boy, it took a lot of effort to convince her that he possessed a lot of motivation, and in his eyes, substantial reasoning, to follow the pureblood cause. “No,” he said quickly. “It doesn’t matter what age you are. My opinions and ideas are just as important as your own. Not that I hear you express them that often.”

Narcissa sniffed disdainfully. “I keep my own ideals behind the scenes, if you must know. I leave the recruiting and the discussions to Lucius.”

The passion behind Regulus’s pureblood principles was stoked even more during History of Magic, which was his best subject. While his classmates talked amongst themselves or muffled their snores into their arms, he took notes about various Witch Trials and how the Muggles’ World War II affected the wizardring world. Though Binns brushed through the entire subject rather quickly, Regulus became fascinated and searched for more information in the library. What he learned convinced him even more that the Dark Lord had a valid point.

Muggles were dangerous.

Witches were tried and burned at the stakes. Other muggles, along with a few witches and wizards, were being herded into camps and treated far more horribly than anything Regulus could ever imagine. Wars were waged and ended with large fatality numbers. Dumbledore was fighting Grindelwald during all of this action, but Regulus couldn’t help but notice that it was an easy distraction for the wizardring world. Most history books brushed right over Muggle history at that particular time, eager to focus on the battle between two of the greatest wizards of all time.

Bellatrix said it was a political diversion. Regulus couldn’t help but wonder.

“Finally, we have someone who realizes that Muggles have no place in the wizard world,” his father said one day at dinner. “They only cause trouble, and eventually some fanatic will get the idea in his head to destroy our world.” His mother nodded in agreement, and Regulus tucked the comment into his mental library.

He would discuss this at length with his fellow housemates, always in hushed tones. The common room was full of secrets. His fellow Slytherins seemed to agree that the lives of witches and wizards everywhere would be better off if Muggles weren’t involved. The muggle-borns would destroy all the antiquity and history of the wizardring kind.

It was already happening, but to a lesser degree. Muggles were tainting wizard blood, diluting the magic, and spreading it around like a virus. Families with common blood, mudblood, coursing through their veins were becoming more and more common. What a shame it would be for his own noble blood—the blood of his forefathers, to become besmirched by blood that only carries the genetics of a primitive race of man. Regulus did not want the magic in his blood to run flat.

“Please talk to Lucius for me,” he begged Bellatrix one day. “I’m as loyal as any other Black.”

“Your brother isn’t loyal,” she snapped, irritated that he was bothering her yet again.

“He’s not a Black,” he replied quickly. “Besides, your sister lowered herself to be with a muggle-born.”

Bellatrix’s eyebrows quirked, and she almost looked impressed. “Perhaps it is time,” she said slowly. “But you’d best be serious about this,” she added. “It’s not all fun and games.” A small smile curled at her lips and her dark eyes flashed menacingly. “Well…some of it is.”

The Dark Army was the answer. It was that simple. What they did was not just for show, although they enjoyed making a spectacle of it; it was for a bigger cause. If Regulus joined, he would become part of a political movement, a turning of the times.

After he turned seventeen, he was ready to join them. Regulus decided it was high time to step out of the sidelines and into the game. Today was the day.

The old grandfather clock in the entrance hall tolled once for half past the hour, startling him out of his thoughts. Quickly, he made sure he had everything he needed, tucked his wand in his pocket, and disapparated.

He appeared with a pop in the thick of a forest. The woods were dark, and bare branches and hanging vines sent jagged shadows across the ground. Dried autumn leaves littered an overgrown pathway, and small animals skittered through the night, rustling through the underbrush. All at once, his nerves hit him with the force of a bolo punch.

He stepped forward quietly, straining his eyes to see through the small slits in his mask. Every breath he took was warm and damp, and every heartbeat echoed throughout his head. His chest was tight with apprehension. He didn’t want to disappoint.

This was where Lucius had instructed that they meet each other. Regulus had apparated into the backwoods on a stretch of land that belonged to the Malfoy estate. He walked toward the centre as Lucius had instructed him to, cautiously stepping heel to toe as though he was stalking some sort of prey. Off to his left, the sound of something large cutting through the forest seemed to be getting nearer. Regulus dropped his hand to his pocket, clutching his wand tightly. A twig snapped and something moved in the shadows.

“Regulus,” breathed a soft, cool voice.

“Lucius?” Regulus tugged at his mask, which had slipped down in front of his grey eyes and obscured his vision.

“I’m pleased that you made it. The Dark Lord will be pleased.”

Regulus nodded in reply, knowing that his voice would betray his sudden unease.

“This way, Regulus,” Lucius said. “We must hurry, the meeting will start soon.”

Together they walked through the forest until they came to the edge of a clearing. The moonlight filtered through the treetops, illuminating the field in a pale, silvery light. Lucius stepped aside, allowing Regulus to take the spot next to him.

Across the clearing, other hooded figures were now appearing, taking their places amongst the trees. At least a dozen of them were present now, and small pops and cracks echoed throughout the forest. Someone oblivious to the wizard world might mistake the sounds for trees moving and settling, but Regulus recognized the sounds of more witches and wizards to come. A few more figures approached, skulking up from the depths of the shadows as though they were floating ghosts. All eyes were fixed on the centre of the clearing. Next to Regulus, Lucius squared his shoulders and lifted his chin.

Suddenly, a large crack reverberated throughout the woods. Regulus started. Lucius shook his head ever so slightly, signalling for him to remain still.

The figure in the centre of the field stood tall, his face shining pale in the moonlight. Regulus gazed at him, thankful that his mask hid the visible awe that slowly crested upon his face.

“My loyal followers,” the Dark Lord greeted them. The Death Eaters bowed their heads in reverence as he slowly turned to face each and every one who bordered the wood line. Regulus could feel his pulse thumping, anticipating the moment in which the Dark Lord’s gaze would fall onto him. His breath caught in his throat as their eyes met. All his nervous anticipation was replaced by an incredible sense of admiration, awe, and power. This man would be the one Regulus called Master.

Lord Voldemort lifted an eyebrow at Regulus before continuing around the circle. After a moment, he paused as though he was waiting for something.

Beside Regulus, Lucius ventured forward and dropped to his knees. “Master,” he muttered, crawling forward and bending low to kiss the hems of his Lord’s robes. This surprised Regulus. He had never seen Lucius lower himself before anyone. His realization of the importance in serving the Dark Lord was then multiplied at least threefold.

One by one, each Death Eater kowtowed to Lord Voldemort, humbly professing their loyalty to him. Regulus was still standing on the sidelines when someone pushed him from behind.

“Go on,” a voice hissed.

“Snape?” Regulus questioned, surprised.

“Go on!” the voice repeated, and Regulus was sharply prodded forward.

Like the others, he quickly dropped to the ground, creeping forward on the damp grass. His hood had now slipped forward and all he could see was the inner material. He prayed that he didn’t crawl ahead too far and head-butt the Dark Lord, for fear of ruining any chance he had of seeming competent. Suddenly, beneath his fingers, he felt the fine, soft silkiness of dress robes.

“My lord,” he breathed, dropping his head and kissing the hem of the robes.

“Regulus,” Voldemort said quietly. “Finally I have the chance to meet the youngest Black child. I can only hope that your loyalty and support run as deep as your cousins’.”

Regulus, eager to please, sat back on his heels and gazed up at Lord Voldemort. He was about to say “deeper, even”, when his common sense kicked in. He settled for a simple nod.

Voldemort snorted quietly and looked down at Regulus with a twisted grin. “Deeper even?” he said quietly. “My, such high expectations from a young boy.”

Regulus nearly fell over, amazed that the Dark Lord had read his thoughts. His stomach flip-flopped nervously. “Yes, sir.”

“Soon you will call me master, Regulus. Tell me, why is it that you have decided to join my Dark Army?”

Regulus hadn’t counted on being tested. “Muggles are polluting our ancient lines with their mud,” he said, and then blanched. “Blood,” he corrected himself quickly.

The Dark Lord chuckled quietly. “Indeed they are. Noble family lines are being tainted and befouled.” He narrowed his dark eyes at Regulus and surveyed him quietly. “Are you willing to go to any length to see that the bloodlines remain pure?”

“Yes, of course.” Regulus glanced sideways and noted Lucius standing not far from his left.

“And you hereby proclaim your loyalty to me, as your master and Dark Lord? You will denounce all muggles, muggle lovers, and all those who defy my wishes.”

Regulus swallowed down a large lump in his throat. “I do,” he whispered.

“Very well. Tonight, young Regulus, you will receive a token of your loyalties. The mark, a crest of sorts, that only my followers, the Death Eaters, bear.”

Death Eaters. Suddenly, the name made sense to Regulus. They were going to extinguish anything that challenged the wizard race, consume it so that it would never appear again.

“Hold out your left forearm,” the Dark Lord ordered. With a swift movement, he brandished his wand. Regulus quickly rolled up his left sleeve, exposing the pale, flawless skin of his inner forearm. His heart gave a nervous flutter.

Voldemort pressed the tip of his wand into Regulus’s skin and muttered a spell that Regulus had never heard before. A searing, white-hot pain shot through his arm, and he shuddered visibly. He could feel a bead of sweat as it trickled down his brow, but he dared not wipe it away. He would take the mark like a man. He was a man now, fighting for a just cause.

He was a Death Eater.

He stared down at his arm, blinking furiously to stop the tears of pain from flowing. A hideous, dark scar had formed there, in the shape of a skull. The skull had a twisted serpent slithering out between its skeletal jaws.

“Marked as a Death Eater. From now on, only I am your Lord and Master. My wishes come before all else. Do you understand this, Regulus?”

Regulus shivered, still unable to tear his eyes away from his marred skin. “Yes, Master,” he replied, bowing his head.

“Very well,” Lord Voldemort said. Then he turned his attention to the rest of the Death Eaters in the circle. “We have much to do in these next few weeks. The resistance to our movement is growing stronger every day, and we must fight them. There can be no opposition to my plans.”

His mouth curved down into a frown, and he gazed around the circle. “Lucius, Severus, and Rosier,” he called out quietly. “You may know of a witch called Marlene McKinnon. I’ve been informed that she is one of Dumbledore’s greatest assets, as she has many connections with the ministry.”

Lucius cleared his throat. “Indeed she does, my Lord.”

“Then we must take care of her promptly. You three are to eliminate her by the new moon. Take Regulus with you. He has much to learn, and who better than you to teach him?” It wasn’t a question; it was a statement.

Snape, Malfoy, and Rosier all nodded quickly. “Yes, Master,” Snape replied silkily.

“Thank you, Master,” Regulus whispered, quickly swallowing. It was his first assignment, his true test of loyalty. He hoped that he would perform well.

He had no other choice.

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