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Chapter 1: Chapter I.
What Am I?
Regulus groped around his body blindly, desperately as he attempted to find a jutted rock, where he could place his hold. The inferi had abandoned him to the waves of a violently chilling lake. He'd just committed the worst crime a death eater could possibly commit. Defying the Dark Lord was the right thing to do, Regulus thought. Maybe this was considered a blessing rather than a curse.
The man felt around for anything to hold on to. He had no such luck. He groaned into the crushing water, shortening his remaining breath by a few vital seconds. The icy cold water was pushing down on him, forcing him deeper and deeper towards the never ending tunnel of nothing.
Regulus, a voice said suddenly. Where it came from was a mystery for Regulus, but the fact that he'd heard it brought a glimmer of hope and warmth. Regulus, it said again. It was a girl's voice. Oddly familiar, yet, he didn't know who it was.
Follow my voice, she said gracefully. Even underwater, Regulus managed to furrow his brow handsomely. How was he supposed to follow the voice? It was in his head, goddamit.
He wanted to give up. There was no chance of getting away from his premature death. Embrace it, he thought to himself, You deserved it. So maybe he did make a few, life-changing mistakes. Did he really deserve to drown to death?
Regulus, the female voice called to him.
This was it. Regulus would give himself a couple more seconds before surrendering himself to death. He closed his eyes, as though that would rid him of the suffocating pain.
Regulus! The voice said loudly, jerking him awake from his near everlasting slumber. Finding something like adrenaline rushing in his veins, he felt a compulsion to swim. He couldn't see, it was all black. Maybe he was already dead, he just didn't know it.
Keep going, you're almost here, the voice reassured him. It was gnawing away at the back of his head. Her voice was as clear as glass and still, he couldn't place it. Maybe it was his conscience, voicing her opinion aloud for once. Nevertheless, he continued on. Where? He wasn't sure himself. Gradually, he felt the density of the water begin to thin and he managed to see light specks in the water around him.
His breath was beginning to fall short and his head was becoming light. The voice rung again, loudly in his head. She urged him to keep going. And so he did. He forced his legs to move and his eyes to stay open. His lungs were constricting and before he knew it, his head had smacked into a rock. A large one at that.
UP! The girl screamed at him, almost with desperation. Regulus summoned all his remaining strength and pulled himself upwards. It was as though he was rock climbing underwater. Curious, Regulus looked up in an attempt to see just where he was climbing. He couldn't see anything. Only darkness.
Regulus could feel himself deflating as his climbing gradually became slower. He was on a hopeless search for freedom and life. But just when he saw nothing else but death, his head splashed out into the open and he found that he could, truly, breathe.
With short, frantic rasps, Regulus held on to a jagged rock tightly, not caring that it was scratching at his palm. He was free of the water. He let out a long howl of relief as he leant his head against a cool rock.
With his free hand, he groped around above him for something like a ledge so he could pull himself up.
Quickly! The girl commanded him. It was quite a shock that he could still hear her, but the anxiety in her voice was enough to send him searching in the darkness frantically. The inferi are coming, the girl warned him.
Regulus' heart quickened as he let go of his right hand and pulled himself up by another rock. Whether it was a ledge or not, he didn't care. He was determined not to let the inferi take him again. He let one of his legs onto a small rock which just jutted out of the main frame while his other leg dangled in the water.
He yelled out of shock as something pulled his leg down forcefully. He gritted his teeth from the pain of being pulled apart as he held his grip on the rock. Another pull and his hands were loosening its grasp.
“Help!” he shouted. Whether the voice was real or not, he didn't know. He was merely crying out from desperation.
His hands were slipping as his leg was plunging back into the water. Almost immediately, Regulus felt something warm and silky around him as a white mist surrounded his body, providing him with pure white light. He watched with wide eyes as the light shone into the inferi in the water. It immediately released his leg, allowing Regulus to pull himself up again.
Up, the girl said again, fluidly this time. The light around him sent a sensation within him like no other. It urged him, forced him whether he liked it or not. His body wasn't reacting to his mind anymore, it was under the command of the light. It sent him climbing even where it would've been impossible to climb.
Regulus could literally feel the light leaving him as soon as his hands reached a flat surface. Just by the lurch of his stomach, he knew he was higher up and that if he were to drop, it would be a very long drop. He was keen to stay dry. He placed his hands flat on the surface and pushed up. He let his toned stomach onto the smooth surface before pulling his legs up behind him.
He crawled feebly forward, away from the edge where he would feel safer. Feeling no more energy to crawl, Regulus let himself down onto his back, there where he laid. His eyes were flickering in and out, although that didn't really make a difference. Short breaths took over him.
His eyes closed fully and he could hear a giggle. A girlish giggle which was something like bliss to him. He smiled to himself fondly as he thought about her. He was going crazy and he knew it. Hearing the laughter of the deceased would be considered crazy, would it not?
Regulus jerked his eyes open as he remembered her voice. It was her!
“Feliciti?” he whispered with difficulty. The girl giggled again and he could feel her dancing in circles around him.
Regulus, she giggled. He could picture her giggling as he smiled to himself again. He remembered the feel of her cheeks as he pictured her porcelain, smiling, bubbly face. She didn't deserve to die. Not the way she did. Not because she was a muggle born.
He remembered the day they first shared a kiss, how euphoric he felt the moment his lips touched hers softly, as their fingers entwined...
Regulus. Her voice was becoming louder and louder as it echoed within the walls of his head. REGULUS! She screamed as Regulus was on the edge of eternal darkness. Suddenly a white light filled the damned cave he was in.
He opened his eyes, tears stinging at them as the sudden brightness hurt his eyes. His eyes soon adjusted to the new colour and he found himself looking at a beautiful girl in a white dress.
“Feli?” he gasped, mouth hanging open as he stared at her. She looked innocently angry. Her lips jutted out so that she was pouting captivatingly at him.
Regulus staggered to his feet, hand reaching out towards her. He fell just at her small feet. He looked up and stared as she bent down and lowered her head so that it was half a metre away from his. She was smiling buoyantly, her lips shining and her eyes twinkling. Oh her eyes. They brought Regulus to his knees every time he looked at them.
They continued staring at each other, blinking every so often. Regulus didn't move when she pulled her arm forward, down onto his shoulder. She gripped onto his loose cloak and sat herself down next to him. He continued staring.
“Regulus, you're in trouble,” she tutted, her high voice brought happiness within him.
“You're alive!” He shouted out with glee although hoarsely. He lunged himself forward and planted a deep kiss on her lips. She kissed him back, eyes closed and hands around his neck as Regulus moved closer and closer towards her.
“No, I'm not,” she broke away from Regulus, pushing him back lightly.
Regulus looked at her confusedly, his hands on either side of her waist. “Then, what?”
“I'm dead Regulus. I'm not alive.” she forced herself to smile comfortingly.
“What am I?” he asked. He didn't really care what he was. All that mattered was that he was now together with his love.
“You're neither,” she smiled and Regulus could feel his heart melt at the site. He moved forward again for another kiss. “Regulus, stop.” He stopped, face centimetres away from her face. He couldn't move his head an inch further. “This is serious, Regulus.”
Regulus moved back, never releasing her waist as his brows furrowed.
“You're going to die Regulus.” she told him straight out, “Where you're going when you die... Well, the choice lies with you.” She smiled warmly again and lifted his hand off of her waist, only to be intertwining it with her own. She didn't break eye contact with him as confusion clouded his eyes.
With the other hand, Feliciti put a finger against the temple on his forehead and visions started to fill his mind. Visions of Sirius, his mother, Kreacher, The Dark Lord, Hogwarts, Feliciti. They stopped as soon as she retracted her finger.
“You've done a lot of wrong things, Regulus.” She pulled him softly towards her, so that his legs were over hers.
Regulus frowned as he helped himself to lay half of his body on hers. “I know.”
“Do you?” Feliciti's face was impassive. “Take a trip down memory lane.” she sung as she smiled again. “You have to compensate for your faults, Regulus. The only way you could do that now is admit them with true remorse.”
“And then I'll be with you?” he asked hopefully, his lips right beside her cheeks.
Feliciti turned her head and looked up at Regulus. It was hard to resist the temptation to just kiss her there, where her lips were mere millimetres away.
“Maybe.” she answered, “First, you have to admit your wrongs.” She grinned innocently. She had always been innocent, naïve, harmless. “Close your eyes, Regulus.”
He hesitated a moment. Why would he want to rid of the sight he has right now? He followed her order and he was plunged again, into darkness. Regulus felt a soft prod on the side of his head and he suddenly lunged into a world of colour.
Regulus' eyes widened as he saw two young boys, playing outside in the large square just in front of their huge house. He jumped as he felt a grip on his hand. Feliciti didn't turn to look at him. Instead, she was smiling fondly at the two boys, who were running around. They didn't seem any older than eight.
It only took Regulus a quarter of a second to realise who the two boys were.
“Sirius!” one squeaked as his shorter legs carried him across the square.
“Come on, Reg!” the other boy – Sirius – yelled back. Sirius ran through a bunch of bushes, not waiting for his brother.
They had just heard the ice-cream truck come around to the neighbouring street. Sirius, as curious as he was, never missed a chance to see the other muggle kids being served chocolate twirls on top of a cone.
Sirius hid behind a large tree – leaves in his messy hair - as a line of young children and their parents waited. A rustle of the leaves behind him and Regulus appeared, running to join Sirius.
“Mummy said we're not supposed to talk to muggles!” Regulus whined, his small hands holding onto his brother's shirt tightly.
“We're not talking to them are we?” Sirius kept his eyes on the cone which was now being given to a short boy who's mother was handing money over to the truck man. Sirius longed for a try of this muggle sweet yet, no matter how rich his family was, he couldn't afford it.
From the side of the cue, a small girl wearing a dress similar to the one Feliciti was wearing, was licking away at her melting ice-cream. She didn't fail to see the two boys hiding. Grinning from behind her ice-cream, she released her hand from her father's and skipped towards them.
Sirius, who wasn't alert, didn't move as he continued to watch the other kids. Regulus, on the other hand, saw the girl approaching and managed to pull Sirius back behind the safety of the tree.
“What are you doing?” Sirius yelped as he shook his younger brother's grip off of his shirt.
Regulus didn't say anything. Instead, he remained where he was on the floor.
Sirius got to his feet again, not bothering to brush the dirt off of himself. Just as he poked his head to the side of the tree, the girl with chocolate around her face was smiling widely. They'd ever seen her before. Sirius blinked at her. The girl blinked back, smile still big on her face.
“Hi!” she squeaked, her ice-cream melting away in one of her small, stubby hands.
To the side of the grown up Regulus, Feliciti studied her own hands, smiling a smile similar to the girls'.
Sirius hesitated, “Hi.”
“Sirius!” Regulus shouted softly, “We're not supposed to!”
Sirius ignored him, “Why are you talking to us?” he asked the girl. All the other kids normally left them alone. They were dangerous.
The girl got onto her tippy toes and leant to the side to get a better view of Regulus. She smiled broadly at his frightened expression.
“Why can't I?” she asked, voice high-pitched yet elegant, even for a kid.
“They normally don't talk to us,” Sirius replied, unable to keep the bitterness out of his voice.
The girl didn't recoil or run away. She let herself down onto her flat soles and held out her ice-cream to Sirius. “Do you want some?”
The chocolate was melting over her hands and dripping down the cone. This didn't stop Sirius from taking it from her, although, slightly hesitantly.
She nodded encouragingly as he looked at her, unsure what to do with it.
“You eat it.” she bubbled, not thinking it strange that he didn't know what to do with an ice-cream.
Behind Sirius, Regulus watched fearfully as Sirius poked his tongue out and let it touch the sweetness.
The girl sucked at her fingers as she watched Sirius take larger licks at the ice-cream. She beamed as he crunched at the cone hungrily.
“That's yum,” he sighed, ignoring the pulls of Regulus on his shirt.
The girl smiled even more broadly and pulled out a hand. The same hand she had just been sucking. “I'm Feliciti.”
Sirius smiled back, displaying missing teeth. He shook her hand stiffly, nervously, “Sirius.”
Feliciti looked to Regulus, who was cowering behind his older brother. “What's your name?” she asked, still holding her hand out towards him.
Regulus quivered before shouting: “I don't talk to yucky muggles like you!” He let go of Sirius' shirt and ran off as fast as his short legs could take him, back towards the square.
The girl's smile was replaced by a watery frown, her hand still held out.
Sirius looked at her, a worried and apologetic face apparent. “Don't listen to him, he's being mean.”
Feliciti started to cry, “He called me a yucky muggle!” she wailed, rubbing her knuckles against her wet eyes. “Wh- What's a muggle?”
Sirius faltered before taking a step towards her, to pat her uncertainly on the shoulder. “It's someone who can't do magic.” he told her.
“M- Magic?” she whimpered, taking her hands away from her eyes.
Sirius nodded fervently, “You can't do magic can you?”
She shook her head, her blonde pig tails flying everywhere.
“Do you want me to show you?” he asked her excitedly. Feliciti's eyes instantly lightened.
“Hey, you!” a large man shouted, storming towards the two.
“Daddy!” Feliciti squealed, cheeks wet and sticky.
“Get away from him, Feli. He's no good.” the man told her as a crowd of parents and kids looked on. Even the ice-cream truck driver stopped what he was doing to watch.
Sirius cringed back behind the tree, as though that would make him disappear.
“But he can do magic!” Feliciti protested, looking from her father to Sirius with confusion.
The man scowled, “Let's go Feli.” he pulled on her hand, pulling her away from Sirius.
Feliciti's brows furrowed before she smiled amiably at a young Sirius. “Bye Sirius!” she yelled at him as he poked his head out from around the tree nervously. She tried waving at him but was stopped by a tighter grip by her father.
- - - - - - -
Almost immediately, the adults were plunged into the white light again.
“What did you do wrong?” the adult Feliciti asked, hands still held tightly in Regulus'.
Regulus' brows furrowed, “I didn't do anything wrong!”
Feliciti immediately let go of his hand rounded on him, her face fuming harmlessly. “Don't make me take you through it again.”
He lowered his gaze and reached out again to hold on to her hands. “I called you a filthy muggle.” he confessed, feeling no pleasure out of it.
She smiled again, “Are you sorry?” She held her hands flat in his.
Regulus immediately looked up at her again and nodded quickly, “'Course.” Of course he was. He wouldn't be here with her if he wasn't.
“Then say it.” she told him, looking up at him with her round, blue eyes.
Regulus faltered, he's hardly said sorry to anyone in his entire life. He gazed into her eyes first. She looked back calmly, unblinkingly. “I'm sorry.” he said glumly, looking back down at the floor.
Feliciti nodded approvingly and moved forward, Regulus' hands draping around her back as she stood on her tip toes and planted a soft kiss on his lips, fingers tangled in his hair.
“You'll be saying 'sorry' a lot more,” she breathed, lips parting from his lips slightly, “Get used to it.”
Regulus nodded once, smirking and moved his head forward again, pushing her softly towards him as he kissed her.