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Chapter 7: Chapter VII.
It was uncomfortable and tense in the cavern. Both remembered the event as though it was yesterday, and both remembered the tensions that soared between the two. They were seated besides each other, leaning against the cold, smooth stone of the cave.
“What made you do it?” Feliciti whispered, face contorting into pain and confusion as she looked at the motionless skull on his left arm.
Regulus hesitated for a moment. Deciding that there was nothing left to hide from her, he spoke softly.
“I was in a state of disarray, Feli. I hated Sirius. Loathed him with a passion. He took you from me. You don’t understand how much that tormented me, haunted me. I loved you and to watch you everyday, with my brother just killed me, Feli.”
His eyes were red as he thought of the bitter memories. Watching the two cuddle together on the Gryffindor table, watching her soft golden hair bounce as she ran towards Sirius after a Quidditch match, watching him look so lovingly into her eyes and her cheeks flushing a crimson red as she smiled so sheepishly in return. It killed him.
“Feliciti?” Regulus blinked out the tears, turning his head as he watched her face for expression. “Why? Why did you think of Sirius?”
Feliciti hesitated as she leaned her head against his firm shoulder.
“You two both looked so alike, Regulus. Believe me, you did. It was just, strange.” She said softly, smiling into his shoulder. She giggled and placed a hand over his strong chest as it heaved in and out.
“I really do love you, Feli.” he sighed, placing his own head atop of hers. He grabbed hold of her small, slender hands and their fingers entwined tightly, like the strings of a taut rope.
Feliciti was exposed to all sorts of dangers of the world. Hogwarts was no longer safe, as threats against muggle borns were on the rise. Feliciti traveled through school with not just a schoolbag and books, but with a newly developed sense of awareness and vigilance.
“Have you heard? You-Know-Who’s on a rise, killing muggles and the sort.”
“Death Eaters are everywhere now, torturing and killing. Bloody scary if you ask me. I can’t even go to the bathroom alone.”
Murmurs such as these were all she would hear during meal times and it was during these times, she would notice the lonely world she was left in.
Not touching a thing on the table, Feliciti couldn’t fail to notice Regulus and his friends, on the Slytherin table, laughing, jeering and tormenting muggle borns that walked by. She couldn’t fail to notice the wide, wicked smile on his face as Tony Raebur, a first year, was lifted up by his feet and hung upside down.
“How do you like that mudblood?” They all jeered, throwing insults and food at the poor soul.
Feliciti couldn’t fail to notice that she, a muggle born like the rest, had been left alone. Not tormented, not jeered at, not even acknowledged. Feliciti knew it was Regulus’ doings. Regulus, who led these militant acts. Regulus, who advocated for such views. Regulus, who would not stop watching her every move, for fear that she would get attacked.
Feliciti watched as professors ran towards the crowd, assigning each member with a detention which they all took lightly. Tony was scoured clean as Professor McGonagall led him to her office, where he would be treated with sweets to cure him of the event.
Vince Faughn couldn’t help but notice Feliciti’s curious onlooking and smirked evilly, nodding his head towards her as others followed his gaze. Waiting for the crowd to diminish, Vince stood up and strutted towards the Gryffindor table. Regulus, who noticed immediately, followed after him, heart pacing and butterflies fluttering in his stomach as they got closer.
“Feel like a bit of company, mudblood?” Vince sat himself right next to her, helping himself to a bun in the middle of the table.
“No, thank you, I think I was fine before you came along.” She muttered staring down at the golden plate which reflected her frightened face. Regulus stood in front of her, looking at her with a mix of hidden emotions.
Vince laughed loudly in her ear, flicking crumbs onto her hair. “You were never fine, mudblood. Look at you. You stain the earth. You’re filthy.”
“Then why are you sitting so close to me?” Feliciti snapped, pushing him away on the chest with a loud thud.
Vince brought out his wand, outraged. “How dare you touch me, you revolting piece of muggle -”
“Vince!” Regulus’ rough bark echoed through the room and Feliciti looked up at him instantly. “We don’t want anymore trouble.” His face was stern and serious, his eyes darkening with every second. “We’ll deal with this mudblood later.”
Vince started to complain.
“No! Shut up and listen to me.” Regulus’ ferocious snarl was unfamiliar to Feliciti, like the roar of a vicious dragon. With a small look at her shaking, cowering body, he grit his teeth. “Give it a week.” He said shortly, before turning on his heel and knowing that his comrades would immediately follow him.
Vince spat at her. “You’ll get what’s coming to you, mudblood.” His eyes narrowing at her as he reluctantly followed the others.
~ ~ ~
Day by day, Feliciti lived with the fear that out of nowhere, the Slytherins would attack her. She found refuge in the library, a place where she knew no Slytherin would dare to be seen in.
Feliciti found it slightly relieving and somewhat of a liberation from the rest of the world. Her homework was getting done and studying for the N.E.W.T.s was her new hobby, making her feel more like a normal student.
Her journey to each class, back to the library and back to the common room was always risky. Her eyes were always wide open and full of awareness, while her wand was held steady in her hand.
For a year, she lived with this suspicion. For a year, she anticipated an attack, like the many other muggle borns in school. For a year, she had been as safe as Regulus had allowed her to be.
Now it was their seventh and last year, Feliciti felt a responsibility to protect the younger muggle borns, exposing herself beyond Regulus’ control.
“You’re foul, you know that?” Regulus scowled at a tiny, very pretty first year girl with dark brown hair and wet, frightened green eyes. “You pollute the air we breathe. You don’t belong here. Or do you think otherwise?”
The girl whimpered helplessly. Her hands were bound together to a thick tree branch right above the Black Lake.
Regulus laughed along with his fellow Slytherins.
“Do you know what the Dark Lord does to muggle filth like you? Do you know what he is capable of?”
The girl nodded fervently, tears streaming down her cheeks, body trembling with fear.
“You know what, I don’t think you do. How about I give you a little demonstration?” Regulus raised his wand. It was always for a scare. He had never intended to hurt his victims.
“Stop!” a familiar voice shrieked.
Regulus turned around to see Feliciti running towards them, not even raising her wand as the Slytherins around her did.
“Regulus, stop.” she was panting, looking at the little girl before her with comfort, before turning to Regulus with a plead. “Please stop-”
Her speech was interrupted by the many jeers and boos of the Slytherins around her. Regulus refused to look at her and instead distracted himself by sitting down on a large jagged boulder.
“Look at her, Regulus! Look at her! She’s just a little kid! How can you?!” Her voice was straining as she ignored the laughs and ridicules of those wearing green and silver robes, eyes only on Regulus’ hidden face. He was playing with the loose stones on the boulder, picking one up and throwing it into the lake, watching the soft ripples. She took a small, shaky step towards him. “What happened to you?” she said softly, only for him to hear.
Regulus finally looked at her, eyes tender as he smiled sourly, eyebrow slightly raised.
“Reg,” someone from the crowd shouted out, “Tie her up!” The Slytherins began to chorus, demanding the same fate as the little girl for Feliciti.
Vince suddenly appeared to the side of Regulus, smirking menacingly. “You owe her, remember?”
Regulus looked to the crowd before turning back to Feliciti, who’s eyes were rheumy; not with fear, but plea.
“Do what you want.” he finally muttered, standing up fluidly. He glanced at Feliciti’s crestfallen face as she knelt on the ground before him, defeated. He wouldn’t be able to endure it. He knew he wasn’t able to.
Regulus pushed past the Slytherin body and escaped the miserable sight as everyone screamed and shouted with excitement, insults such as mudblood were thrown around, the first year’s wails of help and desperation and finally, Feliciti’s silent voice as she refused to utter another sound.
He grit his teeth, forcing himself to keep walking instead of running back to save her. His heart paced and his throat constricted tightly, producing tears in his eyes. As soon as he had cleared into the Great Hall, he came into a sprint. A sprint down the long stone corridor, up the moving staircase, even jumping to the landing as it began to move away. He ignored the flinches of those he passed, and even ignored the cheers of other fellow Slytherins.
He ran, not back to the common room, but to Dumbledore. If there was anyone that could help, it was him. The way Sirius had spoke of the headmaster after his first year, Regulus knew that he was the only one to see.
Regulus stopped abruptly as he neared the ugly stone gargoyle. His brother had told him the password years ago, after his very frequent and welcomed visits. Unsure of its credibility, Regulus touched the gargoyle. “Lemon drop?”
To his surprise, the gargoyle leapt aside, a spiral staircase forming just where the gargoyle had stood. He stepped onto the first step and was surprised yet again as his stomach lurched to the sudden movement of the stairs.
Regulus reached a large, circular room, cluttered with flimsy thin tables and silver instruments that made strange noises. Around the walls were bookshelves, filled with an abundance of books and in the middle was a large wooden table and right behind it was a high backed chair in which Dumbledore sat.
“Curiously,” he said with a weak voice, scribbling on a parchment on his desk, “I have had the privilege of multiple visits from your brother when he was still in school, but none from you, Regulus, up till now.” He looked up and smiled, a twinkle in his eyes. “What can I do for you?
Regulus nervously approached the desk in the middle, looking at the many portraits of previous headmasters and headmistresses. He eyed his great-great-grandfather, who watched him, intrigued.
“Be sure to know, Regulus, that whatever you have to say here goes with confidence. Your family will not be notified unless that is what you wish.” Dumbledore’s soft voice comforted him while Phineas Nigellus scoffed loudly. “Please sit down.”
A wooden chair appeared out of nowhere behind him, forcing him to sit down. Dumbledore waited in silence for Regulus to speak, twiddling his thumbs while Regulus looked out to the empty Quidditch pitch through the window.
Instead of speaking, Regulus rolled up his left sleeve. Dumbledore’s face was not shocked or bewildered, but rather passive and calm while Phineas scrunched up his face, squinting to see what it was.
“I am assuming you regret your decision.” It wasn’t a question and Dumbledore’s kind eyes expressed sympathy.
Regulus looked up to the portrait of his great-great-grandfather who’s pointed beard stood out, “I don’t think what our family prides on, or what we believe in is right. We are not the superior beings. We never were.”
Phineas scoffed, “Obviously, there has been a revolution among you young people, wishing to make a statement and the sort.”
“Again, I am just assuming,” Dumbledore spoke again, not breaking eye contact with Regulus, “This has everything to do with Miss Gravois. Am I correct?”
Regulus scratched the back of his head before nodding once, ignoring the wretched sound that his great-great grandfather had made.
“A muggle born I presume,” he scowled, only to be reprimanded by Dumbledore.
“Where is she now, Regulus?” Dumbledore must have known. The condolence in his eyes was prominent and the way he spoke was so sympathetic.
Regulus shook his head, his head hurting from the mere thought of her being tormented. There was silence while Regulus’ body shook with the emotion he had suppressed. His eyes began watering as he gripped the sides of his head tightly.
There was an abrupt, loud knock on the door and barely a second afterwards appeared Professor McGonagall, eyes wide and wild, while her hair was disheveled and frayed.
“Professor Dumbledore,” her voice trembled, “There had been an accident. A terrible accident.”
Regulus turned around slowly, eyes red as his brows furrowed with confusion.
“Professor Sprout is looking after them while Madam Pomfrey gets there, but I cannot say...” Professor McGonagall’s lips quivered as her body shook from the core, tears glistening in her sharp eyes. Regulus was blinking, dumbfounded, while Professor Dumbledore stood up from his seat and strode towards her.
“Minerva,” he patted her comfortingly on the shoulder, “What happened?”
“The branch broke,” Regulus heard her muffled voice say and Regulus’ heart paused for the most painful second of his life, “Two girls... Died.”