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Chapter 8: Chapter VIII.
“No!” Regulus bellowed, shaking his head fervently, disbelievingly. “She’s not dead! She’s not!” Dumbledore and McGonagall looked up at Regulus, inquiringly. He stood up from his chair, body trembling as he stepped towards the two. “She can’t be.”
“Regulus,” Dumbledore said soothingly, placing a firm hand on his shoulder. “Regulus, we are, as of the moment, uncertain.”
“She’s not dead, Sir.” he said firmly, adamant that Feliciti was still breathing at that very moment. “She’s not.” Though the strength of his voice indicated his unwavering and stubborn state of mind, his scared, wide eyes revealed everything else; the angst and turmoil that currently resided in the pit of his stomach.
With one final uncertain shake of his head, Regulus bolted out of the oak doors and ran to the bottom step, waiting apprehensively as the stairs ever so slowly revolved back down. His legs twitched as his heart battered at an irregular pace and his head ached from the constant bickering of his conscience.
He sprinted down the seven flights of stairs and almost charged past the blooming crowd that seemed to follow Madam Pomfrey, Professor Sprout and two motionless figures floating ahead of them.
Regulus paused on the step he stood, unsure of whether he wanted to discover the devastating truth or not. Before he could decide, a familiar group approached him with surprising speed.
There was an immense babble of words that Regulus didn’t seem able to string together. He stared at each forlorn face, except for one. Vince’s face was expressionless, perhaps even mad with insanity. Regulus couldn’t miss the sadistic gleam in his eyes as they gazed directly at each other, an intense tension rising.
“What happened, Vince?” Regulus forced each word out with a concealed strain. His throat was tightening as though the snake on his arm had bound itself around his neck and pulled on each end. It hurt with fear of the possibility that Feliciti may be dead.
Vince didn’t answer and an unnerving silence fell among the crowd. Suddenly, Vince laughed dryly. “She got what she deserved, mate.”
In a swift movement, Regulus had held Vince against the wall by the hem of his collar and roared at him. There was no mercy or sympathy, only rage. “What the hell happened?”
There were murmurs and mumbles among the crowd which Regulus ignored wholeheartedly. It was between himself and Vince right at that moment.
“What happened?” Regulus growled deeply, eyes enraged by Vince’s cackling figure.
“Mate, it’s as though you’re in love with her,” Vince jeered, a wide demonic smile on his face. “She fell in. She wouldn’t stop writhing around, so I did the honours for her. Like I said, she got what she deserved.”
Regulus froze, his heart hammering in his head and he watched Vince with rheumy eyes for any hint of a callous lie.
Those dark eyes told him not to bother. “She’s dead, Regulus.”
Regulus shook his head, punching his face with all the wrath he could muster, before shooting off to find Feliciti. It was simple, follow the crowd. He pushed past the gathering people in a desperate attempt to reach her motionless body.
He had reached the two professors, who’s expressions were grim, though Regulus didn’t see that. He only had eyes for that unmoving frame ahead of them. He had run past them and stopped right beside the body.
“Sir!” Professor Spout exclaimed with shock.
“You shouldn’t be doing that!” said Madam Pomfrey, running in order to stop him. But it was too late. Regulus had already removed the veil covering the still, tranquil body of Feliciti. Her skin was a shade whiter and her lips were blue, just like the cold, motionless eyes that Regulus couldn’t tear his gaze from.
His whole body wouldn’t work. His lungs had stopped operating and his heart had stopped beating as he gazed upon the girl he loved. He fell to his knees, unable to sustain the pain any longer. Regulus howled, hand entwined tightly around Feliciti’s. He howled as the tears of misery and desolation overflowed his sad grey, bloodshot eyes. He was oblivious to the moving world around him. Everybody who had given him looks of pity and some even confusion. He was oblivious.
Oblivious to it all.
“So, that was it?” Feliciti asked Regulus, “That’s when you changed your mind?”
Regulus’ eyes were wretched and distressed. He nodded and his voice was weak. “After that, I’d been plotting Voldemort’s downfall for a year. I collected everything I could of him, newspaper clippings, pictures, I’d even jump at every chance he gave as a way to discover something new about him, maybe even a weakness. Then he had asked for an house elf and I thought of Kreacher and offered him up.”
He thought about his loyal house-elf and smiled lightly. “Right before he left, I told him to come straight back and tell me everything. And so he did. And here we are. ” He looked up to the beautiful girl before him, shame ridden and remorseful. “I’m so sorry, Feli.” he gulped, “I shouldn’t have left you alone.” Regulus’ voice quivered as he looked to the girl who did not, by any means, deserve that death.
“Regulus,” Feliciti got up and backed away from him suddenly, shaking her head. “I’m not Feli.”
Regulus cocked his head, puzzled.
“I’m not Feli,” she repeated, round eyes focused on Regulus. Without warning, her body turned white and hollow. Regulus gave a shout of shock, jumping up to try and stop it from happening.
“No!” he shouted hoarsely, intense panic rising in his stomach, “Not again.” he croaked, teeth gritted together as he choked.
The white ghost disappeared and was replaced by a corporal great black dog which stared right at him with gleaming yellow eyes. Regulus staggered backwards, eyes wide as his mouth formed a perfect circle.
“Regulus,” a very familiar voice said to him.
“S-Sirius?” he stuttered uncertainly, his body trembling and his knees weak.
“Hi,” the dog said, flashing his threatening white fangs in a smile as his pointed ears twitched.
“Sirius?” Regulus said again, stunned. He was unable to believe it.
“Yes, little brother.” he said, circling around on a spot beside the wall of the cave; before sitting down like the dog he was.
“Wh-what? Fe- Feli?” he stammered, eyes wide at the dog before him.
“I’m sorry but I had to impersonate Feli,” The large dog gave a small, sour smile, “and just know, it’s not bloody easy thinking like a girl, mate.”
Regulus stared at him in silence, eyes dilated with a sort of pained disbelief.
Sirius continued looking up at his younger brother with delicate yet warm eyes. “You can’t bring back the dead, mate.” He mumbled, unable to suppress the coldness. He forced a small smile and beckoned with his snout for Regulus to sit beside him.
“Regulus,” Sirius interrupted him, “I know I might have strung you along a little bit, but it was honestly my best intention.” Sirius’ gaze was stern; the yellow gleam in his eyes bright.
Regulus froze just as he sat down, gawking at his older brother with complete bewilderment.
“I mean, making my patronus make out with you was far harder than I’d imagined.” Sirius said lightly, shaking his head with amusement. “I will explain if you let me.”
Regulus mouth dropped as he shook his own head, picturing her soft lips against his as they kissed the kiss that had been torturously over due. He thought maybe she had finally realised... “No, she couldn’t. She wasn’t-”
“Mate,” Sirius paused a moment, thinking of a way to put it softly as he understood the grim look on his face, “She loved you for being there for her and I’m positive that she was eternally grateful. But she wasn’t in love with you... Not in that way.”
There was silence before Regulus laughed bitterly, eyes stinging with the miserable tears that he hid from Sirius, “Because she loved you in that way. She always had.”
There was silence between them yet again. Sirius didn’t know how to counter that.
“Why didn’t you just appear like yourself?” Regulus couldn’t help but resent Sirius’ methods. It had opened old wounds which hurt beyond belief.
“Let me explain, Reg. I had the unwavering belief that you wouldn’t have talked to me if it was in my own form. But I needed to. I needed to get through to you. And the first person I thought of... Well, it was obvious.” Sirius gave him a small twinkle, his eyes drooping with a certain sadness. “And after everything you’ve just told me, I guess it wasn’t wrong of me to think that way.”
Regulus muttered something incomprehensible, eyes avoiding his brother’s gaze.
“Honestly, would you have gone through everything you just did if it was with me?” Sirius forced a chuckle before scratching himself behind the ear with his rear leg. “Would you even talk to me once you saw who it was?” he muffled, but behind the distraction was a tone of curiosity... Of, possibly, even anxiety.
Regulus hesitated before answering. “Sirius, seriously, I would have been grateful towards anyone who just saved my life.” Regulus cuffed his hands to his mouth as he studied his brother’s corporeal patronus, who was biting at his rear.
Sirius laughed openly, his tail wagging vehemently. “Well, there you go. I was wrong and I’m sorry.”
“You’re not... You’re not dead are you?” Regulus asked to stray the conversation away from Feliciti; although he was genuinely worried. Regulus noticed how Sirius’ long snout scrunched up and his black fluffy ears twitched.
Sirius shook his head, the black fur tousling, face back towards Regulus, “Alive and kicking, mate.”
Regulus nodded, truly glad that his brother wasn’t harmed. “What about mother and father? And Kreacher?”
“Honestly, Reg, I wouldn’t know.” Sirius muttered, the bitterness towards his family barely concealed.
Regulus nodded once more, although slightly disappointed. He had told Kreacher not to tell anyone of his antics and he surely hoped that Kreacher had remained quiet... “How did you get her to be so... physical?” Regulus asked, suddenly thinking about Feliciti’s soft body against his, even though it was Sirius.
“Magic,” the dog winked, producing another wide grin.
There was silence as they both brooded over the same thoughts:
“So, did you learn anything?” Sirius breathed suddenly, facing Regulus.
Regulus remained quiet, avoiding his brother’s gaze. There was another moment of silence.
“Are you sorry for everything you did, Regulus?” Sirius whispered softly, knowing full well that he was.
“Yes,” was the reply in an even softer and delicate tone. Of course he was.
Sirius smiled, “Then you’re free to go.”
“Where?” Regulus blinked, unsure of where to search for his death in the cold dark cave.
“Wherever you’d like, Reg. Just make sure you send Feliciti my regards... and my love.” Sirius murmured, smiling gingerly.
Regulus nodded. He had always loved his brother, more than he ever knew. He was conscious of how much of Sirius’ love for Feliciti was pure and sincere, perhaps even more so than his own... Despite how much that hurt him. “Do I just drop dead, or what?” Regulus asked, forcing an affectionate smile at his brother.
“Just close your eyes,” he said as he got up onto all fours. “And you’ll find yourself wherever you want to be.” Sirius rubbed his furry head against Regulus’ palm tenderly, growling fondly. “Reg, you’re my brother and I love you.”
Regulus heard the affectionate growl as he crouched down in front of the dog, holding the hairs of his thick neck tightly. He gazed deeply into the yellow shine of his eyes and pulled in for a tight embrace as he nuzzled the top of Sirius’ soft head.
The two brothers shared one last smile before the great black dog dissolved into white mist. Regulus watched as it turned back to Feliciti with a certain emptiness in his stomach. He had loved her; despite it all.
“One last kiss?” she asked, her voice high and eyes glistening jubilantly.
Regulus shook his head, holding a hand up as she approached him slowly. “No thanks, Sirius. Not now.” He smiled at her and she smiled back.
He could feel her body leaving. The warmth, the light and the memories. He’d closed his eyes to the pitch black darkness and smiled to the chill that came through the cave. Regulus had even embraced the cold, smooth rock beneath him as he laid down fluidly, listening to the hollow echoes. He grinned once more at the darkness surrounding him and finally, he had died.
AN: Thank you all SO much for sticking by this story until the end! I know it went a bit AU ... But I just felt that this was the direction it had to take :) I'm very, VERY grateful for every one of you! And I really appreciate the fact that you've stuck with me through to the end :) It's such a relief to finish the story but I had so much fun with it! :P
So, I don't have much more to say, but THANK YOU!