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Chapter 80: Falling Stars
The Dark Lord's shoes were polished so well, Regulus could see his own hollow eyes reflected in them. He'd been kneeling at the man's feet for well into an hour. The other Death Eaters moved around behind him, each stepping forward to present their business to the Dark Lord and leaving again just as quickly. No one paid Regulus any mind. But their lack of address did not mean he couldn't feel their eyes bearing into the back of his head. His muscles were sore from his leaned over position and he could feel himself getting light-headed. Perhaps he shouldn't have skipped breakfast.
“Thank you, Lucius, well done,” the Dark Lord called out, his voice only just above a whisper. “I have one other request of you.”
“Anything, my Lord,” came Lucius Malfoy's dutiful response.
“I require your elf.”
“My elf, Sir?” Regulus could hear the hesitation and worry in Malfoy's voice. “When?”
“Tonight.” The Dark Lord waved away a man with a fruit tray and leaned towards Malfoy. “Is that a problem?” he asked, his every word a clear challenge.
Malfoy cleared his throat and answered with a shaky voice. “Of course not, my Lord. It's just...Dobby is assisting Narcissa right now. She was feeling ill this morning. There was...blood, Sir. We're afraid that she might have lost the child again.” The man's words trailed off into a pained whisper.
“Tragic.” There would be no sympathy from Lord Voldemort. “This is your second attempt?”
“Ah.” The room fell silent for a moment before the man continued. “Sadly this does not help me with my need for your elf.”
“My-my Lord?” Regulus whispered from the floor. He saw the Dark Lord's foot twitch, and for a moment he thought he was going to be kicked, but he stayed steady. “Sorry to interrupt, but I have an elf that you may use.” He dared to peek up at the man above him.
“You may go, Lucius.” The Dark Lord waited for the other man to leave the room before ordering Regulus to stand. “Regulus...you have been a thorn in my side for quite some time.”
“I know, my Lord. I know that I have made mistakes. Grave mistakes. But I'm willing to do anything to fix what I've done. I'll do anything to set things right again.” There was no hint of deceit in Regulus' words because the boy was not lying. He had made mistakes. He did want to fix what he'd done wrong. He would do anything to set things right. “I know that I have a lot to prove and a lot to do to correct the wrongs I've committed, but if you'll give me a chance....”
The Dark Lord studied Regulus for a while, their eyes meeting. The man's lips stayed tight and white, his body stayed rigid and his gaze stayed angry. “You have much to do in order to prove yourself again, Regulus. I can sense that the last few weeks have been spent thinking on your actions. I do not know if you will ever be able to regain your honor, but I suppose that your elf is as good as any other.” The man waved his hand and turned away from Regulus. “Send it here at exactly at nine o'clock. If that creature is even one minute late....”
“He won't be, my Lord.” Regulus gave a slightly overdone bow and backed out of the room.
The moment the boy arrived home that afternoon, Anthony's presence was upon him. He was grateful that at least his own addled mind didn't see fit to torture him when he was anywhere other than his house. Regulus tried to ignore the other boy's stern look as he climbed the stairs and locked himself in his room.
“Kreacher?” Anthony sounded baffled. “You say that you're going to set things right, and you start by offering up your house-elf to serve Him?”
“I am trying to set things right. This will help.”
“How? How is this going to help?”
“I...I don't know yet.” Regulus pulled off his heavy robes and began to change into something more comfortable. “I just got this feeling. Sometimes, you just know when you should do something, you can't explain it and you can't force it, you just...know. And that's what happened. I was sitting there and He said that He needed an elf and my gut told me that it was important.”
“What if something happens to Kreacher?”
“I'm not going to let something happen to him. I'll make sure that he's safe.” Regulus slipped into his shoes and started back out of his room, only to find his way blocked.
Walburga stood in the boy's doorway, her hand poised to knock. The woman's eyes were tinted with red and her shoulders were hunched, far from her usual proud and elite stature. Behind her, down the hallway, Bellatrix was staring at Sirius' door, her stance nothing short of relaxed boredom. Regulus looked between the women and met his mother's eyes. He didn't dare ask. He didn't have to.
“It's your father,” Walburga whispered. “His heart...his...his heart gave out this morning.” The woman swallowed back her grief and pursed her lips. “It happened so fast, there was nothing I could -”
“What did you do?” Regulus hissed. He wasn't looking at his mother, but the woman behind her; his cousin. The boy charged around his mother and towards Bellatrix, his father's wand jumping into his hand without effort. “You did this. What did you do?” He pressed the tip of his wand against the woman's throat.
Bellatrix only laughed. “You think I did this? He was a tired old man, with a tired old heart.” She slapped her hand against Regulus' wrist and closed her thin fingers around tightly. “And a deceitful old man at that,” she sneered, her grey eyes falling onto the wand as she pulled it away from her throat.
Regulus jerked his hand away from his cousin's cold grip and pointed his wand again.
Bellatrix didn't even bother drawing her own. “Trust me, I would have liked to teach that man a proper lesson, but sadly -” her lips pulled into a twisted smile “- his own body beat me to it. You're wasting your anger on me.” The woman tossed her hair over her shoulder and turned her back on Regulus, not even phased or afraid that he would strike her as she descended the stairs.
“That's your father's wand.” Walburga caught Regulus' attention, pulling him away from his thoughts of curses and violence. The woman slowly moved towards her son, her eyes never leaving the wand in his hand. “He...gave you his wand? And told me that it was damaged.”
“He didn't want to involve you. He was just trying to protect you from knowing what he'd done.” Regulus didn't know if that was true, but a part of him hoped it was.
Walburga's hand laid on her son's shoulder for a mere moment's embrace before it was gone again. “You are the only one who I can count on, Regulus. Cygnus is coming by tonight to discuss the...details. I know nothing of sorting out these matters. He handled our father's business when he passed, he can handle Orion's as well.” With every word the woman spoke, her voice grew more steady. She slowly resumed her stiffened form, her head held high with the pride her blood afforded her. “I'll have Kreacher make you a cup of tea. I want you there tonight with your uncle.”
Regulus only nodded. He did not want to help his uncle sort through his father's business. Truth was, he didn't want Cygnus Black anywhere near his father's things. He didn't want that man in his father's study, he didn't want that man touching his father's books, he didn't want that man in his house at all. “I can't let him in there,” the boy whispered.
He bolted down the stairs, Anthony right on his heels. Regulus was thrown to find his father's study unlocked, but he didn't take the time to ponder on it. Standing in the middle of the room, holding a beaten, old, leather bound book, was Bellatrix. “What the hell are you doing in here?” he shouted. He lunged for his cousin, striking the book from her hands and knocking it to the ground. “Get out!”
“Watch it, boy,” Bellatrix snapped. Her entire body tensed with anger. “You don't give me orders.”
“Get out of my father's study.”
“Your father is dead, this doesn't belong to him anymore.”
The taunting chime in Bellatrix's words made Regulus see red. “Then this is my study, as his rightful heir, and I want you out of it!”
“Regulus,” came Anthony's even and pleading voice from beside him. “Calm down, you know that you can't fight her. You can't win.”
“Don't tell me to calm down. I want her out of here,” Regulus argued.
Bellatrix's eyes widened in a flash. “I'm not leaving. I already told you, I don't take orders from you.”
“My father might have been afraid to toss you out, but this is my house now. I protect it. And that starts with getting you out of this room and away from my father's things.”
“Regulus, just calm down,” Anthony pleaded again as Regulus drew his wand.
“Stop telling me to calm down!”
Bellatrix took a step back and tilted her head at her cousin. “Maybe Crouch was right, you have gone mental.” A soft laugh broke from her lips before she continued in a teasing, baby voice. “Is little Regulus having trouble with reality?”
A bolt of light shot from Regulus' wand, headed straight for his cousin's head. Bellatrix was quick; she drew her wand and sent up a shield with only a fraction of a second to spare. The spell hit the woman's shield and slammed into a bookshelf beside her. Instantly, the shelf went up in flames, crackling filled the room as the old wood suffered under the heat.
“Regulus stop!” Anthony shouted. He grabbed at the boy's hand, but of course, merely went through him. “You'll burn your father's books!”
“I'd rather see them all burn than in her hands.” Regulus gritted his teeth and sent another blasting curse towards his cousin.
Bellatrix swatted it away like a pesky fly, sending it straight into Orion's book covered chair. The chair exploded from the strength of the curse; bits of book and charred wood flew at Regulus and left a scattering of burns over the side of his robes.
“Put down your wand, you foolish child! You'll burn the house down.” Bellatrix's wand cut across the air, but she didn't need to speak to make magic.
Regulus deflected whatever his cousin had sent towards him, he tried not to dwell on what it could have been, but its force against his shield knocked him back into the wall. “What's wrong? Can't take a little heat?” he taunted. The boy raised his wand, ready to strike again, but he didn't need to.
Bellatrix's body ran rigid, her arms snapped to her sides and she toppled over into the floor, straight as a board.
“Not in my house!” Walburga stood behind her son, wand still pointed at Bellatrix. “Kreacher, put it out!” She gestured wildly towards the burning bookshelf and eyed both Regulus and Bellatrix. “I'm going to let you go and you're going to shut your mouth, get out of this room and stop this ridiculous fighting! We are family! And you two will act like it!” The woman's face was flushed in red. She released her hold off Bellatrix and stormed out of the study.
Regulus sneered over at his cousin before silently following his mother out of the room.
A Note From the Author: Sorry for the wait on this chapter. Since I just finished finals week, everything is slowing down for me until the new year. I only have 2 more chapters after this one, so unless something goes majorly wrong, the story will be finished by Christmas. Now for this chapter, Orion is gone :'( and Regulus is trying to deal as best he can. Just for record, this chapter officially dates: January 25. I always hate trying to cram an actual date into the chapter, it looks forced. Anyways, thank you so much for reading!! --Jenna
Side Note: If you're reading my other stories, I'm going to finish this one off before updating those, so it'll be a little wait.