Chapter 1 : Primogeniture - An Unfortunate Law of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black
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Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or locations, objects, etc. mentioned in this fanfic.
Primogeniture. If there was one word, one concept I could erase from the English language, that would be it. Of course, I shouldn't hate the term entirely - my family would not have our house or most of our other possessions if Father hadn't been the oldest son of the oldest son of the oldest son, etc. of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. The fact remains, however, that I, Regulus, am NOT the oldest son, and therefore will not inherit any of the fortune or heirlooms of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, unless by some lucky chance my older brother Sirius dies prematurely.
I suppose that hatred of one's older brother is a somewhat annoying side effect of the practice of primogeniture. I don't think that Uncle Orion has ever stopped hoping that Father will drop dead suddenly, and that, Sirius and I being underage, he will somehow manage to get his hands on at least part of the family fortune. Not that this will do much good in the long run, as he has three daughters - Sirius would get it eventually.
Somehow, I think I would still hate Sirius, even if the concept of primogeniture had never existed. Even if that hatred was a bit smaller, it would at least be pure, untarnished hatred - hatred uncorrupted by my own feelings of guilt caused by hating for selfish reasons such as the possession of riches. Though, why should I not wish for riches? Why should I, Regulus, of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, have to work like a common Mudblood for the comforts of life? But such is the Law of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. A law which, like the other laws governing conduct within the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, I, at least, acquiesce to with deepest respect and reverence, much unlike my brother, who, with regard to practically every law EXCEPT that of primogeniture, does not acquiesce at all.
Ever since I was born, seemingly, Sirius has taken sadistic delight in subjecting me to each and every one of the millions of pranks to cross his disturbingly vast imagination. While I found these experiences utterly humiliating and demoralizing, Father, along with a good percentage of visitors to our house, seemed to think that Sirius' actions commended praise for being "oh such a sweet, funny, adorable, charming little boy. And what a sense of humor!' Usually these remarks were accompanied by the comment "It's a pity Regulus can't smile like that - if he keeps that frown much longer it'll spoil his good looks!" At this Father would usually emit a nervous laugh of very insubstantial duration, and glare daggers in my direction. Even the age of three is most certainly not too young to think of marriage in old and respectable wizarding families such as the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black - most parents are already scouting out matches for their children.
While arranged marriages are technically illegal according to the Ministry of Magic as of 1927, they are certainly not illegal according to the Law of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. In fact, they are "highly encouraged." And there is absolutely no question within the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black about which law should be followed, if the two conflict. As the Law of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black does not require a marriage contract signed between fathers of the betrothed during early childhood, however, members of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, like those of other old and respectable wizarding families abiding by similar Laws, choose to respect the Ministry of Magic by exercising only "verbal speculation among concerned parties" with regard to their children's futures.
The one thing that renders Father's distaste at my apparent sullenness bearable is that Sirius earns a much higher number of reprimands with regard to making a good impression on the little ladies, mostly from Mother. Every girl sent to our house for the purpose of making his acquaintance has gone home covered in stinksap, with hair full of flobberworms, or something of the like. Mother has always had a soft spot for me, while Father generally favors Sirius. If only Father were to get a true glimpse of daily life in the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, he might formulate a different opinion. As it is, he goes to work - an extremely well-paying job which requires extremely little effort, no less than what a true member of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black deserves - and comes home, where he tolerates the presence of his older son, and glares at the younger.
It is Mother, not Father, who is daily subjected to the viewing of Sirius' loathsome pranks, the very pranks which in recent days have caused so much material catastrophe that one of our house-elves had to be replaced. Disgusting little creatures. At least they know their place. Which my brother does not. And which I, most unfortunately, do.