Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or locations, objects, etc. mentioned in this fanfic.
4. Discovery of a New Emotion
It was in January of my third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry when, still fuming over one of my brother's unjust humiliations of another student, I unwittingly collided with a female of greater-than-average attractiveness whom I identified as a fourth-year member of the Most Noble and Superior House of Slytherin. Scrambling to my feet, I hurriedly collected her scattered belongings, apologizing profusely as befits a gentleman of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. As she had accepted my offer to transport her belongings to the location of her choice, I luxuriated in the pleasure of accompanying her to the Slytherin common room, so distracted by her delectable appearance that my brain barely processed a word of her conversation. It came as such a shock to realize that we had arrived at our destination that I was barely able to stammer a farewell greeting, one highly unbecoming to a person of my social prowess.
Over the course of the next few months, my eyes could not help but seek out this human embodiment of artistic perfection at every possible opportunity. I was elated to discover that, in addition to magnificently enticing physical characteristics, she also possessed a great deal more kindness and sympathy towards others than most members of the Most Noble and Superior House of Slytherin, routinely engaging in activities such as helping younger students locate classrooms and complete assignments. An abnormal feeling arose in my chest each time she happened to glance in my direction. I, Regulus Black, was completely and hopelessly in love.
One night, close to the termination of that school year, I staggered into the common room, exhausted from an exceptionally lengthy sojourn in the library, during which I had completed a particularly meritorious essay for the subject of Herbology. The finalization of such a commendable work of literature left me feeling so elated that it seemed scarcely possible that anything could increase my euphoria. However, one glance at the couch informed my heart that I was previously mistaken. In front of me shined the opportunity of my dreams: the girl I so admired, resting gracefully atop the green velvet cushions, alone. Summoning up every ounce of courage within my entire being, I eased my body onto the seat beside her.
"Hi, Regulus," she smiled.
"Uh... hel-hel-lo," I stuttered. "How - how are you? You look, er, awfully, uh... pensive..."
Dear Slytherin! How had I managed to forget all my extensive training in aristocratic conversational technique within the last thirty-seven seconds? What use was the tedious study of courtly language if I had not the ability to recall it at the very moment its use was deemed most necessary? Perhaps Father was right in the beginning; perhaps I, Regulus, could never truly live up to the social standards of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.
"Is... everything all right?" I continued, "Anything I can do? I mean... I'm really sorry, you know... about earlier... I kind of, I mean, well, crashed... into you... and..."
"Regulus," she stated, eyeing me curiously, "that was months ago."
"Oh... er... right." I agreed. "Well... well, then, what... I mean, is anything wrong?"
I sat rigidly on the edge of my cushion, half expecting her to explode with laughter any second at my deplorable attempts to demonstrate proper social graces.
"No," she sighed wistfully, "I was just thinking."
"Oh... about what?" I ventured.
"Your brother, actually," she replied.
"My - my BROTHER?!" I erupted, "You mean, Sirius? He - he hasn't done anything to you, has he? Like, any pranks or anything? Because, if he has, I'll - I'll - "
To my utter amazement and incomprehension, she was giggling hysterically. Once again at a loss for words, I waited patiently until her ability to speak had returned.
"Sorry," she gasped, "I didn't mean to laugh at you. It's just - I didn't expect you to get so... concerned, I guess. There's no need to worry - he hasn't done anything."
"But then... why..." I wondered.
"I just think he's awfully handsome, that's all," she confided, "and funny. I love the mischievous twinkle in his eyes, his sexy hair, the way he grins... I mean, all the girls like him. I'm surprised you didn't notice."
The anger bubbling within my chest increased steadily with every word she spoke. My brain struggled vainly to uncover a suitable manner in which to respond to the deepest blow of all my brother had inflicted upon me thus far. I was deploringly aware of the manner in which Sirius ensnared, and subsequently trifled with, the hearts of the vast majority of the female population, swaggering around with a different girl on his arm every week. Frankly, such behavior disgusted me, proving beyond doubt my brother's complete disregard for the feelings of others. Had it never occurred to his diminutive brain that people's hearts were fragile and easily broken? Or that breaking the heart of another was an impermissible crime? For now, indirectly, he had broken my heart as well.
How could the most celestial member of the Most Noble and Superior House of Slytherin possibly be attracted to such a detestable being, devoid of all virtue? What singularity did he possess that could possibly endear him to such a heavenly personage? She had spoken of his physical attributes, but those were scarcely different from mine. The only discrepancy of any significance was that I chose not to display my tantalizing appearance on a pedestal for all to worship. Unlike Sirius, I had no desire to seize more affection that I could possibly return.
"Regulus?" A voice broke into my reverie. "Are you all right?"
Far as I was from the logical realm of thought, I found myself horrifically unable to gather the strength necessary to conform to proper conversational etiquette.
"NO!" I screamed. "I am NOT okay! For the last few months, I have been languishing under the delusion that you were a lady of immeasurable virtue, caring and sensitive towards the feelings of others. As of this evening, you have proved yourself no better than a common Mudblood, seduced like so many others by one who continually desecrates the Law of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. You waste your heart on him, that abomination of the Wizarding race, who, lacking all sense of honor and righteousness, will dispose of your affections within the week! By this alone I am now thoroughly convinced that you deserve whatever misfortunes he has to offer you!"
The terrible, treacherous enchantress gaped silently at my alarming outburst, while ever so slowly, my brain regained control of its logical thought process. Once this procedure was completed, I, most sensibly, turned and ran.