“Regulus,” Barty Crouch Junior acknowledged him carefully, entering the room and looking around in distaste. “It’s a mess in here,” he observed, his eyes gliding across the paper-strewn carpet.
Regulus raised his eyebrows and shifted on the bed, sitting up in annoyance. “What the hell are you doing in here anyway? I never invited you. The party’s downstairs.”
“Ah, now that’s no way to treat a fellow Death Eater,” the youth provoked, sitting down on the edge of the bed and watching Regulus with a smile, daring to reach forward and ruffle the boy’s slightly tousled hair. Regulus scowled and quickly pulled away, tucking his knees up to his chin and glaring.
“What do you want, Barty?”
“I’m bored,” explained the boy, standing up and going to the window, watching the penetrating glow of the orange light flood the darkened streets of Grimmauld Place. The moon was clouded tonight, and the constellation of stars blemished by a foot of bruised cloud. Barty watched it all carefully, and Regulus thought he might be deciding something. The music from the minstrels downstairs found its way up the hallway, and Regulus sneered.
“Shut the door, will you?”
Shrugging, Barty obeyed.
“I meant with you on the other side.”
Smirking, the second Death Eater sat back down on the bed, smoothing out his regal robes and laughing, his bright eyes twinkling slightly. “Ah, Regulus . . . The manners of the upper-class. So delightful.”
“What do you want?” he growled in return, dark eyes flashing. “This is my room, and I came up here to get away from them. That includes you.”
Regulus watched the boy closely as he shifted on the bed. His eyes were averted to the ceiling, full of life and energy as usual, his tall long-limbed body slanted with grace and perhaps even exhaustion. There was a pale look to his face, not quite as pale as Regulus, but this was a sickly, weary colour that washed out his beauty. Frowning, Regulus pulled his legs away from his chin and sat up straighter.
“Are they getting to you, too?” he whispered, his voice softer than the silken touch of the linen duvet. Barty swivelled to look at him, a dangerous fierceness entering his gaze.
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” said Regulus, feeling uncomfortable under the scrutiny of those powerful eyes. “The whole . . . Death Eater thing . . .Its all my parents ever seem to go on about. The Dark Lord this, the Dark Lord that.”
Barty steepled his fingers and glowered with distaste. “Think carefully before you say your next words, Reg. They may well be your last. Treachery is not acceptable among the servants of the Dark.”
“Oh, for Merlin’s sake,” scowled Regulus, jumping up from the bed and pacing over to the window, turning to glare. “You’re just like the rest of them, aren’t you?” he sneered. “All hail the Dark Lord, he’s so amazing, so worthy of our greatness . . . They go on about him as if he’s the very meaning of existence. He’s just a man. Its pathetic.”
Barty leapt from the bed and grabbed a fistful of Regulus’s robes, pinning him up harshly against the wall. Regulus shivered slightly to that touch, the aggressive manner sending a strange delight to his mind. He tried to keep the fear from his face as Barty thrust his own up against his, snarling.
“You are a Death Eater, Black. A Death Eater. That means obedience and loyalty, and your words are poison on your tongue.” He edged nearer, his body warmth closing against Regulus. “I could easily have you killed, you know . . . I could simply tell the Dark Lord and he’d be here in seconds. In fact, you wouldn’t be important enough . . . He’d pass the duty on to another to organise your death themselves.”
“Why don’t you then?” Regulus enquired carelessly. “The Dark Lord means nothing to me. Now that you know that, I suppose you’ll have to kill me, won’t you? I’m not loyal, Barty, I’m simply a pawn my parents have moved across the chess board to gain honour for themselves.” He sighed. “Death would be almost welcome.”
“Shut up, Reg,” Barty snapped, seizing the younger boy by the throat. “You have no idea what you are talking about. The Dark Lord is power, he fights for what is real - Purebloods. Don’t you feel a sense of duty towards your own family, your blood?”
“Its all I’ve been taught to feel, but no, I don’t sense it. My regard to that matter is very low.”
“Then you’d better heighten it,” snapped Barty, his face coming closer, his voice going softer. “Because I don’t want to lose you . . .”
Regulus studied him with incredulity, those piercing dangerous eyes that had always been alluring, the slightly bristled chin from where the older boy had forgotten to shave - the chiselled features of his face that marked perfection, sharpness, yet a strange sort of gentleness at the same time. There was a lushness about Barty’s mouth that made him shudder with delight. The other boy caught this movement and smiled.
“What’s the matter, Reg? You’re blushing.”
“Shut up,” he snapped, trying to keep the precarious note from his voice and failing miserably. He pushed Barty roughly away, raising his manicured hands to massage his tender sore throat. Barty watched him with a smirk, his eyes pinning Regulus to the wall in an expression that was both beautiful and terrifying. “Get out. I don’t want you in here.”
“Oh, but I think you do,” the youth approached again, his lips twisting. “I think you want me very much.”
“What? Shut up, you’re sick.” Regulus backed up immediately. “Get away from me.”
“Or what? You’re going to tell your parents? The parents who have raised you to be a Death Eater, the ones who you speak against?” He narrowed his eyes, suddenly very close. “You know, don’t you?” he smiled softly, his voice so quiet that Regulus had to strain to hear the faint murmur of it. “I could turn you in. The Dark Lord trusts me. I’m his most favoured servant.” His hand reached up to stroke a velvety stand of raven hair from the boy’s blanched face. “One word, and he’d have you killed. I’d probably be the one given the pleasure to do it.”
“Go on then,” Regulus sneered. “I dare you.”
Barty smiled nastily and stepped back. “But where would be the fun in that? I wouldn’t be able to watch your pretty face every time you writhe in agony from His punishment. Every time you fail a task, Reg, he hates you even more. You walk a fine line, the brink of death, and a part of me would say you actually enjoyed it.”
“Piss off,” Regulus swung at him, his hands clenched into fists, but Barty caught his wrists and pinned him back. “You know nothing.” He raised his knee to kick out against the other’s groin, the impact full and hard, making even Regulus wince at the thought of that pain.
“You bastard,” Crouch hissed, doubling over and wincing painfully, his eyes streaming. He glowered up through those watered eyes that shone a light of both hate and amusement. He took a deep, agonised breath and Regulus almost immediately shrunk away, dreading the pain he knew was about to come. Barty dived at him, knocking him immediately to the floor and sitting on his legs, his hands fighting to grip the younger’s wrists once again and hold him down.
“Stop . . . struggling,” he snarled breathlessly. “It will only make it all the worse.”
“Get off me!” Regulus screamed, thrashing about. The older boy looked worried suddenly that all the noise may get them caught, and before Regulus knew what was happening, Barty was descending, his lips coming closer until they crashed down upon his own, a long, lengthy, hard kiss that was almost bruising.
Regulus stilled. His body went weak suddenly with both confusion and delight as Barty kissed him. Lips like petals that he had always thought so loathing and cruel made love to his mouth, the touches growing sweeter, softer and then move driven with lust. There was a passion that startled both boys, and as Barty’s tongue slid over his own, Regulus shuddered all over and released a soft, pleasured moan.
The door opened suddenly and Barty immediately pulled away, sitting up and breathing hard, glaring in accusation towards the interruption.
“Fighting?” Narcissa and Bellatrix asked, laughing. They both eyed Barty with a keenness that spoke of their attraction and sat down on the bed.
“Regulus, your mother says you are to come down,” Narcissa twirled a pale lock of hair around one long perfected finger, her peony lips tilted in a slight smile. Her blue eyes sparkled flirtatiously as they ran across Barty. “She’s quite angry you know, even going so far as promising a torture charm if you don’t hurry up and entertain your guests.”
Regulus felt a sudden rush of cold as Barty struggled to his feet and left him there, on the floor. He sat up slowly, his fingers trembling to his lips that were slightly swollen from the tangible kiss. He glanced at Barty with confusion, but the Death Eater was deliberately ignoring him, sitting down next to Narcissa and placing an arm about her waist. Regulus scowled and got to his feet slowly, his body still shaking slightly as he proceeded to smooth down his dark-navy robes.
“Where is she?”
“Talking to our mother,” Bellatrix said throatily, shooting her sister a jealous look at the attentions she was receiving from Crouch. “Apparently, you’re to come and stay before the summer is out.” She stood and went to the doorway, glaring around the room with her hostility. “Come on, all of you. There’s only a couple of hours left, and I want to see if I can snatch a dance with Rodolphus.”
Regulus followed her calmly out of the room, waiting until the others had left so that he could shut it firmly behind him. He tried to catch Barty’s eye on the way out, but the boy was too busy escorting his cousin to the lower hallway. Scowling, Regulus made way for confusion and walked directly towards the firewhiskey, draining a glass thirstily in a desperate manner to pursue tonight’s occurrences out of his mind, picking up a second glass, a third and then finally a forth, before wading out across the marble dance floor to see what his mother wanted.
The train departure meant another long day of boredom sat in a compartment of the Hogwarts Express, the carriage rattling on the rails wearily as it made its long and steady journey home. Or at least, Regulus had always thought of it as home. The dappling sunlight that patterned silver across the floor made him smile slightly in relaxation, and he leant his head back against the wall, closing his eyes in soft contentment, ignoring the fact that his parent’s were trying to get his attention by waving goodbye outside the window as the platform was left behind. Ignore them, he counselled himself, a spiteful smile tracing his lips. Ignore them and they’ll give up and go away.
As the train pulled away to leave the busy platform behind, his peace was interrupted by the entrance of his cousins, sitting down and giggling excitedly.
“Reg, you’ll never guess,” beamed Narcissa excitedly. “Mother and Father say I am to be engaged.”
Regulus raised his head a little, opening his eyes halfway and regarding his pretty cousin with curiosity. “To whom?”
“Lucius,” she smiled, giggling and exchanging glances with her sister. “Lucius Malfoy - you remember, of course? The prefect with gleaming pale hair and a face like an ice king. He’s beautiful. And dear Bellatrix was awarded her desire of a betrothal to Lestrange.”
Regulus eyed them both darkly. “And you’re happy with this? Cissy, I thought you were infatuated with Crouch.”
Narcissa considered and then shrugged. “Its true,” she admitted, “I am very attracted to him. But he seemed a little . . . distracted, on Midsummer’s Day at your mother’s ball party. I danced with him, and he kept looking in the opposite direction. I think he fancies someone else. Besides,” she shrugged, “His father would never agree to it. He is a man of opposite beliefs to ours when it comes to the term Pureblood.”
Regulus felt his heart flutter slightly at the thought of Barty being free and available. The kiss still lingered a fragrant touch of memory upon his lips, and despite his denial, he longed for Barty to touch him in that way again, and perhaps a little more. He found his mind shrink away into some wonderful fantasy as his cousins gossiped hungrily, and almost as soon as he had closed his eyes again, he was sound asleep in a blissful dream of Barty and his crushing, powerful lips.
“Reg, wake up, you filthy pervert!” Bellatix barked, startling him from his sleep. Regulus raised his eyebrows as his eyes flitted open, his body lain out upon the length of the seat, with his cousins, Lucius, Rodolphus and Barty sat on the seat opposite, smirking. Bellatix pushed Regulus’s fringe aside and laughed at the perspiration she found there.
“You were moaning in your sleep. Having a nice dream?” Lucius, the ice prince asked enviously. His eyes slipped to the sweat across Regulus's brow. He raised an eyebrow with amusement.
Regulus sat up and regarded the sweat that came away on his palm with horror. His face flushed red and he quickly stood up, grabbing his robes and going to the sliding door. He left his amused friends behind, not daring to look at the expression on Barty’s face.
Inside the cramped space of the cubical, he bumped awkwardly against the toilet and quickly stripped off his clothes, rushing foaming water from the sink and scrubbing himself harshly. He hated not feeling clean and the others knew it, which was why they had decided to point the perspiration out to him. The dream had been intense. Barty had been very close to him. Flushing all the further, Regulus pulled on his uniform, on top of which went his robes, and gathered his Muggle clothes together before checking his hair and leaving the washroom.
“Reg!” greeted Sirius, strolling up the corridor to smile at his younger brother sarcastically. “How was your summer? More meetings with Voldemort?”
“Shut up,” he snapped back, feeling ashamed that his retort was so weak, but putting as much feeling into it as he could muster. “I somehow doubt your summer was any better. How was it at the Muggle lover’s house? Did you have fun? Did you share Potter’s bed too?”
“Hold your tongue,” Sirius snarled, pulling out his wand immediately and pointing it in his younger brother’s face. “Whatever my summer was., it was sure as hell better than spending it with you. I heard about Mother’s fancy little party. I wonder, has she informed you that you’re engaged yet? After all, betrothal and prejudice are the main themes of that family.”
“Fuck off, Sirius, what would you know about it? No, I’m not betrothed, and I don’t ever intend to be until I decide what’s right. Screw off back to your pathetic Mudblood friends. I’m sure they have more time and appreciation for you that I do.”
Sirius was just on the urge of uttering a spell when Regulus felt his hips grabbed from behind, a taller figure pulling him back to grate his body against the younger’s harshly. A slow, seductive smile was rising on the other boy’s lips, and Regulus knew without turning that it was Barty. Sirius regarded them with disgust.
“Leave him alone, Black,” the gorgeous throb of the Death Eater’s voice vibrated along Regulus’s back. “Unless you want me hex you twice as hard.”
Sirius eyed the seventh-year with first scrutiny and then intense curiosity. “Are you and my brother . . .?” he trailed off, not daring to believe, but excitement of gossip and cruelty glinting in his soft grey eyes.
“Oh yes,” Barty mocked, smirking. “I screw him occasionally.” He dropped his head to kiss along the column of Regulus’s throat, who accidentally threw his head back and half-closed his eyes in bliss as surprise and happiness shivered throughout his body. Moaning softly, he felt the bitemarks impress and the velvety cooling warmth of a tongue excite his flesh. Barty stopped, his hands still placed softly of Regulus’s hips, and grinned up at Sirius. “You’re a foolish idiot to believe it,” he laughed.
Sirius looked vaguely confused, then took the pairing as a joke and scowled. “Whatever,” he said lowly, turning and wandering back to his compartment. “Nice trick, but it didn’t work.”
When the corridor was empty again, Regulus breathed gently, struggling slightly to release himself from Barty’s grip. He glared up at the youth with accusing eyes. “What was that for?”
“I saved your arse, didn’t I?” Barty grinned. “Besides, don’t pretend that you didn’t enjoy it.”
“Crouch -” he began., but the seventh-year interrupted him.
“Oh, so we’re on second name terms now, are we?”
“Stop messing around with my head,” Regulus pleaded. “When you kissed me, back in my room, did you really . . .” He stumbled to find his words, finding himself flushing red. “Did you mean it?”
Barty raised his eyebrows and stroked the length of Regulus’s smooth cheek before kissing it hungrily. “Of course I did, Black. Why else would I kiss you if I didn’t want more of it?” He bent his head down to the shorter boy and moved his hands along his waist, feeling the tension of the slightly muscular torso there. “Why? Did you enjoy it?”
“So what if I did?” Regulus burst out suddenly, his mind failing him as his heart throbbed stronger. “Yes, I enjoyed it, ok? Does that make you happy now? I suppose for you, it was just a joke, but for me - ”
Barty silenced him by kissing down on his mouth, harder than the first time. Taking Regulus’s strong jaw in his gentle caressing hands, he tilted the boy’s chin so that he could get a taste of his mouth all the more firmly. This time, the overwhelming stunned sensation passed quicker, and Regulus found himself able to kiss back, his hands taming through Barty’s hair, his tongue gliding across the surface of the inner crevices that made him moan into Barty’s throat. Barty pulled away and stroked aside Regulus’s fringe carefully, his voice coming out tender and loving.
“I’m hungry for you,” he whispered truthfully. “Are you hungry for me?”
Regulus beamed, his eyes shining brighter than they ever had before. He grinned and nodded, burying his face in the strength of Barty’s chest.
“Yes,” he whispered hopefully. “Good,” came the stern reply. Barty pushed him away and turned round, walking back into the compartment where their friends were waiting. Regulus quickly followed, disregarding the confusion for attraction and accepting that in truth, Barty was what he wanted.
Barty dated a lot of girls. Regulus didn’t mind, in fact, he was more than happy to know that Barty exercised his lusts, because in the end, he always returned to the one he regarded as most precious. Their affair was secret, as both knew the consequences their relationship would cause within the circle of Lord Voldemort’s servants. It was difficult. Regulus knew Barty felt his pain when he was tortured by the Dark Lord for clumsy mistakes, yet always he would be nursed afterwards.
“Reg, don’t cry,” Barty whispered smoothly into his ear, his breath hot and cleansing as it ran against the other’s flesh. Barty stroked his hair gently, treating his lover like china, as if one word that wasn’t handled with fragility would make him break. “Its over now. It wasn’t too bad. At least he didn’t kill you.”
Regulus nodded, feeling glad that under the torture, he had held his head high with pride as he got up and walked away - he had held his mouth shut to prevent his own screams. And Barty had been there, unable to watch, yet sharing his pain with him. Occulemency guarded both their thoughts, so that the Dark Lord could not get an intention of their antics outside servitude.
It had been six months since their relationship began, and now it burned brighter than ever.
“Just love me,” Barty had said to him one day, and Regulus had obeyed. It wasn’t hard to love such a figure of beauty and fierceness.
Regulus stilled as the Death Eater wiped the tears from his cheeks, the careful silvered drops scraped clean. Barty bent to kiss those wet cheeks and soothed Regulus’s breathing with his astoundingly compassionate touch. Barty’s kiss provoked elicit reactions, and Regulus raised his head to deepen the kiss all the further, sighing contentedly as Crouch’s hands slipped under his shirt and ran cold and erogenous along his firm stomach. Barty stimulated him with his virile touches, his skin provoking sensitive areas that cried and screamed out for more.
As he bordered transcended pleasure, Regulus cried out Barty’s name, causing the older boy to shudder in a sweat suddenly, before relaxing breathlessly and closing his eyes down into the pillow upon the bed. Regulus breathed unsteadily, trying to slow his heartbeat, but when Barty looked up at him with those gorgeous eyes, his heart raced painfully and he found himself being kissed again.
“I know you don’t want to be a Death Eater,” Barty soothed him, “but that’s what you’ve been bred to do.” His fingers traced circle’s on the boy’s abdomen. “Stay loyal, and I won’t let them hurt you.”
“I’ve got to tell him,” Regulus snapped, feeling the heat of cold anger bristle over him. The moon was bright in liquid silver, a pool that graced the world in ornamented beauty, a pale eye that retched out the darkness and divided its calamity.
“Don’t you dare,” Barty gripped his wrist viciously, nails biting in, his eyes flashing dark suddenly with the fires of extended wrath. Regulus glared back at him, fidgeting to try and pull away. Barty’s grip only increased all the further.
“I’m not carrying on like this, Barty,” he defended himself brusquely. “And you can’t make me. You said it was love we had, so why not tell Him? He’s going to find out soon enough, anyway. I know he’s been suspicious. I’ve felt him searching my mind.”
“Listen to yourself,” Crouch spat. “You’re ridiculous. Are you trying to get yourself killed? Because the Dark Lord doesn’t tolerate love of any other that isn’t directed at himself. And you know he’ll pick you over me. I have stronger uses that apply to his convenience. If you tell him, and he decides love is intolerable, and that one of us has to go, it will be you he picks. It will be you he kills.”
“Fine,” Regulus retorted icily. “But I’m not going to shrink away from this, Barty. I’ve been a coward for too long, and he no longer has a power over me. If dying means I can still be in love with you, then so be it.”
“What’s wrong with what we already have?” Barty pleaded desperately, releasing his grip of Regulus’s wrist and instead holding him through a kiss.
Regulus pulled away reluctantly, lowering his eyes to the ground, shaking his head hopelessly. “I don’t want it to be a secret any longer.”
Barty didn’t stop him as he crunched his way through the snowy silence of darkness, the moon highlighting a path that castellated a corridor before him, silver and bright, leading to where the Dark Lord was inhabited. Biting his lip hard, Regulus forced himself to enter, yet what he saw and heard from the man’s open mind made horror engulf his chest, and curiosity spark his nature.
Recalcitrant. He had to be recalcitrant. It was in his nature, perhaps not of a Black, but of a younger son who has suffered from imposed authority all his life. At least for Barty, the submission to control had been chosen. For Regulus, it had been forced. Shaking his head, he pocketed the horcrux and stoked its softness inside his robe pocket.
Over and over, Barty had whispered that he loved him, if only he would be submissive to authority. No matter how much he tried, Regulus knew the Dark Lord’s auctoritas was wrong. He didn’t want to be obsequious - it sickened him. No one could make him bow, sinking to the rocky bite of the earth that grazed his knees. His proud nature refused all control. Regulus was one of obstinacy, and he embraced that with nonchalance.
He was eighteen. He knew Barty would be disappointed in him, but that didn’t stop him from clutching the Horcrux all the tighter. He had to hide it, to bury it deep within some secret place. He alone knew of Voldemort’s shattered souls.
Seven of them - seven lives that denied the Lord from the brink of death and destruction. Inside his palm., Regulus gripped one of them. He’d drunk the emerald-silvery liquid until his stomach could take no more, but his determination out-won the inner battle, and he’d left a note, signed R.A.B. He had never aspired to the Dark side, and now that the battle raged all the stronger, he felt it was not too late to help the enemy.
Grimmauld Place had never seemed like home just three years ago, but now, it was all he knew. After Hogwarts had denied him friendship and comfort from its warmth, he found that home was really home. Apparating before it, he glanced up at the tall building with its enveloping windows, each one shrouded in darkness. Creeping through the corridor, he reached the doorway and ascended the long flight of stairs, away from his bedroom and up into the attic. It was as good a place as any; no one bothered to look here anymore. He was sure that if anyone was to find the Horcrux, it would be his brother, when he acknowledged his brother’s death and took the house for himself. Both their parents had died by now, some accident, disease or form of assassination - the death had never been certified. Breathlessly, Regulus swung himself up onto the precarious floorboards and lay there for a moment, breathing heavily. When he looked up, the chamber was plunged in the shadow of dark.
Regulus found his wand digging into his thigh in his pocket. He picked it out and whispered, “Alohomora,” before holding it before him and driving back the night to make everything visible. He wriggled forward on his belly, sliding across the floor with the locket clenched between his teeth, so rock hard that he didn’t make a mark. He stubbed his toe on one of the boards and stopped for a minute to wince and grimace before pulling himself on. Cobwebs and dust choked his lungs but at last he reached the end of the attic and pulled himself up onto his knees, crouching there with a frown and a look of weariness.
He still wasn’t sure why he was doing this. The black jewel gleamed warmly in the wand light and he studied it with relishing delight. It was the only rebellion he could muster, and if Barty wasn’t going to help him against the Dark Lord, then he supposed he would have to take matters into his own hands.
He found a box labelled with his possessions and took the horcrux carefully in his hands, placing the wand in his mouth and gently laying the fragment of Voldemort’s soul inside the soft comfort of security that was the box. Picking up some of his old possessions, he wrapped the locket in a sheet of cloth, pressing it down and losing it in the mass of junk. He released a sigh and gripped hold of his wand again, feeling a warmth pass throughout him at his final good deed. He would die for it, but almost now, that release seemed welcome.
Regulus climbed out of the loft and onto the floor, brushing away the layers of dust that had gathered upon him, shaking it from his hair and his robes. He went to the bathroom and washed himself up, preparing for his death, trying to look the best he could. The darkness of his hair fell over his grey eyes, which, once so angry, were now only soft in acceptance of what fate had dealt for him. He had done all he could to turn his path around and aid the good, although he knew his brother would always reflect him with intense dislike and disgust.
He left the house behind and went out into the dark, leaving the last of his comfort behind, feeling prepared and ready for anything.
The meeting crawled slowly. There were several exchanged glances and worried frowns. Everyone knew that Regulus was in for it. They didn’t know what exactly he had done, only that he had angered the Lord greatly, and his temper was short. One more mistake, and this was his last one.
To Regulus, it wasn’t a mistake. It was an act of courage and glory. He smiled privately to himself behind his mask. He only began to tremble when the Dark Lord called him forth.
“Take off your mask,” ordered the man, tall and proud in his gratifying features that were concealed by the ebony of his cloak. “You are no longer a Death Eater of mine.”
Regulus smiled up at him, a light entering his eyes at the gratitude of his freedom. “Thank you.”
The Dark Lord’s jaw clenched slightly, and the curve of his bloodless mouth twitched, but he offered no movement. His heated eyes flared as they turned to regard the circle of sworn loyalty.
“This boy,” he added as further insult, “has disregarded my power above him. He has seen fit to take something of mine, and I intend to find out what.” He raised his eyes to lock them with Barty. “Crouch. Come here.”
Barty, his face contorted with fear, sorrow and rage, took hesitant steps forwards, trying to appear brave, a man of twenty years young. His eyes connected with Regulus’s slightly, and Regulus thought he caught sight of the love burning there, but before he could peer closer, the older Death Eater had already turned back to face his Lord.
“Yes, my lord?” he enquired with all the respect he could muster into his trembling voice.
“I want you to take Black here away, and then I want you to kill him.”
Regulus’s heart quickened a beat. It was far crueller than he had expected. His task of hiding the horcrux had been in an effort to provoke the Dark Lord to fury, and to aid the Order, not to hurt Barty. No one else was supposed to get hurt.
“But first,” Voldemort hissed, “I want you to find out where a secret possession of mine is.”
Barty nodded and bowed, sticking his wand to Regulus’s back and snarling as he hastened the youth along. Regulus went obediently, casting his eyes away from the Dark Lord and the circle of fellow servants, feeling the wand hard and fierce between his shoulder blades.
The leafy vines of the trees bent and raised, dancing in the hypnotic swirl of wind, shaking nature to the trembling of a foreshadowing. Structured hands scraped fingers tearing across the air, thick sturdy trunks securing a growth that sucked up energy and life from the soil. Energy and life - that was what Voldemort took, claiming it all for himself. He was a feeder, a parasite, a monster.
Barty stopped in the glide of the moon, the silver leaking through the canopy of trees and onto the forest floor. He took down his wand and snatched Regulus’s, a look of warning reaching his eyes.
“Don’t try and run.”
Regulus smiled wryly. “As if.”
“Why did you do it, Reg? Why did you deliberately provoke him? I don’t know what you’ve taken, but was it really worth your life? Was it worth your pain?”
“Yes,” smiled Regulus emptily. “Yes, it was.”
“Just get on with it, Barty,” he snarled. “You can torture me all you like; I’m not going to tell you.”
“I’m not going to torture you,” the man sighed, lifting his hand to caress Regulus’s cheek and hold it softly. His lips quested forward to warm Black’s cold ones. “I’m going to kiss you goodbye.”
Regulus didn’t cry, and he was sure Barty would not, although the unmistaken glint of treacherous tears entered the man’s fierce eyes. He looked away from the ivory of his lover’s skin, from the cold certainty that this man would complete his task. He was no traitor of the Dark Lord; he was loyal, and his true allegiance lay there.
“You could run,” Barty said suddenly, his breath coming hot against Regulus’s neck. “I could let you go.”
Regulus snorted. “I hardly think so. Its not worth both our deaths.” He saw the lie behind Barty’s eyes but decided not to mention it. He knew that Barty would never let him go - it wasn’t worth it. Barty loved being a Death Eater too much; there was no mistake he would sacrifice anything to get to the top of Voldemort’s favourites. “The best you can do for me now is finish it quickly . . . Give me a quick death.”
Barty nodded but made no movement to do so. Instead, he ran delicate hands through Regulus’s hair, tracing every facial feature with treasuring memory for the last time. Regulus closed his eyes against that touch, the iciness chilling his skin yet piercing it with peace. He tilted his head back as Barty found his throat, leaning down to suck on it passionately, before trailing his lips back up to Regulus’s mouth, walking it with his own. Regulus melted into him, tasting his tongue as it moved against his own, swallowing the succulence of freshness and love. When he opened his eyes, Barty had pulled away and had his wand in his hand. Tears were streaming down his cheeks, silvered in the light of the moon, glittering and sheening. It was the most beautiful Regulus had ever seen him.
They didn’t mention love - it was not needed. In exchanged glances, all emotions were told. The best part was that Barty wasn’t going to try and get answers out of him, wasn’t going to put him through any pain . . . It was a last gift to his lover, his disobedience to the Dark Lord in a way that was not dangerous yet was kind. After all, he could simply say that he had tried yet got no answer. Regulus looked deeply into those piercing eyes he loved so much, and saw his reflection, smiling softly back at him, smiling even still as Barty raised the wand, sighing in the wind as those lips moved to utter an all-ending spell . . .