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And the Wicked Die Alone by Wingless
Chapter 3 : Butterfly
 
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Chapter Three
Butterfly











His parents always told him that sentiments were fickle. In a way, they reminded him of butterflies, so little and insignificant at first. But later evolving and transforming into fragile creatures of beauty. Chrysalis, caterpillar, cocoon, butterfly. Butterflies went through one of the most awe-inspiring changes in the world. Emotions though... He found them to be a nuisance, sensations not much worth the time.


As a young boy, he never understood why his parents seemed so emotionless. He could not quite grasp the concept that emotions were a weakness and that to remain unfeeling was to simply remain. He did not understand why his kin refused to smile, laugh, or let any sign of feeling flash in their eyes. Only when privacy and secrecy was at its peak did they reveal feelings. He had found it unnatural as a young boy, but as he grew and changed, his opinions evolved to incorporate the influences of family and friends.


His parents looked down on change. It was indecent and unbecoming to change, his parents often told him. Again, his parents' sentiments towards everyday life left him puzzled. If change was so unseemly, how could he grow without appearing shameful to his family? His father had replied with a smart rap to his head, ‘tsk’ing in disapproval.


And so it was that Regulus also grew to look down upon change and feelings, for feelings were due to be changed, and change was an abhorred act. He developed a keen dislike for such insignificant things.


He always did love the fleeting butterflies though.



*


September 1, 1978




He pushed his trolley dutifully through the barrier, relishing the warmth of the gently heated day. Bellatrix followed him at a casual pace, her face hardly restrained by the disgusted leer on her face. Regulus could not blame her; even he felt a little soiled being around so many Mudbloods at once.


"I can hardly imagine why that Dumbledore even lets them attend Hogwarts," Bellatrix muttered irritably, moving ahead of him. "They reek a terrible stench…"


Regulus had to resist the need to laugh aloud as he steered his trolley through the thickening crowd of parents and children. He felt a sudden pang of loneliness. I'm such a hypocrite… I go looking for at least a minute of seclusion and when I'm surrounded by these ghastly people, I suddenly feel lonely? Argh...


He glanced back at Bellatrix, his train of thought running towards her and his parents. He did not mind that it was only Bellatrix seeing him off; or so his demeanour seemed to say. Bellatrix finally noticed his blatant staring and turned around to face him fully.


"Your constant staring is unnerving. Either quit it or tell me what's going on inside that mind of yours," Bellatrix snapped suddenly, her eyes flashing in annoyance.


Regulus managed to restrain most of his flinch, but it was undoubtedly there and Bellatrix's irritation turned to shame.


"I'm sorry, Regulus, I really am... Your father is just so..." Bellatrix looked away, tensing her shoulders and wrinkling her nose in revulsion. She swallowed, as if trying to get some bitter taste out of her mouth. "It doesn't help when Walburga sides with him too, even though she knows he's utterly wrong. She's such a strong woman; why can't she be strong with Orion?" Bellatrix glared into the distance, suddenly oblivious to Regulus's presence.


He merely watched her, trying to restrain the growing fury inside him. Bella was never one for subtlety when it came to matters concerning his father. Regulus, for the most part, was quite used to Bella's disgust, even Narcissa's disgust, but there were times when he wished that they would heed the firm fact that he was in fact his father's son. He wished they would not bring his mother into it. He had spent years listening to them fight, listening to his father's hypocritical, demeaning affronts to his mother, and then chastising Sirius for simply glaring at her. He hated it, all the tension and disrespect in his respectable family. They were all like walking contradictions; would it not simply be easier if they merely respected each other and continued on with their own beliefs, cultures, and traditions? Regulus frowned and looked down at his feet, biting his lip. He loved his mother and his father. He would do anything for them, anything to please them and make them proud. He once told Bellatrix he wanted to feel like a respected member of the family. Bellatrix had laughed at him and told him he did not need to do anything; he was already respected and he already had a place in history.


"Don't look down, Regulus. It's a sign of weakness," Bellatrix's sharp voice cut through him like glass and he was harshly reminded of his mother's piercing shrieks when scolding Sirius. It made him rather irritable. He looked up, narrowing his eyes only slightly to let her know he was not pleased in the slightest.


Bellatrix sighed when she caught the irked spark in his cloudy eyes. Her shoulders slumped and she looked defeated for a moment, something akin to disappointment reflecting from her eyes. Slightly baffled, Regulus became even more confused when she suddenly squared her shoulders and fixed herself with a rigid expression.


"Get on then, Regulus. Take care at school." She moved towards him and embraced him rather stiffly. Regulus frowned at her brusque behaviour and tensely returned the embrace.


"You too, Bellatrix. Tell Rodolphus I'm sorry I couldn't make it the other day," Regulus replied plainly, casually looking past Bellatrix, who nodded with a furrowed brow. Both nodded to one another, and Regulus dragged his trunk off the trolley and pushed through the crowd, wondering vaguely what had happened between them just now. A plaintive expression found its way on his face; he did not like leaving on bad terms, especially not with Bella, of all people. He pursed his lips, frowning. He would rather just turn around, hug Bella, and apologise, but he knew she would find it yet another sign of weakness. However, as Regulus boarded the Hogwarts Express, he mundanely felt their relationship was somehow the thing become weaker.


It confused him. Her behaviour as of late was so... different. She had kept her normally brusque attitude at bay around him. She would let down her defences every now and then to mentor him when he was down. She looked out for his best interests. She had pruned him of his flaws, refined him into a young, respectable man who sought a life of servitude. She was his protector, like Sirius. Bellatrix and Sirius. Cousin and brother. Light and dark. Two enemies who fought for different causes. Two family members who were always there for him. Bellatrix, tending to his dark side, ensuring his love for You-Know-Who. Sirius, weeding out the hate and sowing the goodness, trying his hardest to save him from the shadowy future. Bellatrix and Sirius.


Two people who loved him unconditionally. Regulus swallowed hard. Bellatrix, no matter how hard she was, would never hurt him without good reason. No doubt she had a lesson hidden somewhere in her cold words.


Other students darted through the corridors of the train, dashing in and out of compartments excitedly. Passing by a gaggle of nervous-looking first-years, Regulus turned to glance in through every window in search of an empty compartment. He did not care all too much of seeking out any Slytherin friends. They had a knack for finding him where ever it was he hid. It was unnerving at times, but for the most part Regulus was fine. He was, after all, a secluded fellow, which was also perfectly fine. No one ever did have qualms over his need for space. Smiling smugly to himself, he continued to look for a compartment, sidestepping a pair of girls who hushed considerably as he walked on absently.


He quickly reached the end of the car and found an adequate compartment, which he settled into comfortably. It took him all of five minutes to sit down and stretch his legs over to the opposing seats, tilting his head back to shut his eyes wearily. He was not all too excited to be returning to Hogwarts this year. He was not too sure why; he supposed it was all the trifling rivalries and pettifogging drama that came with school. Perhaps even the simple fact it was slowing him down in life too. Many would tell him that that was just maddening - how could finishing school slow down his life? Regulus would generally remain silent if asked such a question, but he knew the answer loud and clear in his mind. He was not destined to become a famous Hit Wizard or an Herbologist or a Potions Master. He was not destined to become a future Headmaster, nor the Minister of Magic. The answer was simple: he was destined to follow whatever path his parents chose for him. Be it following the Dark Lord or even working for the Quibbler, Regulus knew that even if he were posed with the question of his future, he would undoubtedly choose whatever it was his parents favoured. So, naturally, knowing just what it was his mother and father wanted of him, Regulus had realised long ago that his education was near pointless in comparison to the destiny his parents desired for him. Of course, he would never reveal this to anybody. He appreciated the vital knowledge Hogwarts had supplied him and he knew that had he not gone to Hogwarts, he would not have learned half the things he knew to this day. Of course, most of it his parents would find unnecessary, such as Ancient Runes and Divination, and even Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures. They considered such topics useless - their minds were more focused on history and the Dark Arts.


Pursing his mouth only slightly, Regulus crossed his arms over his chest. Why was he thinking so much? All he really wanted was to just kick back and relax, to sleep peacefully the entire ride to school. His frown began to ease and Regulus felt naught but content as calming sensations took a hold of him. He was quite pleased with his summer, even if he spent most of his waking moments around the vile Lucius. Regulus still could not place it; the man seemed wicked to him, more wicked than any human could be. However, Regulus was grateful for the techniques and curses he had learned from the man. Much of what Lucius had taught him could never be learned at Hogwarts. Lucius had spent much of the summer focused on Duelling and the Dark Arts, even ideal stealth methods. Nevertheless, there were various occasions where Lucius had brought out books and made Regulus study. He made him understand what horrors the Muggles had inflicted upon witches and wizards in the past. He made him study ancient texts and poetry related to grand pure-blooded wizards. He pulled out heavy books banned throughout the wizarding world, filled with black-hearted secrets and unlawful rituals. He touched lightly upon subjects like mysterious Horcruxes and nefarious potions. Regulus learned more in that summer than he had in his life, and for that, he was immensely grateful. Uncrossing his arms, he let his hands fall limply to his sides. Gazing ahead with dull eyes, he began to fidget with the hem of his sleeve when mocking voices echoed unpleasantly from behind the door.


"Sod off, Lestrange!"


Regulus frowned; that voice sounded distinctly familiar. It was a soft and gentle voice that told Regulus much about the person. He would reckon she was proud and confident, almost carrying herself elegantly. However, he could hear the insecurities in her voice. A smirk found its way on his lips.


"What's this, McKinnon? You think you're too great to even speak to us? Got some filthy swine to defend your honour?"


Regulus narrowed his eyes. That was Rabastan Lestrange. He would know that voice anywhere, spending so much time with the youth. He was a seventh-year who had nervous, twitchy moments, but Regulus found him to be a rather amiable. Standing up, Regulus slid open the compartment door, poking his head into the hallway.


The commotion was further up, as Regulus was in the last compartment. He could see Rabastan's tall frame up ahead, twirling a pair of wands in the air with a laugh. He was a long-legged fellow with a sinewy body and narrow face. His high cheekbones were more pronounced by the horrid lighting of the hall, his thin, pointed nose casting a long shadow over his face. He had thin, dark eyes filled with a sadistic sort of mirth that unnerved many and a somewhat small mouth that often stretched into a wide-mouthed grin. Regulus raised a brow at the goatee he now sported and wondered where that had suddenly come from.


"Give us back our wands, Lestrange, right now," said a fair-skinned girl through gritted teeth. Regulus instantly recognized her as Marlene McKinnon, a Gryffindor seventh-year who was wicked in hexes, curses, and Duelling. Regulus had had his share of Duels with her - all in the Duelling Club, of course. He was astounded, bewildered as to how Rabastan had gotten his hands on such a Duellist’s wand. She was a petite witch with a small frame. She was thin to the point where she seemed fragile, and her stark-white skin did little to combat that label of frailty. She was mildly freckled with gleaming eyes of brown hidden behind large spectacles that often sat unbalanced upon her tiny button of a nose. Her hair was often askew, chestnut waves pulled into a bun held by a large purple quill that served to overwhelm the small girl. She was well known throughout Hogwarts as a loud-mouthed, haughty teen with severe mood swings, best friend to...


Regulus's train of thought suddenly collided into a memory and he blinked in surprise, his mouth forming a little 'o'. He quickly regained composure though, his brow twitching merely once before he surveyed Marlene's closest friend, Morna Allaway. She remained a lean stick of female who appeared so shockingly dotty, he tended to feel overwhelmed in her presence. He didn't know much about her, except that she was practically in love with Benjy Fenwick, who had graduated from Hogwarts the year before; if he remembered correctly, they started dating around early May (of course, this was information acquired through unavoidable rumours). Narrowing his eyes, he remained inside his compartment, regarding the scene with a steely eye.


Rosier stood beside Rabastan. Regulus could tell without looking he was smirking his telltale smirk, and he nearly grinned by just how well he knew Rosier. Rosier had his arms crossed over his chest, his clear eyes filled with an icy amusement. Rabastan and Evan exchanged glances snidely.


"I don't take orders from a filthy Mudblood like you, McKinnon," Rabastan snarled, his mouth distorted in an ugly fashion. Morna glared at him, her face flushing indignantly. She took a step forward, but McKinnon quickly put a hand on her arm. Morna took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Regulus ventured to guess she was counting to ten backwards, and the thought brought an entertained grin to his lips. Rosier gave a sharp laugh that caused her to jump in surprise.


"Well, look at this! Pathetic Allaway's taking orders from McKinnon! What'd you have to do, McKinnon? Sell your house?" Rosier laughed again, that same laugh that chilled many to the bone. Regulus knitted his brows, watching the Gryffindors closely. A fire seemed to ignite in Marlene's bright eyes and she darted forward, her arm pulling back.


"Marlene, no!"


Regulus's eyes widened as Marlene's fist collided solidly against Rosier's face. A nasty thud sounded and Rosier stumbled backwards with a pained yelp. He regained himself quickly, brushing a slender hand against his lip. Glancing down, he glared at the trickle of warm blood against his thumb before turning his gaze back towards the girls. Marlene stood defiant, her chin raised, her face glowing with pride. Her taller friend stood behind her, trying her hardest not to bite her lip in apprehension. Regulus saw how her fingers began to fidget with the straying threads of her robes.


Rabastan pointed Marlene's wand at her as Rosier pulled out his own. Rosier's bleeding lip pulled back into a loathing snarl, and Regulus could've sworn he heard him growl with feral hatred.


"Apologise, Marlene, just apologise -- "


“Oh, hush Morna, they're not going to do anything to us. Think about it -- what could two, mindless oafs do to us?"


She giggled lightly, her dimpled face smiling.


With an infuriated cry, Rosier lunged towards Marlene, but he never made his target. Regulus leapt out from the compartment and grabbed Rosier's shoulder, pulling him away roughly. Rabastan whipped around and glared at Regulus with dark eyes.


"What are you doing, Black?"


His hissing voice brought Regulus's gaze up to his quickly and he swallowed hard. What was he thinking, jumping out like that? In front of Rabastan, no less? He inhaled sharply, averting his furious gaze as he sidestepped him and stooped to pick up Morna's and Marlene's dropped wands. He handed them to the girls, twitching as skin brushed skin. He turned his back to them and narrowed his eyes at the two taller boys, struggling not to whip back around and glare at them until they left to a compartment. However, he did not turn, and the girls did not leave, and Regulus was left feeling too warm for his own good.


He could not think of a good excuse for his actions; how could he, when he did not even know why he interfered? He could hear erratic breathing patterns behind him, unnerving him terribly. A frown found its way on his face as he looked up at his cousin's brother-in-law. His brows knitted together and he began to think hard and fast. The first thought that came to mind, though, was one that baffled him.


What would Sirius do?


A pensive expression came over him as he thought about that. What would Sirius do? A rush of memories flooded him, but he stood his ground, ignoring the onslaught of shouting, weeping, and laughing that echoed in his mind. His hesitance and indecision faded away until an icy face of stone shone through, eyes hardened as they gazed unwaveringly at the older boy. He would not back down though, not now, not when it suddenly came to him. He just stared at Rabastan, whose brow furrowed bemusedly. His eyes roved Regulus's face curiously, easing until he finally looked away.


Regulus's mouth twitched with amusement. "Didn't your parents ever teach you not to hit women?"


Rosier heaved a great sigh, glaring a hole into the ceiling. "What are you harping on about now, Black?" He spat disgustedly. His eyes leapt to Morna and Marlene, still standing behind Regulus.


Regulus ‘tsk’ed in disapproval. "Really, Rosier, how could you even think it? Beating on a woman? You should be ashamed. Save your strength for more significant tasks." He fixed a pointed stare on Rosier. Seconds ticked by slowly until Rosier nodded, taking the hint sullenly. He looked towards the Gryffindors, his eyes narrowing specifically towards Marlene.


"Don't think this is over, Mudblood. You should have your little servant watch your back from now on," Rosier hissed, his eyes glinting. He glanced at Rabastan before pushing past the pair of girls rudely; stalking down the hall and slamming open a compartment door. When the two Slytherins disappeared, Regulus turned around to survey the girls.


Morna watched him with a grin, albeit it was a hesitant grin. "Thanks Regulus," she said in a soft and gentle voice. Regulus's eyes twitched for a moment as he recognised her voice as the one he had heard earlier… He inwardly chastised himself for being so slow, when he suddenly comprehended her usage of his first name.


His confusion must have been written over his face as Marlene suddenly burst out laughing.


"I do think that's the first time I've seen Regulus Black look confused!" Morna smiled at her friend's comment, nodding slightly. Marlene shook her head with a grin and patted Morna's arm.


"I'm going back to the compartment. Coming?"


Morna nodded vaguely, still watching Regulus closely.


"I'll catch up in a minute, 'kay?"


Marlene nodded, curiosity suddenly burning in her eyes. She turned and darted down the hall, disappearing into a compartment. Morna glanced behind her for a moment before switching her gaze back to Regulus, who felt highly uncomfortable.


She looked down, frowning before she looked at him again. She opened and closed her mouth a few times and Regulus suddenly registered that she was struggling to say something. Regulus watched her, the slightest of frowns tugging at his lips. Morna quickly noticed his impatient and inquisitive stare and burned crimson with embarrassment.


A few more seconds passed in silence and Regulus grew annoyed. When she refused to speak, Regulus heaved a great sigh. "Well? Are you going with that McKinnon or what?"


Morna looked away quickly, scratching her nose. "Erm... I was just wondering why you stopped them."


She looked back at him, her brown eyes blinking curiously as a sort of determination took over her. Regulus stepped back, raising a brow as he pondered how best to answer.


Why did I do that?


She waited patiently, her hands moving to cross in front of her, body swaying in a slight, absent manner. Regulus glanced at her face for a few moments before tearing his gaze away. Turning from her, he shrugged nonchalantly and strode calmly to the end of the car. He could feel her gaze on him, her eerie and curious gaze with her too-big eyes. Without turning around, he said casually, "Who says I've stopped them?"


"What's that supposed to mean?"


Regulus gave an abrupt chuckle, piercing the silence that was so quick to settle between them. He heard a light thump as she jumped in surprise, a muffled sound escaping her. Smirking, he looked over his shoulder at her.


"Rosier will be on the hunt for McKinnon. I daresay your lives will become just a tad more difficult."


Before she could reply, he strode back into his lonely compartment and slammed the door shut, wondering why he even bothered to answer her.



*


Mid October, 1978




"Hurry it up, Black! The match is in fifteen minutes!"


Regulus gave Rosier a proud glare before turning back to spreading strawberry jam on his toast. He took a slow bite, relishing the sweet luxury that rolled across his tongue, swallowing reluctantly when Rosier's constant foot tapping grew more impatient. His heated glare burned at his back, but Regulus shrugged mentally. Indifferent to his companion's growing annoyance, Regulus took another bite before taking a sip of coffee.


"Black! Get up off your arse and get to the locker rooms!" Rosier nearly screamed at him. His shout went unnoticed, as the few who were left in the hall were queasy Hufflepuffs who could not so much as down their breakfast before the game. Regulus took yet another bite, chewing especially slowly and loudly for Rosier's benefit.


A strangled yell rang out as Rosier lunged at Regulus's back, grabbed him by the back of his robes, and attempted to drag his team-mate to the Quidditch pitch. However, Regulus had anticipated such a move (it was so easy to read the fellow, even from behind him) and scooted swiftly to the left. Holding down a snicker as Evan Rosier pin wheeled on the spot to keep from falling face-first onto a plate of eggs, he finished off his toast with an especially amused glint in his eye. He stood on his feet, grabbed the back of Rosier's robes, and proceeded to drag him to the Quidditch pitch.


Rosier grumbled as he shook free of Regulus, moving to walk alongside him. "Does humiliating me pleasure you?" he muttered under his breath, eyes as twisted and convoluted as a coming storm. Regulus bit down on a rising chortle and merely shook his head.


"No, but torturing you does."


"Oi! Is that a joke I hear coming from Regulus Black? Cor, what is this world coming to?" Rosier mocked, his eyes alight as if with lightning. Regulus found it hard to hide the smile that eagerly leapt to his lips and Rosier staggered on his feet, grabbing his chest as if he had just had a heart attack.


"A grin? Merlin's pants, the world must be coming to an end!"


"Oh come on -” Regulus struggled to get a word in, but Rosier was too caught up in humiliating him.


"Is he fighting for his dignity? His pride? Goodness! Everyone duck and hide! The end of the world must be near grim!" Rosier's eyes were the size of golf balls and he clutched at his head as if the world had gone mad. Regulus found a chuckle escaping him as his team-mate ran back and forth in front of him.


"Rosier, sometimes I can't tell if you're male or female. Your mood fluctuates too much."


Rosier halted mid-step and slowly turned around to look coldly at Regulus, whose face was as calm as ever. On the inside, however, he was falling over himself with laughter.


"You'd better take that back, Black."


"Should I now? Hm... Well, there's no time now, seeing as how there's a match in about, oh, eight minutes? A wonderful beating planned for those 'puffs -- "


"Cor! The match!"


In a quick and sudden movement, Rosier grabbed Regulus's arm roughly and he pulled him outdoors, where a dreary sunlight greeted them blandly. The sky was a canvas of dappled grey with foul clouds of purples and blues painted furiously across it. What little sun there was trickled out in silvery rays that moved erratically as clouds moved ever so slowly. Despite the promise of dratted rain, the day was shifting between warm and crisp, masking the oncoming storm with pleasantries.


Regulus found himself scowling at the thought of rain. Rosier, however, glanced at the sky, ecstatic. "Hufflepuff won't stand a chance in this weather. We'll beat their sorry -- "


"Rosier, hurry it up!" Regulus called behind him as he ran off. He heard Rosier jump in surprise and his following footsteps. The pair darted quickly, realising that they only had about six minutes left to change and gear up. Rosier caught up with him, muttering lividly under his breath.


"So late, so late... Harper'll have a cow... all Black's fault..."


Regulus would have rolled his eyes with extreme sarcasm, had he not been running desperately to the Quidditch pitch. Typical of Rosier to blame him, the prat.


Well… I did wake up late... And I did take my time eating... Regulus glared, amidst his thoughts, when Rosier suddenly pulled him towards the locker room.


"Are you daft or something?! The locker rooms are over there!"


Glancing behind him, Regulus realised his thoughts had distracted him and he had been running towards the Forbidden Forest. Shaking his head, he ran into the locker rooms behind Rosier, slamming the door shut behind him. The rest of the team instantly walloped the pair, and many choruses of insults and jibes were directed toward them.


"Black! Rosier! What the hell took you idiots so long! The match is in two minutes -- wait, what're you prats talking to me for, gear up!"


The resounding bellow rang out in Regulus's ears, who felt utterly nonplussed. Someone had pushed his gear into his arms and both he and Rosier quickly changed into their Quidditch gear, lacing up armguards and whatnot. Harper, the Quidditch Captain, paced back and forth before them, his head bowed as he murmured tensely. He was an incredibly tall seventh-year, with dark brown eyes and curly locks of thick, blonde hair. His nose was long and pointy, his chin jutting out at a sharp angle.


"Harper, it's only Hufflepuff -- " Regulus began to say, but Harper's irate shout cut him off.


"Only Hufflepuff? Only Hufflepuff!? Black, this is the first match of the year, of the season! This is the opportune moment - we have to make the most of this! We need to be ahead before anyone else has a chance to catch up -- BLACK! Are you listening!?"


Regulus nodded dumbly, refraining from saying anything else. From the looks of it, Harper's head was just about ready to blow off, and when it did, it would not be a pretty sight.


"Thirty seconds to go!" shouted someone near the double doors that led to the pitch.


Harper's eyes nearly bugged out and he grabbed Regulus's shoulders savagely, dropping his head to whisper furiously in his ear. Regulus desisted from pulling away in disgust, succumbing to the Captain's need to talk to him. His guttural voice ripped at Regulus's ears.


"Listen Black, Hufflepuff's got a new Seeker, called Collins, yeah? He's a particularly nasty one, you'd never know he's in Hufflepuff. He's particularly adept at pulling off the Plumpton Pass. I've been watching him during practice. He's --"


Something akin to a bullhorn sounded in the distance and a magnified voice began to echo in the stands.


"Let's give a round of applause to the Hufflepuff team, led by their Quidditch Captain, Wilford Arterbury! And introducing their new Seeker, Edward Collins -- what a handsome devil!"


Thunderous applause resounded, roaring in the Pitch, whistles, screams, and catcalls ringing in the air. Harper quickly glanced to the opening doors, talking quickly now as Rosier handed Regulus his broomstick.


"He's a sly one, really quick at pulling off fouls like Blagging and Blatching without getting caught, so watch out for him --"


"And now for the Slytherin team, led by Quidditch Captain Isaiah Harper... Yay..."


Regulus assumed the announcer was either Hufflepuff or Gryffindor, possibly even Ravenclaw, but the voice was highly familiar. Regulus held his broom tight and followed the team onto the Quidditch pitch. The applause was thunderous, but distinctly less than the cheers for Hufflepuff. His eyes wandered through the stands, skipping over the three-quarters occupied by gold and black clad students before landing on the Slytherins. Silver and green glimmered there, emerald banners whipping in the escalating winds. Regulus rather enjoyed the few times when Slytherins united.


The teams lined up, facing off in the middle of the oval-shaped pitch. Edward Collins stood just opposite him, a smirk dancing viciously at his pale mouth. Collins, with his heavy build and stocky frame, did not fit the Seeker mould. He had a broad jaw and heavy-lidded eyes the colour of the sea. His nose was so long that Regulus felt the amusing urge to just grab it and shake him around. His auburn hair was combed back with a taste of perfection and Regulus thought he could see the makings of a moustache on his upper lip. He instantly disliked him, a feeling very similar to when he had first met Lucius bubbling up in his gut.


"Scared, Black?" hissed Collins, his mouth drawn into a sneer.


An eyebrow rising, Regulus let out a soft chortle.


"You wish, Collins."


"I don't wish Black -- I know," whispered Collins, his eyes dark and cloudy.


Regulus was about to retort when the young Madame Hooch cast a stern, hawk-eyed glare in his direction. Her coal-black hair stood on end as the wind danced through it.


"You know the rules, lads," she called in her chirping voice, fingering the silver whistle around her neck.


The boys all nodded, exchanging grins and glances as Madame Hooch strode to a large, quivering chest, her black and white robes billowing in her wake. With one hand poised above the latches and the other raising the whistle to her lips, she eyed both teams with her strict gaze.


Her voice was terse as she called, "Mount your brooms, please." Blowing hard in her whistle, the match commenced with a bang.


Regulus shot upwards with fourteen others, leaning against his broom with a determination of sorts. His eyes travelling back and forth, he flew slowly, unlike Collins, who flew back and forth with an unparalleled speed. Rising higher and higher, he ignored the commentary that echoed in the stadium.


"And the game begins with Slytherin in possession! Isaiah Harper takes the Quaffle and he passes to Chaser Evan Rosier -- back to Harper, back to Rosier, back to Harper -- what kind of ploy is that, completely useless -- "


"Miss McKinnon!"


"Sorry Professor. Chaser Anson Donalds intercepts the Quaffle, passes to Chaser Luke Gorbold -- damn, Slytherin impedes on justice again as Slytherin Beater Hugh Jernigan sends a Bludger his way. Ouch, that looks painful - oh yeah, sorry again, Professor. Erm.. oh, there it is. Harper takes the Quaffle, weaving around like a right git -- sorry, sorry! He faces off with Hufflepuff Keeper Patrick Milburn -- and, and... Drat! Slytherin scores!"


Regulus nearly rolled his eyes at McKinnon's biased commentary, but as it was, they were occupied in a search for the Snitch. He roamed high above, trying to keep out of sight. Occasionally, a Bludger would whir past his head or he would fly low, only to have Harper bellow at him from across the field. Regulus did not mind; he could live with ruptured eardrums as long as he got to fly. It was rather difficult for him to describe, for the feelings he got while flying high were those of exhilaration, relief, and utter happiness. Flying was a joy in his life that Regulus could not live without. Sure, it had dropped down a bit on his list of priorities in the recent years, but it remained one of his loves, one of his passions. Grinning to himself, he looked up, something catching his eye. He could not tell what it was from his distance, but he kept an eye on it all the same.


"Get your head out of the clouds, Black!" roared Harper as he zoomed by, the large, crimson Quaffle held firmly under his arm. Regulus nodded to himself, leaning down against the broom, his eyes roaming the air.


"Scared yet?" Collins flew past and Regulus was left with a horrid taste on his tongue. Scowling deeply, he struggled to compose himself and shot off after the Hufflepuff, still scoping the skies. As he passed the suspended teen, he let the darkest of laughs escape him.


"No, but something tells me that you are."


As the words left his mouth, a golden sphere darted downwards, silvery wings beating too fast for human eyesight. It fluttered, a whirring sound whispering mockingly before it was snatched by the wind. Regulus refused to let the slightest bit of emotion cross his face, feigning a search as he watched the Snitch shoot down in a spiralling motion.


A collective gasp sounded in the stands when Regulus shot down, body and broom nearly vertical with the sudden drop. He accelerated, gritting his teeth as the wind slapped at his face.


"Oh, oh! Slytherin Seeker Regulus Black seems to have spotted the Snitch!" cried McKinnon mournfully. "Where the hell is Collins?! Oh -- it's now a race of time, ladies and gentlemen! Collins and Black are neck-and-neck in their chase for the Golden Snitch!"


Out of nowhere, or so it seemed, Collins came up beside him, eyes watering against the gusty winds. Thunder rolled ominously in the distance, marking the climax of the game as both Seekers came closer and closer to the emerald grass. Regulus groaned with effort as he reached out a hand, his fingers grazing against the golden body --


Wham!


Collins collided heavily against him and Regulus found himself hurtling downwards, his broom zooming off to crash into the ground. With a sickening crunch, Regulus fell to the ground. Another thump sounded and a second body crashed beside him.


Bellowed choruses of "Foul!" pierced the air, Slytherins roaring out against Edward Collins. Regulus blinked stars from his eyes, feeling queasy suddenly.


"That's obvious Blatching! Foul!" Harper's voice hollered to Madam Hooch. The yellow-eyed referee shook her head though, her thin lips pulled in scowl.


"Mister Harper, I'll remind you that I am refereeing, and I do not appreciate Captains seeking to impede my authority! This was obviously an accidental collision!"


"Are you out of your --"


"Mount your broom, please, Mister Harper!" shouted Madam Hooch, her voice shrill.


"I'll attend to my Seeker first!"


There was a muffled assent from Hooch. Dazed, Regulus hardly noticed as wiry arms pulled him to his feet. "Feeling ok, Black?"


"Simply marvellous," he murmured, looking at Harper's snide face with a frown. Suddenly, lightning flashed on the horizon, illuminating the darkening sky. Clouds rolled, thunder rumbled, and if Regulus's mood could get any fouler, it did. A rapid crack echoed gently in the gales and quite expectedly, rain began to fall in thick, powerful strokes that stung on contact.


Regulus stood stock-still as the rain soaked his robes, his face scowling. "I hate the rain," he muttered furiously and in a single movement, he stooped and grabbed his quivering broomstick. Harper gave a barking laugh and clapped him hard on the back, oblivious to how sore Regulus's body was.


Regulus mounted his broom, glancing at Collins, who flashed him a cocky grin. In an instant, Regulus realised that the collision as intentional. He sent an icy look his way and took off in the air, scowling as the game began. McKinnon, who had been murmuring to someone beside her the whole time, resumed commentary.


"A nasty crash, folks, but both Seekers seem intact," McKinnon said boisterously. "Drat..." she added, under her breath, magnified to an audible level by her bright orange megaphone. "The game resumes with irksome rain, Hufflepuff taking possession of the Quaffle! Gorbold passes to Donalds, who seems to be flying back and forth to avoid a Bludger that Slytherin Beaters Jernigan and Jernigan -- yes, I said Jernigan twice, seems the pair are cousins -- oh, ouch! That looks painful! Donalds drops the Quaffle, and Slytherin takes possess -- wait a second, Hufflepuff is still in possession! Donalds dropped the Quaffle into Chaser Scott Rowland's hands - brilliant! Rowland makes his way down the pitch and... YES! Ten for Hufflepuff!"


Regulus bit his lip, concentrating hard on his search for the Snitch. Of course, with McKinnon's unnerving and rather humorous commentary, he was having a bit of a difficult time. Not to mention, his head was pounding in a thunderous fashion similar to the blasted storm in which he was stuck. His muscles and limbs felt as if they had been stretched beyond their limit, stretched until it felt like they were laced with fire. And judging from the constant ache along his entire back, he did not doubt that he was bruised pretty badly. He furrowed his brows and flew back and forth, moving higher and higher above the game, ignoring the pain as best he could...


Soon, McKinnon's voice and the general applause was a soft murmur hidden in the storm. His hair plastered to his head and his drenched robes whipping around, Regulus felt very heavy. Paying no mind to such a disturbing thought, he continued to search for the Snitch.


He was not sure how much time had passed, but he guessed it had been around forty-five minutes so far. In this time, he ventured lower to hear what the score was, only to quickly shoot back up with humiliation. Hufflepuff was in the lead, standing at 70, a far cry from Slytherin's mere 20. Collins would come up to sneer at him every now and then and Regulus hastened his search.


Collins had just flown toward him again, chortling madly. "You'd better hurry it up now, Reggie-poo!"


Regulus gritted his teeth in frustration, shooting downwards, away from Collins. And that was when he spotted it.


Regulus could have sworn that the Snitch was aware of his gaze. Hissing, he sped off after it, urging his broom to give off an extra spurt of speed. The Snitch moved towards the stands, bobbing up and down to graze upon the heads of roaring Hufflepuffs. They were bellowing something unintelligible to Collins, their shrieking voices mingling with McKinnon's blaring commentary. She was screaming something about the Snitch and Slytherin, but Regulus let all thoughts about her commentary and Hufflepuff go, until all that remained was the Snitch and him.


It continued to dance through the air erratically. He could hear Collins’ whizzing broom not too far behind him, so Regulus leaned forward on his broom to accelerate. However, just then, quite suddenly, the Snitch was zoomed upwards and Regulus had only seconds to barrel roll to the right to avoid a high column of wood. Cursing under his breath, Regulus shot up after the Snitch, flying faster and faster until it was only mere arms length away. Regulus reached out, and for the second time that evening, his fingers brushed against cool metal. Collins came up on his right, so close that their brooms bumped against each other. His face was flushed against the cold as his fingers reached out to grasp the Snitch…


Collins grabbed the tail of his broom unsuspectingly, pulling it backwards in a hazardous fashion. Regulus found himself slipping off his broom and falling into the stands, all the while watching as Collins displayed the wriggling Golden Snitch in his hand. Regulus crashed over a couple of fifth year Gryffindors, landing hard on his bruised and aching back. A loud snap sounded and a stabbing pain sang out near his shoulder blades.


Bastard, he thought, before falling unconscious.



*




The first thing Regulus was aware of was a chorus of voices. Female voices. They were cruelly loud, singing out in waves of unrecognizable words. He had not the slightest idea where he was until a familiar voice whispered in his ear.


"Irritating, innit?"


Regulus would have jumped out of surprise, had his head not been throbbing awfully and his shoulders not screaming in agony. He moved a hand to feel his head, twitching in revulsion when he felt a sticky substance along his hairline. He felt further, discovering thick gauze. He opened one eye to inspect his hands. Scarlet streaked his fingers. Moving slightly, he glanced around and recognised the hospital wing. His gaze fell down beside his bed and his eyes widened momentarily.


"Allaway?" He started, surprised at the gravelly sound of his voice. Frowning, he glanced at her with narrowed eyes. "Why are you here?" Without really knowing why, he looked her over for injuries. She was perfectly intact, save for a purple bandage pressed between her bronze brows. He stared at it, transfixed by the sheer oddness of it.


Noticing his stare, she blushed with embarrassment. "I got a horrid boil. Marlene made me hide it behind this ruddy bandage," she explained quickly. Regulus closed his eyes, nodding absently. A unique way to cope with a boil, no doubt. Morna coughed, brushing a bushy strand of gold fuzz from her face. "I came here with my cousin. You crash-landed on her during the match." She gestured needlessly to a gaggle of Gryffindor girls giggling around a bed.


Regulus's eyes snapped open. The match. The match. What happened? He sat up straight in the bed, ignoring the spurts of pain, and turned to Morna. He opened his mouth but she rolled on.


"Hufflepuff won. It was 220 to 30." She looked as if she were going to say something more, squirming uneasily beside him. Regulus watched her quietly, his face blank.


"Where's Harper?"


"Your Quidditch Captain? I heard he was plotting to kill Collins with the rest of your team. Don't know why, really. Hufflepuff won fair and square, after all," she said gently, her voice trailing off into a murmur. Emotions rippled across her face like a river when it rained. Raising a brow, he let a wry smile grace his lips.


"You're wondering how I fell."


Her eyes widened and a blush tinged at her cheeks. She nodded her head quickly. Regulus resisted the urge to chuckle.


"He Blagged. He shouldn't have won. By all rights, there should be a rematch..." Regulus met her baffled gaze.


"What are you talking about?" She shook her head slightly. "What's 'Blagged' supposed to mean?"


It was Regulus's turn to look baffled. "How do you not know what Blagging is?" he asked incredulously. Morna's eyes hardened in irritation, and she turned away, refusing to look at him.


"I'm not a fanatic like you and all the other Quidditch players around here. So are you going to tell me what Blagging is?" She turned her head slightly towards him, her eyes filled with a curiosity towards his openness with her.


A slight smile twitched at his mouth. Deep down inside, there was a part of Regulus that screamed out furiously, steadfastly, against his mere conversation with this girl. But even deeper, there was a sudden appreciation for her and her casual words. She was the only Gryffindor who made an effort to talk to him. He did not understand why -- would the other Gryffindors not chastise her for consorting with his likes? A sudden thought struck him way down in his core, knocking the breath out of him. What was he doing, talking to her? What would the other Slytherins say? Regulus looked down at his palms, his eyes grazing over the blood dried on his fingers. He suddenly felt uneasy.


"Regulus?"


She put a small hand on his shoulder. Her single touch suddenly inflamed his skin, a scalding sensation sweeping over him. He wanted very much to shrug his shoulders and watch that soft, pale hand fall away from his shoulder like some dead thing. He wanted very much to move into that warmth radiating from her freckled hand. He wanted very much to stop feeling anything about that... that hand splayed so innocently across his shoulder, unaware of the emotions it stirred.


His mouth felt dry suddenly. "It's... It's a foul in Quidditch. It's where another player grabs the tail of your broom." He watched her from the corner of his eye. She was frowning, as if deep in thought. There was a small line creased in her brow and she moved her other hand to chew unconsciously on her thumbnail. Leaning her weight on him, she began to speak.


"So. Collins grabbed the tail of your broom. He pulled on it, didn't he? You lost control of your broom, landed on my dear cousin Ainsley, and got her wand stuck between your shoulders. Oh, not to mention the fact your head almost split in half when it hit the seat. And those nasty bruises on your back."


Regulus gritted his teeth, breathing hard through his nose. She was much too close for his comfort. Oh, but you like it, don't you Reggie?


He frowned, wondering when his mind had turned on him. He could smell her; a gentle scent of morning rain that was fresh and clean. Biting his lip, he breathed raggedly through his mouth to avoid inhaling her scent. She noticed his breathing in an instant, though, and leapt away.


"I'm sorry! I completely forgot you were... injured,” she faltered, realising how contradictory her words were. She scratched the back of her neck nervously, chewing her lip mercilessly. "I look like an oaf, don't I?"


Regulus decided immediately that something was wrong with him. Therefore, he took matters in his own hands. He refused to meet her gaze as he freed his body of emotion, turning his back to her.


"You should leave before anyone sees you talking to me."


The sudden coldness in his voice unnerved her. He could see her shadow shifting anxiously. "Regulus?" she asked, sounding very small and tiny.


"Leave, Allaway. I can't be seen around you." Regulus's voice was harsh, a throaty sound that made Morna jump. There was the squeak of a heel turning and Regulus found himself counting her steps as she departed the hospital wing.


Slowly, Regulus lay back down, trying to ignore the squealing and giggling from the girls around Ainsley's bed. He pulled the bed sheet around him. For a moment, Regulus wished he could stop all time and go back to her warmth.


Tightening his grip on the sheet, Regulus felt very cold.



*


Late March, 1979




Regulus ran down the corridor, his bare feet slapping against the cold, stone floor. Fear pounded a heavy trail through his bloodstream, running a chilling path of dread down his spine. His heart raced along with him, away from that nameless terror that followed him relentlessly. Sweat drenched his body like a fresh coat of paint, dripping into his vision as he ran. He could hardly breathe, a sharp pain searing through his lungs.


A shrieking cackle filled with glee reverberated off the walls, singing out in his ears painfully. It was an inhumane laugh that spoke in waves of insanity, laced with a trickle of paranoia. It was a frightful laugh that made Regulus shiver.


It was getting closer. Regulus gasped as he ran, tears mingling with sweat. He screamed nonsense, his voice joining the echoing laughter. Hissing whispered behind him, calling out to him.



Reggie, it said. Come out and play!


He shook his head desperately, reaching out blindly. Suddenly, the corridor ended.



Reggie!


He whipped around, the bare flesh of his back protesting against the cold wall pressed against him. The hissing grew louder and louder. Out of the looming darkness, a large snake with glimmering black scales slithered forth. It drew up to Regulus's height, its elliptical eyes of vivid green emanating a raw hatred.


Regulus's heart pounded against his ribcage. The snake was still.


Suddenly, it smiled, baring its long fangs.



Goodnight Reggie.


Regulus screamed and fell into a dark abyss. He continued to fall and fall, watching thick droplets of blood fly away from his skin. His heartbeat continued to race.


And then he hit solid ground. He felt the bones in his body shatter and he howled in agony. Red replaced black for a moment, and suddenly, there was a warmth beside him. It consumed his entire being, soothing him. He opened his eyes. Large brown eyes gazed into his. Regulus felt himself drowning inside them. He struggled to recognise who she was, but it escaped him.


Her eyes fluttered to a close, pale lashes brushing against fair skin. Something akin to velvet pressed softly against his lips.



Regulus shot up in his bed, perspiration dripping from his brow. His white shirt was damp, clinging to his frame. His heart pounded relentlessly and he gasped for air. That same dream. It followed him like the plague, disturbing his sleep almost every night. He struggled to remove himself from his tangled sheets and grabbed for a glass of water standing on the side-table. The glass slipped in his grip, shattering into tiny shards against the wooden floor.


He was shaking. He turned his hands palms up, watching them tremble and shake with fervency. What was wrong with him? That same dream. It followed him like a nightmarish plague, driving him to a wild dimension that existed beyond the planes of his mind. Regulus loathed the dream, but yet, he could still feel her soft lips against his.


His eye was twitching from his lack of sleep and unwanted stress. Breathing heavily, he raked a clammy hand through his hair, feeling feverish. When had the dreams started? Regulus found himself thinking back. It all began with a meddling Marlene McKinnon...


"So… What do you think of Morna?"


The outrageous McKinnon leaned against a bookshelf in the library, her brown hair hanging in ruffled waves at her elbows. She watched him with gleaming eyes, a dark smirk dancing at her lips.


Regulus turned a page in the book he was reading. "Does it really matter?"


Her smirk fell into a frown. In a swift movement, she moved towards the table, slamming a fist upon it. Regulus looked up at her, mildly surprised at her outburst. McKinnon leaned forward, her eyes burning with a hateful fury.


"It does matter, Black! Do you know how happily she talks about you when you're kind to her?" She scoffed at the idea that he could be kind. "She respects you and admires you, goes on all about your bloody intelligence and wit and then you pull this stunt? What are you, a heartless git?"


Keeping stoic, he quirked a brow and marked his spot, closing his book with extreme calmness. He looked up at her. "All I did was protect her, McKinnon," he responded plainly.


Marlene frowned in confusion. "What?"


Regulus grabbed his book, slipping it into his bag. Standing up, he brushed past her with brisk words. "What would people say if they saw her laughing with a Slytherin?"


He strode through the columns of books, dust whirling in his wake. Hasty footsteps sounded behind him. Marlene grabbed his shoulder, pulling him around to face her.


"Look, I still don't understand your relationship with her, but I swear, if you hurt her in any way or try to interfere with her and Fenwick, I will mess up that pretty face of yours. I'd rather you stop talking to her, but I don't even know when you two get together. Just leave her alone," she whispered heatedly. Her spectacles were perched on the tip of her nose, threatening to fall. She looked him in the eye, searching them in a determined fashion.


He pointedly looked down at her hand, still grasping his shoulder. Following his gaze, she released him and gave a cough. Regulus turned on his heel and began to depart.


"She talks about you all the time, you know."


Her voice was surprisingly gentle, as if she understood him. Regulus stood still, feeling empty suddenly.


"Sometimes I wonder if she loves you more than Fenwick."



Regulus's heart surged almost painfully. Those words rang out in his ears often, echoing many times over. Each time, he could make no sense of it. Morna was steadfastly in love with Benjy Fenwick. And yet whenever he saw her face in his mind, all he could see was the complete ease and comfort he felt around her. He could feel her warmth, enveloping his very being. Morning rain filled his senses and Regulus found himself eagerly awaiting the rain he hated so much. She was so bright and warm that she reminded him of sunflowers. He loved sunflowers.


Regulus suddenly groaned. What was he thinking? He sat up, drawing his knees to his chest. The bed sheet pooled at his sides. He put his face in his hands, wondering how his feelings had escalated so drastically. When had these changes in feeling occurred in him? Traitorous feelings towards a blood traitor. Violent rage scorched through his veins as he wished dearly that she were a Slytherin. That she were not a blood traitor. That she was not in love with someone else.


He gripped his hair and pulled it as his wrath consumed him greedily. A tear leaked from his eye, washing a single stream down his cheek. In that small moment, Regulus began to wish wildly that he had not been the brother sorted into Slytherin. He wished with such vehemence that he were the one sorted into Gryffindor, that he was the one with the chance to know her.


Sighing, Regulus lay back down, staring hard at the cold ceiling of his dark room. A small light filtered under the crack of his door, the flickering light of small candles all along the corridor. The meagre light was enough illumination to dance along emerald and silver streamers and banners draped all along the room. He glanced along the proudly decorated walls, wondering just how long it had been since his life had revolved around just Quidditch and the Dark Arts.


Too long, he thought grimly.



*

Late May, 1979




Regulus paced along the Hogwarts corridor, his head bowed. His brow was furrowed in deep thought, his lips twisted into an expression of uncertainty. He looked the part of a nervous wreck apprehensively waiting for someone. In a fit of anxiety, he pulled a hand through his hair and straightened his emerald tie. He resumed pacing, chewing his lip.


He paced in a secluded corridor, and was slightly calmed by the fact that no one could see him lose all sanity. If I keep fretting over this, I'm going to go starkers, he thought furiously. He deserved to go starkers, too. His traitorous thoughts and feelings were running away with his future, throwing it all away... Change. It was all a wicked sort of change that would have been laughable in any other circumstance, but all Regulus wanted to do was to fall down and cry. It was all too much, escalating emotions that ran away with his heart. In a single year. Escalation so drastic that Regulus found himself smiling when he imagined her face, chortling when he remembered her constant nervous prattlings, shivering when he thought of her warmth. It unnerved him immensely and Regulus had no idea what to do about it.


There were times when he yearned to reveal all his pent up emotions to someone, but there was no one he could trust. Rosier would throttle him in his sleep for fraternizing with the enemy. Bellatrix would coldly tell him to break off all contact with the girl. And Sirius... Regulus could not deny that his pride was a major factor in his decision not to talk to Sirius. Pride and loyalty to his real family. Regulus heaved a great sigh amidst his pacing.


Once upon a time, he would have appealed Andromeda, but that time was long gone. He had not seen her since he had been ten, preparing for his first year at Hogwarts. He never would have guessed her to be dating a Mudblood, but then again, there were the clear signs of love. 'Dromeda had been the best with emotions, having served as a mild-tempered sweetheart who promoted peace between her sisters. Younger than Bellatrix, she had always seemed wise beyond her years. Older than Narcissa, she had also seemed the most motherly out of the three. Regulus found himself sighing again. She would've known what to do…


He could hear her whispery voice in his mind, as if it had been yesterday. He could see himself, nine years old and sullen because Sirius was off for his second year at Hogwarts, while he was left behind to wait for two whole years. He had hated being born in December, because while he had turned ten soon after, he had not been allowed to attend the next year due to his late birthday. He remembered running to catch 'Dromeda before she got on the train...


"Wait, Dromeda!" Regulus ran to meet his cousin before she boarded the Hogwarts Express. She turned to face him, grinning as if she expected him to call for her. She was very similar to Bellatrix in appearance, but her features were more softened and subdued. Her nose ended in more of a button and her chocolate brown eyes were more almond-shaped than round. Her gleaming auburn hair was cut short into a stylish bob and Regulus was suddenly transfixed with the way the strands bounced.


"Yes, Regulus?"


Regulus shook his head quickly. "Um… I wanted to ask you for advice.." His face burned red.


Tilting her head slightly, she nodded for him to go on, smiling encouragingly. Regulus swallowed hard and inhaled deeply, puffing out his chest in a statuesque pose.


"AmIahorriblepersonforhatingSirius?" he asked quickly, words jumbled together. Andromeda looked flummoxed.


"What?"


Regulus inhaled again, struggling not to run away in embarrassment. "Am I a horrible person for hating Sirius, just because he's going off to have loads of fun at Hogwarts without me?"


Andromeda nodded her head knowingly, chortling lightly. Slinging her arm around her younger cousin's shoulder, the seventeen year old walked them both towards the train. Her voice was very gentle and feathery when she spoke.


"No, Regulus, you are not a horrible person. I was envious of Bella when she first attended Hogwarts without me. I was extremely jealous - so much, in fact, that I never wrote to her at school. She would get so mad at me for not writing when I saw her during holidays that I realised just how green I was with envy. I think, Regulus, that once you recognise how you truly feel, you'll find a much deeper reason for your jealousy hidden." She turned her head to him, her eyes sparkling. "It took me a whole year to abandon my pride, and when I did, I realised that I was scared she would have so much fun she wouldn't miss me like I missed her."


Regulus looked down at his feet. "Oh..."


Andromeda threw her head back and chortled. "Don't seem so disappointed, Reggie! You should go tell Sirius how you feel before you go, or else you'll feel much worse about it later."



Footsteps shattered the memory. They echoed lightly, a steady beat that accompanied a soft voice humming an unfamiliar tune. Regulus whipped around, facing the staircase nervously. A feeble light flickered from hovering candles, casting a wavering shadow over his suddenly resigned face. To anyone else, there was no way of telling who was skipping down the staircase, but Regulus knew in a heartbeat.


He recognised the slight shifting of weight with each step, the hesitancy that coursed through her gait. He could hear the familiar rhythm of her breathing, so relaxing and peaceful. And he could smell morning rain. Sunflowers flashed through his mind. She always took this corridor on her way to the library.


"Regulus?"


Morna's voice was mildly surprised, but her crooked smile found its way onto her mouth. She hefted her canvas bag on her shoulder, evening the weight. "What are you doing here?"


Butterflies knotted at his insides, fluttering their thin wings erratically. Andromeda's advice from the past rang out in his head, and in a swift moment, he decided to follow his heart rather than his mind.


Swallowing hard, he openly stared at her. She was not beautiful, and many would say her lack of curves gave her a plain quality, but Regulus could not deny that there was something endearing about her image. Her hair was as curly as ever, golden and wild, untamed by nature. She irradiated a happiness that Regulus suddenly wished he could supply her.


Her freckled face smiled at him, but the smile faltered when she recognised the feral glint in his dark eyes. "Regulus?" she asked meekly. She stepped forward, a worried crease between her brows. "Are you feeling alright? You look rather flushed..." Trailing off, she gazed up at him, her dotty eyes searching his face.


Regulus's mouth felt dry. Licking his lips, he moved his gaze away from her as he struggled to form words.


"Morna... I need to tell you something..."


Regulus swallowed hard. Feeling more nervous than ever, he made the mistake of looking into her eyes. She was nodding her head, but Regulus was enraptured with her evenly brown eyes. They were like dark pools that threatened to overwhelm him, dusted with flecks of black. He felt dizzy and mesmerised, and, try as he might, he could not pull his eyes away. Her scent filled his senses, her warmth embraced him and he vaguely realised he was standing closer to her than ever before. Gravity seemed to shift and his eyes fell to her pale mouth, taking in the way she bit her lip in concern. His mind was screaming at him, desperately trying to grab his attention, but he was so transfixed with her...


In one short moment, an eternity happened. His hand had somehow moved to cradle the back of her neck, her hair tickling his fingers pleasantly. His mouth tingled anxiously and suddenly, he was kissing her.


It was not a kiss that inspired lust, nor a kiss that meant nothing. It was a kiss that confirmed many of Regulus's and Morna's suspicions that something more could exist between them. Her body tensed against him for a second, than relaxed. Regulus found himself marvelling how her lips felt more heavenly than the velvet-lips of his dreams. He felt very warm and his skin buzzed with a sparkling thrill that jolted his senses. The butterflies inside him were in a state of chaos, flying without purpose. Stepping back after that small age of forever, he gazed at her blushing face, his heart beating frantically.


Tears shimmered in her wide eyes, filling him with a horrid guilt and shame. He felt the need to regret kissing her, to regret enjoying it, but he found it difficult, feeling sure that she had enjoyed it too. Not knowing what else to say, he looked away, murmuring, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have..."


She shook her head hard, tears flying. He felt one hit his hand and trail downwards.


"Don't be… I'm just… Regulus, I'm so sorry." Her lips quivered as she gazed up at him. Regulus felt his heart ripping in two at her heartbroken expression. Regret emanated from her eyes.


"Why should you be sor -- "


"Benjy Fenwick proposed to me... and I accepted," she whispered, her voice torn between grief and joy. She looked utterly confused.


The flitting butterflies inside Regulus fell down with a thud.




*



And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above me
And all my grave will warm and sweeter be
For you will bend and tell me that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.

-Danny Boy




*




Author's Note: I apologize! I'm so sorry this chapter took so long! My keyboard and mouse are being faulty. My space bar refuses to work and my mouse stops working every two minutes. I figured I'd get a new keyboard quickly, so I left off this chapter, but I am still using a stupid keyboard and mouse (I'm copying and pasting spaces. How wonderful, eh?). Sorry.


Anyways! I know chapter two was rather dull and description-happy, so I hope you find this chapter to be much more exciting. A Quidditch Match, flashbacks, more interaction... This chapter is almost as long as the first two chapters combined, so I hope that makes you happy, because I love longer chapters. I do hope Morna seemed plausible as a character. And don't worry, Morna is seventeen, which means she's 'of age' in the Wizarding World, so I think she's fine with being engaged to Benjy. She's a year older than Reggie.


Moving on, I think Regulus's emotions moved to fast, but it takes place over a year's time, so meh. I added a flashback of Andromeda randomly, because I felt the end didn't have enough substance to it. I think Regulus needed advice, and it seemed suitable that he look for it in the past. And that kiss... So sorry if its not up to par, and if its sappy and unbelievable (I wouldn't know, I've never been a kissee/kisser before!), but I thought it should be something special.


I was DYING to have Kreacher in this chapter, but it made it retarded, so meh. Anyways. Thank you for reading. :D


Many many thanks to Daisy (Cybachiq) for beta-ing. :) Thank you SO much!


Disclaimer: Everything Harry Potter related belongs to JK Rowling, except for Morna Allaway, the slight plot, and anything else noted otherwise.




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