Regulus straightened his back and turned his head slightly towards the voice from the shadows.
“Good evening to you too, Dolohov. Enjoying the fresh air I take it?”
“Apparently not quite as much as you have, Black.” There was a hint of laughter in Anton Dolohov’s voice and on his face was an expression of pure malicious glee.
Regulus raised his eyebrow. “Oh please, get over yourself. I do believe we have a meeting to attend to.”
“Indeed we do, the portkey is not far.” Dolohov stalked past the younger wizard. “You coming?”
Regulus started to follow the older Death Eater; the wind whipped lone leaves down the cobblestone street and few drops of rain were hitting his face. The dark clouds were changing each other in the dark sky, swirling, and the sea had gained a new beat, more restless and wild than before. The two men walked in silence down the quiet street, neither showing any kind of comradeship to one another.
All the pureblooded families knew one another, and most were interrelated as well. But in the world of the ancient families and pure breeding there was hardly ever a true friendship. Everything was a game of pros and cons, wins and losses. There was always someone keeping score. Regulus had grown up knowing all the children of the pure families, but he couldn’t say he had many friends. In fact it sometimes felt like he had no friends, save for the creature bound to him by magic.
Leaning on a whitewash wall, smoking, was another man dressed in black. “You are almost late,” Rabastan Lestrange stated, crushing the half smoked cigarette to the now wet ground. “Missing the portkey tonight would be awfully unwise.”
“Oh really? I thought we only had to go if we really felt like it.” Dolohov sneered, “Where is that damned portkey in any case?”
Without bothering to get aggravated by his companion’s snappish attitude, Rabastan picked a small silvery lighter from his pocket. “Right here, and if you don’t mind, get a hold of it now, as it is almost time.”
The three men formed a circle around the small box; each of them touching the cool metal surface and after a moment the street was empty once again.
The threesome appeared in the dark garden of a majestic ivy covered mansion. The garden was wet, and the leaves were limp and glistening in the light of Dolohov’s wand
“Why can’t we ever have meetings in daylight?” Rabastan cursed as he almost tripped over a root of an ancient oak. “It would look much less suspicious than sneaking around in the dark.”
“Don’t question our Dark Lord, Lestrange. That might cost you more than you are willing to sacrifice,” snarled Dolohov, earning a snort from Regulus.
“Did you quit smoking, or what is your problem today?” he asked, mock concern in his voice.
“Piss off,” the reaction made both Rabastan and Regulus chuckle but they walked over the wet lawn in silence.
Inside, the manor appeared to be empty, but as the three wizards walked into the dining room, they were greeted by several people.
“Ah there you are! I was starting to think you had abandoned us.” Bellatrix giggled when she noticed the newcomers.
“Oh trust me, we aren’t mad enough to even consider that.” Rabastan flashed a smile to his brother’s bride.
Giggling even more, Bellatrix turned to Regulus. “You agree with Rabastan, hmmm?”
“It would be foolish not to.” Regulus’ eyes were cold. “Besides, why wouldn’t I?”
“There’s been bit of a story flying around today, how you have been enamoured by some blonde Muggle.” There was malicious mirth in Bellatrix’ voice as she studied her cousin’s face.
“What a load of nonsense, cousin.” Turning his back to giggling Bellatrix, Regulus took his seat on the long table.
“I see you have all made it here.” The Dark Lord had entered the room and instantly silence fell over the group of Death Eaters. “Before we move to the official matter in hand, I do have a special assignment for some of you…a very special assignment. There has been a rumour that one of you has found a soft spot for Muggles.”
The statement prompted whispers among the group of wizards.
“And I must tell you, I am not impressed. Therefore a lesson is in a lesson is in order. Lestranges, Bellatrix and Regulus, you are to go to number 23, Mangolia Crecent and clean the house.”
The four people named nodded at the Dark Lord, who was now casually caressing the head of Nagini.
“Good, go now and report back to me when the mission has been accomplished.”
Anna woke up, startled by the sudden noise from downstairs. For a moment she lay still, pondering what to do, but in the end she got up, slipped her feet to fuzzy slippers and sneaked out from her bedroom to find out what was going on. She couldn’t see any light in the hallway and even as she reached the stairs the house appeared to be pitch black. The complete silence of the house made Anna feel hesitant, and had she not heard the sudden yelp from Spot, she probably would have turned around and head back to her bed.
“Spot?” she whispered, while peering into the looming darkness of downstairs. But unlike in normal occasion, no excited puppy came rushing upstairs. Cautiously, she placed her foot into the first step, and carefully avoiding the creaking third step, she slowly descended down the narrow staircase. At first she couldn’t see anything in the hall, but all of a sudden she realized there were people in there. People wearing cloaks and masks. People who were glaring at her and pointing sticks at her.
“Well, well, well…what do we have here? A little Muggle girl, pretty blonde, worthless scum,” a voice coming from one of the dark figures sounded, as if it was purring.
“W-who are you?! And what are you doing in my house?” Anna could hear her voice shaking, despite her gallant effort of sounding outraged and commanding.
“Who are we? Indeed.” The purring voice had a malicious edge to it now. “I do believe you have met one of us, scum. As for what are we doing here,” the masked face looked one if her companions, “We are teaching a lesson.”
Now Anna was truly frightened. There were four strangers in her home, babbling nonsense and sounding very loony. So far they were only holding those wooden sticks, but they might have something more dangerous with them. She started to slide her foot backwards, hoping she might get a chance to make a run for it.
“Oi! Stop right there, little Muggle,” a deep rumbling voice called out, making Anna freeze involuntarily.
“Ah Rodolphus, you are no fun at all tonight. The ones that make run for it are the best!” the voice that had spoken before retorted to the stern command of the man on her right while she made a small gesture with her wand, “…Though, for the lessons sake she should indeed stay still. Now watch this Regulus, it is so much fun to teach Muggles their place. Cru--”
Before she was able to finish, a bright green jet surged through the air, hitting Anna on her chest and the world was no more for her.
“Impressive, Regulus,” Bellatrix commented behind her mask, “But I really wanted to play with her more.”
“Tough luck cousin, I don’t waste my entire evening at filthy Muggle house, so if you don’t mind let’s get moving.” Holding his wand in front of him Regulus started climbing up the stairs.
“You better leave some amusement to me too!” Bellatrix shrieked and pushed past his younger cousin. “Come out, come out, where ever you are!”
It was third day in a row for Regulus to visit the seaside town and look at the sea. After yesterday’s storm there was much driftwood on the shore and the stench from ripped seaweed was repelling people away. The details didn’t matter to Regulus; he was clenching his fists tightly, trying to forget the gruesome events of the night before. He hated what he had done, but he was fully aware that was the only thing he could have done.
Tossing a small stone to the waves he tried to maintain his aloofness; what did the lives of some Muggles matter to him in the first place? But it did matter. It had been for the first time when someone approached him voluntarily, without demanding something, without expecting anything. For once he had felt like he almost had a friend. Of course he should have known it wasn’t allowed; of course he would have to pay for his momentary feeling of light heartedness. Bellatrix had been right, it had indeed been a lesson for him, but perhaps not the kind the Dark Lord and others had been expecting.
Gritting his teeth together Regulus made up his mind. He was going to do it.
“Mea maxima culpa,” he whispered to the breeze.