Date with Regulus
“So,” said James one evening in the common room, when Remus and Peter had gone to bed – Sirius had never showed up – “so.”
Ava raised her head from her homework. “So?”
James was twirling a quill and looking at her with a sort of reproachful look that confused her. “I noticed,” he began, apparently very careful of what he was saying, “that you’ve been around Regulus Black a lot lately.”
Ava stared for a moment in surprise, then laughed dismissively. “I haven’t been around him. We’ve just talked a couple of times, that’s all.”
“And why would you talk to him?”
She put her quill down slowly. “The question is: why would I not talk to him? I talk to a lot of people, James.”
“Yes, but why Regulus Black?”
She shook her head. “He just happened to sit beside me in Charms, and we started talking. What’s the big deal?”
James leaned forward slightly to look at her imploringly. “The big deal is that there is two kinds of people. The kind of people that you talk to, and the kind that you don’t talk to. And Regulus Black? Most definitely belongs to the latter.”
“That is the most ridiculous nonsense you’ve said in your entire life, James. Has Regulus ever done anything to you?”
“Not to me, but -”
“Has he ever done anything to me?”
“I hope not, but -”
“He hasn’t. He has been perfectly friendly to me, and if you must know, I quite enjoy talking to him.”
James looked taken aback. “Well – what do you talk about then?”
She shrugged. “Nothing out of the ordinary. He said he wanted to get to know me, so we just told each other stuff about ourselves and what we like to do and that kind of thing.”
“And what about the other times you’ve talked to him?”
“What’s with the interrogation, James?”
“Nothing, I just want to know.”
“Well, besides our plan to take over the world -”
“Be serious, Ava.”
She smiled. “ Look, we just talk about your usual stuff. Teachers, school, friends, life – the kind of not-important stuff that you talk about with people.”
James continued to finger his quill. “But why do you have to talk to him at all?”
She frowned. “Okay James, you’re being ridiculous. As I said, he’s been perfectly nice to me, and I see no reason not to like him.”
“He’s a nice guy from what I’ve seen.”
“Well, maybe you haven’t seen everything.”
“Well, have you? No, because you never gave him a chance in the first place. And why? Because – because Sirius told you not to. Well, I’m not going to let him decide whom I talk or don’t talk to.”
“Now you’re being ridiculous, Ava. First of all, Sirius never told me that I couldn’t talk to his brother. Secondly, this has nothing to do with Sirius deciding things for me. This has to do with me being sensible enough to realize that there’s something wrong with the guy, something that you better stay away from.”
“How would you know that? Because he’s in Slytherin?”
“No, Ava, because of the crowd he associates with, the things he stands for. It’s a fact that he’s a pure-blood fanatic, and it’s a fact that he has views on the world and on the rights of people that are unacceptable -”
“I’m not saying that that isn’t true James, although from what I’ve gotten to know from Regulus so far, I have to say it is extremely unlikely. But whatever way it is, I still want to form my own judgement.”
James shook his head and leaned back. “Then I can only hope for him to show his true colours soon.”
She laughed slightly. “James, you can relax. It’s not like I’m marrying him or anything. I’m just not hating him from the start. Besides, after what’s happened, I’m not inclined to think of anything Sirius has ever said as true.”
Thin, hard lines appeared around her mouth as she said this, but quickly vanished and she replaced them with a smile. “You don’t have to worry about anything, James.”
He sighed, obviously unconvinced, but dropped the matter.
“Hey Ava,” said Regulus, dropping his books on the table and falling into the seat beside her. He had taken to always sitting beside her in Charms.
“Hi Regulus,” she said without looking up from her book. But as Regulus turned to face her, smiling, she suddenly felt a tingling feeling and turned around in her seat, feeling that someone was watching her.
She flinched as Sirius’ beautiful grey eyes met hers for a second. He seemed concerned and angry, and then his eyes slid to his brother, and his mouth became a thin, straight line.
Ava swallowed, trying hard not to acknowledge to herself how much she missed him. She forced herself to turn back to the front
“Everything alright?” asked Regulus.
“Good, because I wanted to ask you something.”
“You know it’s Hogsmeade this Saturday?”
“Well, I was wondering whether you’d like to go with me. You know, as friends.”
Ava was taken aback for a moment, then she smiled uncertainly. “Yeah, I don’t know, Reg…”
Not in the least surprised by her answer he smiled at her mildly. “Why not? Look, we’ve known each other for at least three weeks now. You should know by now that I’m not as horrible as you friends probably made me out to be.”
“No one made you out to be anything, Reg. It’s just … I don’t know.”
“Well, are you going with Potter then?”
Ava shifted in her seat. “I don’t think so … Sirius is certainly going to be with the guys, and…” she sighed. “No, I don’t think I’m going to go with him, no. It’s going to be weird though … Merlin, I haven’t been to Hogsmeade by myself in ages …”
Regulus nodded. “See? Do you really want that? Come on, it’d be fun. And if you want to, you can be alone too for a while, but I’d really like it if we spent some time together.”
She looked at him uncertainly.
“Come on. I’ll invite you to everything.”
She smiled slightly, shrugged, and finally gave in. “Okay then, I guess.”
James caught up with her after Charms.
“So, do you think by next Saturday you’ll be able to bear Sirius’ presence enough to come to Hogsmeade with us? You can still ignore him.”
Ava started walking faster, suddenly feeling very uncomfortable. “That’s okay,” she mumbled.
James frowned at her. “What?”
“That’s fine, you guys can just go. I’ll just – I don’t know yet.”
“Are you saying you’d rather go all by yourself than with a group that includes Sirius? Ava, you’re being ridiculous.”
“Oh, no, I’m just … Lily. Maybe I’ll go with Lily. I don’t know.”
James paused. “Is something wrong? You seem … weird.”
“No, no, I’m good, I’m fine. Really. No worries. Just, um, you guys go have fun at Hogsmeade and don’t worry about me.”
“Okay, something’s wrong.”
“Oh, look at that, I’m already late for Herbology. See you later, James.”
She had just left a very confused James behind when another voice suddenly spoke into her ear.
“You don’t have to keep secrets from them, you know.”
She jumped a foot and whirled around to face Regulus. “Don’t shock me like that.”
He began to walk with her. “You know, just because we’re going to Hogsmeade together – as friends – doesn’t mean you have to make things confusing with your other friends. And I’m sure they’d be very understanding,” he said, slightly mockingly.
“That’s very funny, Reg, but I really got to get to class.”
She walked faster, but he followed persistently. “No, seriously, are you ashamed of me?”
She sighed deeply and faced him. “Do you have to make such a big deal out of this? We’re not a couple. We’re not even close friends. Now, I’m willing to give you a chance and form my own judgement, just like you said. But don’t try and influence me on what I do or don’t tell James, okay?”
Regulus said nothing for a while until he shrugged. “Alright then.”
“Good. Because I just don’t see any need to tell them when it will cause nothing but trouble.”
Regulus raised his eyebrows but said nothing more.
On Saturday morning Ava woke with an uneasy feeling in her stomach. She lay on her bed for a while trying to remember what made her feel so queasy when a look at her watch told her she was supposed to meet Regulus in an hour to go to Hogsmeade.
Just as friends, she reminded herself. Not even that, more as acquaintances. No need to feel weird about it.
But she did feel weird about it. And for a moment she allowed herself to dream what her day would look like if Sirius were still the person she had once thought him to be.
She would get up, shower and dress while looking forward to the day. She would meet Sirius down in the common room where he would have been waiting for her. Together, they would walk to the Great Hall while laughing about James being off to chase Lily already, and Remus having stuck his nose into a textbook on a Saturday. They would both eat way too much pumpkin pie at breakfast. They would chase each other all the way to Hogsmeade, while James would keep trying Lily to get to go with him last-minute, so she and Sirius would wait at the joke shop until he and Remus caught up, James sulking over Lily. They would browse through the whole selection at Zonko’s and leave the shop an hour later, laughing and proud owners of several new joke articles. Then they would make their way up to the Three Broomsticks, and each have a couple of Butterbeers and plan their next prank. Later, Sirius would go with her to the shops she really wanted to visit, even though everything except the joke shop and the Honeydukes usually bored him, while Remus and Peter kept James from trying to find Lily. They would visit the Honeydukes and buy as many sweets as they could carry, half of which they would eat while they strolled through the village and talked about everything and nothing in particular. Maybe in the evening, when it was getting a little dark and creepy, they would go up to the Shrieking Shack, and if she asked as nicely as she could, Sirius would carry her, allowing her to dangle her legs and poke him instead of having to climb the hill herself. James and Sirius would act spooky and show off their (admittedly pretty amazing) spell work to make it look like there were really ghosts in the Shrieking Shack, and they would have a laugh about who was really causing the disrupt appearance of the shack, and Remus would get annoyed and tell them to shut up, and Sirius would make some joke and they would laugh and run down the hill chasing each other, or mock-fighting. They would return to the castle as late as possible, loaded with sweets and joke articles, and probably still laughing, they would walk to the common room, where they would spend half the night finishing their edible purchases and having long, more or less sophisticated talks by the fire, until they would fall asleep in their chairs …
Ava furiously wiped a tear from her eyes and swallowed tightly, forcing herself to get up. “He never really existed,” she whispered to herself. “The Sirius you thought you knew never really existed. No use crying over it now.”
And straightening up, she took a few deep breaths and went to get dressed.
Regulus was waiting for her at the school entrance. His black hair was combed back neatly – so very different from Sirius, whose hair always fell into his eyes somehow managing to look messy yet elegant – his usual smile on his face. Once again she was reminded of how much he resembled Sirius, and how much more obvious it made the fact that he so significantly lacked the warmth Sirius somehow managed to hold.
She forcefully told herself to stop thinking like that and went over to Regulus.
“Hey,” he smiled, “ready to go?”
They walked the way to Hogsmeade mostly in silence, from time to time exchanging trivial conversation that Ava couldn’t remember a second later. Her thoughts were persistently dwelling on where her friends were now, what they were doing, and whether they were missing her.
“Wanna go for a drink in the Three Broomsticks?”
She looked up and smiled half-heartedly. “Sure.”
Trying hard to pull herself together and concentrate on Regulus, she followed him into the Three Broomsticks and they sat down. Regulus ordered a butter beer for each of them.
“Are you okay?” he asked. “You seem subdued.”
“I’m good,” she said absentmindedly.
“Okay then. So -”
But he was cut off when a few people who had entered the pub stopped by their table, looking down at them with raised eyebrows.
“Hello Regulus,” said Lucius Malfoy, his face twisted into his usual sneer.
Ava had never really known Malfoy, but what she did know of him was hardly pleasant. It was common knowledge that he resented muggle-borns and half-bloods, that he was arrogant and stuck-up, and with no particular regard for playing it straight.
Regulus just grinned lazily. “Hello Lucius.”
Behind Malfoy stood Severus Black, Bellatrix and Narcissa Black – two of Sirius’ cousins, from what she remembered, and both persons that she would very much like to avoid – and Rodolphus Lestrange. She suddenly realized that she was sitting at a table with Regulus Black, surrounded by the one crowd she wanted nothing to do with. She glared.
The Slytherin ignored her, to her relief. Regulus exchanged a few words of no importance with them, and then they left.
She crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at Regulus.
He stopped in the act of taking a sip of his butter beer and put the glass down to look at her. “What?”
She continued to glare. “Those people that just stopped by – don’t tell me that you’re friends with them.”
Regulus shrugged. “I wouldn’t say friends, no.”
Somehow, his tone didn’t convince her. He shook his head and sighed. “Look, Ava, do you not like them?”
“Oh, no, I really don’t.”
She expected Regulus to start talking about how she should give them a chance before judging them, but instead he just gave another sigh and grinned slightly. “Alright, I’ll make sure you’ll have nothing to do with them.”
Surprised, Ava stared at him for a moment before nodding. “Thank you.”
“No problem. Now where do you want to go next?”
Almost subconsciously, she decided on a place that she supposed James and the guys weren’t too likely to be at.
“How about that place selling school supplies down the street? I, err, I need a new quill …”
The day passed rather slowly. Around midday she realized how much she wanted to be alone, to think about her friends and miss them, and she tried to drop subtle hints for Regulus to understand this, but either he didn’t, or he ignored it. He stayed firmly by her side, making most of the conversation, while she stayed on the lookout for James or Remus or Peter – or Sirius, because even though she angrily told herself differently, the last thing she wanted was for them to see her with Regulus. And they didn’t.
Finally dawn fell and it was time to return to the castle. They walked the way in silence, Ava’s thoughts far away. When they arrived at the castle it almost came as a surprise to her, so absorbed had she been, for once not interrupted by Regulus wanting to talk.
He stopped before the staircase to the portal, and she walked past him, not noticing until he reached out and stopped her.
“Well, thanks for going with me, Ava. I had a great time.”
“Hmm,” she said, smiling slightly. “Yeah, me too.” It was only half a lie. It wasn’t like she’d had a terrible time.
He smiled back, and before she knew what was happening, he had pulled her into the shadows by the castle wall and kissed her.
Ava was in shock. He was holding her by her shoulders, his lips on hers, kissing her, and she was stiff and unmoving, not knowing what to do, not even knowing whether she enjoyed or hated it. So she just let it happen.
He pulled away, his hand softly caressing her cheek. She was still shocked, and stared at him with wide eyes.
He let go of her, and without a word he disappeared into the castle, leaving her standing in the darkness by herself.
A/N: I apologize for the rather long wait. I was in a sort of depressed mood for the last couple of days, caused by the news of Heath Ledger's death, who was one of my favourite actors. I wasn't really in the mood for fanfiction.
I made a tribute video in memory of Heath. For everyone who's going to miss that wonderful young actor, go to TomLoverMSKent's space on Youtube, where you'll find a video called "In memory of Heath Ledger: "Even angels fall"". Thank you.
Now, I hope you liked this chapter! And please review!