I listened to the sound of my shoes against the gravel, trying hard not to think about what I was doing. The night was dark and quiet; the only sounds that of my shoes and of the brisk autumn air rustling through the naked trees.
The lane was bare and lonely, as I had expected it to be, but the pure desolateness was becoming eerie and sent shivers down my spine. I was tempted to light my wand, but that might have set off intruder alarms, and the trouble that would have come along with that was more than I could handle.
I don’t know quite how long I walked for, but soon a massive wrought iron gate loomed out of the darkness. I placed my hand against one of the sides and pushed, not surprised when it didn’t move an inch.
“Password?” a loud, deep voice boomed. I looked up to see that where a few fleur de lis had been was a pair of giant eyes, and where the ancient, unused keyhole had been was a giant mouth.
“Toujours pur,” I replied loudly, the words feeling like acid on my tongue.
I had been told by my mother when I moved out that those words, that ancient and steadfast crest, did not apply to me anymore.
“Correct,” the gate boomed again, swinging forward with a loud creak.
I took a deep breath, trying to quell the sudden tremors that ran through me. I could do this. I had to do this.
I stepped through the gate and heard the foreboding creak of the gate swing shut behind me. The feeling of being trapped washed over me for a moment, but then I heard a voice at the back of my head that sounded suspiciously like James tell me that Marauders always found an escape route. I choked on a chuckle and decided that I was just going to have to get this over with.
I only had to walk forward a few paces before I was at the first row of gravestones. The names so long ago etched on the pieces of stone were unreadable after all the years of exposure and I gladly passed them over, along with the next five rows.
Maybe someday I would come back and look over them all. Or maybe someday I wouldn’t feel the pull I did now to my family.
A few rows later I was beginning to recognize a few of the names – Phinneus Nigellus Black, another Sirius Black, Elladora Black. As I walked on and on I could recognize more and more names, until finally I got to the last row.
The names there were the freshest and even in the dim light of the moon I could read the names. Cygnus Black, my uncle. His funeral was one of the last I had attended before leaving. Orion Black, my father. I had read about his death in the Daily Prophet. My old man had deserved his fate. Even as I stared at his name etched into the stone I felt no tugs of remorse or any emotion at all really. As far as we both were concerned, we weren’t related anymore.
The last tombstone in the row caught my eye. For one thing it was the freshest, so the ground was still partially raised under it and the marble was still a dull white. For another, I had finally found what I was looking for.
I shuffled down the row past the graves of my other dead relatives until I came to stop in front of it. I didn’t need to read the name to know who it was. Regulus Arcturus Black. My little brother. My stupid, idiotic little brother, who had gone and gotten himself killed.
My knees gave out from underneath me as I stared at the mound of freshly raised earth and I fell to the ground. I ran my hand through my hair anxiously and tried to remember the breathing technique that Lily had taught me, but I couldn’t even exhale, let alone figure out how to inhale.
My brother was dead. Here, in front of my eyes was the inevitable proof.
I had known all along that I would find this here. I had known all along that this would happen as well. What I hadn’t known was that seeing this final proof would cause a hole to rip in my chest, threatening to crush me from the inside out.
No matter what had happened between us, or what people had said about us, Regulus was still my brother. My baby brother. Older brothers should not have to see their younger brothers dead and buried. The world was not supposed to work that way.
I buried my face in my hands, massaging my temples with my fingers.
I had not gotten to say good bye. I hadn’t seen Regulus for almost a year before he died. I had never gotten a chance to tell him that I was sorry for all of the things that I had said to him. I had been a horrible brother.
“Damn it Regulus!” I shouted, my hands balling into fists as I paced around his room. “You’ve gone and done it now!”
“I know,” he mumbled quietly, staring up at the emerald hangings above his bed, where he lay sprawled with his hands over his eyes.
“You’re an idiot, you know that? A fucking moron!”
“I know!” Regulus shouted back, removing his hands and sitting up, glaring at me. “You can’t even begin to understand!”
“Understand?” I roared, my fists shaking. “I don’t understand? I understand plenty. Like the fact that you are going to get yourself killed! Like the fact that you’re going to torture and kill innocent people! I know what the Death Eaters are! I know what they do!”
“I didn’t have a choice,” he hissed, his pointed face suddenly very pale.
“A choice,” I laughed darkly. “Of course you had a choice Reggie! I offered you a choice!”
“What, to go and live with you and a family of blood traitors?” Regulus spat, his grey eyes flashing dangerously. “That’s the exact reason I had to do this in the first place!”
“So this is my fault?” I cried, unable to believe my ears. “Your decision to join Voldemort is my fault?”
“Yes it is!” he replied, his voice hard and angry. “Because you’re such a failure, I have to live up to all of Mum and Dad’s expectations! Because you’ve gone and broken their hearts I have to make it up to them! Because you’re such a disgrace to the family I have to repair the family name and restore us to good graces with the rest of the pureblood community.”
I took a step back from him, feeling as if I had been slapped even though he hadn’t touched me. “You know what?” I asked bitterly, my voice full of hate. “I don’t care. I hope you go and get yourself killed. That way I can go and dance on your gravestone, just to prove to you that I was right.”
I had never gotten to apologize. I had never gotten to tell him that I hadn’t meant those things that I said. Those were the last things that I had ever said to him. I left the day after that and never saw him again. He went to his death thinking that I hated him, and that I didn’t give a damn about whether he lived or died.
And that wasn’t true at all. I had said those things because I was furious. I hadn’t meant them at all. But now he would never know that. Regulus would never know that no matter what I said that I loved him.
But I was here now, wasn’t I? I was here, sitting right in front of his grave. I was the closest I could probably ever get to him again. He was just there, a few feet below the patch of earth in front of me. Maybe, in some supernatural, cosmic way, he would be able to hear me. It was worth a shot.
“Hey Reg,” I said quietly, staring at the patch of brown earth in front of me. “It’s me Sirius.”
I paused, trying to form the right words to say.
“I know that I’m not the person you expected to be here, and I know that you’re probably mad at me still. You have every right to be mad. I was a right arse. I said a lot of things that I didn’t mean. I’d like to think that you said some things that you didn’t mean as well, but it’s okay if you meant them.”
I took a deep breath. This was harder than I thought it was going to be.
“I read about your death in the Daily Prophet. They had it listed as a Quidditch accident. I don’t believe that for a second though. Normally I would tell you, ‘I told you so’ but I think you might understand now. All I can say is that I hope that they didn’t hurt you too badly first. You’re my little brother, Reg, and nobody’s supposed to rough you up except me.”
I chuckled softly, thinking of all of the times as a kid when I would punch him or we would wrestle. Things had been so normal then. No one would have thought that this is how we would end up.
“I’m sorry I didn’t come to your funeral. I thought it might be better if I left that whole ordeal to the rest of the family. I thought you would have wanted that, considering you did this to yourself to keep the peace.”
I felt my words clog in my throat and tear spring into my eyes. I had promised myself I wouldn’t do this, that I wouldn’t cry. But that was the Black side of me speaking. That was the side of me that wanted to control my emotions, to keep them unacknowledged and in check. But if there was anything that I had learned from this whole ordeal it was that you never got a second chance to express yourself.
“I wish I could have saved you from having to do this, and I’m sorry that I wasn’t there when you needed me. I’m sorry for all of the horrible things I said to you. I’m sorry that for the last few years of your life we grew apart. I wish that I could have known you better. I wish that you would have lived a long full life.”
I took another deep shuddering breath.
“I feel like this is all my fault. I feel like that maybe if I hadn’t run away, that if things had worked out differently and that if I hadn’t been such a rebel that maybe you wouldn’t be dead. Maybe if I hadn’t moved out or maybe if I’d been sorted into Slytherin this wouldn’t have happened. You could have lived to a hundred, not seventeen.”
I swiped at the tears that were now falling freely down my cheeks.
“But I can’t keep beating myself up about this. I made my decisions, and I’m not sorry for them. You had a choice Reggie. You chose them. I wish you hadn’t. I wish that I could have convinced you to come with me. But I couldn’t. I can’t keep blaming myself for your death. I don’t want to sound selfish or self-important, but it’s the truth. I have to let go of the idea that I could have made this end differently. I am who I am and you are who you are. We’ve both known that all along. Neither of us can change who we are. But we can’t change the fact that we are brothers either.”
I pulled my wand and a piece of paper out of my pocket. With a twirl of my wand I conjured a small wreath of flowers and placed both that and the folded photograph of the two of us onto the raised mound of dirt.
“I just want you to know that despite all that came between us I still love you. I don’t know if I’ve ever said it before, but we were family. You were the closest person to me in our family. We grew up together. I think that I owe at least this to you.”
I stood up and swiped at my stinging eyes.
“I’m sorry it wasn’t the dance you were expecting.”
With one last look at the gravestone I turned around and exited the row of graves the same way that I had come.
I had said my peace. Hopefully somewhere out there Regulus was listening.
A/N: Thank you for reading! Please review and tell me what you thought!
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