I watched as Kreacher apparated from the cave, the locket clutched firmly in his tiny hand. I couldn’t believe that this was it. This was what my life accumulated to. This was the last moment of my life.
The angry monsters pulled me in, but my body was too weak to fight them. Weak; that’s all I had ever been. I was too weak to see the lies my parents told; too weak to do what the Dark Lord wanted; too weak to tell my brother the truth.
Indeed, my life was nothing more than moment after moment of enduring weakness. How odd that I, the prodigal son, had only done one thing that took strength. I gave myself so that one day Voldemort would be nothing more than dust.
The slimy, decaying Inferi fingers scraped at my skin. I could feel my blood escaping through the wounds, but it didn’t matter. There was nothing I could do.
In only seconds, my head was all that remained above water. I took a deep breath, my last breath. I wanted to savor the air, but the Inferi had other ideas. With a sharp tug my whole body was submerged. This would be my grave.
The water stung my eyes, but I resisted the urge to shut them. My eyes were the only thing I managed to have control over. I couldn’t see, but closing them would mean it was over. Eighteen years that held no meaning to anyone but myself. My brother’s life had more meaning than my own. That is how pitiful everything had become.
My mind became hazy as they dragged me deeper into the dark water. I could feel my body losing consciousness, but I had no energy to fight it off. This was it, my life was closing in. My eyelids felt like heavy iron weights and I continued to fight to keep them open. My thoughts drifted. How did it come to end like this?
“C’mon Sirius, leave it alone. Mum will have a fit if you break it.” I watched, horrified, as my brother balanced our mum’s priceless vase on two fingers. Nothing would save us if he broke it.
“Relax, Reg. You’re the one who said I couldn’t do it and look!” He pointed at his excellent balancing skills. “You owe me five sickles.”
“Just put it down now. You’ve proved your point,” I pleaded with him. Sirius rolled his eyes and gently set it down on the antique stand. I breathed a sigh of relief.
“You’re such a pansy,” he mocked as he reached out to ruffle my hair. “How’d my baby brother ever get to be such a mummy’s boy?”
I flattened my hair. “I’m not a mummy’s boy,” I muttered.
“Oh yeah?” He punched me hard in the arm and I winced. “Prove it.”
I threw a punch back, but he was too quick. In moments he had me pinned to the floor and was punching me in the chest and head.
“Stop it!” I yelled, but to no avail.
“Thought you said you weren’t a mummy’s boy?” he taunted. I tried to get up, but he was too strong and I was stuck.
“Sirius, what do you think you’re doing?” Mum’s voice screeched as she saw the spectacle. Father was behind her, the same stern look on both of their faces. Sirius immediately got off, but instead of getting up, I just lay there.
“We were just having some fun.” He offered his hand to me, but I didn’t take it. I was waiting for the punishment that was surely coming.
“You wretched, little bastard,” she screamed as she marched over to Sirius. He stood tall like he was bracing himself for her wrath. Without warning her hand landed sharply on his cheek and she yelled more obscenities before Father gently stepped between them.
“Now, Walburga, I think that is enough punishment. They are boys after all. It is only normal for them to fight.” He grabbed her arm and tried to lead her away, but he was too slow. Her slender arm reached around Father to slap her oldest son once more before allowing Father to take her to another room.
I looked at my brother. He was standing the same as before she hit him, but there was something different in his eyes.
“Siri?” I asked cautiously as I slowly stood up. I could see him better now and the look in his eyes almost scared me.
“I hate her.” His voice was filled with venom. My brother was breaking the rules.
“Black, Regulus,” McGonagall called. I was too nervous to make my feet move. The other kids started whispering and prodding me, but I couldn’t take a step.
“Black, Regulus,” the lady repeated. She looked over at the group of first years I found myself in and she immediately locked eyes with me. “Mister Black, I would advise you to come up here.”
Still I did not move. The other students, already seated at their respective tables were starting to talk and even laugh. I couldn’t stand it, but try as I might, I could not move.
“Mister Black,” she started again as she walked over to me. “You must be sorted.” The professor took hold of my arm and led, or rather dragged me to the stool. I sat nervously as she placed the hat on my head.
“Hmm, nervous are you boy?” The hat’s voice echoed through my head. “You know, I’ve sorted everyone in your family and only one other was nervous about their sorting.”
“Who?” I thought.
“Why, your own brother, of course.”
My eyes widened and I quickly searched the mass of students staring at me for Sirius. I found him. He sat silently, one from the end at Gryffindor table. The end seat was empty and I wondered why. His friends were trying to talk to him, but he wasn’t paying them any attention.
“Now, on to you,” the hat said before going silent for several moments. I gulped, not understanding what was taking so long.
“You’re not very ambitious, but you do have a fairly clever mind here. Very loyal too, a trait you share with your brother no doubt.”
“No,” I began. “I have nothing in common with him. I can’t. If I do…” my thoughts trailed off.
“You’re afraid of the consequences of going against your family as he did. Yes, I see it now. You seek anything that preserves your image. Alright then, SLYTHERIN!” The hat screamed and the Slytherin table erupted in cheers.
I lifted the hat and placed it back on the stool. I couldn’t help but smile from his decision. I was safe, my future was safe. As I descended the stairs I took one last look at my brother. My grin faltered when I saw his face. A new emotion had taken over and I couldn’t put my finger on it. With a resigned sigh he turned to his mates and did not look at me again. I was lost to him.
The weight of the water was collapsing my lungs. I needed to breathe. I had to breathe.
I began to struggle against my captors, catching them by surprise. With what strength I could muster I kicked my legs loose and tried to free my arms, but they were quick. They locked onto my limbs, tighter this time. The pain was close to unbearable. I wanted to yell, but that would only kill me faster.
Why was this happening? How could I let this happen? My whole life I did everything possible to ensure that I would last; that I would be able to hold onto all he had turned his back on. How odd to think that after all this time it would be my demise.
“If it’s nothing but a scratch let me see your arm.”
I took another step away from Sirius. He had left me alone the whole time I’d been at Hogwarts and now, just because of a rumor, he was cornering me and demanding answers.
“Let me see it, Reg,” he repeated, slowly stepping closer. I could tell that his annoyance was turning to anger quickly.
“It’s none of your business.”
“I’m your brother. Everything that goes on in your pathetic life is my business.”
“I don’t have a brother,” I retorted. “Even if I did, he wouldn’t be a useless blood traitor. He’d be loyal to his family and follow The Dark Lord like Luc—.”
His fist connected with my nose and the blood immediately began gushing out. I tried to punch him back, but like always he was too quick. He pinned my throbbing head to the stone wall with his arm while he lifted up the sleeve of my robes.
Sirius stared at the mark on my left arm before releasing me. I tugged on my sleeve to make sure it was covered before touching my nose. I winced. If he had ever been good at anything it was fighting.
He pointed his wand at me and fear struck me. I scrambled for my own. He was going to kill me, I knew he was.
“Episkey,” he muttered. I felt my nose go back into place and I let out a sigh of relief. I looked up to see him still standing there.
“What?” I snapped. I grabbed my wand and pointed it at him. “Don’t try and start anything. I’m ready now.”
He shook his head. “I won’t. I was just trying to figure out what happened to my baby brother.” He started to walk away, but I kept my wand pointed at him. He was up to something.
He took several more steps before he turned back to me. I braced myself for the fight, ready to counter any spell he shot at me.
“If you see him let me know. I’d like to know what he’s been doing all these years.” Sirius turned back around and continued walking down the corridor. I slowly lowered my wand and put it in my pocket.
I had won. Sure, he had given up, but that still counted as a win for me. I finally held the upper-hand just like I had always wanted, but something felt wrong. I couldn’t explain it and I didn’t want to. I had what I needed.
I paced impatiently in the dusty old shop. It was the safest place I could think of, but even hiding in the abandoned Muggle store couldn’t ease the tension. It was only a matter of time before The Dark Lord caught on to what I was about to do. My life was at risk and it was a far from pleasant idea.
“Well, I’m here.”
I immediately stopped walking and stared at the young man in front of me. He had come.
He raised his hand, stopping me midsentence and walked over to a chair. “I don’t want to hear lies, Regulus. If this is a trap you’ve set for me, forget about it. I won’t fall for it. I’ll blow this place up before you can do anything. Understood?” He pulled out his wand, making it clear that he wasn’t joking.
I nodded. “It’s not a trap. If I was planning a trap, why would I only ask for you to come? If I wanted to kill you I wouldn’t choose here to do so. Who do you think I am?”
“A Death Eater,” he stated matter-of-factly. I glared at him. This was going to be more difficult than I anticipated.
“I need you to listen to me. Things have changed. I’ve seen what I was previously blinded by. I’ve realized just how wrong I’ve been.”
He looked curiously at me. “What are you on about?”
I covered my face with my hands and began pacing again.
“I was wrong. I was always wrong and a part of me has always known that, but I never paid it any attention. Everything I did…ugh!” I leaned against the rotting counter, trying to make sense of my own thoughts. “You were right,” I began quietly. “You were always right and I was too thick to realize it.”
“You made your choices, you live with them.”
I spun around. “Live with them?” I hissed. “What do you think I’ve been doing?”
“How, in the name of Merlin, am I supposed to know what you have been doing?” His eyes met mine. “I’m not your brother remember?”
I clenched my fists. “You never forget do you?”
He shook his head. “No, unfortunately for you I don’t.”
“I screwed up. We both know that.” I was becoming exceedingly frustrated. “I was just trying to be everything that you’re not. That’s what they wanted…that’s what I wanted.”
“Exactly,” he agreed as he stood. “You played the part of the perfect son and enjoyed every bloody minute of it. You took everything they told you as truth and you ran with it.” He was yelling, the anger dripping thickly off his every word. “Hell, Reg, you even did something better than them! You joined the bloody git who’s out to destroy everything. Tell me, what were you told about him? Did they tell you that he was this awesome, all-powerful wizard with your best interests in mind? Is that what you believe?” He walked close to me, his hands moving wildly to his heated words. “Did they tell you he cared about you?”
“Sirius, will you let me finish?” I asked, fighting to keep my voice level. I kept telling myself that he just didn’t understand yet.
“No,” his voice had dropped to a low, raspy whisper. “Let me tell you something, brother. Your Dark Lord doesn’t give a care about you or any of the other morons who have joined. He only cares about himself and won’t think twice if you end up dead.”
I involuntarily gulped, knowing all too well what The Dark Lord was like. “You don’t understand,” I tried again. “Things are different. I’ve changed, Sirius,” I pleaded him to understand.
His eyes pierced mine and without warning he grabbed my left arm and rolled up my sleeve. “You can’t change from this.” He pointed to the distinct mark on my arm before letting it go. He turned away from me and began walking to the door.
“Sirius, hear me out!” I yelled. I was becoming desperate in my quest to make him understand. He ignored me and reached out to open the side door to the shop. “You’re my brother for Merlin’s sake! Does brotherly love mean anything to you?”
He paused and I hoped that I had finally gotten to him.
“It does, Reg, but unfortunately I lack a brother to have that with.”
I watched as he left, the door swung shut behind him. Numbly, I collapsed in a chair and buried my face. Apparently some things can never change.
My hold on life was loosening. It was as if I was holding on to a bar and another was slowly lifting my fingers up. This was it. I was going to die.
No, I couldn’t die. Not yet. I wasn’t old enough, there was too much left undone. I had to fix the mess I made.
With a burst of strength I couldn’t explain, I fought against my captors once more. I had to get to the surface. I had to breathe.
They weren’t fooled this time, but I continued to struggle. I had to. It was my only chance.
The beasts continued to pull me further, barely phased by what was a pathetic effort. They didn’t care that I was trying to save myself; the same thing I spent my life attempting to do.
Sharp nails dug themselves into my skin and an involuntary yell escaped my lips. The water poured into my mouth. I tried to spit it out, but more just came in. I was choking, drowning.
I could feel my heart beat slowing; fainter with every beat. My body was failing me.
A strange feeling of peace and fear enveloped me and my fight for freedom ended. Perhaps this wasn’t so bad after all. I had done what was right. For once, I did something important, something meaningful. One day they would know; he would know and I would have a brother once more.
My eyes closed. Every defense was going down. I was losing.
Calm took over and I relished in it. I was coming to terms with my fate. I, Regulus Arcturus Black, had finally shown what I was really worth.