Chapter 49 : Flicker Back Into Darkness
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Flicker Back Into Darkness
“Wands.” The hard nosed Professor Peakes held his hands out to the crestfallen Regulus and Bartemius. When the boys reluctantly dropped their wands into the man's hands, he pulled them away and scowled down at the students. “No talking. No laughing. No smiling. Just polish the trophies and don't make me give you any more detentions.” He kicked a tray containing metal polish and rags over to the boys, then turned sharply and marched out of the Trophy Room.
Regulus muttered profanities under his breath as he grabbed one of the cloths and the bottle of metal polish. “Can't we just do stupid lines,” he complained as he pulled open the first case and grabbed a Quidditch plaque.
“I don't know,” Bartemius sighed as he grabbed up a cloth and joined the boy. “I'd rather do this, actually. I get enough writing with all the essays.”
“If you didn't take so many classes that wouldn't be a problem,” Regulus teased.
Bartemius merely smirked and turned his attention to getting through the detention. Despite the Professor's instructions not to talk, the boys discussed classes, sugar quills, Bartemius' first date with Fiona Ackerley and whether or not the Ballycastle Bats stood a chance for the next World Cup. After an hour and a half, Regulus leaned back against one of the trophy cases and sighed.
“This is so boring,” the boy whined.
Bartemius stepped up in front of him and slid the bottle of metal polish from Regulus' fingers. “I don't think it's boring. I like talking to you.”
“I didn't – No,” Regulus replied, shaking his head. “I didn't mean you were boring. I meant that the -”
“I know what you meant,” Bartemius interrupted with a cheeky grin. He licked over his lips and stepped a bit closer to the other boy. “Your eyes look better; not even swollen,” he mused. “Still bruised a little though.”
Regulus reached up and touched the underside of his right eye subconsciously. He flinched at the strong odor of metal polish on his fingers and frowned at his hand. “Yeah, the nurse gave me some paste...stuff. Stung like hell, but it worked. She said the bruising would go away by tomorrow.”
“Maybe you shouldn't use it. The bruises look...tough.”
Regulus gave a laugh at the other boy's words and sought out his brown eyes. “Tough, huh?” he whispered. His heart raced and his breath grew shallow as he held the boy's gaze. “Is, um...is that a good...thing?” he whispered.
Bartemius nodded and leaned forward with clear intent. He placed his hand on the case beside Regulus' head and rested his weight against it while he brought his mouth against the other boy's. No sooner than the kiss started, it was over as Regulus stepped out from under the blonde.
“Don't,” Regulus whispered with a shuddered breath. He shook his head and put his hands up in front of him. “Don't do that. Please...don't.” He stared down at the rag in his hand and twisted it around his fingers as he tried to steady his pounding heart.
“You're really stubborn,” Bartemius sighed.
“It isn't being stubborn, it's being.... I don't know. It doesn't...doesn't seem right, I guess,” the boy whispered, not looking up. “You have a girlfriend; save that stuff for her.”
“Maybe I don't want to. Maybe I wanna save it for you.”
“Don't be stupid; you don't mean that and I know it. I don't need you to put on some act for me.” Regulus threw a desperate look to the other boy and frowned. “It's hard enough, alright? It really is. It's hard enough to deal with what happened with Sarah and my parents are absolutely furious about it and my cousin has been none too light handed on the threats and that stupid Delba-Della bint won't stop following me and my stupid brother won't stop following me.”
“Sorry,” said Bartemius. He grabbed onto Regulus' wrist and pulled the boy close. “I'm not trying to be more stress. I'm trying to take it away.” He smiled softly at the other boy and brushed his nose over Regulus', letting their warm skin make the slightest of contact. “Don't punish yourself,” he whispered, his words spilling over the boy's lips.
“I'm not,” Regulus argued, his words slipping out with barely any sound.
“Then let yourself have something you want,” the blonde whispered as he closed the minuet space still lingering between them. He parted his lips and gently moved them against the other boy's, taking care to be soft and slow.
Regulus felt himself go weak under the other boy's lips and his blood heat from the intimacy. He let out a small whimper and forced his body to take a step back. “We can't,” he pleaded.
“Why?” Bartemius looked completely dumbstruck.
“Because I don't wanna lose you too,” Regulus answered, dropping his eyes to the floor. “I really, really need a friend right now!”
A loud throat-clearing cough broke across the growing awkward silence in the Trophy Room. “See a lot of standing and not a lot of polishing,” Professor Peakes growled. “Your time's up anyways. Get out of here.” The man thumbed over his shoulder and glared at Bartemius and Regulus as they put their polishing rags into the tray and hurried out.
“He's such an asshole,” Regulus said as he and Bartemius started down the hallway towards the dungeons. “He failed me on my last essay even though it was perfect. I worked four bloody hours on that thing and it got a D.”
“You sure you just didn't have it all wrong?” Bartemius asked with a smirk. When Regulus turned and scowled at him, the blonde threw his hands up in surrender. “Kidding. Don't get all mad at me.” He reached out and slipped his hand into Regulus' to pull the boy off course.
Regulus flinched but allowed the other boy to lead him into the boys' bathroom on the third floor. “Are you suddenly a female now? Need to have company to piss?” He laughed and pulled his hand out of Bartemius' tight grip.
“I'm glad Sarah's out of your life,” the blonde blurted out without a shred of hesitation. “I hated that girl the moment I met her and she made you miserable.” When Regulus opened his mouth to speak, Bartemius held up his finger and frowned the boy into silence. “As grateful to that...dog as I may be for getting rid of her, you have got to see that there's something going on with it.”
“Regulus, it is just too convenient. The way he's always popping up when you're around. The way he seems to know what I'm saying. The way he led you to Sarah like that. There's something wrong with the whole situation.”
“I completely agree.”
“And I know that you like him, but you can't keep letting your feelings blo- Wait, you agree?” Bartemius stepped back from his rant and stared at the other boy in shock. “You haven't said a word about him since the whole Davies thing. What do you mean that you agree?”
Regulus tilted his head and bit down hard on his bottom lip. “I didn't wanna see it. The way he was always...smarter than he shoulda been. I liked having him around, but when he showed me what was going on with Sarah, I couldn't just ignore it.”
“You know what the thing is, right?” Bartemius nodded, hoping that Regulus was on the same path of thought as himself. “Bloody Animagus.”
“I know.” Regulus stepped around the other boy and leaned over the sinks to start scrubbing his hands with soap and water as the smell of metal polish was irritating him.
“And you know who it is, don't you?” Bartemius prompted, his eyes gleaming in an eerie joy.
Regulus nodded. “Yeah.” He slammed his hand into the handle and shut off the tap. “I know exactly who it is.”
Every day for nearly a week, Regulus took a walk along the edge of the forbidden forest, waiting for Polaris to come along. He was growing more and more agitated at the creature's absence until on the sixth day a dark figure loomed in the distance. The dog stood alert, watching Regulus move. The boy's lips curled into a smile and he waved his hands excitedly to the dog.
“Polaris! Come here boy, come on!” Regulus cried out, his voice hitting the peak of excitement.
Polaris' tongue lolled out of his mouth and the dog bounded happily across the grounds, jumping straight up into Regulus' arms and knocking the boy onto the ground. Regulus laughed and pet his fingers through the dog's fur affectionately.
“I've missed you boy,” he insisted with a smile. He scrambled up to his feet and dusted the debris from his backside. “Wanna play?” he asked as he broke a dead-hanging stick from the nearest tree.
The dog's tail wagged with excitement and Regulus threw the stick. Twice, Polaris fetched the stick and brought it back to a smiling Regulus. On the third time, the boy pried the stick from the dog's teeth and let it drop carelessly to the ground. He reached into his robes and slipped his wand out. Still beaming a smile, he pointed his wand straight at the dog.
“It's funny for a dog to fear one stick and not another,” Regulus mused. He tightened his grip on his wand and twisted his lips into a sneer. “You fucked up,” he hissed at the dog. “You had me so fooled and you blew it.” He let out a shuddered and broken laugh as he peered down into the now-shaking dog's eyes. “Was it good for a laugh?” he asked coldly.
Polaris' body stiffened up and he jerked towards the forest, only to have Regulus block his path.
“I bet you and your little Auror buddies sat around having a good chuckle at all the things you heard. Too bad you never got what you wanted, huh?” Regulus took a step closer to the dog and pressed his lips tightly together. “It was a stupid plan. Full points for creativity, but it was stupid. What, did you think that you'd cozy up to me and I'd tell all the Dark Lord's secrets to a stupid dog?”
The creature pulled back, bringing one foot up to his chest as he tilted his head and furrowed his brow at Regulus. A small questioning whine escaped the dog's lips.
“Or were you trying to get closer? You seemed really excited when I wanted to take you home. Was that the plan?” Regulus shouted, his breathing growing strained and frantic. “Get me to take you to my house? To my home! Take you into my life and you could do all the spying you wanted?”
Polaris jerked towards the forest again, but just as before, Regulus blocked his escape. A loud whimper came out of the dog as he stared up at the boy.
Regulus advanced on the creature more and stared down at him with a look of pure hate. “What I don't understand is why you'd risk your cover to take me to Sarah.” The boy gave an uncaring shrug and narrowed his eyes. “Time to die, doggy. I'll be sure to send flowers to your funeral. After all, you'll die a hero!” The boy lifted his wand and pointed it straight between the Animagus' eyes.
A Note From the Author: Okay, so obviously Polaris isn't going to die, but I'd like to think it's still a dramatic moment. Next chapter picks up right where this one left off. Don't be shy to leave a few words in that little grey box. Thank you for reading! :) --Jenna
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