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Chapter 51 : Books & Trust
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Books & Trust
Grey eyes watched Bartemius from across the crowded Slytherin common room. The boy was sitting on the end of a leather sofa, his legs tucked underneath him and his fingernails being chewed at intently as he flipped quickly through his Charms book. He reached up and pulled angrily at his blonde hair, shaking his head in frustration. A muttered hostility broke the boy's silence as he shoved the book angrily off his lap and rubbed his hands over his face.
“Barty,” Regulus whispered distantly as he walked over and lifted the other boy's thrown book. “What's wrong?” he asked as he lowered himself onto the spot next to Bartemius.
“I can't remember anything,” the other boy answered as he tugged at his tie in an effort to pull it from his neck. The silk knot tightened from being mishandled and caused the boy to growl at himself. “I can't even get this damn...it won't....” He twisted his face in defeat and dragged his fingers back through his hair, pulling at it once more.
Regulus stared at his friend with a sad smile and carefully loosened the knot on the boy's tie. “Calm down. You're getting yourself so worked up. What do you mean you can't remember anything?” he asked in a smooth tone, trying not to agitate the already upset boy. He slid the emerald silk from around the boy's neck and twisted it around his own hand.
“It's like my head is empty. I can't remember simple first year charms, I can't remember the effects of daisies in a potion, I can't even remember the spell to transfigure a rabbit into a -”
“Barty, stop!” Regulus insisted, grabbing the boy by the shoulders. “You know this stuff. You're letting yourself get worried about O.W.L.s but you shouldn't. You know this stuff. You're a bloody genius and you have over three months still.” He held up Bartemius' Charms book and slid it into the boy's bag. “Just take a break.”
“I can't,” the blonde answered, reaching for his bag.
Regulus swatted at the boy's hand and shook his head. “Take a break. Fretting isn't going to do anything but make your hair fall out.”
Bartemius reached up and grabbed onto his disheveled blonde locks, staring at Regulus with a look of pure horror on his face. “Don't say that!”
The dark-haired boy couldn't help but laugh. “Let's go for a walk.” When the other boy shook his head and pulled his bag into his lap, Regulus frowned. “You always want to go on walks. Are...are you still mad at me for what I said the other day?”
“I'm not mad. I'm busy,” the blonde answered coldly. After pulling his book back out, Bartemius looked over at Regulus and narrowed his eyes. “Actually...yes. Yes I am mad at you. I'm very mad at you for what you said.”
“Look, I was just angry.”
“So you do trust me then?”
Regulus snapped his teeth together and glanced off across the common room. “I didn't mean to make you mad.”
“That...you....” Bartemius looked down into his lap and shook his head. “You're such an asshole.”
“What?” Regulus cried out, tightening his fist around the tie still in his hand.
“You heard me!” the blonde yelled, drawing the attention of the entire common room. “I'm going to study in the library. Just leave me alone.” He hastily shoved his book back into his bag and swung it up onto his shoulder as he got to his feet.
“Barty, wait!” Regulus called out, moving to follow the boy. He flinched when a figure blocked his path. “Move, Rosier, I'm busy,” he growled.
“I need to talk to you,” Evan insisted, wrapping his arms around his shaking body. The boy's eyes were red and distant and his face looked lifeless and cold. “Just for a minute,” he pleaded, his voice lost of its usual commanding tone and arrogance.
“I said I'm busy!” Regulus stepped around the boy and charged out of the common room after Bartemius. “Barty, stop.” He raced down the hallway and caught the boy by the arm, spinning him around and forcing him back against the wall. “I'm sorry okay?”
“No, it isn't okay. I thought we were...well I'm not sure what we are but I thought that we had trust.”
Regulus closed his eyes and took a long breath, his head shaking with confusion. “We are. It isn't...it's hard to....” The boy went silent as a small group of students moved past them in the corridor. “You drive me insane,” he whispered when the others were out of hearing range.
“Oh, lovely sentiment.” Bartemius rolled his eyes and tried to step away from the other boy.
The older boy hooked his arm around the other's waist and gently pushed him back up against the wall. “I meant in a good way,” he clarified. “You're annoying and you talk too much and you care about your hair more than any bloke should and sometimes I just want to hex your mouth shut and you ma-”
“So much for the good way,” Bartemius snorted.
“And despite all those things,” Regulus continued, picking his voice up to cover the other boy's huffs, “I still love having you around. You can make me laugh no matter how mad I am and you always seem to know exactly what to say and what to do and you make me really....” The boy trailed off with a blush and ducked his head.
“Make you really what?” Bartemius asked with a growing smile.
Regulus peeked up at the other boy from under his lashes and smiled. “Don't play dumb,” he laughed.
Bartemius smoothed his hand over Regulus', smirking as he realized that his own tie was still wound around the boy's fingers. “But you don't trust me,” he whispered, pulling the boy closer. “I trust you,” he offered. “I completely trust you, and I thought you did too.”
“It isn't you. It's everyone. I don't trust anyone, not anymore.”
“But this is me! Just me,” Bartemius said, stepping away from Regulus and letting his bag fall to the floor. “I'm not anyone! I'm one person. You can't trust one person?”
“Why not?” the blonde all but yelled.
Regulus gritted his teeth and grabbed onto the other boy's hands, pulling him back over so that they could speak quietly. “First person I ever trusted was my brother,” he whispered, sighing as Bartemius' eyes grew soft. “And he went off to school and got himself a whole new family. Came home calling that Potter jerk his brother. Didn't want anything to do with me anymore.”
“But that's just o-”
“Topher. I trusted him with ever- almost everything I could. And what did he do? Tell me.”
“He left,” Bartemius whispered.
“He left,” Regulus repeated in confirmation. He stared down at their still-joined hands and laced their fingers together, throwing one quick glance down the corridor to ensure they were alone. “It's hard for me to do this,” he whispered, nodding towards their hands. “It's really hard for me to be this close to you. It makes it difficult to breathe and when you...kiss me it makes me feel kinda dizzy. But I keep trying. Isn't that enough for you?”
“No,” the blonde answered honestly. “I'm glad that you try but it isn't enough. I've not done a thing to make you not trust me. I never said a word to Sarah about this and I never would have. I wouldn't tell anyone. I would never betray your trust, but you're punishing me for what he did.”
“I'm not punishing you for what my brother did.”
“I didn't say Sirius. And not Topher either.” Bartemius twisted his face in upset and squeezed Regulus' hand. “I'm talking about Anthony. Don't even start to deny it,” he said quickly when the other boy's mouth opened.
“I was gonna ask how you knew,” Regulus snipped, pulling away from the other boy and leaning back against the wall.
Bartemius smirked and leaned beside the other boy. “I'm a genius, remember?” He licked his lips and stared down at the floor by his feet. “There were rumors last year. After you got into that fight in the library and some people said they'd seen you together. But what really tipped it off was that...that damn book,” he said, snarling the last of his words. “You care more about that bloody book than you do other people. You almost took my head off the first time I found it!” He rounded on Regulus and curled his hands into fists, his eyes growing angry. “If I didn't think you'd curse me for it, I'd pitch the thing into the fire and laugh as it burned!”
“Barty, I -”
“Have you ever tried competing with a dead person?” the blonde hissed, his hands starting to shake. “It isn't easy. Everything I do, everything I say, I always wonder if you're comparing it to him. What was so bloody special about that son of a bitch, huh?”
“He was a Mudblood! And a liar on top of it! He broke your trust and now you can't trust me.” The boy forced his hands open and grabbed his bag off the ground. “I stand by what I said before: you're an asshole, Regulus.”
The stunned boy watched Bartemius start off down the hallway. “What about you?” he called out. “I never said I was perfect you know?” He waited as the blonde turned back to him and raised his eyebrows in question. “I never claimed to be perfect, I know that I screw up, but what about you? You stand here and you go after me because I can't trust you; I barely know you!”
“Barely...know...me?” Bartemius tilted his head and widened his eyes. “I've told you everything there is to know about me. I've told you about my dad, I told you about -”
“That's not what I mean,” Regulus interrupted. “Yes, you've told me things but I've only known you for...what? Six months.” He reached for the other boy, but Bartemius stepped out of the way. “Fine! Just walk away then!” the boy suddenly yelled. “You never truly gave a shit anyways. The only reason you even started talking to me was for this!” He ripped back his left sleeve and waved his Dark Mark under the other boy's nose. “Four years you could have come up and talked to me, but you didn't. Not until the rumors started up that I had this.”
“You're right,” the boy whispered. “I didn't want anything to do with you before that.” He laid his hand over Regulus' arm and pushed it away. “I didn't really want anything to do with anyone. I didn't have friends because I chose not to. And when I heard that you had met the Dark Lord...I wanted to meet you. Properly, that is.”
“See?” Regulus waved his hand towards Bartemius in a there-it-is fashion and turned his back on the boy. “You got what you wanted, so why did you stick around?”
Bartemius' hands slipped over the older boy's hips and his chin rested on the boy's shoulder. “Because you're stubborn as hell,” he whispered, pressing his face into Regulus' neck and smirking when the boy shivered. “If you'd have shown me right away, I'd have left. You didn't though, you made me wait for it.” He closed his eyes and trailed his fingertips over Regulus' stomach.
Regulus caught the other boy's hand and took a deep breath. “Then why did you stay?” he breathed out.
“Do you really have to ask?” the other boy whispered, pressing his lips to the back of Regulus' neck. “I wasn't lying when I said I wasn't gay. I do like girls,” he insisted. He pulled his hand out of the boy's hold and hugged his arms tightly around Regulus' waist. “I just like you more.”
“Black!” Evan Rosier's voice cut through the hallway and sent a cold chill down both Regulus and Bartemius' spine, making them jump apart. “You two can fuck around later. I need to talk to you!”
A Note From the Author: So a lot of talking and such in this one, but I felt like it was matters that really needed to be addressed less the two of them come to a standstill in their relationship and the story. Thank you for reading and don't forget to leave me some thoughts. :) --Jenna
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