Chapter 52 : Another Casualty of War
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Another Casualty of War
Regulus sat on the end of his bed, his hands clasped tightly together and his grey eyes narrowed at Evan Rosier. He watched in silence as the older boy slammed the door to the dormitory, sealing out the prying eyes and ears of any others. Evan turned towards Regulus and opened his mouth, his words hanging in his throat. The boy paced in silence, his breathing growing more and more heavy.
“Rosier, I really don't have all day to sit here and wait fo-”
“Just shut up, Black!” Evan snapped, rounding on the dark-haired boy. “I'm trying!” He stomped over to stand in front of the younger boy and stared down at him, his eyes alight with loathing. “I did what you told me too,” he hissed. At Regulus' baffled expression, Evan reached out and knocked the boy in the ear with his fist. “I told my father where Elizabeth was!” he shouted.
Regulus rubbed at the side of his head and glared up at Evan, but he didn't make an attempt at retaliation. Instead, he tightened his jaw with worry and waited for the boy to continue. “And...?” he prompted when Evan showed no signs of finishing on his own accord.
“And...he sent someone after her. Not...not just her. Mu-” The boy cut himself off and shook his head. “Mulciber was in a lot of trouble for running off with her like that. The Dark Lord...he doesn't exactly like it when -”
“Don't you try and tell me what the Dark Lord does and doesn't like,” Regulus sneered. “Get the hell on with it. Did they drag Topher back?”
Evan slowly shook his head and cut his eyes towards the other boy. “No,” he whispered. “They tried, but he put up a fight.”
“What the hell does that mean!?” Regulus yelled, jumping to his feet and grabbing the older boy by his sweater. “Did they hurt him?”
“H...he's dead,” Evan answered quietly. He closed his eyes and waited for Regulus to release his sweater before going on. “What did you expect? He tried to fight off four men on his own.”
Regulus held up his hand and frowned at Evan. “That's enough. Just shut the hell up!” He dropped back onto the edge of his bed and stared over at the forsaken bed that was Topher's a mere three months prior. “Fuck,” he spat out, his entire body shivering at the thought of his best friend being dead. He ground his teeth together painfully and looked back up at Evan. “And Elizabeth?” he whispered.
“Like you care,” the older boy growled.
“I do!” Regulus slammed his hand down on his night stand, not caring when half of his belongings toppled onto the floor and scattered. “I know that things didn't end well between us...but there was a time when I cared about her. I...I did care about her. If it wasn't for....” He stared back down at the floor and took a long deep breath.
Evan slowly walked over to the other boy and took a seat next to him on the bed. “Father said she put up a fight too; a hell of a good one. She almost killed Gibbon. They managed to stun her though; got her back home.”
“That's not all of it,” Regulus stated. “I can tell by your face; just tell me what happened.”
“She...she didn't want to come back. She loved that stupid git and they killed him and she was...father said she tore her room apart, screaming and crying.” He stared down at the floor and twisted his hands in front of him. “She k...she kill – I can't even say it!”
“She's dead?” Regulus whispered, his eyes widening with understanding. When Evan nodded, Regulus forced down the urge to cry out in shock. “I can't believe she would do that.” He bit down hard on his bottom lip and closed his eyes as the bitter taste of blood seeped over his tongue.
“It's all my fault. I shouldn't have told him. I should not have told him where they were!”
“You didn't have a choice!” Regulus argued. “This is war. It isn't fun, it isn't pretty and it damn sure isn't happy but it's the right thing to do. You don't think that twinge of guilt is creeping into my stomach too? Because it is. He -” The boy stopped and let his eyes move once more to Topher's bed. “He was my best mate and now....”
“And now he's dead,” Evan finished coldly. “They're both dead.” The boy's jaw stiffened and his back ran rigid, giving him more height over Regulus than he already had. “But you're right,” he added, looking back to the other boy. “This is war.”
Regulus startled to attention at the sound of his name and sat up straight, trying to focus his eyes. “What?” he asked in a feigned tone of annoyance. He raised his eyebrows at Bartemius and held out his hands in confusion. “What? Why are you yelling at me?”
Bartemius cocked his head to the side and smirked. “I've said your name about ten times now,” he answered, giving a small laugh. He leaned across the dinner table and stared into the older boy's eyes, analyzing him. “Are you alright?”
“Not really,” the boy answered honestly. “I keep thinking about Topher and....” He shook his head and dropped his gaze to his untouched food.
“It's not important,” Regulus muttered.
“It is. Just tell me; don't play games,” Bartemius snapped.
The dark-haired boy looked up with shock and bit his bottom lip. “It's just Sarah,” he admitted. “She's not here.” He pointed over towards the Ravenclaw table where Della Prang sat alone. “I haven't seen her in over a week. She's either stopped eating or she's...gone.”
“I see.” Bartemius turned back to Regulus and scowled at the table. “Why do you care?”
“I don't care, it's just odd is all,” Regulus argued.
“I have an essay to finish.” Bartemius pushed his plate away and got to his feet, then rushed out of the Great Hall before Regulus could say a word to stop him.
The boy stared after the other in surprise and shook his head. “Great,” he sighed, poking at his food with a fallen face. He pushed his own plate to the side and leaned on the table, letting his eyes roam the Great Hall.
There was a heated debate raging between two third years at the end of the Slytherin House table, a sixth year Ravenclaw was getting shot down for a date from a Gryffindor, a group of Hufflepuffs were engaged in a round of exploding snap and Sirius Black was standing on top of the Gryffindor table. Regulus did a double take, not believing his eyes when he spotted his brother making such a spectacle of himself.
“Attention! Attention!” the boy called out, drawing the gaze of most of the Great Hall. Sirius cast a glance towards a laughing James Potter and held up his hands. “I, Sirius Black, am a git!” he announced. “That's right. I'm a git. I am far less intelligent -”
“You got that right!”
“- and attractive than one, James Potter. I can -”
“Sit down, Black, you look like an idiot!”
“- never dream to be as wonderful as James Potter and I will forever be forced to live in his amazing shadow!” Sirius sent a rude hand gesture towards one of the interrupting students and widened his eyes as he spotted several professors heading his way. “And because I can never be as great as my best mate,” he continued at a rapid pace, “I have decided to take a vow of celibacy an-”
“Not another word, Mister Black! You get off that table this instant.”
Regulus rolled his eye and headed out of the the Great Hall, not wanting to watch his brother make a bigger scene or get in trouble. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and started in the direction of the Slytherin common room. The sound of low talking froze the boy in his tracks. He held his breath as Bartemius' voice drifted around the corner.
“You don't even know him,” the boy was saying. “Just give him a chance.”
“But he seems so mean,” came a soft female voice. “He's really...stoic.”
“Stoic?” Bartemius laughed.
“I couldn't think of a better word.” She giggled softly.
“Well, he isn't stoic, he's just private.”
Regulus frowned, his gut telling him that Bartemius was talking about him. He turned around and headed back down the hallway a bit, then trekked back with heavy footsteps and loud humming. “Oh, hey,” he greeted Bartemius and the mystery girl as he rounded the corner.
“Hello,” she said softly, pushing her long brown hair back out of her eyes.
“How about this; we were just talking about you,” Bartemius said, clapping his hand on Regulus' shoulder.
“Barty,” the girl hissed, throwing an apologetic look over to Regulus.
Bartemius licked his lips and gave the girl a grin. “He already knows,” he pointed out bluntly. “Came around the corner pretty loud, didn't you?” he directed to Regulus. “Doesn't matter, I'd have told him everything even if he didn't hear. I don't keep things from Regulus.”
Regulus raised his eyebrows and snorted. “Is that your way of sa-”
“Let's not get into that right now,” Bartemius interrupted. “I want you to meet my girlfriend.” He held out his hand towards the brunette and shoved Regulus in her direction. “This is Fiona. And this is my non-stoic best mate.”
Fiona's cheeks flushed with pink and she batted her lashes innocently at the boy in front of her. “I wasn't trying to offend,” she said, her eyes falling to the floor.
“It's alright,” Regulus told her. “I've been called much worse. If you don't mind, we'll have to chat another time, I've got some work to do.” He thumbed towards the common room entrance and turned on his heel, wanting to put as much distance between himself and Fiona Ackerley as possible.
A Note From the Author: Thank you so much for reading. Would love to hear your thoughts on this chapter. How do you feel about Elizabeth and Topher's fate? --Jenna
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