Chapter 1 : Today This Ends
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It made him sick. The begs, the pleads, the screams, watching them take their last breaths before the light left their eyes. Regulus didn't know how much longer he could take it. He stood at the back of his cousin Bellatrix's living room, against the wall closest to the door. The other Death Eaters didn't notice him, the Dark Lord couldn't see him, it was the perfect opportunity to sneak out and leave and he took it. He glanced around the room for Bellatrix; getting caught leaving would be bad, getting caught by her would be worse and he shuddered just thinking about it. He spotted her; it didn't take long, finding her standing by the Dark Lord, a crazed look in her eyes and a terrifying grin on her face. Pressed against the wall, Regulus moved slowly out the door. He kept his eyes on his cousin's face; he felt better knowing where she was and it helped to have a visual mark, something to keep him from looking down to the woman on the floor. He reached his destination just as he heard a cold, low voice hiss.
He didn't stop running until he was outside, far away from the manor's gates. They would notice he was missing eventually and he would be punished, but right now he didn't care. He apparated to the Leaky Cauldron and walked aimlessly around London, neither knowing nor caring where he was or where he was going. He took his time; he didn't want to go home. He wondered where his brother was. Would Sirius help him now? Was it too late?
I should have left when I had the chance.
But he didn't know then, how could he? He was fifteen and it sounded like everything a Pureblood should care about. But now, at eighteen, he wanted out. It wasn't as he'd thought. He'd gone in blindly, never thinking of the bigger picture, not taking into account what would have to happen for them to get what they wanted. What they wanted and what they were actually doing were two completely different things, though it seemed only he could see that.
The Dark Lord didn't want to rid the world of all that were impure, he wanted to rid the world of all who were weaker then he was; Muggles and Wizards alike. No matter what he said. Did blood status really mean anything to him?
Does blood status really mean anything to me?
The force of the curse brought Regulus to his knees, then to the floor. He lay on his back, his eyes closed tightly, and breathed through the pain; it was nothing compared to what could happen if he carried out his plan and were caught.
"Insolent child," Lord Voldemort hissed, but said no more. Regulus wasn't worth more than that, in his eyes, and Regulus was thankful for it; it made everything easier.
His torture marked the end of the Death Eaters' meeting and he listened as they left one by one. He wondered where Bellatrix had gone; this was her house. The thought of her coming back forced him to open his eyes; he had to get out now. He narrowed his eyes at the face hovering over him.
"Give me your hand."
"What do you want, Lucius?" he sneered.
Lucius Malfoy rolled his eyes, a gesture he'd rarely seen the man use. "For you to give me your hand, so I can help you up and get you out of here before your crazy cousin comes back."
"You don't care."
Lucius bit back a retort when he heard the sadness in the boy's voice. "You are my wife's cousin. You are the only family she truly loves whom she can still see; of course I care."
There was no mistaking the mention of Andromeda in the man's words; she was Narcissa's favourite sister and Sirius' favourite cousin. Though Regulus preferred to be with the youngest sister, he did miss Andromeda. Slowly, he held up his hand, grinding his teeth to stop himself from calling out in pain as Lucius pulled him up.
"Come on," he murmured. "We need to go, you're coming to stay with us tonight; Narcissa's orders."
Regulus nodded, but said nothing till they had left the manor and apparated away. They landed not far away from Malfoy's home and had to walk the rest of the way because of the wards. Regulus kept his gaze on Malfoy, a curious expression on his face.
"You really care about Narcissa," he answered. "I've never seen an arranged marriage where they've really cared for each other."
He didn't expect Lucius to laugh; he had never heard him laugh. "I don't care for Narcissa; I love her, I would do anything for her and my family, which, as of now, is just you and her. I asked her marry me, it was never arranged."
"Really? I didn't know that," Regulus whispered. "Why are you not like the other Death Eaters?"
Lucius turned around, so he was walking backwards. He knew this path blindfolded and knew it was safe for him to do so. He rolled up the sleeves of his robes and held out his arms. No mark.
Regulus' eyes widened. "If you're not one of them, why are you there?"
Lucius pushed his sleeves back down and walked beside him again. "It's amazing how naturally you say 'one of them' not 'one of us'. Did you know you do that?" Regulus shook his head; he had never noticed. "They keep asking me, they want me to join. I understand their ideals."
"Then what stops you from joining?" Lucius took note of how bitter he sounded.
"My wife," he answered honestly. "She doesn't want any part of it; she thinks we should leave them alone, act as if Muggles don't exist, just as they think we don't. We've survived this long with them around; they're of no harm to us. I told you I would do anything for her."
"Including not joining?"
"Especially not joining."
They stopped once to wait for the gates of Malfoy Manor to open, then carried on their journey to the door. "I'm surprised he's not come for you himself."
"He has no claim over me," Lucius told him. "He can't get to my wife and, therefore, make me."
Regulus looked up, a small, but genuine, smile on his face. "Your love for Narcissa is beyond anything I've ever seen. I'm glad she has you, even if I don't understand why you would do anything she asked."
"She taught me to listen to my heart and they are one and the same. I would be a fool not to," Lucius whispered as he opened the door. "Who lies within your heart, Regulus?" A house elf came at once, he was not aware Lucius had summoned him. Maybe he just knew. "Dobby, prepare a room for Regulus. He's staying with us, I'm not sure how long."
"Yes, Master," Dobby squeaked and disappeared. Regulus sighed; he had left Kreacher at home. His house elf was truly the only friend he had now. But even he did not have his master's heart.
"Nobody," he muttered, finally answering his question. "I have nobody but my house elf."
Lucius studied him quietly, until Regulus started to feel uncomfortable under his gaze. "You're wrong," he said. "You have your brother. You've always had your brother, even when you didn't want him."
Regulus opened his mouth to retort, even if he did see the man's mouth twist at his own word, to tell him that Sirius stopped caring not long after he did, but was cut off when he heard someone come their way. Narcissa appeared not to notice him at first and he tried to excuse himself quietly, not wanting to intrude on their moment. He turned away as Lucius kissed her gently, and then murmured something to her. It must have been about him, as she turned around and took his arm.
"Cousin, I'm so happy you're okay. Bellatrix was talking of how you were to be punished for leaving and I sent Lucius to make sure you would be alright and to bring you here." She held him tightly, like she did when he was younger, and he returned it, thankful there was someone who cared for him. "I can't lose a third family member."
"You will not lose me, I promise," Regulus murmured. "At least not to them." She pulled away, confused, and Lucius led them into the living room. He knew it would be okay to tell them of his plan, they wouldn't tell anybody. Maybe they could help him make the plan successful. "I am going to leave."
"They'll kill you," Lucius stated. Regulus knew that would be true if they were to know, but the man said it so casually that Regulus began to worry if he did truly care. Not that it mattered, Narcissa would keep it quiet and he would do as Narcissa said.
"Not if they cannot find me."
"Run away, as Sirius did?" Narcissa asked. Regulus nodded.
"I will find somewhere safe to go to and keep in touch with you." He smiled a little. "Maybe I'll even find Sirius. But first, I must go to the Dark Lord one last time."
"Why?" they both asked.
"He is planning something and if I can find out what it is, I can stop it and he won't be as powerful as he wants to be. He can be stopped by the Order," Regulus explained. "I know it's real and I know Sirius is there, they talk about it in the meetings. That will be my last act to our world before I disappear."
Dobby came, saying Regulus' room was ready. Regulus thanked him and stood up. "I'm tired. I'll see you both in the morning."
He followed the house elf up the stairs, hoping this would work.
He woke up early, too early in his opinion, but he couldn’t sleep much longer and got out of bed slowly. The pain from the Cruciatus curse had mostly subsided, but he still felt a twinge of pain when he moved too fast. Regulus dressed and made his way to the dining room, not surprised to see Lucius up and sitting at the table. He was reading the Daily Prophet and hadn’t noticed Regulus enter. “Grow your hair any longer and you’ll look like a girl,” he said, startling the man.
Lucius moved his hands to his hair. “It only just covers my ears.”
“Now it does.”
He moved his hands away and sighed, turning back to his paper. “That’s a comment I expect form Sirius, not you.”
“We are related,” he shrugged.
“Narcissa will be glad to hear you excepting that.”
Regulus smiled a little, not entirely sure he could except it after so long, but said nothing and started on the breakfast Dobby brought over. It was quiet throughout the whole meal, no one spoke until Regulus had finished and Lucius put the paper away.
“I want to thank you,” Regulus started. “For coming to help me, even if you did only do it for Narcissa. I do appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome,” he answered. “I want to talk about your plan to leave; you know the risks right?” Regulus nodded once. “And what is this plan of the Dark Lord’s?”
“I don’t know for sure,” he said. “I know that it’ll make him stronger… Invincible, Bella said. It’s an object. I don’t think even Bella knows his plans fully, but I will. If I don’t, he can do it. He can rid the world of the Muggles. How did the world come to this?”
Lucius sat quietly through Regulus’ plans and internal monologue of how this all happened, thinking of what he was going to tell him before answering. “My personal opinion is that he wants some sort of revenge. He’s half-blood, you know?” Regulus choked on his juice. “His mother was pureblood, his father was –“
“Muggle,” Lucius corrected. “I found out while at school.”
“How?” Regulus asked.
“Dumbledore. He had heard whispers of me joining and wanted to speak to me. I used it to my advantage and asked him questions,” Lucius told him. “I didn’t feel it necessary to tell him that Narcissa had heard the whispers first and got to me before he did.” They heard Narcissa come down and Lucius spoke quietly. “I’ll be there at the meetings. Be careful, Regulus. Good luck.”
It was not lost on Regulus the unspoken words that lingered in the air. You're going to need it.
The meeting lasted longer than last time; no one else cared but Regulus and, perhaps, Lucius, though he didn’t show it. He was the last to leave the drawing room, besides the Dark Lord himself, and waited behind the door, outside the room, hoping for Voldemort to speak of his plans. But all his words were in Parseltongue; Regulus had no idea what he was saying. He looked to Lucius, who was standing by the door; impatience was evident on his face, but Regulus knew he wouldn’t leave. He was barely listening, having given up hoping, and only just caught the one word the Dark Lord spoke in English.
Regulus heard footsteps and left quickly before anyone could see him eavesdropping. Once outside, he turned to Lucius. “What is a Horcrux?”
He turned slowly, wondering what he could have done; the Dark Lord never called for him unless he was to be punished. Did he know? Was he aware of his plans? Only when he noticed the other Death Eaters leave, did he realise that was not the case; he’d want an audience to punish traitors. “My Lord?”
“I must leave immediately; I require a house elf to accompany me on my trip.”
Regulus tried not to let out a breath of relief and nodded. “Of course, my Lord, I would be happy to oblige. Kreacher!” He called for his house elf and instructed him to leave with the Dark Lord. He left the room before Regulus, Kreacher following, while Regulus watched, hoping he had done the right thing.
Lucius was waiting for him as usual. “I wonder what he wants with a house elf. Why your house elf?”
“I don’t know.”
Regulus paced the room; he was nervous and worried, not liking that Kreacher had been gone for so long. It had been two days and there was no word from the Dark Lord.
“I’m sure everything is fine,” Narcissa soothed.
“You do not know that.”
He saw her shake her head slowly out of the corner of his eye; she didn’t know that, neither of them did. He tugged on his sleeve nervously, and then resumed pacing. “Focus your mind on other things. Did you find what you were looking for in the library?”
Regulus nodded once; he had found exactly what he needed to know. It had taken a while, but he should have known Malfoy’s library would have it. A Horcrux was dark magic; he had known that already, an object which concealed part of a person’s soul inside. It required murder to work and, as long as the Horcrux was safe, a person could not die. All Regulus had to do was find it and destroy it, he just didn’t know how; that hadn’t been in the book, it had only told him how to make one. He didn’t tell his cousin any of this; he didn’t need her worrying or trying to force him to stay.
Regulus looked up sharply and stopped pacing. “What?”
“If you are worried about your house elf, call him,” Lucius repeated. “Stop pacing.”
Regulus called the elf, berating himself for not thinking that sooner, and looked in shock when he came. He caught Kreacher before he could fall to the floor and lowered him slowly, so they were both on the floor. He barely noticed Lucius take Narcissa’s hand and lead her out of the room. “What happened to you?”
“The Dark Lord took Kreacher to a cave with a boat, made Kreacher drink, hid a locket, then left,” he gasped.
“He left you?” Kreacher nodded. Regulus squeezed his eyes shut, thinking quickly, then took Kreacher’s arms gently. “A locket? Was he protective of this locket, Kreacher?”
Regulus remembered a locket around the Dark Lord’s neck, though he hadn’t thought there was any relevance at the time, he could remember the way the Dark Lord would hold it, like it was the most valuable piece of jewellery, and now it was hidden, kept safe in a cave. It was the Horcrux, it had to be. “I need you to take me there.”
“Master Regulus, no.”
“Yes,” Regulus demanded. “I need to go there. Take me.”
Kreacher didn’t nod or answer, but he stood up shakily and Regulus took it as a yes. He rose and walked to the table, summoned parchment, quill and ink, and wrote a note to his cousin; he didn’t want to tell her in person, knowing she’d ask questions.
Better to take the coward’s way out.
He wrote a second note and placed it in his pocket, and then opened the door beckoning Kreacher to follow. “There are a couple of places we need to go first.”
Regulus left the shop as quickly as possible; the place was dark and made his skin crawl, but they got the job done quickly and didn’t ask questions. He took Kreacher’s hand and apparated to Grimmauld Place. He didn’t go in, they’d never let him out, he just stood outside for a few moments, saying good bye, then left; there was one more place he needed to go.
He stayed hidden in the shadows and watched as he walked by. Sirius seemed relaxed, perfectly normal, but Regulus could see his hand closed tightly in his sleeve, most likely wrapped around his wand; he was on his guard for Death Eaters.
When Sirius walked past, Regulus stepped out. “Good bye, brother.”
He was gone before Sirius could turn around.
The cave was cold and dark and Regulus wrapped his arms around himself, suppressing a shiver. He stared at the wall curiously and turned to Kreacher. “How do we get in?”
He searched the cave quickly until he found a rock sharp enough to work and picked it up, pressing it to his palm. He let his hand fill with blood and touched the wall, stepping back a little when it opened. His breathing became ragged when he realised at that once he stepped through, he couldn’t turn back; he was terrified, but he pushed it to the back of his mind, not letting it show.
Kreacher stepped in front to pull up the boat and held it for Regulus to step in. He thanked the elf quietly and got in, allowing Kreacher to move the boat so he could tend to his hand. Time seemed to pass slowly and the longer it seemed, the more eerie the place became. He peered over the edge, seeing shadows.
“Inferi,” Kreacher whispered.
Regulus controlled his breathing again.
The boat eventually stopped and Regulus just sat there for a second, tempted to turn, to leave everything to fate and walk away. But the thought of his brother stopped him; Sirius would never do that.
It’s time to prove we’re truly related.
Stepping out, he cautiously walked over to what looked like a basin in the middle, and looked over the top. He could just see the locket inside. “You have to drink this?” he asked.
“Yes.” Kreacher stepped forward and took the cup, but Regulus took it from him.
“I’ll drink it.”
“It’s bad, Master Regulus,” he squeaked.
“Then you make sure I drink it all,” he said. “No matter what.”
He filled the cup with the potion and raised it in mock salute. No matter what. It was worse than any pain Regulus had ever endured, worse than he could have imagined. He tried to pay attention to what Kreacher was saying, but all he could think of was the pain and wanting it to stop. Make it stop!
It was an eternity before the pain stopped, or was it only a few minutes? He couldn’t remember. Regulus stood up on shaky legs and gripped the basin. He removed the locket from inside and handed it to the elf. “Take this and destroy, it must be destroyed, Kreacher. Don’t tell anyone what happened here, do you understand? No matter what anyone says, do not tell them. Not my parents, or Narcissa, not anyone. Alright?”
“Yes, Master Regulus.”
Regulus went into his pocket and removed the replica he got from the shop and opened it, putting the note for the Dark Lord inside. He placed the decoy inside and jumped back when the basin filled with potion. He fell onto his back and hit his head on the floor. His vision became fuzzy and blood covered his hand when he moved it away from his head. Movement in the water could be seen and fear took hold of him. “Go Kreacher,” he whispered. “Tell no one and destroy the locket. Go.”
Unable to disobey, Kreacher left. And the Inferi came.
No matter what… Regulus knew now that he wasn’t leaving this place.
If only my brother can see me now, dying for something good. He wanted to laugh. His last thoughts would always have been about his brother.
He passed out.
Narcissa found the note Regulus left.
By the time you read this, I will be gone. I need to stop the Dark Lord and I knew you would try to stop me. I will send you a letter to let you know where I am as soon as it is safe, I promise.
Narcissa never got that letter.
A/N: I'm aware Lucius may seem OOC now compared to later on in life, but I think the Malfoys would do anything for family, even if they don't show it in publiic (battle of Hogwarts for example). I'm thinking of writing a one-shot about how Lucius got his mark. I already have it planned, I know how he does. What do you think?
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