Regulus did not sleep that night. Between the anticipation for the morning's task and the patronizing voice in the back of his mind, he found no rest. The moment the sun peeked into his room from the split in his curtain, the boy crawled out of bed and began to pack. A few changes of clothes, his toiletries, some basic potion ingredients, a collection of first aide supplies, some quills, a few ink pots and a package of parchment all went into the trunk. As did his copy of Macbeth, tucked at the bottom of the trunk and wrapped in a bit of cloth.
“I'm surprised you still hang on to that book.”
Regulus held his breath and rubbed at his head, trying his hardest to will Anthony's voice out of his mind. It was so loud. And every time the voice came to him, it was louder.
“Then again, you probably feel connected to it. Hell, you're practically living it.”
“Shut up, shut up!” the boy shouted as he slammed his trunk lid closed and began to change from his night clothes into his travel wear.
“Oh, it's true though. I'm just waiting for you to fall on your knees and start shouting Out damned spot! Out, I say! Would be rather...poetic.”
“That's enough.” Regulus clenched his hands into fists and tried to calm himself as his entire body began to shake. “I am leaving to get rid of you! When I'm gone away from this damn house, away from this damn life, then you will be gone for good!” He let out a distressed scream and slammed his hands against the top of his desk.
A tiny knock echoed through the room and the door creaked open just enough for Kreacher to poke his head in. “M-master Regulus....” the elf whispered, looking up at the boy with wide, worried eyes. “You have a visitor, Sir.” The house-elf ducked his head low and stepped into the room a bit more. He wrung his hands together and started to speak twice before finally muttering, “Kreacher can tell him to come back when you're feeling...better.”
“No, I'm fine.” Regulus straightened himself out and adjusted his robes. “He who? Who's here?”
“Mister Crouch, Sir,” the elf's eyes scanned the room quickly, but it was enough for Regulus to get an idea of what he was doing. “Are you sure you'd like company?”
“I said I'm fine,” Regulus snapped. He shot the elf a glare so angry, Kreacher recoiled. “Send him up.”
The house-elf did not argue any further. He vanished from the door and a few moments later, Bartemius took his place. Regulus closed the door behind the blonde and smiled.
“I said I'd come see you before I went back,” Bartemius said with a smirk.
Regulus laughed quietly and ran his fingers through his hair, frowning that he hadn't had a chance to comb it yet. “I didn't think you'd be here so early. Did you even sleep last night?”
“Did you?” Bartemius countered. “You look like hell.”
“Wonderful to see you too.” The older boy turned his back on the other and shook his head.
The blonde just laughed and put his arms around Regulus' waist. “Don't be so sensitive. You know that I lo- What's that?” The boy's tone changed and his arms fell away. He knelt on the floor next to Regulus' packed trunk and tugged at a robe sleeve poking from the seam of it. Before Regulus could stop him, he pushed open the trunk.
“Barty, don't,” Regulus tried, but it was too late. Bartemius was staring up at him with a mix of shock and anger written across his face. “It's not what you think.”
“It's not what I think?” Bartemius got to his feet and folded his arms over his chest. “So you don't have a full trunk sitting in your room? You're not about to go somewhere?”
“Okay...it is what you think but I can explain.”
“Oh can you? Because it looks like you're about to do something really stupid.”
“I...maybe I am.” Regulus took a seat on the edge of his bed and hung his head. “I'm lost, Barty. I don't know what to do anymore and I feel like I'm losing my damn mind. Everything -” he choked on his words and took a shaky breath. “Everything is just so difficult right now.”
“Things are hard so you're going to run away?” Bartemius threw himself on the bed next to the other boy and scrunched his face. “You're just going to leave?”
“I have to.”
“No, you don't have to!” The blonde grabbed at his hair in frustration, only to become more upset at what he'd just done to his perfected strands. “Don't I matter to you at all?”
“This isn't about you!”
“No, it's about you. Like it always fucking is. Everything is always about you and your problems and your quirks and your damn...guilt!”
“I'm...sorry. I'm sorry that I'm such a bother to you, but -”
“Don't. Don't you dare try and turn this around like that.” Bartemius flopped back on the bed and put his hands over his face. “I can't believe that you're just going to leave like this. Were you even going to tell me?”
Regulus shook his head, but Bartemius couldn't see him. “I just need to get away from here.”
“I know.” Bartemius let his hands fall to the bed beside him and gave the older boy a pained look. “I had a feeling something like this might happen. Once you started....” He pointed to his ear and looked away. “I can help you, you know? I can make it go away. We can find something to help. Some way to...get rid of the hallucinations.”
“It isn't a hallucination.”
“So then you think you're actually hearing his voice?” The blonde sat up and grabbed Regulus' robes.
The boy laid his hands over Bartemius' and shook his head. “No. I don't mean it like that. I just don't like that word. I'm not going mental. There's nothing wrong with me!”
“I never said there was.” Bartemius pulled the other boy closer and slipped his arms around his neck. “You'll be branded a traitor if you leave, Regulus. They won't let you just run away. You have to know that.” His arms tightened.
“I'll be fine. I'm smart enough to get by without being found.”
Bartemius' body tensed as he held on to the older boy. “I don't want you to leave. I love you.”
“I love you too,” Regulus whispered. His eyes widened at his own words. He hadn't meant to even say them, they certainly weren't on the front of his mind. But as unexpected as the affection had been, it didn't feel wrong. He didn't feel guilty or sick in saying it. He didn't want to take it back. The boy pulled Bartemius closer and closed his eyes.
“Do you mean that?” His words were full of hesitation and no one could blame him.
“Yes.” Regulus found the answer without a second thought. “You could come too,” he whispered. He pulled back from the blonde and laid his hands on the boy's neck. His eyes met the teary brown of the other boy's and a small smile crossed his lips. “Come with me. You don't need to finish school, you're bloody brilliant as it is. No more being alone. You can get away from all of this.”
“Regulus...I can't just...leave.”
“Why not? What's holding you here?”
The boy stuck his fingertips into his mouth and started biting at his fingernails. He stood up and looked down at Regulus' packed trunk. It seemed like ages that Bartemius stood there, in perfect silence, staring at the mess of clothes and supplies. “Nothing.” He turned back towards the older boy and held out his hands. “Nothing's keeping me here.”
“Then come with me,” Regulus pleaded. He took the boy by the hands and stared up at him. “You and me. We can leave and never look back.”
“O...kay? Okay as in you'll come with me?”
“I'll come with you,” Bartemius answered. He laid his hands on Regulus' neck and peered down at him with a slight pity in his eyes. “I really do love you, Regulus. And I would never do anything to hurt you. I just want you to be safe and happy. If that means...doing this, then so be it.”
Regulus' lips tugged into a wide smile and he pulled the younger boy into his lap. “I promise we'll be alright.”
“I know,” he whispered. “I don't have a lot of money. Not of my own.”
“It's alright. I have plenty. I was going to the bank soon.”
Bartemius nodded and pressed his lips to the other boy's. After a long, slow kiss, he pulled away and smiled. “I'll go home and pack. You go to the bank. Where should we meet up?”
Regulus let out a relieved laugh and hugged his arms around the boy. “We'll meet at the train station.”
A time was agreed upon and the two said their temporary goodbyes. Regulus was nervous, and terrified, about Bartemius coming along with him, but deep down he felt relieved. The only thing even remotely holding him back, giving him a reason to stay, wasn't a problem any longer. He knew that he was being selfish, asking the other boy to give up his life just to go on the run and be in possible danger, but he couldn't stop himself from wanting it.
The goblins were not thrilled to see Regulus so early in the morning. He was waiting at the doors the moment the bank opened. His vault was on one of the newest floors and took barely any time to reach. As promised, just a little over eight-hundred Galleons rested on the floor in a pile of gold, silver and bronze. The assisting goblin muttered in protest when he told him that he wanted to withdraw every last piece. He grumbled even louder when Regulus added that he wanted it all converted into Muggle money as well.
“What of the book?” the goblin hissed, pointing a long, crooked finger at the far corner of the vault.
“Book?” Regulus stepped into the dimly lit vault and raised his wand to light his way. It would have been easy to miss had the goblin not pointed it out. It was a thick, leather bound book with a band wrapped around it. The cover looked battered and pages of torn and crinkled paper hung out of every side. The boy lifted the book into his hands and turned it over, checking the entirety of it.
The initials O.L.B. were embossed onto the back cover. “My father...?” Regulus pursed his lips and started to remove the band around the book, but the goblin at the door caught his attention with a rather loud and rude cough. “Right. I'm coming.” The boy stuffed the book inside his robes and followed the goblin back to the cart. He would have to look at the book later, perhaps on the train.
With Muggle money filling his wallet and his father's book tucked into the bottom of his trunk, Regulus was ready to go. He arrived at the train station precisely at eleven o'clock just as he and Bartemius had agreed. He spotted the blonde instantly and hurried over to him.
“I was afraid you weren't going to show up,” Regulus told him.
“I was hoping that you wouldn't.” Bartemius dropped his face to the ground and closed his eyes. “I'm sorry, Regulus. I'm so sorry. It's for the best though.”
“What are you talking about?” Regulus didn't have to wait long for his answer.
In an instant, Bellatrix was standing over him, her hand laying on Bartemius' shoulder. “You did the right thing, Crouch.”
A Note From the Author: Oh the betrayal. So Regulus is caught and Bartemius has betrayed him to the Dark Lord. Meanwhile, he's got himself a nice new book full of...you'll see. Thank you for reading and don't be shy to leave a few thoughts! --Jenna
“Out damned spot! Out I say!” Lady Macbeth – Act 5, Scene 1 (Macbeth by William Shakespeare)
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