Chapter 79 : Inside a Broken Mind
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Inside a Broken Mind
Regulus was sure he'd fallen asleep at his desk. It just wasn't possible for Anthony Bonham to be sitting beside him in his bedroom. Not possible at all. But it didn't feel like a dream, not like any the boy had ever experienced. He let out a shaky breath and rubbed his hands roughly up and down his face, hoping to clear his vision of what was surely an illusion.
But Anthony remained, still smiling that knowing smile.
“What the hell's going on here?” Regulus jumped from his chair so fast it fell over behind him. He righted his chair and moved across his room, keeping his back to Anthony. “This isn't real. It's a trick. You're a trick!” he shouted, rounding back on the other boy.
“A trick?” Anthony's head tipped slightly in amusement. “Who would be tricking you?”
“Bella. The Dark Lord. My brother for all I bloody well know! I don't know who, but you are a trick.” The boy's hands were shaking as he covered his face once more. “She said I'd be punished. You're my punishment, aren't you? For trying to run away.”
“I'm your punishment alright, Regulus. But not from the Dark Lord. I'm not some trick.”
“Well you're not fucking real!”
“I never said I was real either.”
“A ghost?” Regulus whispered, taking a step back when Anthony moved towards him. “Are you a ghost?” He was almost afraid to ask. Mostly because he knew it wasn't the case. Anthony was dressed as he was the day Regulus first met him, not the day he died.
“Come now, is that a legitimate question? You know very well that I would never choose to live that way. Stretching out death until the end of time. I thought you knew me better than that, Regulus.”
“Then what the hell is going on?” he demanded. He gasped as he backed into his wall, still trying to get away from the slowly advancing Ravenclaw.
The blonde stopped walking closer and folded his arms over his chest. “Isn't it obvious? You've gone over the edge. Your broken mind has taken you from paranoia, to voices, to full blown hallucinations.”
“I do not have hallucinations! And I am not paranoid!” Regulus shouted, his face flushing with heat.
“You don't believe that. Because if you believed that, I couldn't say it.” Anthony laughed dryly and shook his head like a teacher would if he were disappointed in a student. “I'm in your mind, Regulus. I know nothing, say nothing and do nothing if you haven't thought about it already.”
“You're wrong,” the boy whispered, but Anthony continued to shake his head. “Fine, if you're just some...some figment of my imagination, if you're in my head, then I can make you go away!” Regulus squeezed his eyes closed so tight it hurt and tried to focus his mind on anything but Anthony. When he opened his eyes again, Anthony was gone. “I did it,” he said with a relieved sigh.
“Did you really think that would work?” Anthony's voice came from right beside Regulus.
The young Black gave a startled cry and tripped over his trunk, sending him spilling into the floor with a pain-filled groan.
“You can't just poof me away Regulus. I'm not that easy to get rid of. Not as easy as say...your son.”
“I have no son,” Regulus spat in protest as he pushed himself back to his feet. When Anthony quirked a brow as his sole argument, the boy turned away from him. “Go into the drawing room. Do you see a name under mine on that blasted tapestry? Do you?”
“You know very well that you have to lay claim to the boy before he'll show up on the tapestry.”
Regulus' eyes opened wider and he slowly turned back towards Anthony. “I do know that, but...how do you know that? I never told you anything about our tapestry.”
“I know it because you know it. I told you, I'm just a part of you.”
“No. No, I am not seeing th-” Regulus' argument was cut off by tiny knocking at his door. “Come in,” he called out. He wasn't surprised to see Kreacher's ears tip into the room, followed by the elf's big, worried eyes. “Are my parents home?”
“N-no Master Regulus. Kreacher was just coming to see if you'd like some more tea.” The tiny elf poked his entire head into the room and glanced around.
Regulus grabbed his empty cup from the desk and handed it over to the house-elf. “I'm finished. You can go now, Kreacher,” he told him. He was both annoyed and saddened by the elf's lies. It was quite obvious that he had overheard Regulus' ranting and wanted to see who the boy was yelling at. And, since he'd just outright lied to Regulus, he would see fit to punish himself when the boy wasn't looking. “Kreacher...I want you go to your room and go to bed. Don't come out until morning,” he told him, hoping that he'd spare the elf a bit of self punishment.
Kreacher bowed his head obediently and slipped from the room.
“You care for the creature.” Anthony drew the boy's attention back to him. The Ravenclaw was lying on Regulus' bed, spread out from head to foot, not a single crease on the blanket beneath him.
“I care for him as much as one would care for a pet.”
“It's more than that.”
Regulus shrugged because like Anthony had said before, if he was saying it, Regulus was thinking it.
“Why?” Anthony sat up, the bed not shifting in the slightest with his movement. “He's filthy and cruel. He says things that you don't believe in. He hopes for a Pure world, just as the Dark Lord does.”
“He hopes for what he'd told to hope for,” Regulus corrected. “He loves as he is loved. He shows respect for those who respect him. He believes in what he's told to by the people who care for him.”
“I understand now....” Anthony leaned closer to Regulus and made a sympathetic face at the boy. “You care for him because you are him. You're a slave to the ideals you've been born into. You have always shown love to those who loved you. You respected the people who made you feel respected.”
Regulus shook his head and took a seat at his desk. His fingers mindlessly traced over the edge of his father's journal. “You're wrong there. The one person who loved and respected me more than anyone else in the world was my brother. And I let him down.”
“Well that's true.” When the young Black shot him a malicious glare, Anthony held up his hands. “Just saying what you're already thinking.”
“How do I get rid of you?” Regulus hissed at the other boy.
“I don't know.”
“Because I don't know?”
“Precisely.” Anthony got up and moved towards the desk, his eyes never leaving the journal under Regulus' hand. “Perhaps I'm here to help you with that. With your father's wishes. To help you find the Horcrux and destroy it.”
Regulus laid his head on the desk and hummed in thought. “You said before...that I already knew where it was.”
“Yes. I asked how would I even know what He's using and you said...that I already know.”
“Then you must already know,” Anthony reasoned.
“But I don't,” Regulus whispered back.
“Maybe if you just clear your mind.” The blonde knelt beside the boy and laid his head over on the desk as well, their eyes meeting. “Just let your thoughts flow without directing them.” The Ravenclaw smiled and seemed to relax against the desk. “You're thinking about the park down the street. And your brother. And...a dog? Polaris.”
“I know what I'm thinking about. You don't have to narrate,” Regulus breathed out. He could feel the corners of his eyes start to sting, but he refused to cry.
“It'll help. Use me as a pensieve; a way to sort out and comb through your own memories. Think Regulus. Think about everything you've learned. Think about your time with the Dark Lord....”
The boy closed his eyes and tried to let his mind wander without restraint. He replayed scenes of his life with the Dark Lord over and over in his head, but nothing triggered a reaction. He found himself constantly distracted and redirected to thoughts of his brother. The last time he'd seen Sirius, when he'd tried and failed to poison him, the Dark Lord had come into his room afterward to tell him that he'd not be returning to school.
A cold shudder ran through Regulus' body as he remembered their conversation. His muscles ached at the thoughts. The casually threatening way Voldemort had spoken to him, the sick feeling he'd gotten in his stomach when the man's locket had touched his arm –
“The locket,” Anthony whispered, interrupting Regulus' thoughts.
“The locket?” Regulus sat up properly and rubbed his arm where the heavy, ancient trinket had touched him. “The locket,” he repeated. “It was...it was wrong. It was cold – so cold and....”
“Alive,” Anthony finished.
Regulus didn't question him. He just nodded. “The locket.”
“Now you know what it is.”
“But I haven't the slightest clue how to destroy it!” Regulus could feel his anger building and he wanted to rip the room apart for answers. “Just tell me! You have to know something.”
“I don't know anything that you don't!” Anthony countered, his anger directly shadowing Regulus'.
“Then what good are you?” Regulus threw up his hands and began to pace the floor, muttering to himself a recount of everything his father had learned and journaled. “Even if I did know how to destroy it, there's no way to get it.”
“You can't exactly walk up the Dark Lord and ask to borrow his jewelry.”
“I know that.” The boy glared over at his hallucination and started back for the desk. “Maybe I missed something. Maybe my dad found something useful without even realizing. In one of these books he had.” He pulled the journal across the desk and started flipping wildly through the pages. “Maybe he still has some of the books.”
“Why do you care?”
Regulus stopped moving and slowly turned towards Anthony. “What kind of question is that?”
“A necessary one. Why do you care about all of this? You could still run away. Just because Barty blew your chance once doesn't mean you're stuck here. They haven't put bars on your windows. You could Apparate out right now if you wanted.”
“I...I don't know.” He closed over the journal and bit his bottom lip until the familiar metallic taste hit his tongue. “Maybe I just feel...responsible now. My dad did so much work. He's the one who gave me the money and he left me this journal for a reason. Maybe I just....”
“You want to matter? You want to make a difference in this war?”
“So it's time for honesty then?”
Regulus' grey eyes met Anthony's dark blue, his sincerity screaming from them. “Yes.”
“Don't you think you're forgetting something then?”
Anthony looked down at Regulus' hand and laid his own atop it. The sensation was odd, Regulus thought; like being touched by a very cold spiderweb. But the boy did not move his hand away so neither did Anthony. “You're forgetting about your own soul.”
“I don't care about my soul,” Regulus whispered.
“That isn't true.” Anthony leaned closer to the young Black and whispered, “It's time for remorse.”
A Note From the Author: So close to the end. So very, very close. Thank you all so much for hanging in through this long story. All the reviews are amazing and all the reads are amazing! --Jenna
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