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Chapter 81 : To the Dark Lord
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To the Dark Lord
Regulus was exhausted by the time his Uncle Cygnus left the house. It was only a little after eight o'clock, but he was exhausted none-the-less. He'd never realized how tiring it could be to cooperate. The last thing Regulus wanted to do was sit down with his uncle and sort through his father's paperwork. Bank account matters, land ownership, the deed to the house...Regulus didn't understand why it had to be done so quickly. His father wasn't even in the ground yet; was barely even cold.
But Regulus had plans that night, or Kreacher did to be more precise. He knew that the more cooperative he was with Cygnus, the faster the man would leave his home and leave him to his business. With his mother gone to bed earlier that night, the house was silent. Regulus collected himself at the door and went into the kitchen to call upon his house-elf.
“Kreacher, come here,” he called out as he stepped into the kitchen and spotted the elf at the sink.
At once, Kreacher dried his hands and hurried over to his young master, offering up a small bow. “Yes, Master Regulus? Can Kreacher bring you some tea?”
“That won't be necessary, I have another job for you.”
Kreacher's ears twitched with wonder; his large eyes peered up at Regulus.
“Regulus wait....” Anthony appeared at the boy's side and looked down on him with a worried gaze. “Are you sure you want to do this? If Kreacher gets hurt, you'll -”
“Enough.” Regulus put up his hand and silenced his own doubts. “I won't change my mind. I must send him.” He spoke with such force that the elf recoiled, clearly confused as to who Regulus was speaking to. “Kreacher, I wasn't yelling at you,” he told the elf quickly. “Stand up straight, this is important.”
The tiny elf righted himself and looked all around the kitchen without any attempt at hiding it. “Who are you speaking to, Master Regulus?” he whispered.
“That...that's none of your concern.” Regulus looked up and met Anthony's eyes. The deep blue was just as he remembered it. But where the boy's eyes had once brought him hope and happiness, now they seemed to only judge and condemn him. “This has to be done.”
“You are sending him to his death,” Anthony argued.
“I'm not! I will not let-him-die!” Regulus' hands tightened with every word he shouted. “No one will die for me. No one else will die because of me.”
“Kreacher should make Master Regulus some tea,” the elf squeaked. “It is late, he has had a long day, perhaps a good night's rest will do him some good.”
“No.” Regulus grabbed Kreacher gently by his arm and spun the elf around. “I don't want any bloody tea, I have a job for you.” He looked up at Anthony long enough to add, “Not another word out of you. This is going to happen.” The boy took a deep breath and got down on one knee in front of Kreacher. “You're going to leave tonight.”
“Leave the house?” the elf whispered, his voice shaky. Kreacher hadn't left the house in all the time Regulus could remember, Walburga didn't approve of it.
Regulus nodded and waited for the elf to steady his worry. “You are going to go to the Dark Lord. He has a...task for you. I am not sure what he wants you to do, but you will obey him as though this family's entire life depended on it.” He didn't mention that it very well did; any defiance from their elf would surely seal the fate of everyone who bore the name Black.
Kreacher wrung his little hands together and nodded obediently. “Kreacher will serve the Dark Lord well.” His feet shifted with worry, but when Regulus touched his shoulder, his doubts seemed to ease.
“When the Dark Lord has left your side, when your duties to him are finished, you are to return to me; do you hear?” Regulus stared hard into Kreacher's eyes, his every word a direct, indisputable order. “I do not care what you are doing, where you are, who is around to see it, you will come straight back here. Is that clear, Kreacher?”
“Yes, Master Regulus,” the elf answered.
The boy patted his elf's shoulder and got to his feet. “I think I'll have that cup of tea before you go,” he offered. Perhaps a little normalcy would help Kreacher deal with the massive task before him. He took a seat at the table and laid his chin on it, watching the elf scuttle around the kitchen to make his tea. Once the cup was placed before him, Regulus gave Kreacher directions to find the Dark Lord and made it very clear that he was not to be even a moment late.
Watching Kreacher Disapparate from the kitchen made Regulus' stomach turn. He stared down into his tea and watched as the ripples faded away. “What am I even doing?” he whispered, his eyes moving up to meet Anthony's across the table. “Wouldn't it be better if I just ran away? What good could I possibly do against Him?” He rubbed his hands down his face and pushed the tea from his sight. “Why am I doing this?”
“The Dark Lord has taken everything from you, Regulus.” Anthony leaned closer to the young Black and spoke slowly. “Your brother left this house because of what He did to your family, the influence he cast over all of you. He took away your best friend; Topher ran away and you saw how much good that did him. Do you think things would be the same for him if there was no Dark Lord?”
Regulus leaned back into his chair and stayed silent, his eyes pleading for Anthony to go on.
“He took your education; you can't even finish school because of the things he ordered you to do. He took me away, he took Barty away, he took away any chance you had to be with your child, Regulus!” Anthony curled his hands into fists and moved from across the table to stand directly beside Regulus in an instant. “He tore apart your very soul. You cannot just sit idly by and watch him continue to reap damage upon everyone in his path.”
“What can I do? I'm just...I'm not powerful enough to go up against him, I'm not smart enough to play some kind of double agent, I'm not anything.” Regulus pulled his fingers back through his hair and stared at the table. “I don't even know what to do.”
“You'll figure it out,” Anthony whispered. “You'll figure it out.”
“And what if I don't? What if I just end up making things worse?” The boy got to his feet and started pacing the kitchen. His eyes darted to the clock every other minute, the time dragging on painfully. He tried to keep his mind busy so he wouldn't think about the task Kreacher was on. He spent half an hour going through his father's old books before being in the man's study proved too much for him to handle and he retreated back to the kitchen to resume his pacing.
All the while, Anthony sat, if you could call it sitting, at the table, regurgitating Regulus' every thought aloud to him. For a while it was bothersome, but Regulus soon found it comforting because it made him feel less alone while he awaited the return of his ever loyal house-elf.
A loud crack shot through the kitchen, sending chills down Regulus' spine. “Kreacher?” He spun around in place and widened his eyes at the sight.
The small house-elf collapsed against the kitchen table, knocking several chairs into the floor and causing the untouched cup of tea to spill out. The creature was doubled over, his hands around his throat, gasping loudly for air. And he was wet. The cloth Kreacher wore dripped water onto the floor below him. “Ma-ma....” The elf couldn't speak through his gasps.
“Don't talk; just calm down,” Regulus insisted. He dropped to his knees beside Kreacher and began thrusting his hand against the elf's back to help clear his airway of water. He waited beside the elf until all signs of struggle faded away and the creature could breathe properly again. “What happened? Why are you wet? Were you under the water?”
Kreacher nodded slowly and kept his large eyes on the floor. “Kreacher saw such...awful things, Master Regulus. So...awful. Say Kreacher does not have to go back, Sir. Please say that Kreacher will never go back to that place....” The elf's body shook so hard he nearly collapsed into the floor.
“Just tell me what happened, Kreacher. Tell me everything from the moment you made contact with the Dark Lord.”
“Such awful things,” the elf whispered again. “The...the Dark Lord took Kreacher to the water, Master Regulus. So much water...every direction you turned. And it was so cold.”
“But where, Kreacher? Where did you go? Where did he take you!?” Regulus grabbed the elf's shoulders and forced him to look up. “I need to know everything.”
The house-elf nodded solemnly and collected his courage. Because it was what his Master wished of him, Kreacher spoke clearly and confidently. He described everything in as much detail as he possibly could.... The trip to the concealed cave. The blood smeared upon the wall. The boat hidden in the darkness. The journey across the blackened lake. The locket. The eerie potion....
“Enough.” Regulus put his hands to his face and turned his back on Kreacher. “This potion...he made you drink it?”
“Yes, Master Regulus. Every drop. There were voices,” the elf whispered, his large eyes darting around the room as though he was once again hearing them. “And Kreacher saw -”
“No. Say no more.” The boy waved his hand, instantly silencing the elf. “What happened after you drank the potion?”
“The Dark Lord...He left. Kreacher was so thirsty, but the Dark Lord did not come to Kreacher's pleas. The water was so close, but there were things in there, horrible things, Master Regulus. So cold.”
“He left you there? He just got up and left you there to die!?” Regulus slammed his hands into the table and screamed out in frustration. “What was in the water?”
“Bodies, Sir.” The elf shuddered and dropped to his knees, his bony fingers wringing the last of the water from his cloth. “They grabbed Kreacher and pulled him under, but Master Regulus said to return to him and Kreacher did as he was told.” His eyes sought out approval in his Master.
Regulus gave the elf a nod and straightened himself out. “Kreacher, I want you to go into your space and not come out. Do you understand me? You stay hidden away until I come back for you. And especially do not come out if you hear the Dark Lord in this house, is that clear?” Once the elf agreed and tucked away out of sight, Regulus set out for his bedroom.
“So you believe he's hidden the locket in that...potion?” Anthony voiced as he trailed Regulus up the stairs. “And what do you plan on doing with all of this information? Because if you're thinking of going after that Horcrux then you're -”
“- insane? I think we've crossed that bridge already considering who I'm talking to.” Regulus cut his eyes back towards Anthony and stopped just outside of his brother's doorway. “If I could get that Horcrux and destroy it, I could do some good. Some actual good. I might not be taking down the Dark Lord myself, but it'll mean that one day someone else can.”
“You've stopped,” Anthony whispered, his eyes moving up to the nameplate on Sirius' bedroom door.
“I just....” The boy looked away from his companion and laid his hand on the doorknob. “I locked this three years ago. No one's touched it since.” He unlocked the door with a simple flick of his wand and slowly pushed the door open. The light from the hallway cast a soft glow over a portion of Sirius' bedroom. Regulus put one tentative step into his brother's room and let his eyes roam over the dust covered furnishings. “I just want to...I don't know. Maybe...sit for a moment.” The boy stepped further into the bedroom and lifted a framed photo from his brother's nightstand. He couldn't see the image through the dust, but he knew very well what it was. It was a memory of how things used to be....
A Note From the Author: Alright, this is where I direct you all back to chapter one. This scene ends off right where chapter one began. So, I urge you to go back and reread that tiny Prologue that set up the very beginning of Haunted. I think it's pretty clear by now that the mystery-male-voice is Anthony -via Regulus' haunted mind- and you should reread it as such. The next chapter (which is the final chapter) will pick up where that Prologue ended and finish off the story. I thank you for sticking with me this far and I truly hope that the ending doesn't disappoint. Thank you all for your reads and your reviews and for making this one worthwhile journey! :) --Jenna
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