Chapter 1 : One of Us
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Chapter One: One of Us
The handsome Manor house loomed up ahead, a solid black outline against the star spangled sky. Dim lights glinted faintly from the diamond-paned windows on the lower floor. The sound of water, trickling gently into its marble pool, could be heard from somewhere in the garden, beyond the hedge.
Regulus Black could see his breath in front of him as he walked; gravel crunching under his black boots. The frosty December air was so cold that it came out in short white puffs, lingering for only moments in the darkness before evaporating into nothing. The snow had stopped falling hours ago but there was a thin layer of ice on both the ground and the dark trees and as the wind howled softly. Regulus could feel the cold droplets against his bare skin.
As Regulus reached the front door he hesitated, uncertain. The door did not swing open on his arrival, as he had expected, but stood quite still. There was a silver serpent knocker attached to this door, and its emerald green eyes glittered in a menacing sort of way.
Earlier, Regulus had slid his wand up the sleeve of his robe so he took it out now, just in case, and clutched it firmly in his right hand. Somewhere in the distance, an owl screeched. For some bizarre reason, this sound reminded Regulus of why he was here and he stepped closer to the door.
Do it, he told himself firmly, do it now!
The wind was whistling now, and was bitterly cold against Regulus’ back. He shivered, his wand arm trembling – but whether from cold or fear he was uncertain.
No, he thought, you don’t have time to be afraid. Fear is not allowed.
From a young age, Regulus’ father, Orion, had told him that fear was a wizard’s greatest weakness. Young Regulus had not understood his father’s words and he’d frowned up at the big, tall man, confusion evident in his eyes.
“But…you can’t make yourself not be scared, Father,” he had said. “That’s impossible.”
Orion had smiled a strange sort of smile, and ruffled his son’s black hair. “That might be so,” he had said. “But don’t ever show your emotions. Never let anyone know what you’re really feeling.”
Regulus knew that he would have to remember his father’s words tonight, because tonight was perhaps the most important day of Regulus’ life. He had both been looking forward to it, and dreading it, for months.
He had made up his mind. And then, just as he raised his hand, preparing to knock, the door swung inwards with a low creak.
His heart was pounding in his ears, so hard it was almost painful. They knew he was here. Perhaps they were waiting for him, right now.
As he stepped into the dark hallway, the door closed behind him and Regulus was pitched into darkness. He could not see a thing.
Regulus took a couple of tentative steps forward, trying to tell himself that he was not afraid. When nothing happened, he muttered “Lumos,” softly under his breath and a small golden light appeared at the end of his wand.
He was quite alone in the dark, sumptuously decorated hallway. A dark green carpet covered most of the stone floor and a long row of large portraits lined the walls. Each of the figures within these portraits had pale, pointed faces and white-blonde hair. They all eyed Regulus with mistrust as he walked slowly forward, feeling more anxious with every moment that passed.
Where was everybody? No-one had met him at the wrought iron gates which guarded the Manor, no-one had met him at the door—was this another test?
“You should think more quietly, little cousin.”
A dark woman had stepped from the shadows and Regulus almost jumped – he hadn’t even noticed that she was there, though this wasn’t that surprising, considering the woman was dressed in black from head to toe. Her hair was black, too, and cascaded down her back in long waves. Even her heavily-lidded eyes were dark, standing out alarmingly against her pale face.
Regulus tried to control his nerves. He had never much liked the woman, even as a little boy. Ten years his senior, when Regulus had started Hogwarts, her name had still been whispered in fear by the students.
“Hello, Bellatrix,” he said, keeping his voice as even as possible. “A pleasure to see you, as always.”
Bellatrix Lestrange’s eyes narrowed by a fraction. “Come,” she said. “We’ve been waiting for you.”
Without another word she turned on her heel and strode away down the dark hallway. Regulus hastened to follow her, annoyed that he had to hurry to keep up.
They reached a heavy wooden door at the end of the hallway. With a flick of Bellatrix’s wand it swung open and the drawing room came into view.
Bellatrix and Regulus stepped inside. The room was sparsely furnished, and even though a roaring fire in the corner gave warmth and illumination, no-one could deny that a certain cold, unnerving feeling surrounded this room.
Three other people occupied the drawing room. One, an older man whose face was all in shadow, stood stiffly at the fireplace, a glass of what looked like firewhiskey held in one hand. Two people sat at an ornate table. One was another of Regulus’ cousins, Narcissa. She was still, pale and slim, and her long blonde hair currently hid her face as she started wordlessly down at her table. On her left sat a man that Regulus had met far too many times for his liking – Lucius Malfoy. An unpleasant feeling began to swirl in Regulus’ stomach. He knew he shouldn’t be surprised to see Lucius – this was, after all, his home – but he couldn’t help but wish that Narcissa’s husband wasn’t there. In truth, Lucius Malfoy unnerved Regulus, with his slimy smirk and pale eyes.
“Bellatrix,” Lucius said, in a satin-like voice. “You took longer than we expected.”
Bellatrix stepped forward, glaring at Lucius. “That is no fault of mine,” she snapped. “The boy was late.”
There was a foul feeling in Regulus’ stomach as Lucius got to his feet and walked slowly towards him. He was desperate to tell someone that he had not been late, that he’d arrived at the Manor with plenty of time, but had been unsure of what to do next. But he knew that speaking without permission was a very bad idea. He’d learnt that lesson, several times over.
“Is that so?” Lucius said softly. He was standing right in front of Regulus now. He placed a single finger under Regulus’ chin and tilted his head towards the ceiling. Regulus ground his teeth together but didn’t say a word. “Perhaps Black has decided he doesn’t want this anymore.” He released Regulus’ chin, and smiled at him. It wasn’t a pleasant smile, but full of coldness. Regulus forced himself to stare right back at him. He would not break eye contact. “Perhaps Black has changed his mind.”
“No,” Regulus said loudly. His voice echoed throughout the room, causing Narcissa to look up from the table. She stared at her cousin with something that was close to fear. “I haven’t changed my mind.”
“Leave him be, Lucius,” a deep, guttural voice said. It was the man standing next to the fire place. He placed his glass of firewhiskey on the mantelpiece above the fire. He stepped out of the shadows and his face came into focus – he had a heavy set face covered with dark stubble, a receding hairline and thin, greasy hair. “The Dark Lord has deemed him acceptable. Who are you to question his decisions?”
A shiver went up Regulus’ spine at the man’s words. The Dark Lord has deemed him to be acceptable. What did that even mean? For years now, Regulus had heard the Dark Lord’s name being whispered by witches and wizards. The Dark Lord was set on a noble task: to purge the wizarding world of the unworthy and see that witches and wizards, the most superior of all races, had the power they deserved once more. Regulus had admired the Dark Lord’s work and for many years had dreamed of serving him. And now that day had come, though he had never seen the Dark Lord’s face.
Lucius stiffened. It was clear he didn’t appreciate being reprimanded in his own home, but daren’t speak back to his superior. “I was not questioning the Dark Lord’s decisions, Dolohov,” Lucius said, the muscles in his jaw working furiously. Regulus realized now who the man was: Antonin Dolohov, one of the Dark Lord’s original supporters. If the rumours were to be believed, he had gone to school with the Dark Lord. “I was merely wondering…”
“Don’t,” Dolohov said harshly. Lucius fell silent at once and stepped backwards slightly. “Regulus Black,” Dolohov said slowly. “We haven’t met.”
As he drew nearer, Regulus could smell his rancid breath – like meat gone bad – and see his crooked yellow teeth.
“No, sir,” Regulus said stiffly.
“Enough with the pleasantries, Dolohov,” Bellatrix said impatiently. Regulus didn’t know what her definition of the word ‘pleasantries’ was. In his mind, this encounter had been anything but pleasant. “Get on with it.”
Dolohov looked straight at Regulus. “Do you remember your training, boy?” he asked.
Regulus’ throat tightened. How could he forget? Every single moment of it was etched in his mind. He would never forget, not as long as he lived.
He couldn’t remember precisely the moment he had decided he wanted to join the Dark Lord’s ranks. Perhaps it had been when Bellatrix had come to visit number 12, Grimmauld Place, and had bragged to Regulus and his parents about all the work she was doing for the betterment of the Wizarding world.
Orion and Walburga Black had been proud of her. They’d always supported the Dark Lord’s cause, had always believed that pure-blood’s deserved more respect than they were currently given.
Yes, perhaps that had been the moment Regulus had decided. But if he’d thought becoming a loyal servant of the Dark Lord – a Death Eater – would be easy…he was wrong.
For months, endless months, he had endured tests to ensure his loyalty. Thorfinn Rowle, whose face he could still see in his on-going nightmares, had probed and prodded every inch of his mind and Regulus had let him – he’d let him into every nook and cranny of his mind and even though he’d wanted to cry out in pain, he hadn’t. Instead he’d bitten his tongue so hard that warm, salty blood filled his mouth.
And then there had been the endless rounds of Bellatrix and her wand. She specialized in the Cruciatus Curse and had put it to good use against Regulus. But like with Rowle and the invasion of Regulus’ mind, he had trained himself not to make a sound—to suffer in silence. Because, like his father had said long ago, showing signs of pain was weakness. And the Dark Lord did not accept weakness.
However the torture, the mind invasion had been nothing, nothing compared to the test Bellatrix had sent him on the night of December the 14th. Ten days ago.
He had been summoned to headquarters – not the Malfoy Manor, but an unimpressive shack in the middle of nowhere. For a moment, for one gleeful moment, he’d thought his time had come. That he’d proven himself worthy.
He was wrong.
In the centre of the room a muggle woman had been chained to a chair. Regulus could remember her face as clearly as his own. She’d had big blue eyes and honey coloured hair. Her voice had been as light as birdsong when she’d begged him not to hurt her.
But Bellatrix had been behind him, whispering in his ear as he pointed his wand at the muggle girl. “Do it,” she’d whispered. “Don’t be afraid, little cousin. This is your final test.”
“I’m not afraid,” Regulus had said. But that wasn’t true, was it? Because for ten nights he had woken in a cold sweat, remembering how limp the muggle girl had gone after she’d been hit by the Killing Curse. His killing curse. He could still see the light fading from her dead eyes.
“Yes,” Regulus told Dolohov, hoping that he was imagining the fearful tone to his voice. Blacks were not afraid. “I remember.”
“Good,” said Dolohov and then, quite suddenly, his wand was in his hand. It was a thick, twisted thing, made of dark wood. Regulus had once heard someone say that a wand reflected its wizard, but for the life of him he couldn’t remember who. “Step into the centre of the room,” Dolohov said. Regulus did as he was bid, but the feeling of foreboding that suddenly swirled in his chest came out of nowhere.
“I must warn you,” Dolohov said, raising his wand. “This is going to be painful. Though I suggest you don’t scream.”
In the corner of the room, Bellatrix cackled with glee. It was a mad, sadistic sort of noise, and Regulus felt his stomach tighten. He looked at his cousin Narcissa one last time. She was pale as a sheet, her fists clenched tightly on top of the table.
Dolohov pointed his wand at Regulus and a jet of bright, unnaturally white light shot out of the end of it. Regulus only had time to admire it for a moment…and then he felt pain like he’d never felt before.
There was fire in his lungs, burning, spreading, and a scream threatened to erupt from his lips but he kept his jaw tightly clamped. Every single muscle, every single bone in his body was screaming in protest.
Regulus’ vision was blurring…his eyelids flickered…and everything went black.
You are one of us now, Regulus Black. You are one of us.
Welcome to my new novel! I would absolutely love to know your opinions of this chapter, especially because this is the first really dark novel I have ever written. The quote in the summary comes from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling, which I unfortunately do not own, page 569 (First Edition). Amazing banner and chapter image by Ande @ TDA.
Thank you so much for reading!
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