Character: Regulus Black. Also includes, peripherally, Voldemort, Sirius Black, Orion Black, and Walburga Black.
Warnings: Character death (off-screen)
Summary: Regulus' fate has been sealed since his birth.
Author's notes: Thank you to R, who has been my constant inspiration for all things Regulus. Written for quietliban for springtime_gen. Originally posted May 6, 2007.
i. tell them it's real
Born 6 March 1961
Second Son of Orion and Walburga Black
He was the prize of the Black family, with his black hair and brown eyes and fair skin. He wasn't a fussy baby, not at all like his brother, who was already a rebel, a terror at this young age.
He gave Orion and Walburga Black hope for the future. Their precious jewel, he'd be so good for them. Just looking at him, in his bassinet, all coos and gurgles like a good, proper baby, told the Blacks all they needed to know about their new son.
They already knew that he would go far. The Blacks would ensure that he did, if he could not do it on his own.
They had hope for Sirius, too. As the Black family heir, he had a lot of weight on his little toddler shoulders. But Regulus? Regulus would have it much differently. Regulus could do whatever he wanted in life. He didn't have the responsibility of a family legacy holding him down.
He was perfect already. It would be a blessed life for this little one.
ii. nothing is ever quite what it seems
When he went off to Hogwarts, he went off with the best of everything. The most expensive trunk, the most finely tailored robes, the most beautiful owl.
It was done to serve as a reminder to the young boy, who was so impressionable. He was a Black. He should be a Slytherin. He should be the best.
If he didn't find himself sorted into Slytherin, his fortunes would change very, very rapidly. One son had already failed the Blacks; this one knew that he could not suffer the same fate under any circumstances. He had been brought up to know the best that the wizarding world had to offer, and he knew that if he were wrongly sorted, if he dared become a blood traitor like his incompetent brother, he would suffer.
Oh, he would suffer greatly.
And so when Regulus sat down before the entire student body to be sorted, he chanted Slytherin Slytherin Slytherin in his head, hands scrunched into tight little fists in his lap. He didn't know what he'd do if the Sorting Hat put him anywhere else. Pitch a fit, probably. Ask the Headmaster, so precociously, if he could lodge an appeal against the Hat's decision.
The Hat slipped down over Regulus' eyes and he bounced impatiently in place. Slytherin Slytherin Slytherin, he chanted again, urging it on. The thing deliberated -- the bastard thing actually thought about it, something that drove Regulus up a wall with anxiety -- before finally blurting out, predictably, "Slytherin!"
A great cheer arose from the Slytherin table, and Regulus jumped up from the stool and scampered to join his new friends.
He didn't even bother to look at his brother, who sat, forgotten, at the Gryffindor table.
But Regulus never felt truly at home in Slytherin. He didn't feel truly at home anywhere, come to think of it. Sirius had already done much at Hogwarts to tarnish the Black family name and reputation. The Slytherins, despite their customary cheer, didn't really want Regulus.
They were afraid he'd turn out just like his brother.
They were right, and they were wrong. Sirius and Regulus were more alike than either boy would admit: both boys bucked tradition, determined to be his own person rather than the person everyone said he should be. They both got in trouble, found themselves in more detentions than one child rightfully should ever do.
And they both found themselves courted by revolutionaries.
In just a few short years, life would get very, very interesting for both of the Black brothers.
iii. there is a me you would not recognise
Voldemort kept him close. Trusted him. Let him do what he wish. Why, after all, would he turn? Regulus had everything he'd ever wanted, here with the Dark Lord. He had a home, he had respect, he even had a little bit of power.
Granted, he had no true security, no true strength in the knowledge that he would live to see another day.
That was the price you paid when you devoted your life to the Dark Lord, and Regulus accepted it the same way he'd accepted everything else he found vaguely uncomfortable and unsettling about the Death Eaters.
He ignored it.
After all, he'd hardly even had a choice in joining the Death Eaters. His mother said "you shall go," and so he went. He wanted to make her proud, make his family proud. He wanted to undo some of the tarnish on the Black family name caused by that traitorous brother of his. Sirius Black (not even deserving of the family name!) was nothing but a madman, and Regulus wondered why the rest of the world was blind to that.
So he went, resolved to be the best Death Eater that he could be. He'd show the world.
He learned the tactics, absorbed the propaganda, tormented Muggles and Mudbloods and the stupid, ignorant fools that supported them. He won praise from even the most seasoned Death Eaters for his strength, his stealth, his devotion to the cause. Blood purity was important. He didn't understand why there was even a need to argue over this. It was so simple, really.
So learning that it wasn't all fun and games, learning that sometimes he had to get his hands dirty, well. Sometimes that horrified Regulus. He wanted it to be an easy life -- he'd had one up until now, he knew, and he didn't have the slightest idea as to why it couldn't continue like that. He saw the other Death Eaters, the older ones, the ones that had been his faithful for so long now, and he watched them just stand back, letting the new recruits do all the hard work. The dirty work.
Murder was not a part of Regulus' plan.
The day he was asked to hunt down his own brother was the day that he cracked.
"I can't," Regulus said. "I won't."
"You will," Voldemort said. End of discussion.
And so, Regulus began planning. It was subconscious, at first, and if you'd asked him, he would have denied that he was planning anything.
But Voldemort had grown fond of Regulus, impressionable little thing that the boy was. They'd grown close -- confidantes, one could almost say -- and Regulus knew things that he swore no other Death Eater knew about. The Dark Lord, after all, was amazing at keeping secrets.
Voldemort made more than one allusion to the state of his very mortal ("Immortal, Regulus, never forget!") soul, and it only took Regulus sixteen trips through the Dark Lord's library to discover exactly what it was that his lord and master was going on about.
Once he knew, once he knew what that bastard was planning, Regulus decided to destroy him.
In the end, it was Regulus' faith and his trust that were his downfall. There were rumours that some of them wanted out, after all. He'd heard whisperings that there were people double-crossing the Dark Lord, that at least one person had gotten out alive. He'd let it slip, just once, what he was on about.
Regulus thought that he could trust his friends.
Regulus thought wrong.
iv. what a beautiful piece of heartache
Born 6 March 1961
Deceased 13 August 1980
Only Son of Orion and Walburga Black
Regulus' tomb was empty. There was a headstone, the best money could buy. But there was no body, and that wasn't a fact that Walburga Black was particularly concerned about.
"It was his calling," Walburga muttered in a moment of clarity. "His duty. He did his job."
She had already lost everyone else: husband, son, and the offspring she did not speak of. Technically, Regulus too should have been blasted off the tapestry along with his erstwhile brother. Regulus was a traitor, a deserter, after all.
Perhaps the fact that the Dark Lord had seen to dispatching Regulus himself made him at least a bit more of a shining star.
In reality, she didn't miss him any more than she missed all the rest. Regulus was just something to barter away to keep her family's name in the good graces of the Dark Lord. He'd done his job as well as he could, the poor thing. Walburga would just ignore the fact that he failed miserably.
It was easier, that way.
There were people who did grieve for Regulus, even if his mother didn't.
Voldemort mourned the loss of his little serpent, the one he'd thought could have been molded to do anything, be anyone.
If Voldemort knew the whole truth, if he knew of more than just the young man's desire to leave the Death Eaters, if he knew that Regulus had been conspiring against him for the longest... then perhaps he would not grieve.
In the end of it all, the Dark Lord wasn't a man who grieved in the first place. He shrugged and moved on. Regulus was expendable. He could easily be replaced; they all could, and that was a lesson his Death Eaters could all stand to learn.
Sirius mourned the little brother that he both loved and hated with every fibre of his being. He didn't like to think on it much, once he'd received word that Regulus was dead. It was just another loss in a long list of friends and loved ones driven mad or murdered in some dreadful quest for purity, for domination.
Sirius just added Regulus' name to the list he kept in his head, and he had one more very real reason why he wanted to see that self-styled Dark Lord dead.
He didn't talk about it much with anyone else. No one else would understand.
Blood, after all, truly was thicker than water.