|carmine_ink (carmine_ink) wrote in phoenix_flies,|
@ 2008-03-22 15:57:00
Title: The Black Death
Prompt: Prompt #4 – Who cried at Regulus’ funeral?
Characters: Orion, Sirius, Walburga, Regulus/Bellatrix, Regulus/Rabastan, Voldemort
Word Count: 3210
Summary: It took you eighteen years to understand what it meant to be cursed.
Warnings: use of 2nd person, emo!Regulus, little bit of Blackcest, deviating from the prompt a fair bit
Author's Note: Thank you to VS for the quick beta. Also, this entire fic is pretty much a complete experimentation. This couldn’t be further from my usual writing style…
When you were a young boy, you wanted to grow up to be the most powerful wizard alive. You would travel the world killing werewolves and vampires and you’d learn new curses everywhere you went so that by the time you got back home, not even your own father would dare to challenge you. You would be so rich and so clever that you’d even invent curses of your own – new ones, stronger, darker, more powerful ones. They’d be so brilliant you’d earn the Order of Merlin First Class just like great-uncle what’s-his-name, and your face would be a valuable addition to every young witch and wizard’s collection of Chocolate Frog Cards.
You were five years old.
Looking back, you realize it wasn’t really all your fault. After all, growing up in a household like yours, there were some things that couldn’t be helped. Back then, however, everything was just all fun and games – you barely even knew what a real curse was at that age, just that they sounded cool and all the best wizards knew how to cast them. You think that perhaps if there was any moment in your life where your parents were truly proud of you, it might’ve been then, raising a power-hungry son filled with false ideals and the promise of green-lit glories.
You often wonder what would’ve happened if this little boy had grown up instead of you. Surely he would’ve been the perfect son.
Because all of this changed the very next year, didn’t it? In the space of one single year you transformed from the very model of careful upbringing and pureblooded superiority into a shivering, scared-out-of-his-wits kid who never wanted to see another curse again.
Father had taken you on a trip to Knockturn Alley one day, instructing you to wait outside the shop while he dealt with business inside. Well, you weren’t about to stand still in a place as exciting as Knockturn, so you took off down the steep, foul-smelling streets, scuffing your new fifty-galleon shoes as you broke into a run. It wasn’t until you came across a little boy huddled in a dark, graffiti-clothed corner that you bothered to slow down. Fascinated, you peered closer, squinting in the dim light. He was wearing ratty, disgusting clothes that Mother would rather burn than let into the Manor, and his head was bent low, concentrating on the hollow plip-plop of sharp stones as he threw them into the gutter.
You walked up to him, eager to ask him why he looked like that and why he didn’t have any parents. You wanted to pull at the patches in his ragged robes, chase him away from Knockturn Alley, and maybe even use some of those new words you overheard Sirius shouting at Mother the other day. But before you could open your mouth, his head snapped up suddenly, stilling any cruel words that might have been waiting at the tip of your tongue.
His skin was stretched over his face like a house elf’s, crinkled and craggy and raw, with yellow teeth sticking out in a mad, lopsided grin – a truly mad one, as though he believed himself to be just as sane as you were. His dark hair was falling out in clumps; some of it was scattered around his ankles, the rest of it Spell-o-Taped back onto his spotty little head. And his eyes, Merlin, his eyes, they were hardly eyes at all. Instead they were great sunken white orbs with pinprick-size pupils darting madly in every direction, even though it couldn’t be clearer he was looking you in the face. He reached out a shaking hand covered in strange coloured bumps and bruises, and you couldn’t help but stare at it, wondering what would happen if you touched it, just to see what would happen, just to –
Father smacked you around the head before you could act, yelling horrible things in your ears and shooting a bright silver beam at the pitiful thing, sending it wailing off into the distance.
"Idiot boy!" Father growled in your ear. "Consorting with that level of filth – have I taught you nothing?"
"What happened to him?" you whispered, cringing as you lifted a hand to your stinging cheek.Slap. "Aren’t you old enough by now to recognize a curse when you see one?"
And then he stood up, straightened his robes, grabbed your wrist and whisked you back home, never to speak of that incident again.
No, you didn’t grow up to be a merciless little tyrant, much to the disappointment of your parents. Instead, you grew up into a little boy who avoided the music room (featuring the cursed keys of the old grand piano) like the plague, never touched any of the family heirlooms unless someone else had touched them first, and went running into your big brother’s room whenever you had nightmares about the boy by the gutter, hand stretched out towards you - reaching, reaching. There was something about the boy that unnerved you, something about his sunken eyes and desperate gestures that didn’t feel quite right. Besides, that’s not what curses were supposed to be like.
And that’s when Sirius would grumble and roll his eyes and complain but let you into his bed nonetheless, and you’d sleep tucked up against his warm chest, not caring if he called you a pansy-boy in the morning.
"Do you know any curses?" you asked him one night.
"Lots," Sirius boasted, squirming a little against your shoulder. "I know the ones that turn your hair blue and cover your face in big ugly boils and stuff. Y’know, the good ones."
"Oh," you replied to the darkness, wishing it could really be that simple.
"Do you think I’m cursed?" you asked a different night, snuggling into your brother’s embrace after yet another wine-stained family fight.
"Nah," Sirius answered, stretching his arms back behind his head – and you’ve always wished you could acquire that casual confidence of his – "You’re a Black. We’re too clever to be cursed."
Sirius broke his arm playing Quidditch in the backyard the next day, do you remember? But then again, he was always breaking things playing Quidditch, so it didn’t really make a difference either way.
When you were ten years old, you wished that time could stand still.
You remember standing at the landing of platform nine-and-three-quarters, trying to decipher stolen glimpses of Mother’s expression as she watched the scarlet engine puff away into the early morning haze. The expression was foreign on her handsome features; one that you had never seen on her face before then. At first you thought it to be a mutated form of relief – relief at ending the constant shouting matches, the arguments, the venom-laced insults that always managed to strike a nerve. But the more you looked at her, the more you noticed something else, some strained sense of sadness at sending off her heir and first-born son. At Hogwarts he would be left to uphold the family name on his own, expected to make decisions, handle responsibilities and grow up without his parents looking over his shoulder.
You decided then and there that you never wanted to grow up. You didn’t want Mother to have to look like that, didn’t want her to watch you leave as if you were leaving the family forever. You wanted to stay young, when things made sense and life was simpler than it would ever be, alone with Mother and Father in the musty, familiar walls of Grimmauld Place.
But things didn’t improve after Sirius left.
Mother’s fits quickly became much worse, for one thing. She would wail and scream and throw things at you for no reason at all, and you’d have to try hard not to run to your room and escape, because if you did she was almost sure to start crying. Most of the time, she cried over Sirius. In the beginning you thought it was because of the Gryffindor thing (and really, you didn’t understand what was so bad about that – Sirius’ letters made everything about his house sound brilliant), and how the heir was turning out all wrong. Then again, maybe she cried because she saw it coming all along, and there was nothing she could do about it.
Slowly but surely, you felt the tension in the air begin to settle on your shoulders as if part of an unspoken agreement, one where Sirius was forgotten and all the leftover responsibility fell to you. The more Sirius rebelled, the more attention Mother and Father paid you, and you tried so hard to be the perfect son, you really did, but Father still sulked and Mother still cried and you couldn’t help but feel you had let them down before you had even begun.
You saw less and less of Sirius as the years progressed. Even after you had started school, you hardly communicated with him at all, other than a passing hello or an occasional thump on the shoulder. It wasn’t that you missed him or anything girly like that; it was just that you didn’t realize it would be possible to feel alone in castle as big as Hogwarts, and sometimes it was nice to see a familiar face. You didn’t have as many friends or as impressive grades as Sirius did, but you never have and you never will – although the injustice of it used to anger you sometimes, for the most part you’ve grown accustomed to it over the years and have come to expect nothing more.
By the time you were in third year, Sirius had stopped coming home for the holidays, so you were alone for those too. You remember standing by the table of hors’ d’oeuvres, sweating in your stuffy dress robes as you plucked a fallen strand of tinsel off the nearest tray and stabbed a cheese puff with your fork. Somehow, the Christmas masquerade seemed much more boring without Sirius switching the masks, adding Doxy eggs to the punch bowl and making outrageous conversation with the most distinguished guests.
You wandered lazily down the main hall, trying to think of a legitimate excuse to get away from the festivities and read Quidditch magazines, but Bellatrix was waiting for you at the bottom of the staircase. You could tell she recognized you under your mask, grinning even as you sighed heavily and attempted to find a way around her. She was clearly drunk, with the straps of her tight black dress falling off her pale shoulders; a monochromatic blur of glassy eyes and lipstick stains swaying unsteadily before your eyes. Unfortunately, you really didn’t want to deal with another drunken relative right then, and so you told her to please shove off because you were already too fucking tired for any of her crap.
"Aw, Reh-gulus. Baby boy," she cooed, elongating her vowels as she took a step closer. "Are you not enjoying yourself, baby boy?"
The sound of her voice was incredibly patronizing, and there was nothing you hated more than being patronized. You gritted your teeth, attempting to push her away.
She laughed at you then, long and loud and a little bit mad, and reached a hand out to your face. "Pretty little cousin," she whispered, her voice suddenly breathy and a little too close for comfort as she dragged her long, dirty nails down the side of your face. "You look just like him, don’t you?"
And before you could think too much about that, she dug her nails into your skin and kissed you on the mouth. It was sloppy and disgusting and wrong, but her skin smelled like oranges and her warm body was pressed tight against yours, and all of a sudden there was a hand in your hair and –
It was only when you broke apart that you noticed Bella’s boyfriend – that blond one she was so crazy about and swore she would marry one day – staring at you from the doorway, glaring daggers into your back. His expression didn’t change as he shifted his gaze to Bellatrix, and as she widened her eyes in horror behind her skimpy mask, all you could think was: it’s my fault again, why is it always my fault?
When you were sixteen years old, you wanted to be an artist.
You would fill your pallet with every colour in the world and paint great dark splotches and lines that went in circles, with some of them veering off the path at ugly, unbalanced angles. You would paint out everything you wished you could’ve been, and everything you were afraid to turn into; a blur of abstract shapes and symbols forming your very own Dorian Gray. And oh, if only it could’ve worked like that muggle novel your half-blooded potions partner wouldn’t stop raving about, with paintings that could capture a man’s soul. You would paint yourself if you could, and alongside your portrait you’d do another one of Rabastan Lestrange, and you’d put it in a box and store it in an old, forgotten attic so that you would never again have to face the person you had turned him into.
Rabastan was a good guy, a clever student, and a role model to all Slytherins. Or at least, he had been before you had met him. What would everyone say if they could see their precious Head Boy now, you used to think. If only they could see him under the stairs, up against the wall or on the cold stone floor of the Astronomy Tower with his hand around your cock and his teeth biting hard into your throat. If only they could see him as he arched his back and moaned around your swollen lips and your hot, wet mouth, begging for your touch. If only they knew the names he called you when he was about to come, names he used on you so he wouldn’t have to use them on himself.
"Dirty little faggot," he would hiss into your ear, his dark wispy hair tickling your cheek.
And you would smirk and tell him you could stop if it bothered him that much, but didn’t he just finish saying he wanted to fuck you?
"You’d like that, wouldn’t you Black?" he’d say in reply, and yeah, maybe you would and maybe you did, but you were already too far gone to be worrying about what that would mean for you, and you didn’t really think it mattered anyway.
Some days you used to think you chose Rabastan because he reminded you of yourself. After all, he too had an older brother he would never be able to live up to – a grimy old bastard with a constant split lip and a talent for the Dark Arts who had recently announced his arranged marriage to poor old cousin Bella. Rabastan was also on the Quidditch team, dreamed of doing something else with his life and even had a pretty good sense of humour. You liked him, you really did, and sometimes you couldn’t help but wonder what things would be like if you were different, because you just couldn’t help it, this effect you had on people, you just couldn’t help it and you didn’t know why. You certainly weren’t noble enough to stay away from him (if only, if only), and so your arm would keep reaching, reaching until it found something to latch on to - a little gutter-boy out to spread his disease.
It was a blustery afternoon in March when you lifted Rabastan’s shirt over his head only to find newly inked veins creeping up his forearm in the shape of a skull. It was then that you realized you had ruined him, just like all the others who had come before.
Your own initiation wasn’t as difficult as you thought it would be. There was an old, abandoned warehouse, rows of long shadows on walls of peeling paint, and dozens of cloaked figures standing in a circle. It was strange, in a way, knowing that it was your friends and family hiding behind those masks and haunted stares – that the whole thing was really just another family masquerade, but with higher stakes.
It wasn’t long until you found yourself kneeling at the feet of the Dark Lord himself, kissing the hem of his robes and waiting patiently for your instructions.
"Will you serve me, Regulus?" he asked you, his cold, piercing voice stirring the smell of caked blood from the floor until it pressed at the corners of your consciousness.
You looked up at him then, as was customary, and you were terrified at what you saw in his dark, dark eyes. It wasn’t the threat of power or the promise of death and destruction that scared you, however. He took one long look at you, and he knew. Maybe that’s why he had been so intent on getting you to join him; maybe he had heard rumours, or watched you from afar as you left your friends and family behind. You remembered being scared then, because you had heard stories about what he had done and what he could do, and you didn’t want to think about what might happen if he decided to use your "condition" as a weapon in the war, because surely he would be able to find some way to harness it and control it for himself, and then what? Idiot, you thought to yourself, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. But then you remembered that the Dark Lord was one of the best Legilimens in the world and it was either agree or be killed, so you stopped thinking altogether and simply said: "Yes."
A year later, twenty-one people were dead because of you. Twenty-one. You had barely even lifted your wand.
When you were eighteen years old, you went to your father’s funeral.
You wore a glamour – those were dangerous times to be seen, even by members of your own family – and stood a distance away from the rest of mourners so as not to draw attention to yourself. The grievers were stiff and impeccably dressed, with none of them shedding so much as a tear as Father was carried through the ominous stone doors of the Black family mausoleum. You thought you might’ve seen Mother dab at her eyes with one of her old silk handkerchiefs, but then again that might’ve just been wistful thinking.
It made you wonder if anyone would cry at your funeral after you were gone, if anyone would show up, if anyone would even care.
But that’s the great irony of it all, isn’t it? There won’t be anyone to cry at your funeral, because by that time they’ll all be gone too.
Because if there’s one thing you’ve learned in your eighteen short years on earth it’s that there’s no escaping this thing, this curse, this plague you’ve had for as long as you can remember. It doesn’t make exceptions for blood or power or money, and so you’re forced to live with it all your life.
The terrible thing is that when it begins to take you down, it drags everyone down with you.