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DECEMBER 29th 1977




Regulus switched off the tap, watching as the last few drops of water trickled into the porcelain, claw-legged bathtub. The house was silent around him, only the occasional creak in the old wooden floorboards, or the snores of a portrait. 

 

The flesh on his left forearm still burned with the phantom pain of the Dark Mark being branded into his fair skin. The Mark was raw and red around the edges, still swollen from its freshness. 

 

With a shuddering breath, Regulus held his wand over his heart, the cold tip of the rosewood vine digging slightly into his bruised chest. “Regeneratio,” Regulus mumbled softly, his voice hoarse from screaming. He set his wand aside and stood up on shaky legs; ignoring the sharp wave of discomfort that shot up his spine as he stepped into the cold water, Regulus slowly lowered himself into the bath.

 

The combination of the spell and the ice cold water was enough for his heart to slow until he could no longer feel it beating in his chest. With a final deep, shuddering breath, Regulus let his upper body sink into the water, only faintly hearing the displaced water slosh onto the tiled floor of his ensuite bathroom.

 

The pain in his arm faded as his breathing got slower, slowly dwindling until his eyelids felt heavy. Regulus blinked slowly, the distorted world around him becoming increasingly hazy through the water. He opened his mouth to let out a sigh of relief, but water invaded his lungs, burning them until he was screaming to let it out. Not long after, the world faded to black, everything going dark.






The spell worked exactly as he needed it to; he woke up with a start, three minutes after he’d gone under. Regulus gasped as he scrambled out of the bathtub, sitting half naked on the cold tiled floor. With each gasping breath, he felt his chest expand, filling his lungs with life again. Blood rushed in his ears, the rhythm of his heart beating against his eardrums. Regulus inhaled sharply, clutching his throat where it still felt raw and abused from the water he’d swallowed down. 

 

“Fuck,” he cursed under his breath. He needed to finish his plan, but he still felt like air was escaping him. “Fuck,” he repeated to himself. “Get a fucking grip.” He stood, holding onto the side of the tub for support. The water was still about halfway filling the large tub, the silver chain of the drain stopper glistening under the clear liquid. Regulus pulled on the chain, unblocking the drain and watching as the water spiralled down the circular hole, disappearing out of sight. He felt relieved and anxious all at once. 

 

He slowly padded into his bedroom, walking on the points of his toes, trying not to draw his parents’ attention. The guests were gone, he was sure, but his mother tended to stay awake long after dark for reasons unknown to Regulus. 

 

His trunk was still packed from the beginning of the holidays, sitting unmoving from its position under his bed. Regulus opened it, swirling his wand over the dark leather in a silent extension charm. He redressed carefully in simple black, wool trousers and a comfortable sweater, throwing his winter cloak over his shoulders. He didn’t bother drying his hair as he pulled the hood over his head, covering his bruised face. 

 

Precariously, he threw books, stray clothes, trinkets and hygiene products into his extended trunk. Tearing his favourite Quidditch posters down from his dark grey walls, he rolled them into scrolls and tossed those in too.  

 

He dug his old broom out from the back of his closet and set it down across his bed. He closed his trunk, unbothered by his belongings thrown in haphazardly, and shrunk it down until it fit in his pocket. The seventeenth floor panel on the right of his nightstand was loose enough to pull out of the ground, revealing a navy blue pouch of gold coins. The pouch was spilling over; galleons, knuts and sickles overflowing from it. It was worth his entire life’s savings;  money from birthdays, Yules, special achievements – any and every time someone had ever gifted him money. He had stashed them all in that pouch, saving them for this very moment. 

 

With his belongings secured, Regulus pulled on thick socks and his winter boots. He climbed out of his bedroom window and onto the roof of the house, swinging his legs on either side of his broom, muttered a quick ‘Notice-Me-Not’ and took off. He knew the direction of the Ministry well enough from the time spent shadowing his grandfather as a child.









Alastor Moody’s office was on the fourth floor of the Ministry building, with his name carved into the gold plaque attached to the stained glass window on the door. Regulus knocked twice, tapping the end of his broom impatiently against the ground as he waited for the man to respond. His parents likely would not notice his disappearance until the morning, when Kreacher would have to inform them that Regulus was not in his room, or any other room in the house. Regulus faltered at the thought of his mother taking her anger out on the house elf, cursing him with the curses she would rather throw at her son. He knocked on Moody’s door more insistently. 

 

It was late, yes, but he knew how men like Alastor Moody worked. The Head Auror wouldn’t be leaving his office until after midnight, when his eyes couldn’t hold themselves open any longer. 

 

“– hat… What!” The man in question swung open his door and glared down at Regulus menacingly. He took a step back when he realized that it was not one of his colleagues, but rather an underaged, teenage boy. 

 

“May I come in?” Regulus didn’t wait for an answer before he ducked under Moody’s arm and entered his office. It was dark, mostly lit by candlelight, with parchment scrolls and books strewn over the desk. He sat on one of the chairs by the desk, leaving his broom leaning against the wall. “Is that real?” Regulus pointed to a Hippogriff’s head that had been mounted on the wall above the fireplace.

 

“Of course it’s real,” was Moody’s gruff reply. He hobbled over to his desk and eyed Regulus warily. “What’s the meaning of this? Isn’t it past your bedtime, little boy?” His tone was unkind and exasperated.

 

“I want to emancipate myself from my family,” Regulus stated without preamble. Carefully, he lifted the sleeve of his left arm, exposing his Mark. It was no longer black, but grey and still swollen at the edges. Moody’s wand was pointed at him in an instant, his thin mouth set in a stern scowl. Regulus carried on, unperturbed, “My parents made me take the Mark, as you can see by me being here, I did not want it. I have performed special magic to sever my tie with the Dark Lord, leaving me entirely unattainable to him.” 

 

Moody eyed his arm cautiously for a moment before lifting his wand and bringing it down in one quick movement. “Incarcerous.” Thick ropes wrapped themselves around Regulus’ bony wrists and ankles, binding his limbs together. The boy huffed indignantly, albeit unsurprised by the man’s actions. Moody was nothing if not careful. “Tell me everything, from the moment you got that branded into your skin until the moment you walked up to my door. Go.” 








By the time Regulus was done retelling every detail of the night’s events, the first signs of the morning sun were beginning to leak in through the window. Moody had been brutal, wanting the names of everyone that was at the house, needing to know every word that was said and every person he interacted with. On multiple occasions, Regulus felt the push of legilimency nudge at his Occlumency walls, but he was too practiced to allow the Auror to see into his mind.

 

Moody had stepped out, giving Regulus a much needed break. With a wandless Tempus, he was informed that it was nearing five o’clock in the morning. He’d been at the Ministry for vaguely six or seven hours. His wrists were sore from being held together with rope and his legs had gone numb from sitting for so long, and he wondered if he could try to reach for his wand where it lay abandoned on the Auror’s desk. 

 

Before he could decide to make his move, Moody came back into the office, holding a stack of parchment and a glass of water. He set the glass down in front of Regulus and instructed him to drink.

 

“My hands are a little tied up,” Regulus commented with as much snark as he could muster in his state of exhaustion. He’d have taken a nap beforehand, if he knew that Moody was such a talkative person. 

 

The Auror flashed him a mean smile and reached into the second drawer in his desk, pulling out a straw. Regulus barely suppressed an eye roll as he leaned forward in his chair and parted his lips just slightly to welcome the tip of the straw into his mouth. The water was simultaneously soothing and frightening going down his throat, easing the hoarseness from hours of speaking while reminding him of his earlier meeting with death.

 

“Are those the documents I have to sign?” He asked, nodding at the stack of mysterious parchment. Moody let the scrolls fall onto his desk with a loud clatter, his beady brown eyes boring into Regulus’ grey. 

 

“I’ve sent a Patronus to Dumbledore,” Alastor announced, holding a hand up to silence Regulus’ oncoming protests. “None of that blubbering, he would have had to know anyway.” 

 

Resigned, Regulus sat back in his chair and glared at the older man. In the soft glow of the morning light, his scarred face looked even more ragged. Regulus knew that the scars were likely from dangerous missions against Dark wizards and witches, but it didn’t make it any less unsettling. 







Dumbledore arrived less than an hour later. His magenta robes stood out in the otherwise dreary office. Regulus thought he looked ridiculous, but then he remembered his uncle Alphard’s similar eccentric fashion and scolded himself for thinking such thoughts. It was his parents talking, his mother’s words too deeply ingrained in his mind.

 

“How are you feeling, Mr. Black?” Dumbledore asked him, sitting opposite to Regulus in Moody’s chair. The Auror stood against the wall closest to them, watching in interest as the two interacted.

 

“Definitely been better,” Regulus muttered wearily. His arms had gone as numb as his legs and it was becoming increasingly harder for him to keep his eyes open. Dumbledore hummed in sympathy and offered him a kind smile.

 

“Alastor tells me that you’re trying to emancipate yourself?” The Head Professor said conversationally. His fingers tapped rhythmically against the wooden desk and it did not help Regulus’ steadily drooping eyes. “Would you like to tell me why?”

 

Regulus, despite his weariness, was filled with fury. He’d spent the last six hours explaining exactly why he wanted – needed – to emancipate himself to Moody, only for Dumbledore to show up and demand he repeat it all again. Gesticulating as much as he could with his bound hands, Regulus looked down pointedly at the faded Dark Mark on his forearm. “I think you can take a guess, Professor.” 

 

Moody did not like that, sending Regulus a menacing scowl. Regulus took some pride in the fact that the Auror was no longer waving his wand in his face.

 

Dumbledore stared at him for a long moment, and Regulus felt another nudge at his Occlumency walls. It was startling that the Head Professor would stoop so low as to invade an underaged wizard’s mind, but Regulus wasn’t all that surprised. 

 

“Alastor has been doing that all night, Professor. Don’t waste your time,” Regulus scoffed, feeling the urge to cross his arms petulantly. He shot the Auror a sly look, when he heard the man grumbling under his breath.

 

“Your Occlumency skills are very good, Mr. Black, may I ask why you are an Occlumens at such a young age?” Dumbledore watched him with poorly filtered curiosity, blue eyes twinkling inexplicably behind his half-moon glasses. His expression was akin to Regulus’ uncle Cygnus when the man was planning something in his head – it made the young Slytherin uneasy.

 

“Well, with a mother like mine, you need all the privacy you can get,” he replied bluntly. Dumbledore seemed to want to say something in response to that, but a knock at the door quickly cut him off.

 

Moody opened the door, revealing a witch with bronze skin and black hair streaked with grey, a wizard with messy grey hair, kind eyes and circular glasses as well as two younger wizards at their sides. Regulus groaned outwardly at the sight of his estranged brother.

 

“What did he do?” Sirius demanded, barging into the room with a furious scowl on his face. All of Regulus’ previous weariness was replaced by white hot rage, electrifying the blood in his veins, making his fingers itch to wrap around his wand, ready for a fight. It was just like Sirius to antagonize Regulus, even when he had no clue what the situation was.

 

“Calm, Mr. Black,” Dumbledore held up his hand, placatingly. “Your brother has done nothing wrong, he came here on his own. Perhaps, I should have been more clear in my letter,” he mused, beard twitching in inappropriate amusement.

 

“Have you got the boy bound, Albus?” The woman exclaimed in outrage. She was clearly Potter’s mother, if her soft hazel eyes were anything to go by. Her thick Irish accent took him by surprise, though she looked like her son, she sounded nothing like him. “Drop the spell this instant! I thought you said he did nothing wrong!” 

 

Alastor grumbled his disagreement, but one nod from Dumbledore had him dropping the spell, quietly. Regulus rubbed his wrists absently, grateful to feel his blood flowing into his limbs as it should. He gave Moody a look, an overly sweet smile mixed with underlying bitterness. He’d been bound for seven, nearly eight, hours. 

 

“What’s all this fuss about, then, Albus?” And if Potter looked like his mother, he was a carbon copy of his father. Mr. Potter was the exact replica of his son, only with a few more smile lines and lighter hair. “Are you alright, my boy?” 

 

It took Regulus an embarrassing amount of time to realize that Mr. Potter was addressing him. He blinked in surprise and nodded slowly, shooting Moody another grim look. “Fine, just tired.” Moody tipped his chin up defiantly and Regulus wrinkled his nose at him, resisting the urge to stick his tongue out and say Look, someone is worried about me. This was your job, arsehole.

 

“Regulus is looking to emancipate himself from his family,” Dumbledore suddenly announced without prompting. “I invited you here because I thought you might be able to help.” Regulus looked from the Head Professor and back to the two adults that had recently shown up. They looked rightfully stunned, mouths open and eyes wide. Even Sirius and Potter looked shocked.

 

“Are you Ministry officials, then? Do you work in Magical Childcare and welfare?” Regulus asked Mrs. Potter, sitting up in his chair. He was eager to get this over with, just wanting to sleep. 

 

“No, we’re James’ parents,” the witch replied, and Regulus stared at her blankly, because duh. Obviously, he knew that.

 

“Then how could you possibly help me?” Regulus asked, looking around the room, feeling like he was missing something. He caught Moody’s eye and raised an inquiring brow. He trusted the Auror not to beat around any bushes.

 

“Albus thinks that you might want to live with–“

 

“Absolutely not,” Regulus interrupted firmly. “I came here for the emancipation, not to meet strangers.” He was seething, fists clenched in his lap. His wand was still on the desk, if he could just get it…

 

“Mr. Black, we only mean to do what’s best for you,” Dumbledore said, falsely soothing and entirely infuriating. “Your situation is very delicate, you need all the support you can get.” Regulus wanted to wrap his hands around the old man’s neck and squeeze. How could he suggest such a thing?

 

“I didn’t ask for support, Professor, I asked for my bloody documents to sign,” Regulus said, heated. “I’m sure that inviting strangers to a private meeting isn’t part of the emancipation process.”

 

“Oh, stop your squabbling, Regulus, we’re here to help you. You ungrateful arse,” Sirius snapped, arms crossed over his chest, face stern. Regulus turned to him slowly, unwilling to let his fury boil over in a room full of people he did not know or trust.

 

“Help me? I didn’t ask for your help, Sirius,” he said very, very calmly. 

 

“How did you get here?” said Sirius, ignoring him completely. Bitter and unwilling to speak another word of his night’s events, Regulus looked pointedly at his broom that was propped against the wall. Sirius followed his eyes and shook his head in disbelief. “Only you would fly all the way from home,” he muttered under his breath.

 

“What happened for you to want this legal separation, Regulus?” Mrs. Potter asked. She seemed to be the only other person in the room that Regulus could tolerate at the moment. “Have your parents done something to you?” Her eyes quickly darted over to Sirius, pain flashing in them at a silent memory.

 

Regulus remained stubbornly quiet, so Moody retold the night’s events, in excruciating detail. He made Regulus roll up his sleeve, showing off his greying Mark. Regulus chimed in sporadically, correcting parts of the story, but otherwise allowed Moody to speak for him. He was tired and did not want to utter another word of his night.

 

“So… you killed yourself, but you came back to life?” Sirius drawled slowly, uncertain. Regulus sighed, how many more times was he going to have to retell this story?

 

“I stopped my heart so that I may sever the magic that linked me to the Dark Lord. I was technically dead, but the spell stopped me from crossing over into the afterlife and ensured that my heart would start up again,” he explained dully. 

 

“And where did you find this spell?” Sirius asked, looking green in the face. 

 

Regulus sighed, “I read books.” A simple answer, a true one. He’d learned the spell from one of the old books in his family’s library. 

 

“And that was your first thought, to just – kill yourself? What if the spell didn’t work? What if you stayed dead? Why didn’t you think to go to someone? You could have come to –"

 

“You shut up,” Regulus cut in sharply. “If you are about to suggest that I should have come to you of all people,” he shook his head, unable to fathom something like that. “Why the hell would I come to you?” 

 

“Because –“ 

 

“No,” Regulus interrupted yet again. “Do not finish that sentence, whatever you’re about to say is going to make me angry and I’m too tired to handle this situation appropriately.” He took a deep, shaky breath and turned back to Alastor, addressing him, “I just want to sign the papers and get this over with. I have enough money to get myself a flat and any other stuff that I’ll need. I don’t want to live with anyone.”

 

Moody seemed uncertain, but he nodded slowly. “Sixteen is a bit young to live on your own,” he commented lightly, moving to his desk to grab the documents that he’d fetched. Regulus leaned forward eagerly, his hands seeking out a quill. Behind him, Sirius huffed and made a vague noise of discontent. 

 

“My friend Barty turned seventeen over the hols,” said Regulus, offhandedly. “I’m sure he’ll be happy to live with me. He’s basically an adult.” 

 

“Barty Crouch Jr?” Both Moody and Sirius inquired at the same time. Regulus’ eyes flicked up to the older men, eyebrows soaring up his forehead. “His father works for the Ministry,” Moody said, his eyes narrowing.

 

Regulus nodded, waving a dismissive hand. “Yeah, Barty doesn’t get on well with his dad. He’s going to be stoked when I tell him the news.” 

 

“I think, it would be best if we put you somewhere we can keep an eye on you, to make sure you’re safe, of course,” Dumbledore spoke up when Regulus handed back the documents. Regulus huffed indignantly, but allowed the professor to go on. “I’ll speak to Aberforth about setting you up in the flat above the Hog’s Head. You’ll only have to walk a short distance to the carriages that bring the students up to the castle and you will have an adult nearby at all times.” 

 

It was a good idea, Regulus could begrudgingly admit. It would save him time to look for a flat himself and he wouldn’t have to find a way to get to the train station at the end of the holidays. “Thank you, Professor,” Regulus mumbled softly, trying his best for a grateful smile. 

 

“It’s not a problem, Mr. Black. Now, let’s get you to Hogsmeade, you look like you need a well earned nap.” 

 

Regulus could not agree more.









The Hog’s Head Inn smelled distinctly of goats and soot. Regulus had half a mind to cast a bubble-head charm on himself, but he didn’t want to seem rude to his host, so he settled on breathing through his mouth and trying not to inhale too much.

 

The flat was small, much like the rest of the pub. It had a bathroom, a shoebox bedroom and a main room that consisted of a couch and a tiny little bookshelf. There was a portrait of a witch, and Dumbledore had seemed uncomfortable upon seeing it, excusing himself quickly before dashing off. 

 

Regulus was quick to cast cleaning charms around the stuffy flat, clearing it of decades of dust and grime. The walls were a dirty brown, discoloured with a build up of water spots and cobwebs. Taking his trunk out of his pocket, Regulus tapped his wand against it to turn it back to its regular size. He put up his Quidditch posters, covering the worst parts of the walls with the flying players, making the place look a little more lively. 

 

The bookshelf in the corner was quickly filled with his favourite novels and textbooks, the pile spilling out on top of the worn wood and on the floor next to the shelf. 

 

He had to transfigure himself a drawer desk, pushing it into the corner of the tiny bedroom, and filling it with his clothes and calligraphy materials. A few more spells made the air smell less like goat and more like fresh spring air. His sheets were turned from a dull beige to a rich emerald green. He lined his products up on the bathroom shelf, ignoring the way the toilet made a weird nose whenever he flushed it, and how the water from the sink was brown when he first turned it on.

 

Finally, he fell into bed with a satisfied hum, falling asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.










DECEMBER 31st 1977



Aberforth Dumbledore was a very peculiar man. He was a quiet sort, which suited Regulus just fine, but there was something odd about the way his piercing blue eyes would follow Regulus’ every move whenever the boy went downstairs to collect his meals. It was easy to tell that Albus and Aberforth were brothers, albeit not by looks, but by the expressiveness of their eyes. 

 

Regulus now understood what people meant when they told him that he had his father’s eyes; Aberforth certainly had his brother’s. 

 

There was also the fact that Aberforth owned a herd of goats that he kept in the room behind the bar. The smell of the goats, mixed with the smell of rotting wood was sure to be permanently burned into Regulus’ nostrils. He could not even begin to understand how people willingly came to the Hog’s Head to grab a pint, but maybe it was an acquired taste.

 

Although he certainly had his quirks, Aberforth was a surprisingly good cook. Regulus could overlook the fact that the pots and cutlery were severely rusted, despite the evidence being right in his face, because the food was better than anything he’d had at school. 

 

On New Year’s Eve, Aberforth served pork roast with fresh vegetables that he grew himself. Regulus was surprised when the man allowed him into the small area behind the pub, revealing the tiniest garden he’d ever seen. It looked like a miniature Herbology greenhouse, though it was lacking the potions ingredients and deadly plants.

 

Spending the New Year with a stranger was not the way Regulus wanted to spend his night, but without an owl to reach out to his friends, he was stuck with only the odd bartender as company. Against his will, his mind wondered what his night would have been like if he took up Dumbledore’s offer to go live with the Potters. He would bet half his galleons that they were the type to sit around the fire and play board games together until midnight came around. Annoyed with himself for having such thoughts, Regulus cut his roast with more force than necessary.

 

Aberforth disappeared sometime after dinner, and Regulus could no longer hear the banging of pots and pans in the back room, so he figured that the man went home, wherever that was. He retreated back to his room, curling up with a novel and a bottle of Butterbeer that he’d taken from the bar. 

 

As he read, Regulus was struck with the sudden realization that the flat was entirely quiet, save for the bleating of the goats downstairs. There was none of his mother’s shrill screaming or any of Bellatrix’s manic cackles, everything was calm. 

 

Regulus didn’t stop the small grin that took over his face.

Chapter Text

JANUARY 5th 1978

 

Aberforth would not let him leave for the carriages until he ate a full meal. It was stupid, since he was going to eat at the feast anyway, but he reckoned that it was his own fault for skipping both breakfast and lunch earlier in the day. 

 

With a dramatic huff, Regulus threw himself onto the barstool and picked up his fork. It was only fish and chips, quick and easy to eat. He was done within five minutes, wiping grease off of his face with a stiff napkin that was on the table. As he was about to stand up, Aberforth slid a tall goblet of water towards him, eyeing him with a vaguely apologetic frown. 

 

“Are you kidding me? You know I’m going to eat, right?” Regulus commented, staring blankly at the older man. 

 

“Albus will talk my ear off if he thinks that I’m not taking proper care of one of his precious students,” Aberforth replied dryly. “Just drink the water and you can leave to catch your carriage.” His eyes never left Regulus as the teenager lifted the goblet to his mouth, drinking the water down in a series of long gulps. He nodded in approval when Regulus set down the empty goblet, waving him off with a dismissive hand. “Off you are.”

 

Regulus waved goodbye, picking up his discarded trunk off the floor. Aberforth had been a good host, treating Regulus as if he were an adult, allowing him to wander the streets of Hogsmeade and come back to the flat at any time he pleased, so long as Regulus wasn’t disturbing any of the shopkeepers around the pub. He’d even offered the boy some money to buy himself some treats from Honeydukes. 

 

As he walked away from the grim, dusty pub, Regulus realized that he might actually miss the place. At least, he could visit on the next Hogsmeade weekend.











James scanned the crowd of students disembarking from the Hogwarts Express, looking for a head of dark curls. It had been a week since he last saw Regulus Black sitting in Alastor Moody’s office with a fading Dark Mark, a split lip and a plan to emancipate himself from his evil parents. 

 

At first, James had honestly thought that it was an elaborate plan for Walburga and Orion to infiltrate the Ministry and kill off Dumbledore and Moody to stop them in their efforts of fighting against Voldemort, but when Moody had explained what Regulus had done – risking his life to be rid of the Mark, James knew for sure that the youngest had not been sent by his parents.

 

It had taken Sirius a while to really, truly grasp that his brother had left on his own, rejecting his family’s wish of him becoming one of the Dark Lord’s followers. The brother that he’d thought he’d lost to his parents was now living in a flat in Hogsmeade. Sirius had been oddly distant for a couple of days after their visit at the Ministry, often seen staring into space or mumbling to himself in his room. James was worried about him, worried that he would spiral into a breakdown the next time he had to see his brother. 

 

Despite what Sirius told everyone, he did still care for his brother. James knew this. He’d encouraged Sirius to keep up his relationship with his brother back in their younger years, when it was clear that Regulus still held some of his childish innocence, but he had switched his tune after Sirius showed up beaten and bloody at his doorstep in the middle of the night. After their fifth year, James hadn’t been able to see Regulus in a good light and started supporting Sirius in his disdain towards all things related to the Black family, Regulus included. 

 

Now though, it wouldn’t be right for either of them to continue thinking that Regulus was as evil as his parents. Sure, he’d done some questionable things in the past, most notably not sticking up for Sirius while he was in that house, but he was clearly trying to do the right thing now, and that had to count for something. 

 

“Merlin’s bollocks,” Sirius breathed out, attracting James’ attention. “He escapes our family and the first thing he does is get a sodding haircut .” 

 

James furrowed his eyebrows in confusion, ducking his head to follow Sirius’ line of sight. A few feet ahead of them, Regulus Black was walking up the path from Hogsmeade, trunk levitating behind him. True to Sirius’ word, Regulus had gotten a haircut. His hair, which had previously been as long as Sirius’ dark waves, was now cropped short, falling into curls on the top of his head, falling just at the end of his nape. 

 

James felt his breath catch in his chest as he stared at the pale face of the younger boy. Regulus, unlike his brother, had always worn his hair down, falling into his face like curtains shielding him from prying eyes. This was the first time James had ever been able to get a proper look at him, and Gods…

 

The Black family – despite their cruelty – were undoubtedly beautiful people, objectively speaking. Sirius had his mother’s high cheekbones and his father’s piercing grey eyes, and though the Blacks always seemed to have their sculpted features set into stern frowns, Sirius always managed to have a mischievous grin on his face. It was what set him apart from his family.

 

Regulus. Well, Regulus looked like the perfect mix of his parents. He had the same cheekbones as his mother and brother, high and prominent, his eyes were piercing, but rather than grey, they were a startling shade of ice blue like Walburga. His jaw wasn’t as square as his brother and father’s, but rather angular like his mother. His nose was straight and turned up at the end, unlike Sirius’ elegant slope. Inexplicably, Regulus looked exactly like his parents but also nothing like them all at once. His heart shaped, pink lips were pulled into a small frown as he searched the crowd of students rushing around him. James couldn’t help but stare at him. He was beautiful, and he was… smiling.

 

“Reg!” 

 

James’ body was knocked sideways into Peter as a blond boy ran past him, pushing his way through the crowd until he was close enough to tackle Regulus into a hug. James managed to side step in time for a brunet, a blonde witch, and Dorcas Meadowes to join the two Slytherin boys, all of them wrapping Regulus into a tight hug that made James’ bones ache in sympathy.

 

He heard Sirius scoff from where he’d been pushed into a tree, watching the scene unfold with narrowed eyes. “How long do you reckon it’ll take for them to exile him from their little group once they find out that he left the family?” Sirius asked, his eyes never leaving his brother’s figure, even as Regulus climbed onto a carriage. 

 

Remus made a vaguely reproaching sound, wrapping his arm around Sirius and helping him back onto the path. They all climbed into their own carriage, Remus and Sirius sitting opposite to Peter and James. 

 

Remus had been one of the only people that had been able to coax Sirius out of his room after the debacle at the Ministry. Though he’d still been sore from the Winter Moon, he had Flooed to the Potters’ as soon as he’d gotten James’ letter. Sirius had allowed Remus into his room, and within an hour, the werewolf had Sirius sitting at the dining table, eating dinner as if nothing had happened. Sometimes, James envied how good Remus was at dealing with Sirius when he got in his moods, but he had to remind himself that he wasn’t Sirius’ only friend and that Remus and Peter could be the ones to cheer him up as well.

 

“Don’t be pessimistic, Padfoot,” Remus reprimanded lightly. “Besides, if they leave him for getting himself out of an abusive household, then they weren’t good friends anyway and he’d be better off without them.” 

 

“You don’t understand, Moony. Slytherins are power hungry, they’re probably only friends with him because of his family name. Once they find out that he hasn’t got any power anymore, they’ll be off and I’m gonna be stuck looking at Regulus’ stupid pouting face.” They left the conversation there, Sirius sliding closer to Remus, and Remus allowing him to do so.












Regulus loved his friends, he did, he really did. But if Evan asked him to repeat his story one more time, Regulus was going to throw him off of the carriage and make him walk up to the castle. It didn’t help that while Regulus was trying to focus on his friends’ questions, he was too busy staring at the skeletal horse that was dragging the carriage towards the castle. 

 

“For Salazar’s sake, Evan, I already told you all of this!” Regulus finally snapped, turning his glare onto the blond. Evan Rosier was Regulus’ oldest friend, they grew up together since Evan’s father was Regulus’ aunt Druella’s younger brother. Regulus knew that Evan only meant well, that he only wanted the details of the story so that he could make sure that Regulus was alright, but Regulus wanted nothing more than to just move on. 

 

The only reason he’d told his friends what had happened was because Evan had learned from his parents that Regulus had gone missing, and he didn’t want them to worry about what happened to him. He was fine, and he told them as much. 

 

“You always say that you’re fine and then we find you in an alcove somewhere, glamouring the bruises your mother left on you during the break,” Dorcas fussed, patting down his sides, looking for injuries. She narrowed her eyes when Regulus swatted her hands away. 

 

“My bruises are already healed,” Regulus waved her off. “Oh, don’t look at me like that, they weren’t severe, just bruises from the Cruciatus,” he murmured. That, however, caused an uproar with his friends. Dorcas and Evan were back on him in seconds, fussing over him, Pandora was searching her bag for potions that could help him and Barty was spitting venomous insults about the Blacks, plotting how he was going to sneak into Grimmauld and give Walburga a taste of her own medicine.

 

“I hate that woman,” Barty burst out, fingers clenching down on the edge of his seat, knuckles as white as snow under the pressure. He worked his jaw silently, like he was trying to bite back harsher words.

 

“I know,” Regulus replied patiently. His friends were all fiercely protective of him, overly so when it came to his childhood abuse; but Barty was always the angriest. The first time Regulus had turned up on the train with a black eye, back in third year, it had taken both Evan and Dorcas to hold Barty back from storming out onto the platform to catch Orion before he apparated back home. 

 

“The moment I get my hands on her, Reg – The moment –” he continued hotly, unplacated. He stood up, and immediately Evan’s hand was darting out to catch the back of Barty’s robes. The taller bloke seemed to remember himself and where he was, sitting back down with an indignant huff, batting Evan’s hands away.

 

“He’s done with all that anyway,” Pandora spoke up, tilting Regulus’ head skyward and pinching his mouth open to pour a yellow potion down his throat. He made a disgruntled sound, but otherwise made no efforts to get her off of him. “She won’t be able to get her filthy hands on him again, let alone even catch a glance in his direction if I have anything to do with it.” 

 

“Did you report them for child endangerment?” Dorcas asked suddenly. Regulus blinked at her, taken aback by such a question. It was reasonable, perhaps, but he truly hadn’t thought about doing anything to his parents beyond emancipation. “They could serve up to fifteen years in Azkaban and have their wands snapped on sight, if you did.” 

 

“Didn’t cross my mind,” he admitted, with a careless shrug. “But I suppose I’ve given the Aurors enough proof that they are abusive, plus everything that happened with Sirius,” his voice faltered on the name he’d taken to not saying. “I turned up to Moody’s office with a busted lip and bruised up face, and he saw the ones on my chest as well. He can do what he wants with that, I never want to see that horrid man again.” 

 

The conversation tapered off from there, slowly coming to an end as they neared the castle.









JANUARY 9TH 1978




It was becoming increasingly difficult for James to ignore Regulus Black, especially when the younger boy was suddenly everywhere. Regulus took all of the NEWT Level classes that James did, a fact that had previously disturbed the Gryffindor, but now excited him. It did something funny to James’ stomach, knowing that he shared classes with Regulus, therefore he had a reason to be around him. 

 

Where James sat in the back of classrooms, hidden out of the Professors’ line of sight so that he could goof off, Regulus sat up front with his head forward as he listened to every word that the Professor said. A week ago, James would have snorted and called Regulus a swot, but now he appreciated that Regulus sat upfront since it gave him the perfect opportunity to admire him.

 

Before the holidays, Regulus’ hair would have obscured his face from James’ vision, keeping it carefully hidden. Now, James’ eyes eagerly traced over the soft curve of Regulus’ jaw, fingers itching to touch. His inexplicable need to reach out and touch wasn’t helped by the fact that Regulus now wore the green ribbon he used to use on the rare occasions that he tied his hair up – like Quidditch – around his wrist now. James wanted to feel the ribbon wrapped around his fingers, to feel the soft silk. He wanted to tangle his fingers in Regulus’ hair, to feel the soft curls. 

 

The only problem about having Regulus in most of his classes was the fact that Sirius was also in most of those classes. The tension between the Black brothers had somehow gotten thicker since Regulus’ emancipation. Sirius tried getting his brother’s attention, telling their friends that his intentions were to only make sure that Regulus wouldn’t lose his wit and go running back to their parents, but it was clear to anyone with half a brain cell that Sirius just wanted to talk to Regulus. 

 

Regulus, on his part, seemed to be avoiding Sirius at all costs. That, however, also meant that he was avoiding James as well. Now this wouldn’t be a problem, if not for James’ steadily growing crush on the youngest Black. Regulus hadn’t even looked him in the eye, apart from the brief fleeting glance that he’d graced James with when he had looked up from his cauldron in potions and had accidentally caught James’ gaze from across the room. 

 

James had very nearly fallen out of his chair when Regulus’ icy blue orbs had connected with his warm hazel. The Slytherin’s face had been flushed from leaning over his steaming cauldron, his curls damp and sticking to his forehead. He looked unfairly beautiful, even with his nose wrinkled up at the smell of the potion fumes.

 

James started hyper-fixating on the little details that he could pick up on Regulus. Like the way his hair seemed to part naturally down the middle, how he favoured his left hand, how he took his tea with milk and honey, how much he seemed to like to read, how he folded his palm over his mouth to hide his smile. James adored the way Regulus’ nose wrinkled whenever Dorcas murmured in his ear, and how he would shake his head fondly while trying to look stern when he was reproaching Crouch and Rosier.

 

And most of all, he absolutely loved it when Regulus returned from his walks with Pandora along the Black Lake, flushed and windswept, looking like he belonged on the front cover of a Quiddicth magazine.

 

“Prongs,” Sirius nudged him out of his revery. James’ head snapped up, eyes wide as he looked at his best friend. Had Sirius caught him looking at Regulus? “The professor asked you a question,” Sirius went on, looking at James in concern. James’ eyes darted around, and sure enough, Professor Flitwick was staring at him expectantly, as was most of the class. 

 

Peter tapped his quill against his desk, drawing James’ attention. In front of him, there was a torn piece of parchment with the answer to the question Flitwick had asked him. Or, James guessed that it must have been the answer.

 

“It was created in 1867, Sir,” James tried to speak confidently, but his statement came out as more of a question. Flitwick shook his head at him and for a brief moment, James thought that Peter had set him up, except the Professor sighed and gave him a pointed look,

 

“Mr. Pettigrew won’t be able to give you the answers to your exam at the end of the year, Mr. Potter. Please pay attention, this information is rather important.” 

 

James cleared his throat and nodded solemnly, murmuring a quick thanks to Peter when the professor resumed his lesson. 

 

Just as he was about to bother Remus for a quill and parchment, James caught a glimpse of startling blue eyes. 

 

Regulus Black had been looking at him.











Regulus had been avoiding the common room as much as he could. Somehow, word of his departure from his family had spread around to the families in the Sacred Twenty-Eight, meaning that half of the people in Slytherin knew about it. 

 

Regulus had only been popular amongst the boys in Slytherin because he came from an Old Family. One of wealth and power, and people believed that befriending him meant that they’d have good connections in the future when he’d inevitably have a spot in the Wizengamot after his father’s retirement. Clearly, that would not be happening now, so there was no reason to be friendly to him. Regulus didn’t mind, though; he’d never particularly liked anyone from his House, other than those in his inner circle. He preferred the Ravenclaws, who weren’t as money hungry.

 

Mulciber and Avery had taken to tormenting him, sending hexes his way for laughs. Regulus knew that he could stop them if he cared enough to do so. He could scare them badly and ensure that they wouldn’t mess with him again – he knew, from his time in the Black Family library, some pretty Dark spells. And he could see himself using some of them on the two idiots, hurting them badly – except, he didn’t want to.

 

Because that was what a Black would do. If his mother saw how the older blokes were treating him, she would probably order him to Crucio them on the spot. His father would use a more subdued method of torture, perhaps a slow acting potion that would cause them immense discomfort during the entirety of the day. Bellatrix, well, Bella would bypass torture and go straight for the Killing Curse.

 

Regulus was trying not to be like them anymore. He’d been different, once; before he went to Hogwarts, before he fell in line under his parents’ thumb to escape their ire. All of his efforts had been futile, anyway, because Walburga and Orion Black were never satisfied with anything their sons ever did.

 

So, Regulus figured that it didn’t matter if he acted like the perfect pureblood son anymore, because he didn’t have to return home to them at the end of the year. He didn’t have to worry about being beaten within an inch of his life for not being the picture of pureblood aristocracy. 

 

He could be himself again, out in the open. He didn’t have to hide from the world, pretending to be cold and detached – unreachable. He could be the Regulus he was around his friends. The Regulus who liked to talk about muggle novels and Mythology, uncaring if his laughter was too loud for polite company or if he was being too kind to people.

 

Obviously, he couldn’t be the same starry-eyed boy that he was when he was a child. He’d witnessed too much, had been broken down one too many times to ever fully be that boy again, but he could try. 

 

The first step was to stop acting the way his parents would expect him to act. He’d been called soft when he was young, for the way he acted. At first, Regulus didn’t see how being kind to others made him soft or weak, because he’d thought that being nicer to people made them more inclined to be nice back. His mother had quickly cursed that notion out of him. 

 

And Regulus had been left with bitter resentment. Because he was so nice to her, always, and she was the worst. He’d learned, as well, that being nice didn’t always guarantee that people would be kind in return nor would it make them want to be around him more often. Sirius had been the one to show him that, after he’d been sorted into Gryffindor and found himself a whole other family. 

 

Regulus had wondered if it was anything that he’d done to make his brother replace him so quickly. He’d never quite figured out why Sirius had so readily chosen James Potter over him, but Regulus had stopped questioning his brother’s actions a long time ago.

 

Besides, Regulus had Evan. He thought he and Evan were similar to what Potter and Sirius were to each other. Brothers in everything but blood. Evan had been the one to pick up his broken pieces after Sirius had left Regulus in that house, alone and scared with no clue what to do with himself or his angry parents.

 

Evan had quite literally saved his life, when Regulus was at his lowest, wavering on the ledge of the Astronomy tower, drunk and absolutely wrecked that his own brother could do something like that to him. 

 

Because Regulus had wanted to leave that house too. He’d wanted it since the first time his father took him over his knee. He and Sirius used to plan it – how they’d leave, where they would go. It was always together, in their dreams. Always him and Sirius. Except, in the end, it wasn’t. 

 

It was Sirius first. And then him.

 

And Regulus knew, deep down in the furthest depths of his soul, that Evan would never have done that to him. 












James was either extremely stupid or entirely too confident in himself. He’d figured that he couldn’t just talk to Regulus because: one,  that would not go down well with Sirius, and two, he would not even know how to start up a conversation with the younger wizard.

 

James needed help. 

 

He approached Dorcas Meadowes in their shared Muggle Studies class. None of his friends took the class, claiming that it was useless, and James had never been so thankful in his life. He dropped down into the seat next to Dorcas, smiling warmly at her. The witch returned his look with narrowed eyes and tight lips.

 

“Hello,” James started, simply enough. He wanted to ease into it, unwilling to make himself seem too suspicious. 

 

Dorcas ignored him, flipping through her book bag for a quill.

 

James sighed, “Did you start that Transfig essay? I’m halfway through with mine, but I’m stuck. Hey, maybe we could help each other out,” he offered, looking at her with false enthusiasm.

 

Dorcas muttered something under her breath and turned to him. “I’ve already handed it in. It was due yesterday, Potter.” 

 

Fuck.

 

“Fuck,” James said out loud. “Well, I definitely failed that. How about the potions worksheet, then? I know that’s not due until Friday.” 

 

Dorcas shook her head dismissively. “Reg does all of my potions work,” she mumbled. 

 

“Reg? Regulus Black?” James perked up, eager for more information. Dorcas seemed to notice her mistake, her demeanour immediately becoming tense and withdrawn.  Suspicious.

 

“What about him?” She practically growled, eyes narrowed suspiciously, jaw clenched. “Whatever your idiot friend said about him was probably wrong, so go ahead. Insult him. I dare you.” 

 

It took James an embarrassing amount of time to realize that she was talking about Sirius. Because Sirius was his friend and also Regulus’ estranged brother. And clearly, she mistook his intentions. He wasn’t there to antagonize Regulus, he was there to learn more about him so that he could befriend the younger boy.

 

Before James could defend himself (and Sirius), the professor was starting the lesson.

 

 

Chapter Text

James and Sirius were in the middle of planning an elaborate prank on the Slytherins when Peter came bursting into their dorm, face flushed as if he’d just run all the way to the tower.

 

“You lied,” he pointed an accusing finger at Sirius. Dropping his book bag at the foot of his bed, Peter flopped between the two dark haired Marauders, chest heaving as he caught his breath. 

 

“About what, exactly?” Sirius asked, unbothered by the new addition to the bed. He occupied himself by rearranging his and James’ notes and plans, adding some tweaks to improve their chances of getting away unscathed. “What are you on about, mate? Be specific.” 

 

Peter lifted his head, blue eyes wide as he looked at Sirius. Slowly, he sat up, grabbing the oldest Marauder by his shoulders and shook him wildly. “Your brother is a bloody angel, Sirius!” Seemingly unaware of Sirius’ suddenly stiff posture, Peter went on, “He showed up to the chess club and asked me if he could join, and he didn’t even complain when I paired him up with a second year Hufflepuff. Then he thanked me and held the door for me on our way out! I was talking myself up the whole time, preparing to be a twat to him and he turns around and acts like the nicest person ever! I thought you said that he was an entitled prick!” 

 

James’ eyes flitted between his best friends, taking in Peter’s incredulous expression along with Sirius’ tense shoulders and clenched fists. He knew that an argument was about to ensue.

 

As if on cue, Remus strolled into the dorm, textbooks in hand. He paused, looking between Peter and Sirius, then sighed and approached the bed cautiously. “Alright, what did Pete say and why is Pads so mad?” 

 

Peter blinked violently, his head snapping towards Sirius. He seemed to realize what he’d said and immediately tried to backtrack. “Oh, Padfoot, I didn’t mean–”

 

“It’s alright, Peter,” Sirius stood up abruptly, staring blankly at nothing. He shuffled as if he was going to walk away, but Peter caught his wrist. 

 

“Mate, I’m sure he’s still a prick,” he said placatingly. “Probably just didn’t realize who he was talking to, is all.” He smiled sheepishly, encouraging Sirius to say something snarky about Regulus, the way he always would, but the older bloke just nodded mutely instead.

 

“Yeah, probably,” Sirius agreed. He walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. They waited until they could hear the shower going before turning to Peter.

 

“Regulus Black was nice to you?” James couldn’t help but mutter in astonishment. Since Regulus’ first year, the younger wizard had been nothing other than indifferent or slightly bitter towards the Marauders. It was a step in the right direction if he was being nice to one of them.

 

“Prongs, you don’t understand, he smiled at me,” Peter hissed, shaking James firmly. “Like, his lips went like this.” He demonstrated by lifting his hands to the corners of his mouth and using his fingers to pull the corners up into an awkward looking smile. James snorted, batting his hands away, but Peter shook his head. “I didn’t even know he could do that! I almost thought it wasn’t him at first, but it was.” 

 

“How was he?” James asked, maybe a bit too eagerly. He cleared his throat and set his face into a concerned expression. “Did he seem like he was, you know, doing okay after what happened? I know Padfoot is worried that he might go back to his parents.”

 

Peter considered this and shrugged. “He seemed really into chess. He doesn’t talk much, well not to me at least, but he was polite and I saw him laughing with his partner.” His face turned earnest as he uttered his next sentence, looking between James and Remus with wide eyes. “You guys, he’s sweet . He offered to help me carry out my bag when he saw that I was struggling to hold all of the chess sets.” 

 

James didn’t know what to say to this, because honestly he was a bit overwhelmed with all of the new information on his latest crush. 

 

“I don’t want to cause a problem with Sirius,” Peter started, shifting uncomfortably, “but it didn’t seem like Regulus was only pretending to be nice to me. I think – I think that’s just him.” When neither James nor Remus said anything, he sighed. “I know it seems unlikely, but don’t you remember how haughty Pads acted back in first year, before we actually got to know him?”

 

“I believe you,” James found himself blurting out. He cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck bashfully, feeling his skin heat up. “I just mean – Sirius used to talk about Regulus all the time back then, right? Used to make it sound like Regulus hung the moon every night.” And in the past, James would have sounded bitter about a fact like that, but he couldn’t bring himself to sound anything other than optimistic at the moment. 











Remus knew that what he was about to do was probably a bad idea. He knew this, and still he was on his way to the library. In his arms, he had a tower of books, balanced precariously on the bends of his elbows. 

 

Remus’ plan was simple enough: he’d go to the library, find Regulus Black, sit at the nearest table to the younger boy and essentially spy on him. Honestly, Remus just wanted to make sure that what Peter had said was true, because if it was, then Sirius could get his little brother back. 

 

Sirius had been distraught after it was revealed that Regulus was not a blood supremacist and that he wanted out of the Black family. He’d berated himself for not having realized sooner that Regulus might not have been entirely like their crazy, evil parents. On top of that, Sirius was beside himself at the thought of Regulus killing himself just to be rid of the Mark that stained his skin. Though the Slytherin was too clever for his own good, Sirius hadn’t been able to stop worrying about the possibility of the spell failing, leaving Regulus dead. If Regulus had died that night, he’d have done so without knowing how Sirius felt about him. 

 

Remus didn’t like sticking his nose in other people’s business, usually, but he’d do anything for Sirius. Even reunite him with his estranged little brother. 

 

Regulus was standing between the stacks in the Magical Creatures section, a blonde witch at his side. They seemed to be arguing over something, their heads pushed together as they stared down at a book. Remus crept closer, trying to catch some of the rapid fire words that they were exchanging. They didn’t seem to notice him as he walked behind them, peering down to glimpse at the book held between them.

 

Regulus suddenly took an abrupt step back, stepping on Remus’ foot, tripping the Gryffindor. The Slytherin flinched as Remus’ books went crashing to the ground, his head whipping around quickly. With wide eyes, Regulus knelt to the floor to help Remus gather his belongings.

 

“Merlin, I didn’t even see you,” Regulus breathed out, piling books on top of books. “I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t even realize…” he trailed off, meeting Remus’ gaze. Perhaps he was embarrassed that he’d been rambling or maybe he was embarrassed that Remus was Sirius’ friend, but Regulus’ cheeks pinked and he ducked his head bashfully. 

 

“Don’t worry about it,” Remus said smoothly. “I didn’t see you either,” he lied, “I guess it was both of our faults.” He stood up, shooting the Ravenclaw witch a quick smile. Regulus gathered the rest of the books quickly, rising to his feet gracefully. Instead of handing Remus back his books, he walked over to the nearest desk and set them down for him.

 

Remus set down the rest of his textbooks, relieved to be able to release the pressure on his arms. As if he noticed the werewolf’s relief, Regulus smiled tentatively and gestured to the books. “I can teach you a spell that makes them practically weightless,” he offered. 

 

Oh, Peter had been right. Regulus really was sweet.

 

Now, Remus had two options: he could either turn Regulus’ offer down, and therefore lose his olive branch, or he could form an acquaintance and get one step closer to making Sirius happy again. 

 

“Sure,” Remus agreed, smiling warmly as Regulus began explaining the spell.











James liked to think that he had quite a few good qualities. He was a Gryffindor which meant that he was chivalrous, brave, and loyal. He was also kind – a trait that he took great pride in – he was honest, and confident (or egotistical, depending on who you asked), creative, and compassionate.

 

That being said, he also had his bad traits, the ones he wasn’t proud of. He could be impatient, and arrogant at times, but his worst trait was his jealousy. He’d come to terms with the fact that he was a possessive person by nature, not dwelling too much on the fact that when he deemed something or someone as his , he wanted said object or person to be only his

 

This possessive jealousy, unfortunately, seemed to extend to Regulus Black, as of late. 

 

James sat at his usual spot at the Gryffindor table, trying to enjoy his breakfast. A difficult task, since the Slytherin table was in his direct line of sight. Now, normally, that wouldn’t be a problem, but that day it was because Barty Crouch had his arm thrown over Regulus’ shoulders, tucking the dark haired wizard to his side. 

 

And Regulus seemed perfectly content there, tucked up against Crouch’s side, if the soft smile on his lips meant anything. For a brief selfish moment, James wished that Regulus’ friends would have deserted him like Sirius had been worried about at the end of the holidays. Because if they had, Regulus would not be cosy with Crouch, and maybe he’d be tucked against James’ side instead, gaining comfort from him .

 

Logically, James knew that he had no claims on Regulus, so his jealousy was stupid and utterly ridiculous. But he couldn’t help the green hue that enveloped him as he stared across the Great Hall at where Regulus was not only tucked up beside Crouch, but also looking up at him with a smile hidden at the corner of his lips. 

 

James’ thoughts were interrupted when Sirius collapsed into the seat across from him, looking distinctly grumpy in the early morning. He’d been out of sorts since their arrival at school, unusually tense and disgruntled, like he was waiting for something to happen. What? James didn’t know, but he wished to find out so that he could soothe his friend.

 

“Alright, Pads?” asked James, sending the older Marauder a bemused look. Sirius looked ragged, his hair shaggy and unstyled, eyeliner smudge and his lips chapped and bitten raw. Beside him, Remus looked worried, sending Sirius fleeting glances when he thought that the other wasn’t looking. The werewolf met James’ eye and shook his head gently.

 

Sirius picked up a discarded Prophet that someone had left on the table and flipped it over to the second to last page. He eyed it quietly for a moment before looking up to meet James’ concerned gaze.

 

“What if I bought a flat?” he mused, pursing his lips in thought. James felt immediate dread fill him, chilling him from the inside out. Sirius wanted to move out? Before he could question just why the boy wanted to do that, Sirius continued speaking, “For next year, y’know, when Reg is here by himself. Living in Hogsmeade is too risky, anyone could see him entering his flat and report it back to Walburga and Orion. Plus, if he’s spending the hols with me , he won’t have the chance to change his mind and go back there… ” 

 

Oh. He was in a strop about Regulus. Of course.

 

“Have you asked him?” James was very curious to know because Sirius had not said anything about speaking to his brother again. He’d like to think that his best friend would tell him something as important as that, but Sirius had been a little out of his head recently.

 

Sirius looked oddly taken aback by the question, as if it was so unreasonable for James to ask. “No, Prongs, I haven’t,” he answered bitterly. “In fact, the prick hasn’t even looked in my direction all week. But what else is new, eh?” Sirius was quiet for all of twenty seconds before he was back on the idea of buying a flat, asking his friends for their opinions on the different listings.

 

During their discussion, neither noticed Regulus walking out of the Great Hall alone.












His mother was standing over him, wand at his throat, blood on her knuckles. She had a sneer on her beautiful face, her sharp nails digging into the skin at his throat as she held his head up. Before him, stood the Dark Lord. When Bellatrix and Lucius spoke of the Dark Lord, Regulus had been expecting a divine entity, not a simple man who addressed himself as a God.

 

Red eyes connected with his and Regulus shuddered at the intensity of the cold stare. There was no sign of life behind those eyes, no love or emotion. 

 

“Your boy doesn’t seem sure about this, Walburga,” the man spoke, a serpentine lilt to his tone. His tongue wrapped around each ‘s’, stretching them out like a snake. “Perhaps he is more like his brother than we thought.” 

 

“No!” His mother almost shrieked. “I have not raised two blood traitors! Regulus is ready for his duty, he just needs a little push.” With that, she dug her wand deeper into his neck, pressing right against his airway. Leaning down to whisper in his ear, she hissed, “Bare your arm, Regulus, this is what you were made to do.” 

 

Rather against his self preservation instincts, Regulus tilted his head back until he met her eyes and stared at her defiantly. He couldn’t speak with his lip as swollen as it was, but the woman got the message loud and clear. 

 

‘Fuck. You.’

 

The hand on his neck disappeared, only to reappear on his face, slapping him so hard his vision blurred out. Regulus made a disgruntled sound, followed by a choked gasp when his body was suddenly overcome with an ice cold pain. His mother’s special variation of the body-bind charm ensured that the person under the curse felt like each and every one of their nerve endings were alight with a freezing sensation that lasted hours after the curse was released. 

 

Even though he hated his mother, Regulus had to admit that the woman was creative.

 

A hand was on his sleeve, lifting it until his pale porcelain skin was on display. He couldn’t move or speak, internally screaming at them to leave him alone. Internally calling out for help. Calling out for Sirius. 

 

No one came for him.

 

The hand on him was cold, he could feel it even through the curse. Regulus would have shuddered if he could. The hand caressed the soft skin of his wrist, a thumb running over his delicate bone. The touch was intimate in a way that made him want to curl up inside himself and retreat into the Earth. 

 

A nose brushed against his inner arm, cold and blunt on his skin. Regulus squeezed his eyes shut. 

 

“His magic is strong,” the Dark Lord noted, with a hint of what could be interpreted as pride. “He will be a nice addition to my army.” 

 

“I told you,” Walburga piped up, seemingly pleased with the compliment to her son. “My Regulus has always been talented. A good boy, unlike the filthy Gryffindor.” Her own twisted display of pride. “I raised this one well.”

 

‘You didn’t raise me at all,’ Regulus wanted to shout. 



Suddenly there was unimaginable pain in his left arm. A searing, white-hot burning sensation that reached his bones. And Regulus screamed, despite the spell and his aching jaw, he screamed in agony. His body twitched and jerked, unable to run away. Silent tears poured out of his eyes as he stared up at the dark ceilings of the drawing room. 

 

No one came for him.

 

He was left alone, lying in his own blood, on the hardwood floor. His arm still spasmed with phantom pain, fire in his veins. His legs felt heavy, like rocks were in his bones, weighing him down. His head felt numb, even as a thousand thoughts swarmed him at once.

 

He pulled himself up, because that’s what he had to do, and walked to the library.

 

When the water entered his lungs, Regulus screamed again. Screaming at the pain in his arm and chest. Screaming for all the times he had been quiet.

 

He sat up with a start, gasping and clutching at his chest. His arm burned, and when he lifted his sleeve it looked red and raw, like someone had been dragging their nails over it. But the Mark was still a dull grey, the bond severed and useless.

 

And he should have felt some relief about that, but he didn’t. Because it was still there on his arm, taunting him every time he was shirtless, reminding him of the horrors he faced in that house.

 

Everything reminded him of them .

 

His family name was a noose around his neck, double knotted, anchoring him to the people he hated the most in the world.











JANUARY 12TH 1978



“Are you sleeping at all?” quietly and subtly, Evan asked. He moved closer to where Regulus was walking behind their group of friends, dragging his feet against the stone floors of the castle.

 

“Every time I close my eyes, there’s a war on,” Regulus mumbled grimly, his eyes half-lidded and drooping with his lack of slumber. 

 

“There’s still a war on even when your eyes are open, love,” Evan replied, wrapping an arm around Regulus’ waist. He sighed when Regulus didn’t reply. “I will get you Dreamless Sleep from Madame Pomfrey,” he promised.

 

Regulus allowed the blond to steer him towards their History of Magic class, leading him to seats at the back for a change. He and Evan were the only ones in their group who took NEWT Level History, so they sat together, heads ducked down on their desks.

 

It wasn’t until they heard someone clear their throats that they lifted their heads, or rather Evan lifted his head and Regulus peered up through his eyelashes.

 

“Those are our seats,” Remus Lupin said, nodding at the desks that they were occupying. Peter Pettigrew stood beside him, looking down at the Slytherins warily. 

 

“Look mate,” Evan began, folding his arms across the desk. “If Reg stands up right now, he’ll probably collapse.” He held a hand up when Regulus started to interrupt, silencing him with a stern look. Remus seemed amused by this, sharing a look with his friend. “Just sit somewhere else for today, I’m sure it won’t kill you.” 

 

“Are you alright, Regulus?” Peter asked, frowning down at the sleepy wizard. Regulus made a noncommittal sound, waving a hand limply in the general direction of the Gryffindors. He still had yet to lift his head from his desk, burying his face in his arm. He kept his eyes wide open, though, too afraid that he might see his mother staring down at him if he closed them.

 

“Peachy,” Evan replied for him, smiling sweetly at the older boys in front of him. He ignored Regulus’ huff of amusement, instead peering to the front of the room. “Looks like Binns is about to start, you’ll want to go sit down.” 

 

Reluctantly, the Gryffindors retreated to other seats, glancing over their shoulders as they went.













JANUARY 14TH 1978



Regulus was running late to his prefect duties. He had patrol before curfew tonight, but Quidditch practice had run late and Emma would not let him leave before the others, lest they believe she was giving him special treatment.

 

For the first time in his life, Regulus couldn’t wait until the Quidditch season was over. He wasn’t even ashamed to admit it, but the sport was feeling like a chore as of late, rather than a hobby. 

 

Quidditch used to be the one thing he looked forward to at the start of each school year, but now with the Dark Mark burned into his forearm, Regulus had bigger things to think about – like the oncoming war and his place in it.

 

Obviously, he wasn’t a Death Eater, but he wasn’t so sure if he could be a neutral person as the war raged on. Dumbledore had mentioned something to him at the start of term – The Order of the Phoenix, but the thing was that Regulus wasn’t so sure he wanted to fight. 

 

He wasn’t ignorant on the subject – people were dying and he would help if he had to – but he’d done enough fighting in his life and he just wanted a moment where he wasn’t constantly having a wand pointed at him. He’d told Dumbledore that he’d think about joining up, and he was. It was all he thought about, really.



When Regulus got to the entrance of the Great Hall, he was met with the sight of James Potter waiting for him. He groaned, not bothering to stifle the sound, and drew the Gryffindor’s attention to him.

 

Potter seemed surprised to see him there, mouth agape and eyes wide as he stared at Regulus wordlessly. Regulus had to force himself not to huff indignantly and tap his foot against the ground.

 

“What are you doing here, Potter? Where is Parkinson?” Regulus asked, admittedly impatient. Penelope Parkinson had been his prefect partner since his fifth year, and she had never missed a patrol before. 

 

“Parkinson was hit by a stray hex in DADA today, she’s in the hospital wing until further notice. As Head Boy, I have to do her duties for her,” Potter replied. Oddly, he sounded a little breathless, as if he had been running recently, Regulus felt better about being late since it seemed as though Potter had been as well.

 

“Just my fucking luck,” Regulus grumbled to himself. He really could not catch a break.

 

Potter seemed to jolt to a start when Regulus began to walk away, quickly falling into step with the younger. Distractedly, he ran a hand through his already messy hair. Potter seemed to do that a lot, and Regulus could not fathom why he would want to make himself look like he’s never even seen a hairbrush in his life.

 

“Is it really that bad? Doing a patrol with me?” Potter asked, seemingly amused. “I like to think that I’m pretty good at my job.” He tapped his Head Boy pin and smirked down at Regulus. 

 

“Oh, I’m sure you’re very good at your job,” his tone oozed sarcasm. “I just don’t fancy spending two whole hours with you. Spending any amount of time in forced proximity with a Gryffindor is bad enough – but spending time with one of Sirius’ idiot friends? That’s nothing short of torture.” 

 

Potter frowned, and Regulus almost felt bad for being so harsh. He was trying to be better, he had to remind himself. 

 

“But you spend time with Peter twice a week at chess club and he said that you were perfectly polite,” Potter pointed out. And he was right, Regulus found that he didn’t mind Peter’s company as much as he thought he would. Same with Lupin. He actually felt a bit sorry for them, having to spend so much time with the likes of Sirius and Potter.

 

“Oh, well, I guess it’s just you, then,” Regulus muttered softly. 

 

Potter’s frown deepened for just a second before he was grinning, spinning so that he was standing right in front of Regulus, walking backwards. Regulus hoped that he tripped and fell. “So I’m special, is what you’re saying?” The fool asked, looking down at Regulus with a stupid grin.

 

“That is literally the opposite of what I said,” Regulus retorted, bemused. 

 

“You said that it’s just me, which makes me special. I’m flattered, Reg, really,” Potter put a hand on his chest and beamed at him. Regulus scrunched his nose and resisted the urge to send a tripping jinx towards the Gryffindor. Instead, he walked past him, lengthening his stride so that he was a few feet ahead. “Oh, don’t run away, Regulus, I was kidding!” Potter jogged to catch up, smiling down at him.

 

“We’re not here to joke around and act like fools, we have a job to do,” Regulus snapped. He knew that he was likely being unreasonable, but he did truly dislike Potter and his inability to be serious for more than one minute. At least Lupin and Pettigrew weren’t immature prats. And they weren’t brother stealers.

 

The rest of the patrol was spent in silence.



Chapter Text

JANUARY 17TH 1978

 

James watched as the brown school owl swooped in with the rest of the mail owls. Just as he had asked it to, the owl dropped the bouquet of flowers into Regulus’ lap before retreating back towards the sky.

 

James was proud of his bouquet; he had spent nearly an hour outside the previous night, collecting wildflowers from the greenhouses . He watched with a smug grin as multiple sets of eyes turned towards Regulus as the younger picked up the large collection of colourful flowers, staring at them in surprise. 

 

His smugness quickly dissipated when Regulus brought the bouquet up to his nose to get a smell, but ended up sneezing instead. His adorable button nose scrunched up, already turning pink at the tip. Beside James, Sirius laughed.

 

“He’s allergic to pollen,” the oldest Marauder explained without taking his eyes off of his brother, who was handing off the flowers to Pandora Lestrange. “Always seems to forget. The moment he sees a flower he brings it up to his nose, then his sinuses are clogged for the next week.” 

 

James wanted to groan and hit his head against the table. Not only could Regulus not keep his gift, but he had also caused the younger wizard to get sick. 

 

“He looks happy, though,” Sirius went on, finally tearing his gaze away from the Slytherin table. “I wonder who sent them to him.” The statement was simple enough yet it made James’ heartbeat pick up. He was just about to spew some nonsense response about Regulus being popular when Peter spoke up,

 

“I reckon it’s Eloïse. They partnered up in chess club last Tuesday, she seemed taken with him.” 

 

Rather against his will, James’ eyes darted towards the end of the Gryffindor table where Eloïse Parker was sitting with her friends. She was in fifth year, with long brown hair and rosy cheeks. She was pretty enough, and seemed like the type of girl that would make a good girlfriend, but James couldn’t see her and Regulus together. 

 

When James looked at the empty spot beside Regulus, he saw himself. He hoped that one day his wishes would come true.











Regulus wiped his nose with his handkerchief, staring down at the folded paper in his hands. There had been a note attached to the bouquet of flowers that he’d randomly received that morning, and Regulus had sneakily taken it before handing off the flowers to Pandora who wished to use them for her art.

 

He managed to steal some time away from his friends between their third and fourth periods, sneaking away to the washrooms on the third floor. 

 

Almost nervously, Regulus unfolded the small scrap of parchment. He didn’t know what to expect, but he was momentarily stunned by the scratchy scrawl of the person’s handwriting. 

 

The note was short a simple:

 

I think that you’re very pretty and I wanted to give you something equally as pretty. I hope you like these xx

 

There was no signature at the bottom to indicate who had sent the flowers, so Regulus was left staring at the blank space that should have held a name. He didn’t know if he should be annoyed that the person didn’t sign their name or flattered that they called him pretty. In the end, a blush blossomed on his face, making his decision for him.

 

No one had ever called him pretty before. Or, well, his friends had, but he always figured that they were joking with him so it didn’t count. 

 

Pandora always made offhanded comments about him looking particularly good on certain days, asking him who he was trying to impress when he spent time making his hair look neat in the mornings, and then there were the times Evan called him “pretty boy” to tease him. But none of those were anything like this. Someone thought that he was pretty, and they’d gone out of their way to let him know.

 

He really wished that they had signed their name.

 

If he had been paying more attention to his surroundings, he would have heard the doors to the washroom opening and closing.

 

“Reg?” Barty called out, his voice echoing in the spacious room. Regulus quickly hid the note in his pocket, sweeping out of his stall to face his best friend. Barty smiled at him, teasing and full of mirth, “What? Did I interrupt you taking a crap?” 

 

Regulus rolled his eyes, nudging Barty’s shoulder as he passed him. “No, doofus, I just needed a moment to myself. It was becoming increasingly harder to look at your hideous face for a moment longer,” he drawled, smirking over his shoulder.

 

Barty fell in step next to him, leering down at Regulus with a handsome smile. “Babe, you’re not fooling anyone, everyone knows that you want me.” He wrapped an arm around Regulus’ shoulder, tugging him close.

 

Snorting, Regulus shook his head. “Yeah, Bar, I want you so badly I can hardly breathe sometimes,” Regulus replied, standing on the tips of his toes so that his face was close to the brunet’s. “Don’t you know what you do to me?” 

 

There was too much truth behind his words, but Regulus had promised himself that he wasn’t burying his feelings this year. He and Barty had been dancing around each other since their fourth year, and he was determined to do something about it this year.

 

Barty paused, only for a moment, before he sobered. Straightening up and sweeping his gaze around the nearly empty corridor. They were going to be late to Charms, but it didn’t seem like either of them were worried. 

 

“I never asked, how’s the arm?” Barty spoke in an unusually solemn tone, not a trace of a smile on his face. “I didn’t want to bring it up in front of the others because I know you hate talking about things like that.”

 

“Things like that?” Regulus echoed, frowning.

 

“Family things,” Barty clarified. “Blood supremacy things.” 

 

Though they had been best friends since they were eleven years old, Regulus knew nothing about Barty’s stance on blood supremacy. Regulus and Evan had made it clear since first year that they were not blood purists. Pandora’s stance on blood status was pretty clear from the start, and Dorcas’ dad was a muggle, so she also was clear on her beliefs. Barty was the only one in their group who didn’t go out of his way to make his beliefs known. 

 

Regulus knew that he took great pleasure in disappointing his father, hence him being in Slytherin rather than Ravenclaw like his parents had been, but he’d never said anything about blood status. Even after Sirius had run away to the Potters, Barty had been one of the only Slytherins who didn’t call Sirius a “blood traitor”. He’d said some pretty nasty things about the older Black brother, but the words blood and traitor were never put in the same sentence.

 

It was confusing at times, when Barty would send a hex to a muggleborn student in the hallway and laugh about it, but then turn around and do the same to a pureblood. 

 

Regulus knew better than anyone that Barty had a lot of pent up anger from his childhood that he wanted to take out, but it didn’t seem to matter who he was hurting as long as it made him hurt less

 

Regulus wanted to ask, just so that they were on the same page, but he was too afraid to lose his best friend. 

 

“My arm is fine,” Regulus replied softly. “It aches sometimes, when I – just when I think about it, I guess.” 

 

Barty tugged him to a stop, and Regulus watched as he carefully folded the sleeve of Regulus’ shirt, revealing the grey Mark. Barty just stared at it for a long time before bringing the ruined skin up to his mouth and brushing his lips over it ever so gently. Regulus couldn’t suppress the shudder that rolled through him, swaying closer to the taller boy.

 

“Anytime it hurts, just tell me. I’ll kiss it better,” Barty murmured, holding Regulus’ gaze. 











“Who were the flowers from?” Evan asked as they walked down to the Quidditch pitch. Barty was already there, having left early with Dorcas, so it was just them.

 

“I don’t know,” Regulus replied honestly. 

 

Evan glanced over at him, looking at his earnest expression and nodded, “Alright. Well, you know what this means, don’t you?” Conspiringly, he looked around as if checking their surroundings before he ducked his head in to whisper in Regulus’ ear, “Someone fancies you.” He sighed a little and pulled back marginally. “I can’t fathom why anyone would, but –" the rest of his sentence was lost when Regulus pounced on him.

 

Evan tried to dodge him, but Regulus was quicker, wrapping his arms around the other boy’s waist and tackling him to the ground. There was still a thin layer of snow on the ground which soaked through their clothes, causing them to shiver as they rolled around trying to get on top of the other.

 

Regulus won in the end, using one of his hands to cover Evan’s face as he climbed on top of him, straddling his stomach. He collected a small handful of snow, holding in the air above his head. “Take that back or this is going down your trousers,” he warned, glaring menacingly.

 

Evan sputtered and laughed, twisting his body and trying to get out from under the dark haired boy. 

 

“Alright, alright, I take it back,” Evan exclaimed breathlessly, fighting futilely to get out from under the other Slytherin. “Get off, fat arse, you’re heavy.” 

 

Regulus smirked, ignoring the boy under him. “I changed my mind, actually,” he hummed. “This is going down your trousers either way.” Moving quickly so that Evan couldn’t fight back, Regulus peeled away the waistband of Evan’s trousers with one hand and dropped the snow in with the other. He was on his feet and running away before Evan could even gather his bearings.

 

“You fucking arse!” Evan bellowed, scrambling to his feet. He hissed when the snow slid down his leg, and hurried to chase after Regulus, throwing snowballs as he went. “Get back here!” 

 

Regulus couldn’t help the breathless laugh that bubbled out of him as he watched his best friend chase him around in the snow, cheeks tinged pink and hair soaking wet and sticking to his forehead. He was sure that he didn’t look any better, but at least he wasn’t as wet as Evan.

 

“Stop chasing me, I need energy for practice,” Regulus pleaded, jogging backwards so that he could keep an eye on the blond wizard.

 

“Your stamina really that bad, Reg?” Evan smirked, leaning down to collect a snowball. Regulus slowed down until he was walking backwards, watching Evan warily. 

 

“I’ll show you stamina,” he mumbled under his breath. “Ev, put that down, let’s call a truce, yeah? Besides, we’re late to practice, are you going to be the one to explain to Emma why we’re both soaking wet and tired?” 

 

“I know all of your tricks, Reg. The moment I put this down you’ll be tackling me to the ground again.” 

 

Regulus snorted, nodding his head sideways. That was exactly his plan. “Fine, throw it at me and we’ll be even.” Evan eyed him sceptically for a moment before launching the snowball at his head, Regulus ducked at the last second, beaming triumphantly when it soared over his head.

 

“Ah!” 

 

The Slytherins spun around, watching as the Gryffindor team walked up the hill leading down to the Quidditch pitch. Marlene Mckinnon was red in the face, cleaning snow off of the toque that covered her blonde hair. Regulus tucked his lips in when he saw the disgruntled expressions on the Gryffindors faces. 

 

“Who the fuck threw that?” Mckinnon demanded, glaring at the two younger boys. 

 

Regulus straightened up, extending his arm to point at Evan, only to find the other boy doing the same to him. He glared, swatting Evan’s hand down and smirked at the witch.

 

“You missed a spot,” he gestured to the top of her head, where a small piece of snow clung to her hat. The Gryffindor made a quiet sound at the back of her throat before stomping past them and going up the hill.

 

Regulus watched her go, exchanging a look with Evan when he caught his eyes. He couldn’t wait to tell this to Dorcas.









Sirius swallowed the lump in his throat as he watched Regulus and Rosier chase each other down to the Quidditch pitch. He could almost picture a younger version of himself in Rosier’s place, running down the hills behind the Black Manor, chasing behind his baby brother. He could picture Regulus’ rosy cheeks, still chubby with baby fat, stretched into that boyish grin of his. 

 

He kicked snow under his boots, tearing his gaze away forcefully. 

 

“Alright, mate?” James asked, suddenly appearing at his side. The bespectacled boy had gone off after Marlene, trying to cheer her up, but it was clear that it had been a lost cause.

 

“Fine,” Sirius grumbled, clearly not fine. He looked over at James and smiled, “Race you to the tower!” Without waiting for a reply, Sirius took off, running as fast as he could.



That night, he snuck into Remus’ bed, slipping under the covers uninvited. Remus was awake, watching Sirius with a knowing look, as if he had been waiting for him to come. The thought made Sirius smile.

 

“I saw Reg today,” Sirius whispered, mindful of the two sleeping boys in the room. “Well, of course I did, I see him every day.” He shook his head, turning onto his side. “He was having a snowball fight with Evan Rosier.” 

 

Remus pursed his lips, watching Sirius closely in the dimly lit room, only illuminated by the faint moonlight filtering in through the open curtains. “And how did that make you feel?” He asked eventually, when it was clear that Sirius wasn’t going to say anything without prompting.

 

Sirius chewed the inside of his cheek for a moment, trying to grasp all of his emotions and put them into words. He’d never been eloquent when it came to talking about things that mattered, always playing off serious conversations with jokes and teasing. But this was important, this was serious .

 

“I’m angry,” he began tentatively, almost nervous to utter something so real out loud. “I’m angry because when I was still living there, I thought that he was too far gone to be anything like he was when we were children again. I thought that they’d stolen that from me, taken the one good thing that house ever gave me and ruined it. But he’s still there , Moony. Reggie is still himself – but he’s Rosier’s now. And that’s not fair because I had him first. I want the Regulus who plays in the snow and laughs and smiles and acts like himself, but I can’t have that because it was taken away from me. And that’s not fair and it makes me angry that Rosier gets all of that. It’s supposed to be mine .” 

 

“Give him time, Pads. That’s all you can do,” Remus advised, looking almost as displeased as Sirius felt. 










JANUARY 18TH 1978




Regulus hated when his friends couldn’t agree on things. Usually, it was like they all shared a brain, having similar – if not the same – opinions on things, but on the rare occasions that they disagreed, everything became utter chaos.

 

Currently, they were figuring out whose turn it was to pick up their order of  gillyweed blunts. Evan reckoned that it was Dorcas’ turn to go, but Dorcas argued that it was actually Barty’s turn. Barty, on his part, didn’t care whose turn it was as long as he didn’t have to get out of his bed.

 

“Why don’t we go together, again?” Regulus cut in, silencing both Evan and Dorcas. They turned to look at him as if he had grown two heads, eyes wide and disbelieving.

 

“Because the last time we all went together, we drew too much attention and got caught!” Dorcas exclaimed through clenched teeth. Right. Regulus remembered the two weeks of detention they had served with Professor Slughorn. He also remembered the threatening letter his mother had sent upon hearing about his punishment. 

 

“We only got caught because you and Barty can’t shut the fuck up for more than two minutes at a time,” Evan snarked, earning himself a pillow to the face. In the flurry of pillows being thrown across the room, none of them noticed Regulus subtly dragging Pandora to the door.

 

Xenophilius Lovegood was waiting for them in the second floor girl’s bathroom. Though the Ravenclaw boy wasn’t very popular, everyone knew him. He was the person people went to when they wanted blunts and elixirs. No one knew where his stash came from, and no one ever questioned him either. His products were good and cheap. 

 

The only problem was that he was a hard person to track down. He could disappear for hours on end and reappear like he’d been there all along. People had to catch him in between classes to place their orders, which was tricky when the Professors were always lurking around.

 

“Xen, nice to see you again. Good hols?” Regulus greeted, digging in his pockets for stray sickles. Beside him, Pandora had gone uncharacteristically quiet, sticking close to his side.

 

“Not really, Hogwarts is rather boring during Yule,” Xenophilius replied, and though his words were dull, the smile on his face was not. “How about you? I heard you got away from that family of yours? Are congratulations in order, or would you prefer condolences?” 

 

Regulus chuckled, exchanging his money for pre-rolled joints. “Congratulations is fine, it is an occasion to be celebrated,” he hummed, grinning in a way he never did when he was at Grimmauld. 

 

“In that case,” Xeno fished a small phial out of his pocket, “congrats, Reg, I’m really happy for you,” he said sincerely. The potion was a lavender colour, almost glowing in the low light of the dreary bathroom. “It’s a Euphoria elixir, lasts about a couple of hours.” 

 

“Thanks,” genuinely, Regulus smiled. 

 

Xeno turned to Pandora, a small, almost shy smile lighting up his face. “And you, Pandora? How were your holidays?” He asked.

 

Pandora flushed immediately, looking inexplicably bashful as she ducked her head and tucked a strand of gold behind her ear. “Oh you know, not that eventful,” she shrugged casually, but her voice had taken on a squeaky tone. Regulus had to bite his lip to stifle a laugh.

 

Xenophilius either didn’t notice or didn’t care enough to point out her shyness, beaming at her before she had even stopped talking. “That’s good. I, uh, found some Spectrespecs in Hogsmeade, if you ever wanted to try them,” he offered, smiling nervously.

 

Regulus looked between them, his eyes widening when he realized that they obviously fancied each other. They were staring at each other with sickeningly sweet smiles on their faces, seemingly content to just stand there all day. Putting them out of their misery (and his!) Regulus looped his arm through Pandora’s and tugged a little, gaining their attention.

 

“We should head back and make sure that the others haven’t killed each other in our absence,” he said, glancing between them, amused by their matching disgruntled expressions. Caving, Regulus turned to Xeno. “Pan would love to borrow your Specte… your glasses,” he told him. “She’ll be waiting by the greenhouses tomorrow after Astronomy.” 



“Xeno Lovegood?” Regulus teased, nudging Pandora’s shoulder as they walked back to the dungeons. 

 

“Shut. Up,” the blonde grumbled, avoiding his eyes. Regulus laughed, dodging her slaps aimed at his head.

 

Barty, Evan and Dorcas had calmed down by the time they got back, all cuddled up on Evan’s bed with a box of sweets between them. Regulus rolled his eyes when Barty complained about them taking a long time, swatting him over the head with the back of his hand. He left his friends with the gillyweed, settling on his own bed with the elixir phial. Before he could talk himself out of it, Regulus knocked the potion back, tucking the empty glass into his pocket. 

 

The effects were almost immediate, warming him from the inside out until he felt nearly boneless on his silk sheets. Regulus smiled at nothing, turning his head to watch his friends smoke. 

 

When his gaze connected with Barty’s, Regulus felt his lips stretch wide. He curled his fingers and beckoned the taller wizard over. No one paid attention to them. Not even when Barty closed the curtains hanging around Regulus’ bed.











JANUARY 19TH 1978



James trudged down to Quidditch changing rooms, hidden under his cloak. The Slytherin team was on the pitch, and if James squinted, he could barely make out the number 7 on the back of Regulus’ robes as he flew over the pitch.

 

James paused momentarily, stunned to a standstill as Regulus suddenly swooped down, arm outstretched as he snatched the snitch right out of thin air. The Gryffindor felt a strange sense of pride overcome him as he listened to Regulus’ captain praise him for the trick. He only continued walking when Regulus let the snitch go again and flew up, and out of sight.

 

The Slytherin section of the changing rooms was unnecessarily green, and considerably more fancy than any of the other Houses. James felt out of place in the empty room. Ignoring his urge to just turn around and walk out, he stepped further into the room and looked for Regulus’ locker.

 

Unlike the Gryffindor changing room, there weren’t any stray clothes and bags thrown around, so it was fairly easy for James to spot Regulus’ cubby. His sports bag was on the bench in front of his locker with the number seven and the initials RAB stitched into it in bold silver letters. As James got closer to the bag, he realized that there was a tiny snitch embroidered on it that was charmed to move around the expanse of the black bag like a real snitch. It was adorable, and when James ran his finger across it, he could feel the warmth of the magic that made it. Regulus’ magic.

 

James fished the magical flower out of his pocket, carefully opening Regulus’ bag to put it in there. After he’d learned that the younger was allergic to pollen, James had found a spell to conjure a flower that looked real, and smelled real, but held no properties of an actual flower. It would also never wither, so Regulus could keep it as long as he wanted to. 

 

Attached to the flower was another note:

 

Here’s a flower you can actually keep, and it’s beauty will be everlasting, just like yours. 

 

Quickly, he dug a quill out of his pocket, adding: 



You look fit in your Quidditch kit, by the way x 

 

James had just enough time to close Regulus’ bag and step away before the Slytherin team was bustling into the changing room, sweaty and weary. Regulus was last to come in, and James paused when the boy went straight for his bag. 

 

Regulus made a quiet noise of surprise when he saw the flower, and luckily no one else noticed. James held his breath as the dark haired Slytherin read the note. A beautiful blush blossomed on the apples of Regulus’ cheeks, making James’ stomach flutter with butterflies.

 

He had to leaved the changing rooms because the team was starting to undress and he felt like a creep being there without their knowledge, but the sight of a blushing boy with bright blue eyes was sure to be burned into his brain forever.











Regulus clutched the flower close to his chest, the whole way back to the dorms. It was a Blue Bell, one of his favourite flowers. He wondered if the person who left him the flower knew that or if they had just guessed. He wondered if he knew the person that was leaving him the flowers. Perhaps that’s why they had chosen to stay anonymous.

 

“Another one?” Evan asked, slinging his arm around Regulus’ shoulders. “That’s twice in one week. They must really like you a lot.”

 

Regulus hummed, bringing the flower up to his nose again. It was relieving being able to smell the sweet, earthy scent without sneezing. This person was thoughtful, Regulus had to admit.

 

“Who are they even from? I didn’t know that you were into anyone,” Dorcas said, coming up on Regulus’ other side. 

 

“I’m not,” Regulus said quickly, even as his eyes darted reflexively towards Barty who was walking on Evan’s other side. “I don’t know who they’re from. I didn’t even know anyone saw me like that,” he murmured, frowning down at the flower.

 

“Oh, c’mon Reg, you’re the second hottest bloke in school,” Dorcas told him, wrapping her hand around his bicep. 

 

“The second?” Regulus echoed in confusion. “Who is the first?” 

 

A guilty grimace took over Dorcas’ face, and immediately he knew what was about to come next. 

 

“Sirius, but only because he has that whole ‘muggle rock star’ look going on. You’ve got more of that classic beauty. Timeless, one might say.” 

 

“Flattery isn’t earning you any points,” Regulus informed her flatly. She squeezed his arm, still looking guilty. His friends knew just how much of a sore subject Sirius was. “And never call me timeless again, thanks.” 

 

“It’s a load of bollocks, anyway,” Barty chimed in, his sweat soaked hair covering his eyes. Even still, Regulus was sure that the boy was looking right at him. “Reg is prettier than anyone else.” 











Chapter Text

JANUARY 20TH 1978



When Regulus walked into the potions classroom, he immediately knew that something important was happening that day. The seventh years were normally a rowdy lot, but today they were quietly sitting at their work tables, looking eargerly towards the front, as if anticipating the moment Slughorn would begin the class.

 

Regulus slid into his seat next to Barty, looking behind him at where Dorcas was sitting with Evan. “What’s going on?” He asked, frowning at the usually rambunctious Gryffindors. 

 

Before Dorcas could reply to him, the Potions Master stood and clapped his hands together, gaining everyone’s attention. “Hello, everyone. Today is an exciting day, one that I am sure you’ve all been looking forward to since the beginning of the year,” Slughorn began, with a knowing smile. He fished a small phial of pink liquid out of his desk and held it up for everyone to see. “Today, we will be brewing Amortentia, the world’s most famous love potion!” 

 

The classroom broke out into muffled whispers, everyone clearly very excited. Even Regulus had to admit that he was looking forward to brewing the love potion, not only because he had heard that it was one of the most difficult potions to get right, but also because he desperately wanted to know what his smelled like.

 

Slughorn held up a hand, effectively cutting off the conversation. “Now, everyone open your books to page 467 and prepare your ingredients,” he instructed. “We’ll first begin with crushing the rose petals…” Regulus tuned out the rest of the Professor's explanation, following the directions in his book instead. He was working with Barty, who was only semi- competent at potions, so Regulus tasked him with passing him the ingredients rather than doing any of the actual work. He needed this potion to come out perfectly, and he couldn’t trust Barty not to miss a step or add too much of one thing by mistake.

 

It took a little while for all of the ingredients to simmer and come together, but halfway through the class, some of the cauldrons were starting to give off a smell. Regulus knew that everyone smelled something different, which is why it didn’t surprise him when Dorcas muttered something about cherries while Evan whined about smelling ink.

 

Regulus, on his part, wrinkled his nose at the smell of fresh parchment, hot chocolate, broom polish, and peppermint. It didn’t smell bad, surprisingly, it was just an odd combination of things. He understood the allure of fresh parchment, he was an avid reader and liked new, crisp books. Hot chocolate was his favourite drink, no matter the weather, broom polish made sense since he was a Quidditch player; but peppermint didn’t remind him of anything. He said as much to his friends, but they were too busy with their own potions to really unpack what he was smelling.

 

“What do you smell?” he whispered to Barty, who had been staring into the cauldron like it had personally offended him. The taller bloke snapped out of his trance and whipped his head to look at Regulus with a tight smile. He seemed twitchy, almost nervous. 

 

“Lavender, warm vanilla, broom polish, and the smell of rain,” Barty listed, seemingly unable to meet his eyes. Regulus pondered his words for a moment before realizing what had been said. 

 

“Oh,” he choked out, his face burning bright red. 

 

“Yeah,” Barty mumbled, looking at Regulus through his eyelashes. “Don’t say anything,” he pleaded. “Let’s just leave it at that.” But Regulus didn’t want to leave it at that and Barty must have seen it on his face. “Reg, please, not here. We’ll talk about it, but not here.” 

 

“Okay,” Regulus held his hands up. They’d talk about it later, he promised himself. No more putting this – whatever this was – off for another year. He turned to Dorcas, who was staring wistfully across the room at an oblivious Marlene McKinnon, and snapped his fingers in her face. “You’re drooling, babe,” he teased, chuckling when she brought a hand up to wipe her face hastily.

 

“Fuck you,” Dorcas grit out through her teeth. “You’re no better, what’s making you all blushy,” she questioned, raising an eyebrow. Regulus resisted the urge to squirm under her scrutinizing gaze and shrugged nonchalantly. “No, really,” her eyes lingered on Barty for a moment, “who did you smell?”

 

“I didn’t smell a specific person,” Regulus replied grimly, because he had been hoping that he would. “But it doesn’t matter anyway,” he added quickly, not sure if he was trying to convince her or himself. “I already know who I’m attracted to. Do you?”

 

“Sometimes I want to revoke your right to speak,” Dorcas sighed, glaring at him. “You know very well who I am attracted to. And you know that said person doesn’t feel the same way.” 

 

Regulus let his gaze wander to the Gryffindor side of the room, finding the blonde witch quickly. She was working with Mary MacDonald, and seemed pretty focused on her potion. Her face was screwed up in concentration and she was jotting something down in her notebook every few minutes.

 

“You could try to talk to her?” Regulus suggested, for what felt like the millionth time. For all of her pining, Dorcas had never held a conversation that lasted longer than two minutes with Marlene. And that conversation had been a verbal spat about Quidditch.

 

“That would achieve nothing,” Dorcas dismissed with an irritated wave of her hand. 

 

“It could achieve everything. The two of you may come to some sort of understanding, perhaps?” Regulus countered, smirking at her pensive expression.

 

“Take your own advice, would you?” She nodded at Barty. “It’s agonizing watching you two exchange fuck me eyes when you think no one is watching.” She screwed up her face and looked between them with a disgusted expression. “At least I only make eyes at McKinnon when I’m sure no one is looking at me.” 

 

“Yeah right, you keep telling yourself that, love,” Regulus patted her head condescendingly, earning himself a rather aggressive swat on his hand. He hissed and drew back from her, glaring. 











James had already known who he would smell in his Amortentia, but it felt nice to be reassured anyway. Rain, wet ink on parchment, freshly cut grass, and his mum’s banana bread. On top of that, there was an overall florally scent that enveloped his potion that reminded him of blue eyes and flushed cheeks. James grinned to himself as he wrote down his notes.

 

Sirius was fidgeting beside him. His dark hair was hiding his eyes, but James could tell that he was looking at Remus every now and then. James wondered what Sirius had smelled to make him so out of sorts.

 

“Mate, relax,” James tried to soothe, running a comforting hand down Sirius’ back. The oldest Marauder sighed out loudly, dropping his chin to his chest for a moment of reprieve. “What’s wrong?” James asked, frowning as he looked down at the raven haired boy.

 

“Just some nervous energy,” Sirius shrugged, not making direct eye contact. He didn’t say anything more than that, so James studied him in silence. It was getting harder, as of late, to stop himself from picking out the differences between the Black brothers. James often found himself looking at his best friend and greedily searching for any similarities to Regulus. So far, he had noted that they had similar mouth shapes, nearly the same skin tone, the same eye shape, and the same hair colour. Sometimes, if James looked at Sirius at a certain angle, he looked almost identical to his brother. And sometimes, when James caught Regulus smiling, he looked like Sirius as well.

 

“I know exactly what you need,” James grinned, opening up a random jar on his desk. Sirius looked at him curiously. “You need to put all that nervous energy into something productive. How about causing some mischief, Pads?” He held out his open palm that displayed a rock-like ingredient. 

 

“What is that and what am I meant to do with it?” Sirius asked, looking down at the rock in confusion. 

 

“No clue, and you’re meant to throw it into Snivellus’ cauldron.” At Sirius’ blank expression, James sighed. “Look, you always feel better after a prank, especially one against Snape. I’m certain that this isn’t on the list of ingredients for the love potion. How do you reckon Snape will react when his potion is the only one that doesn’t work? He fancies himself a prodigy, yeah? Let’s see his reaction when he fails.” 

 

Sirius was grinning before James had even finished speaking, already gearing up to ruin Snape’s work. He took the rock from James, casting a quick glance at Slughorn to make sure that man wasn’t looking before pitching the rock towards the other side of the room. He wasn’t a chaser, but he still had the aim of a beater and was able to throw the rock directly into Snape’s cauldron. The effects of the unknown ingredient were instant.

 

First, a small puff of pink smoke burst out of the cauldron, causing Snape to step back in surprise. Then the cauldron started bubbling, hissing and shaking as the contents bubbled over. The potion exploded, pink goop covering all of the Slytherins within five feet of Snape’s cauldron. 

 

Sirius laughed, and James joined him until he saw Regulus covered in pink slime. The younger boy looked angry, heatedly talking to Snape, most likely to scold him, but Avery said something to him that made Regulus turn towards the Gryffindor desks. For a moment, it looked like Regulus was looking at him, but it became clear that those icy blue eyes were staring right at Sirius.

 

There were a few tense moments of utter silence, and it seemed as though Regulus was working himself up to punching his older brother. Sirius must have anticipated that, as well, because he suddenly jumped away from James and tried going around Peter and Remus’ desk. Regulus must have anticipated him doing that , because he caught up to Sirius quickly, and pushed him to the floor, climbing on top of him.

 

Everyone gasped as Regulus held his brother down, hands on his shoulders as he shook Sirius violently. Distantly, James was aware that he should do something, but he was too entranced to move. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Remus take a step towards them, but Evan Rosier pulled his wand and shoved it in his face before he could get too close.

 

“You always ruin everything,” Regulus exclaimed, jostling Sirius around. The older wizard was covering his face, though James could see his wide eyes from where he was standing.

 

Sadly, Sirius replied, “I know.” He fought halfheartedly to get his brother off of him, and James had the horrible thought that Sirius might not be actually fighting Regulus because this was the closest he had been to him in so long. 

 

“I hate you!” Regulus said angrily, pulling Sirius’ head up by his collar.

 

Dejectedly, “I know.” 

 

Sirius let his head fall onto the floor, staring up at Regulus pleadingly. Suddenly, as if burned, Regulus recoiled and got to his feet, his face screwed up angrily. He avoided looking at Sirius entirely as he walked to Rosier’s side, letting him lead him out of the classroom.

 

Everyone stared at Sirius quietly, waiting for him to do something. To stand up or make a joke or say something ridiculous about his brother, but Sirius just stayed there, lying on the floor of the potions classroom, staring at the door that his brother had just disappeared through.

 

“Alright, up you get Mr. Black,” Slughorn eventually spoke up. Sirius stood on shaky legs, ducking his head in shame. “Class dismissed, I have to clean up this mess,” Slughorn announced. “My Slytherins who were hit with the potion, please visit the infirmary to make sure that you have not ingested any, everyone else, back to your common rooms until your next class.” 

 

People started filing out of the room, whispering amongst themselves and casting glances at Sirius. James wanted to yell at them to mind their business, but he didn’t have the energy to do so. He was more worried about Regulus, and it seemed that Sirius was too.

 

“Oi, Crouch!” Sirius shouted, jogging to catch up to Barty and Dorcas. James, Peter and Remus followed him, cursing to themselves.

 

“Piss off, Black,” Crouch barked, glaring at Sirius meanly. “Haven’t you done enough today?” He grabbed Dorcas’ hand, pulling her down the hallway faster. 

 

“I just wanted you to tell Reg that I didn’t know it was going to do that. I didn’t mean to get it on him ,” Sirius defended. 

 

“Oh, and that makes it so much better,” Barty snapped, spinning around to face them. “As long as it doesn’t get on your little brother, it doesn’t matter who it affects. Sure, I’ll tell him that you only wanted to antagonize Snape and not him. You didn’t mean to explode a potion in his face, it was only meant to hurt Snape.” 

 

“No, that’s not what I–“

 

“That’s not what you meant? But I thought you didn’t mean for it to get on Reg?” Barty’s tone was one of false confusion.

 

Sirius sighed in frustration. “I didn’t do it to hurt anyone. It was supposed to be funny!” 

 

“Well, it wasn’t,” Dorcas said flatly. And with that, they left. Sirius did not bother trying to follow after them again.

 

“Padfoot,” James said softly, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know it would bubble over like that, I’m –“

 

“It’s fine, Prongs. Reggie already hates me, how much worse can it get?” Sirius sighed, turning on his heels to walk away. Remus trailed after him, shaking his head when Peter and James followed. 

 

“This is all my fault,” James groaned, pulling at his hair. “I shouldn’t have told him to do that. I didn’t even know what that rock was or what it would do to the potion!” 

 

“Don’t beat yourself up over it, James,” Peter placated, rubbing his shoulder. “You said it yourself, you didn’t know. No reason to dwell.” 

 

“Thanks, Wormy,” James said, even though he still felt like crap. He had been the reason the brothers had another row. They had been good recently, not speaking, but also not fighting. And he’d ruined that.













Regulus wrinkled his nose as he carefully pulled clumps of pink sludge from his hair. He smelled like burnt peppermint and parchment, and he could only assume that he smelled worse to other people depending on what their Amortentia smelt like.

 

“Is it bad that I found it kind of satisfying watching you yell at your brother?” Evan asked, from his spot on the sink. They were in the boy’s bathroom closet to the potions classroom, trying to rid themselves of the sticky pink substance on them. Evan had been further away from Snape when the potion exploded, so he had minimal damage, but Regulus’ head was nearly entirely covered.



“Yes,” Regulus mumbled wearily, shooting the blond a halfhearted glare. “You’re terrible. Awful. Despicable, even, for being entertained by my near attempt at fratricide.” 

 

“Fratricide,” Evan scoffed, like the mere thought was unspeakable. “If anything, that was revenge.”

 

It was Regulus’ turn to scoff in disbelief, eyeing Evan through the mirror. “Right, because that argument would go down well in court. Oh, sorry about that, Mr. Minister,” he said, putting on an innocent expression , “I only killed him because he exploded a potion in my face and ruined my hair. What’s that? Oh, I’m freed of all charges? Wow, thanks! ” He looked back at Evan with a flat expression and sighed as he scooped up the last of the potion out of his hair.

 

“That’s not what I meant, and you know it,” Evan tugged on his arm, making Regulus step between his legs. The younger of the two Slytherins deflated and rested his chin on the blond’s chest. He was in desperate need of a shower and a nap.

 

“I’m so tired,” Regulus murmured hoarsely, feeling strangely overcome by emotions. 

 

“I know,” Evan soothed, rubbing his back and shoulders.








Sirius had a miserable day following the potions incident. He had not been able to catch sight of his brother at lunch or dinner and was beginning to worry that the younger was skipping meals just so that he didn’t have to be around Sirius.

 

His friends had to coax him out of his seat in the Great Hall, practically dragging him out by the hand. He was quiet as they walked to the stairs, content to just sulk in silence until they reached the dorms where he could safely bury himself away behind his bed hangings. His friends seemed happy to let him do so, just as long as he wasn’t breaking down in the middle of the Great Hall.

 

Suddenly, a familiar sound drew his attention. His foot hovered above the bottom stair of the main stairwell as he froze mid step, perking up instantly. If he were in his animagus form, Padfoot’s ears would be standing up on end, trying to seek out which direction the noise was coming from. 

 

“Sirius?” Remus questioned, looking back when he realized that the oldest wasn’t following them. Sirius ignored him, his eyes darting around to locate the source of the laughter echoing off of the walls.

 

“Pads,” James said, coming down to place a hand on his shoulder. 

 

“I know that laugh,” Sirius murmured. And he did; he knew that laugh and the person behind it all too well. He’d been the first person ever to witness it, to hear the musical rumble of it, to feel it against his chest, in his hair. That was Regulus’ laugh, and he’d know it anywhere.

 

Without much thought, he spun on his heel and followed the sound of the muffled giggles. He didn’t care that his friends were following him in a frantic frenzy, trying to get him to stop and talk. He kept walking, searching. 

 

He found Regulus behind a tapestry with his head buried in Evan Rosier’s hair, eyes crinkled with mirth and a distinctive fondness that made him a bit queasy. He’d seen that same look on Regulus’ face, when it was still full and round with baby fat; when those blue eyes held nothing but love for him. 

 

It took a little while before the two Slytherins realized that they’d been found, entirely too wrapped up in each other to take notice of the new presence holding the tapestry back. Only when Regulus looked up, did his eyes snag on the figure in the entrance of the alcove.

 

“Sirius,” he choked, shoulders tensing, smile dropping. And Sirius never wanted that . He never wanted his brother to stop feeling happy at the mere sight of him. Regulus had this look on his face, as he eyed Sirius warily; a look that reminded the elder of the uncertain grimace Regulus would have back at Grimmauld Place when their mother was in a strop and Regulus wasn’t sure if they’d be punished or not. He looked half frightened.

 

“Can I speak to you privately?” Sirius asked, keeping his voice leveled. For a moment, Regulus said nothing. His frightened expression melted into one of annoyance, but he kept his mouth firmly closed. “Please,” Sirius added belatedly.

 

He must have let all of his desperation bleed into his tone because Regulus’ eyes softened. He gave a long look towards Rosier, as if he was asking for the boy’s permission to leave, or perhaps asking for his advice. In the end, Rosier only shrugged which made Regulus scowl at him. Sirius felt a twisted sense of satisfaction at that.

 

“You have five minutes,” Regulus announced flatly, getting to his feet. He strode past Sirius, purposely knocking their shoulders together as he left the alcove. Though the action was meant to hurt him, Sirius felt a thrill rush through him when they touched. With one final look at Rosier, Sirius followed behind his brother. He wasn’t far, Sirius could see him disappear behind a stone wall. 

 

Sirius’ friends were still hovering around, watching him uncertainly. He flashed them a bright smile before jogging to catch up with his little brother. Regulus was leaning against the wall close to one of the abandoned Charms classrooms that hadn’t been used in decades. When he saw Sirius approaching, he quickly slipped into the room, leaving the door cracked behind him.

 

“Five minutes, starting now. Go,” Regulus hissed as soon as Sirius closed the door and locked it. He threw up a silencing charm for good measure. 

 

Turning around, Sirius noticed the wand held tightly in his brother’s fist. He eyed it warily for a moment, briefly considering keeping his own wand in hand. The consideration lasted all of three seconds before he was sliding his wand into his pocket. “I’m sorry, for this morning,” Sirius spoke up. “I truly didn’t mean to get the potion on you. Actually, I didn’t mean for it to get on anyone. I was just trying to ruin Snape’s work, I hadn’t considered the effects it might have had. Sorry.” 

 

“You never think about anyone but yourself, do you?” Regulus scoffed, shaking his head. He seemed to reconsider his words, his lips curling disdainfully. “Scratch that, you never think about anyone but yourself and your friends. As long as it’s not someone from your immediate circle, you’re completely fine hurting them.” 

 

“Reggie–”

 

“Did you ever consider that if you stopped to think things through that maybe your plans would play out better? Or at the very least, you’d avoid hurting people?” Regulus asked harshly, cutting him off. The edge in his voice was all too reminiscent of their mother’s and it sent a sharp jolt of fear through Sirius. Nothing good ever came after Walburga picked up that tone with them. “You are so fucking selfish, Sirius,” he spat.

 

Like a switch had been flipped, Sirius squared his shoulders and stood taller. “Selfish? I’m selfish? Were all the times I stood in front of you and took the worst of Mother’s punishments selfish of me?” Sirius demanded, furious all of a sudden. “Was it not selfish how you let me stand up for you but never did the same for me?”

 

Regulus let out a cold laugh, his hands curling into balls at his sides. “I knew it! You didn’t really care about me, or want to protect me; you just needed something to hold over my head so that I owed you!” 

 

Stumbling back a step, Sirius repeated, “Owe me? You think I did that so that you had to return some kind of favour? I did it because I care about you, Regulus, and I hated to see you hurt. I never expected anything in return, but I did want — Is it so selfish for me to want a brother that actually acts like he loves me?” 

 

Shaking his head, Regulus muttered something to himself, too quiet for Sirius to hear. He looked tired, as if the conversation had drained everything out of him. 

 

“I did try to help you,” Regulus murmured, a few minutes later. “I told you to hold your tongue. I warned you when Mother was having a bad day and was more likely to get angry. You just, you never listened to me!” 

 

“So you just wanted me to sit there and listen to them spew their nonsense? That’s–”

 

“That’s the smart thing to do. As much as Mother is at fault for being abusive, you would have saved yourself from a lot of punishments if you’d just done what I told you and shut up. They would have left you alone if you learned how to stop arguing for five minutes.” Regulus sighed and ran a hand through his hair, distressing it. He looked entirely too old for his sixteen years, carrying an invisible weight on his chest.

 

“Yeah, because that worked out so well for you,” Sirius scoffed. “That Mark on your arm, was that a reward for shutting up ?” 

 

Regulus’ jaw clenched and he took a step closer to Sirius, practically trembling with anger. “No, actually. You see, after you abandoned me in that house, Mother deemed it important for me to align myself with the right people lest I turn out like you. She offered me up to the Dark Lord, eager to restore power to our family name. So actually, Sirius, the Mark on my arm is your fault.” 

 

Sirius felt all the fight escape him, leaving him feeling utterly helpless at the accusation. Because it was true, wasn’t it? He had left Regulus in that house, knowing what his parents were like. Knowing that their mother was power hungry. “That– I never meant, I didn’t think…” And that was the problem; Regulus had told him that he never thought. 

 

When it seemed as though Regulus was not going to say anything else, Sirius sucked in a deep breath and cleared his throat. 

 

“I’m trying to be better, Reg. I’m trying to fix this. Fix us,” Sirius told him. Please let me fix us , he thought desperately, watching as Regulus narrowed his eyes at him. “I know you’re going to act all stubborn to try to deter me, but I’m not giving up on this. Don’t fight me on this, please; no matter how much I know you want to.”

 

Regulus huffed in anger, or perhaps annoyance. “Right, because you know me so well, don’t you?” 

 

I do. I did , Sirius wanted to say. Because he used to know Regulus like the back of his own hand, years ago. 

 

Sirius recognized the pain and frustration lurking in Regulus’ dark expression. He’d seen it before, in the mirror. He’d noticed it before on the same face looking back at him. He’d ignored it then. Never again. 

 

“Let me fix this,” he tried again. “I’m not saying that we’re going to go back to how things were when we were kids —“ Please let it go back to how it was then “— but I want to try to be on the same page again. No more misunderstandings.” 

 

“You thought that I had done something bad that day in Moody’s office,” Regulus commented rather suddenly. Sirius blinked, taken aback. He had thought that, so there was no use in denying it. “You didn’t even ask me what was wrong, you just automatically assumed that I had done something. How am I supposed to trust you if you don’t even trust me?” He looked at Sirius with genuine doubt. 

 

“Trust is something that strengthens over time. We have to build our trust in each other again, Reg. That’s how that works,” honestly, Sirius replied. Regulus seemed to consider that, nodding slowly like he was working something out in his mind. 

 

“Trust is earned, yes,” he agreed.

 

Unable to help himself, Sirius asked, “Is there anyone you trust?” 

 

Regulus stared at Sirius. His eyes had always been blue, but in the dimly lit classroom they appeared darker, like bottomless pools of sapphire, flickering and unreadable. Sirius didn’t remember when Regulus became unreadable to him, but he didn’t like it. Finally, Regulus’ shoulders drooped and he sighed.

 

“Evan is my best friend. He’s been my best friend ever since — Well, he’s been the person closest to me since I started Hogwarts. I trust him more than anyone.” 

 

Sirius knew that Regulus hadn’t meant for the statement to cut him like a knife. He didn’t mean anything by that, he was simply answering Sirius’ question, but it hurt . Regulus had always looked up to Sirius for as long as he could remember. In their youth, his little brother had been explicitly receptive to Sirius and Sirius only. He hadn’t trusted anyone if they weren’t Sirius and to know that Regulus didn’t trust him at all anymore was —

 

“— don’t think we’ll be holding hands and dancing around a campfire anytime soon, but I am willing to call a truce,” Regulus was saying. He held out his pinky, wiggling it around. A flicker of a smile lit up Sirius’ face and he reached out to curl his pinky around his brother’s. 

 

“I’ll accept a truce.” 

Chapter Text

JANUARY 24TH 1978



Regulus was excited for the Hogsmeade trip that weekend. He hadn’t had a chance to show his friends the flat he was now living in, and (though he didn’t want to admit it) he was happy that he’d get a chance to see Aberforth again. 

 

Practically skipping into the Great Hall for breakfast, Regulus mentally planned out the coursework he’d have to get done before the next morning. He was halfway done with his Charms essay, he had two pages to read for potions and a worksheet to do for History. It was all pretty easy work for him, he was sure he could get it done before dinner. 

 

“Where’s Evan?” Regulus asked as he sat down next to Barty and Dorcas. Pandora was sitting across from them, seemingly unaware of the negative attention she was attracting from some of the other Slytherins. Regulus scanned the Hall, searching for the head of blond hair that he was so familiar with. His gaze landed on the Ravenclaw table, where Evan was leaning against the bench, smirking at a pretty brunette.

 

“He’s asking Avalon Midhe to Hogsmeade,” Barty informed him, while filling his plate with sausages and fried  eggs. “What d’you reckon she’ll say?” He asked with his mouth disturbingly full. 

 

“She’d be crazy to turn him down, Ev is such a catch,” Dorcas replied, cutting into some French toast. Unlike Barty, Dorcas had some semblance of table manners. Regulus had to agree with her, Evan was a great guy.

 

They didn’t have to wait too long for the answer to their question because Evan came running back to their table the moment the brunette said yes to him. He was smiling widely, his pearly white teeth on display for all. Pumping his fist in the air victoriously, he declared, “I just got myself a date tomorrow!”

 

Regulus smiled at his friend, happy that Evan was happy. He was about to congratulate the blond boy when an owl landed in front of him. It dropped a small package into his lap before flying off. Regulus hadn’t recognized the owl, but he did recognize the handwriting on the package. It was the same as the one on the notes that he’d gotten with his flowers.

 

He opened the package slowly, a bit wary about what might be inside. It was squishy as if it held something shapeless in the precariously wrapped brown paper. Regulus blinked down at the bright blue scarf in his hands, running his fingers over the material. It was soft to the touch, almost feeling like silk. 

 

“That’s pretty, I don’t remember you ordering a scarf?” Pandora pipped up, looking down at the scarf. Curiously, she reached out to touch it and squealed at the softness of it. 

 

“I don’t remember ordering it either,” Regulus admitted, running the scarf over his cheek. He knew that he hadn’t ordered a scarf — he wouldn’t have; especially not one this blue. He never wore such bright colours, and if he did they were mostly varying shades of greens and muted browns. His fingers snagged against a folded slip of parchment, and he itched to read it right then and there, but he couldn’t. Not with his friends leaning over him. Discreetly, he slid the note into his pocket.

 

When he looked up, he found Barty looking at the scarf with an unreadable expression, his eyebrows pinched together thoughtfully. Regulus wondered what he was thinking about. He wondered if these gifts were coming from Barty— he really hoped that they were. 

 

“I’m going to Hogsmeade with McKinnon,” Dorcas announced suddenly, drawing focus on herself. All heads snapped to her, eyes widening on various faces. 

 

“What!” Regulus exclaimed, forgetting the scarf in favour of scrutinizing his friend. “You finally decided to talk to her, then? How did it go? What did she say? Did you ask her out or did she ask you?” 

 

“I can only answer one question at a time, Reg,” Dorcas cut in, visibly fighting off a smile. 

 

“How?” Regulus settled on, knowing that Dorcas would understand. For as long as he’d known her, Dorcas had been infatuated with Marlene. At first, she’d played it off as some sort of weird Quidditch rivalry thing, but it had become clear pretty quickly that she was head over heels in love with the blonde Gryffindor.

 

“We happened to be in the washroom at the same time and I took your advice and talked to her,” Dorcas shrugged nonchalantly, completely contrasting the bright smile on her face. 

 

“Well, I suppose I should tell you all that I have decided not to go to Hogsmeade tomorrow. I’m spending the day at the Greenhouses with Xenophilius,” Pandora chimes in, beaming at them. There was a collective gasp from Barty, Evan and Dorcas.

 

“When did this happen?” Evan demanded, knocking his fist down on the table. The movement jostled his tea, spilling it onto his fingers, which he promptly stuck into his mouth. “Is our sweet, innocent Panda Bear dating ?”

 

“We aren’t dating,” Pandora corrected quickly, flushing a bright red. Regulus snickered, shooting a glance at Evan who was openly laughing at her. “We’re just hanging out.” 

 

“Hanging out,” Barty repeated, folding his arms over the table and leaning forward. “Sounds nefarious to me.” 

 

Pandora squeaked indignantly, flailing her hands at him, trying to swat his head. Barty laughed heartily, head thrown back, and for a moment, Regulus forgot all about the note burning a hole in his pocket. 









JANUARY 25TH 1978



James practically melted into the ground when he saw Regulus wearing the scarf that he’d sent him. He had noticed a few days ago, walking back from Quidditch practice, that Regulus didn’t have a scarf. It had bothered him at the time, seeing the younger boy so exposed to the snow, and he had realized that Regulus might have left his scarf back at Grimmauld Place.

 

James had seen the blue scarf in a boutique in Hogsmeade before he had left for break, and when he remembered it, he’d been reminded of the colour of Regulus’ eyes. He’d waited until he had Head Boy duties and had snuck out with the cloak to get it from the shop. 

 

Just as he’d thought, the scarf complimented Regulus’ icy blue eyes perfectly. The loud blue contrasted against his all black cloak, highlighting the lightness of his eyes and the pink in his cheeks. He looked adorably soft, with snow in his hair and a small grin on his face. 

 

Regulus seemed to be heading towards Honeydukes, bouncing excitedly on the balls of his feet as he dragged Crouch over to the sweet shop. To James’ delighted surprise, the younger wizard didn’t sneer at them as he passed, instead inclining his head politely at his brother in a show of acknowledgment. Sirius returned the gesture, grinning almost manically, until Regulus entered the shop and disappeared out of view.

 

“Did you see that?” The oldest Marauder burst out, swivelling to face them. “That was a greeting! A public greeting. Regulus just greeted me,” he waved his hands wildly, nearly hitting Peter in the head. “This is a good sign, isn’t it? It means that he’s forgiven me, eh?” 

 

“Aye, it is a good sign,” Remus agreed, smiling softly when Sirius practically squealed in delight. He wrapped and arm around Sirius’ shoulder, steering the giddy boy down the Main Street, ignoring the knowing looks that both Peter and James were throwing at him. 

 

James looked over his shoulder one last time, hoping to catch a glance at Regulus through the windows of the candy store. He was able to glimpse the raven haired boy standing at the chocolate display, but his image of Regulus was partially disrupted by Barty Crouch standing at his flank, one arm around Regulus’ waist, and the other holding out some sweets for the boy. 

 

James sighed, averting his gaze as he followed his friends to Zonko’s.












Regulus and Barty had been left on their own for the entirety of the Hogsmeade trip, with all of their friends on their individual dates. By the time that they had realized that they would have to spend the day together, it had been too late for either of them to change their plans. 

 

“Since we’ve all got dates, the two of you should just go on your own as well,” Dorcas had said to them before she left the common room to go find Marlene. Barty and Regulus had made eye contact for a brief moment before they each snapped their gazes away with matching blushes. 

 

Now, though, as they walked through the cobblestone streets of Hogsmeade, there was no room for awkwardness. They’d done everything that they usually did with their friends, visiting book stores, tea shops and Honeydukes; it all took considerably less time with just the two of them so they were left walking around in the cold, wandering aimlessly.

 

Regulus knew that they were putting off the important conversation they needed to have.

 

“Do you want to see my flat?” Regulus offered, knowing that they should speak in a comfortable environment. Plus, it would give him the chance to see Aberforth and the goats.

 

Barty perked up, nodding quickly. Regulus smiled and led him to the pub, murmuring quietly about the shops around them. Aberforth was behind the bar when they got in and Regulus could have sworn that the man smiled at the sight of him. 

 

“Hello, Abe, I’m back,” Regulus announced uselessly, grinning at the white haired man. Aberforth’s lips twitched as he reached behind himself, getting two cups ready for butterbeer. Regulus turned to Barty, “Aberforth has got the best butterbeer on the market, he brews it himself, you know.” 

 

“I didn’t think you’d be back until the summer hols,” said Aberforth as he set their drinks down. “Have you eaten?”

 

Regulus shook his head, pushing Barty down into one of the grimmy barstools. “Not since breakfast and I’m starving after walking through half the village; what have you got on?” He asked, wrapping his fingers around his butterbeer.

 

Aberforth turned into the back for a moment before coming back with a large plate of greasy looking chips. Regulus wrinkled his nose, but Barty seemed more than happy to dig in with his bare hands. 

 

They ate quickly, Regulus unwilling to allow their conversation to be postponed any longer. After thanking Aberforth, Regulus showed the way up to his flat. Everything was just as he’d left it when he left for school only a few weeks prior, and the Slytherin boy felt a wave of appreciation overcome him when he realized that Aberforth had not used his absence as an excuse to snoop around, like Walburga often did back at Grimmauld Place. 

 

“It’s… quaint,” Barty tucked his lips in as he looked around the small room. Regulus rolled his eyes to stop the smile from forming on his lips, and nodded his chin at the bathroom. 

 

“Go wash your greasy fingers, I’ll get a blanket,” he said instead of replying. Slipping into his bedroom, Regulus got out the small wooden box that he’d found in a shop over the break, and pulled out the parchment from his pocket, along with the blue flower.

 

He gently placed the flower and the first two notes into the box, then carefully opened up the third note. The most recent one that he’d received with the scarf.

 

It was short and to the point, just like the other notes had been. Short and sweet.

 

It’s a bit ridiculous how much time I spend thinking about the colour of your eyes. I saw this and immediately associated it with you, so I really hope you like it; I’ve noticed that you don’t dress warm enough for the harsh weather. Take care of yourself x

 

Regulus chewed his bottom lip, running his thumb gently over the words on paper. It was simultaneously scary and flattering that he had no idea who this person was, yet they clearly knew him – to some extent, at least – and they were going out of their way to give him things that they hoped he would appreciate. Regulus felt the need to reciprocate the gestures, but what could he do if they never signed their name?

 

He was still thinking about the note, when he walked back into the sitting room with a blanket hung over his arm. Barty was waiting on the couch, his expression growing warier as Regulus drew closer to him. This was it. They had no other choice than to have the conversation now. There was nothing and no one here to interrupt them.

 

Regulus sat down on the other side of the couch, throwing the blanket over his lap and over Barty’s legs. They studied each other carefully for a few pregnant moments, before Barty seemed to crack.

 

“We fancy each other,” he said simply, plainly like there was nothing else to say. 

 

Regulus nodded.

 

“Since when, for you?” Regulus asked, picking at a loose thread on his cloak. He avoided Barty’s dark eyes when they settled on him, burning holes in the side of his face.

 

“Fourth year. You?” 

 

Regulus smiled, “Fourth year.” 












James did not know what was going on with Sirius and Remus. It seemed as though one moment they couldn’t take their hands off of each other without seeming to realize what they were doing, and the next they couldn’t even look each other in the eyes for longer than five seconds without getting awkward and squirming away.

 

They’d been touchy for all of the Hogsmeade trip, practically holding hands and skipping down the road together. But something must have happened on the walk back to the castle because the moment they got to the dorm, Sirius locked himself behind his curtains and Remus went straight for the shower, not coming out until it was time to go down for dinner.

 

He and Peter had figured that they probably shouldn’t bring it up, lest they make the situation worse, but he couldn’t help but feel a visceral need to bang their heads together and tell them to get their shit straight. 

 

“We could lock them in a broom closet and refuse to let them out until they figure things out,” Peter suggested as they walked to the Great Hall. Sirius was walking ahead of them, acting like the food would disappear on them if he didn’t walk fast enough. Remus, on the other hand, was trailing behind the group like there were rocks weighing down his feet. He didn’t seem all too concerned about missing dinner.

 

“You know what, Pete,” James looked between their two friends, “I might take you up on that.” 

 

The Hall was pretty full by the time they arrived, most students already digging into their dinners. James’ eyes subconsciously travelled towards the Slytherin table, seeking out the perfect head of black curls that he’d grown so fond of within the last few weeks. 

 

Regulus was sitting in his usual spot, a blush high on his cheeks as he spoke to Barty and Pandora who were sitting across from him. It seemed as though their group was missing Dorcas, and if James had been paying more attention to his own friends, he would have realized that Marlene was missing from the Gryffindor table as well. 












JANUARY 30TH 1978

 

Regulus was starting to regret accepting his role as prefect. Everything was good last year. Sure, it had been an extra responsibility on top of OWLs and Quidditch, but he managed it just fine. Then, James Potter was appointed Head Boy and Regulus was forced to work alongside him.

 

It didn’t surprise him, with the Head Students being Gryffindors, that they’d come up with the stupid idea of House Unity. When Evans had suggested teaming up pairs of students in different houses for patrols, Regulus had immediately known that this would somehow go terribly wrong for him. And he had been right, because now he was stuck patrolling with Potter for a month until the schedules were redone.

 

Potter was as chipper as ever as they walked down the main corridors of the school, looking for students out of bounds. He kept casting glances at Regulus every five seconds, like he could not bear to take his eyes off of him for any longer than he had to. Every time their eyes would meet, Regulus would glare, making Potter avert his eyes for a moment before they inevitably ended up back on him. 

 

It was weird, being watched in such a blatant way. He felt like he was being scrutinized for flaws, errors that were buried under his skin. But he wouldn’t let Potter know that his inability to keep his eyes forward was unsettling him. Regulus kept quiet, even as Potter blabbered on about Quidditch and whatever else he was going off about. Regulus had stopped listening the moment the Gryffindor started talking about Puddlemere United. 

 

“So, do you like your scarf?” Potter asked suddenly. Regulus’ gaze snapped towards him involuntarily, eyes widening just a fraction. The question had caught him off guard; he didn’t know how Potter could go from speaking about his favourite Quidditch team to suddenly asking Regulus about a gift he’d received. 

 

“What?” Regulus hated how his voice came out shaky. How could Potter have known about his scarf, unless– He wasn’t even going to entertain that thought. There was absolutely no way the scarf had been a gift from James Potter. 

 

“I’ve just noticed that you’ve been wearing it all week, is all. Even in class, sometimes you have it tucked under your robes, which is… Yeah, it’s nice,” Potter spoke quickly, looking a little embarrassed as Regulus met his gaze. He ducked his head and cleared his throat, shaking his head as if to clear his thoughts. 

 

“It was a gift,” Regulus decided to answer, absentmindedly running his fingers over the soft fabric that hung around his neck. Potter was right, he didn’t take it off often. Not unless he was in the shower or sleeping. 

 

Potter hummed, smiling softly down at him. Regulus frowned a little, tightening his fingers around the scarf. “Well, you seem to like it a lot. Do you… Who was it from?” 

 

Regulus’ frown deepened, his eyebrows furrowing. It still bothered him that he didn’t know who was giving him these gifts. “I’m not sure,” he admitted. He didn’t know why he was speaking to Potter about this, but it felt nice to talk to someone who wasn’t his friend. 

 

Potter’s smile turned into something secretive, and Regulus was about to demand answers from him, but they were already arriving back to the starting point and he was eager to get away from the Gryffindor. 

 

He did not notice the wistful look Potter threw at him as they parted ways. 




Chapter Text

FEBRUARY 5TH 1978

 

Peter’s birthday had luckily ended up on a Friday which meant that the Marauders were throwing a party in the common room. It was supposed to be a surprise, though it was all anyone in their year was gossiping about so James was sure that Peter knew about the party. 

 

The Marauders had spent the whole day showering Peter with love and attention, carrying his books for him, filling his plate with extra sweets at meals and singing to him between classes. Peter was obviously endeared by the special affection, although he did have to ask them to tone it down when Sirius tried to give him a piggyback ride up the stairs. They had both nearly taken a tumble when the stairs decided to move suddenly. 

 

It was their last class of the day, before they’d head off to the Great Hall for dinner and then back to the common room to get ready for the party. Just as they’d taken their seats in the back of the History class, Regulus walked by them and dropped a chocolate frog onto Peter’s desk. 

 

“Happy birthday, Peter,” he said, smiling softly before walking away. James stared after him helplessly, feeling his heart swell in his chest with affection. Regulus was just so — James sighed wistfully. There were no words good enough to describe the younger. 

 

“What am I going to do about Reggie?” Sirius sighed, following his brother’s retreating figure with his eyes. “I mean, he says that we’re okay, but he hasn’t, like, spoken to me at all since we agreed to a truce.” 

 

“He smiled at you just now, that’s something,” Peter offered weakly, patting Sirius on the back.

 

“No, Wormy, he smiled at you . I just happen to be sitting next to you so it looked like it was directed at me,” Sirius grumbled under his breath, staring at where Regulus had taken a seat next to Dorcas. 

 

“Small victories, Pads. Accept the small victories,” Remus said soothingly, carding his nimble fingers through Sirius’ dark waves. 

 

James glanced over at Regulus, smiling to himself when he noticed the baby blue scarf tucked under the boy’s uniform. 

 

He knew exactly what Remus meant by small victories. 












Regulus sighed when an all too familiar head of black curls popped up at his side. Sirius flung an arm around him, redirecting his path from the Great Hall towards an empty classroom. Sirius ignored all of Regulus’ complaints about missing dinner, remaining undeterred even as Regulus continuously pinched him through his robes.

 

“Come to our party tonight,” Sirius pleaded as soon as they were behind closed doors. Before Regulus could even open his mouth to respond, Sirius raised a hand and silenced him. “Don’t say no. I know you don’t like parties or any social events, really, but it would mean a lot to me if you came. We’re supposed to be fixing our relationship, but it feels like we’re still as distant as we were before. Just — come. If you care about me at all, come.” 

 

Regulus observed him for an extended moment and shook his head in disbelief. “You’re shit at this. You can’t guilt trip me into coming to your stupid party, Sirius.” 

 

“I’m not guilt tripping you—“ Sirius tried to intervene, but Regulus arched an eyebrow, incredulously.

 

“You literally just said that I have to come to the party or it means that I don’t care about you at all, which by the way, is a low fucking blow.” Throwing his hands up, Regulus glared at Sirius. “If you’re going to waste my time, I think I will just go.”

 

“No! No, please. Come on, Reggie, you know I didn’t mean it like that. You don’t have to come if you don’t want to, but it would mean a lot to me if you did. I know you still care about me even if you don’t show up to the party, don’t feel like I — like I’m forcing you or anything,” Sirius acquiesced, taking a step closer to his younger brother. 

 

“You couldn’t force me if you tried, anyway,” Regulus replied dryly. “I would rather have you believe that I don’t care about you than be forced to spend any amount of prolonged time in proximity to idiot Gryffindors, honestly,” Regulus admitted shamelessly. 

 

Despite himself, Sirius felt his lips twitch into a fond grin. He’d almost forgotten how blunt Regulus could be at times. 

 

Without saying anything else, Regulus turned and went to leave the room. Sirius sputtered indignantly and followed after him, “So, are you coming to the party?” 

 

A beat passed and Regulus sighed. “I won’t stay for long.” 

 

Sirius beamed as he jogged to keep up with the younger boy. Small victories, indeed.













The Gryffindor common room was packed with people of all houses alike. The room had been charmed with low lighting, golden orbs floating around casting shadows of dancing people on the crimson walls. There was a giant banner displaying the words ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY PETEY’ in glittery letters that hung above the entrance to the portrait hole. 

 

James was pleased with the turn out of the party, and even more pleased when he saw Peter holed up in a dark corner with Emmeline Vance, he had one hand on her waist and the other in her hair as they kissed. Pumping his fist, James grinned, proud that Peter had the chance to get with his crush.

 

As soon as the word crush entered his brain, James’ eyes seemed to move on their own, tracking the dark head of curls that he’d come to be so familiar with. Regulus was leaning on a wall on the opposite side of the common room, neck craned down as Pandora spoke directly into his ear. There was a soft smile on his face — just the corners of his mouth curling up, so small that it was barely noticeable, but it was there and James could not tear his eyes away.

 

He blinked harshly when suddenly there was a body standing in front of Regulus, obstructing James’ perfect view of him. 

 

Barty Crouch leaned down, one hand slipping onto Regulus’ hip, and the gesture looked so practiced, so easy that James was sure it was not the first time the Slytherin had done so. A sharp coil of anger weaved its way into James’ chest and he swore under his breath as he watched Regulus grin up at the brunet. 

 

He had no right, James had to remind himself. He had no right to feel jealous over someone who didn’t even reciprocate his feelings. No right to be angry at Crouch for being close to Regulus. 

 

James went to look for Sirius. He needed to calm down.

 

He found Sirius curled up on the couch, red cup in hand, staring off towards the record player in the corner where Remus was changing records. James bit the inside of his lip, shaking his head at the lovesick expression on his best friend’s face. It was utterly ridiculous.

 

“Having fun?” Sirius asked as he finally noticed James approaching him. He had yet to take his eyes off of Remus, but he had the decency to at least angle his body towards James in an attempt to show that he was paying attention to him. 

 

“Not really,” James admitted quietly, his gaze wandering over to where Barty and Regulus were chatting, standing way too close for James’ comfort. 

 

Sirius frowned and looked over at him, taking in James’ pathetic pouting face. Suddenly, he grinned, “Hannah Horran was looking for you earlier, I bet she’s still around if you’re feeling lonely,” he winked. And usually, James would beam at the idea of spending the night curled up in some corner with someone, but the idea of being with anyone other than Regulus made his heart sink.

 

“Nah, mate, I’m not up for it.” Which wasn’t necessarily a lie. His eyes sought out Regulus again, finding him just where he’d left him. James wanted to go over and take Crouch’s place, leaning over Regulus, whispering to him so that only the two of them could hear. 

 

Sirius studied him for a moment, but before he could say anything, Remus came crashing down onto the couch behind him. Sirius startled and then immediately broke out into a smile, turning his head to meet the boy’s amber gaze.

 

“Moony! You took so long, I drank all of your fire whiskey,” he showed the empty cup to the werewolf, smiling sheepishly when Remus looked at him unimpressed. 

 

“You have no restraint, do you?” Remus said, but he betrayed himself with the smile hiding in the corner of his lips. 

 

“None whatsoever,” Sirius grinned, winking. 

 

“Have you spoken to Regulus at all tonight?” James only felt half guilty for breaking up their banter, but he wanted to know. He needed a reason to get the younger boy within his general vicinity. 

 

Sirius whipped his head around, the smile fading from his face as he looked past James, presumably searching for his younger brother. He shook his head slowly, refocusing on his friend. “No, I saw him come in, though. He made a big show of waving at me, to let me know he was here, but he disappeared before I could get to him. Haven’t seen him since.” 

 

James hummed, pursing his lips. On one hand, he wanted to point Sirius in the direction of his brother so that he could get to talk to him (and additionally draw Regulus’ focus away from Barty fucking Crouch), but he also realized that Regulus might not want to speak to Sirius just yet, and James would never want to force the younger wizard into something that he didn’t want to do.

 

He zoned out as Remus and Sirius began quietly chatting about which songs they should play next. He momentarily searched for Peter, finding him going up the staircase with Emmeline in tow. James grinned, already preparing himself to tease Peter about it tomorrow. 

 

As always, his mind wandered back to Regulus, watching as he laughed quietly with Crouch and Rosier, not even noticing James from across the room. Sighing, James sunk into the couch, bringing his cup to his lips. The fire whiskey burned as it went down his throat, but at least it distracted him from the curly haired Slytherin. 














Regulus sucked in a deep breath, exhaling shakily a moment later. Barty had left him a while ago to go chase down some gillyweed from one of the seventh years, and Evan and Dorcas had both disappeared long before that with their respective partners, and now Regulus was standing alone in a crowded room. He didn’t even want to try finding Pandora because that would mean entering the crowd, which was not an option. He was already feeling claustrophobic, and he was merely standing on the sidelines. 

 

His heart was beating so fast that he could hear the blood pumping in his ears, and his hands were shaking, clenching and unclenching around the seams of his trousers. He couldn’t be here anymore. He needed to leave.

 

The way to the portrait hole was blocked by people coming and going, but it was a way better option than going around the common room looking for his friends. He could brave it, he had to. With one last deep breath, Regulus began pushing himself through the crowd of people, squeezing between the sweaty bodies to get to the exit. He did not allow himself to breath, holding his breath until he was crawling out into the hallway. He gasped as the portrait swung shut, the Fat Lady staring down at him in concern and underlying annoyance. 

 

“Do you know what time it is, boy?” The portrait exclaimed at him, crossing her arms over the chest of her pink dress.

 

“Sorry, ma’am, I—“ Regulus shook his head, wrapping his arms around himself as he turned on his heels and walked away. He could faintly hear the Fat Lady muttering about rude teenagers, but Regulus could not bring himself to go back. 

 

He was only vaguely aware of the sound of the portrait hole swinging open and hurried footsteps following behind him. The air felt like it was escaping from his lungs, leaving him gasping inaudibly and clutching at his chest. 

 

“Hey!” Suddenly there was a warm hand on his shoulder, and Regulus snapped his head to the side to find James Potter looking down at him in concern, wide hazel eyes staring into crystalline blue. “Are you okay? I saw you leave and you looked… Hey, Reg, what’s wrong?” 

 

His hand still twisted into the front of his shirt, even as Potter tried to pry his fingers open. “Too much,” Regulus croaked out, feeling the violent beating of his heart against his rib cage. “Too many people and I couldn't see Barty or Evan.” Belatedly, he realized that he didn’t have to explain himself to Potter of all people, but he was only glad for the distraction from his ongoing panic.

 

“Okay,” Potter nodded. “Okay, yeah, that’s okay, you don’t have to go back in if you don’t want to.” 

 

Regulus tried to glare, but he was sure that the gesture was rendered meaningless with the tears gathered in the corners of his eyes. “I wasn’t planning on going back, anyway. But thanks for your permission,” he drawled dryly. 

 

Potter opened his mouth and closed it again, wordlessly. He looked away, swivelling his head to scan the empty hallway before wrapping one hand around Regulus’ wrist. If he was in a better state, Regulus might have cursed the idiot on the spot, but as it were, he was still breathing too heavily to really think, so he allowed Potter to drag him behind a tapestry and into a hidden alcove. 

 

Regulus couldn’t remember how he ended up on the ground with his head between his knees, but when he finally managed to pull himself together, that was the position he found himself in. Potter was sitting against the opposite wall, legs tucked close to his chest so that they didn’t touch Regulus’ which were extended in front of him. The older wizard was watching him with a careful expression, though his eyes betrayed just how worried he really was.

 

“Better?” Potter asked, looking him over. 

 

Regulus could have been snappy, or he could have ignored Potter and just left, but he didn’t. He sighed and shook his head, breathing out gravelly, “Not really, but I’ll manage.” Potter looked at him skeptically and Regulus sighed heavily. “I will be fine, Potter, don’t worry.”

 

“James,” Potter responded. At Regulus’ blank expression, he clarified, “Please, call me James.” 

 

Regulus wanted to refuse, but he could not think of a single good excuse as to why he couldn’t call Potter by his given name, and he was not about to admit his deep rooted jealousy towards the Gryffindor, especially not to his face. So, he sighed once more and met the hazel eyes of the boy in front of him. “I’ll be fine, James.” Hesitating only for a moment, he added a quiet, “Thank you.” 

 

James grinned broadly, slowly lowering his legs until the side of his thigh pressed against Regulus’ calf. His eyes flicked upwards, keenly searching Regulus’ face for any signs of discomfort and he must have been pleased with what he saw, because he smiled softly and looked down at his lap, biting his lip.

 

Regulus watched him curiously, wondering why the older boy was suddenly acting so shy. He was thinking of voicing his thoughts when James suddenly spoke up.

 

“You’re not wearing your scarf today?” James looked up, staring at his neck. 

 

Regulus straightened up and ran the tips of his fingers over his skin, a wave of cold air suddenly striking him. Evan had convinced him to wear a silk blouse and had undone the top buttons to show off his sharp collar bones and smooth skin. Regulus had tried to put his scarf on, promising to tuck it under his shirt, but his blond friend had been adamant that the scarf did not match his outfit. 

 

“No, it didn't match my shirt,” he gestured to the dark maroon blouse. James nodded slowly, his eyes lingering on Regulus’ bare neck before he met his eyes again.

 

“Well, you look lovely anyway,” James murmured, looking down bashfully when Regulus gaped at him. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable or anything.” 

 

Regulus opened his mouth, ready to tell James off, but he closed it without a word. “You… didn’t,” he mumbled eventually. He realized that it was true. Though the compliment was sudden and rather confusing, it was not unwelcome. After all, he had dressed up in the hopes of looking nice. 

 

James beamed again, lifting a hand to his hair, nearly knocking his glasses off of his face. He stared at Regulus and the Slytherin stared back, feeling like there was something else going on, at least on James’ part. There was some obvious tension between them, but neither seemed keen to speak out on it. 

 

They sat quietly for a moment before James had to go back to the common room to watch Peter cut his cake. 










FEBRUARY 6TH 1978




James could not stop smiling. 

 

He couldn’t believe that Regulus had actually sat and spoken to him the previous night, all without starting an argument or being mean to him. He’d even accepted James’ compliments, and though he seemed confused, he hadn’t asked him to stop. 

 

The Gryffindor was so busy staring longingly at the Slytherin table that he barely noticed when the owls came in. It was only when Regulus’ face crumbled as he read the Daily Prophet that James blinked back into reality and glanced around at the distressed faces around him. 

 

Sirius was holding the Prophet in his hands, face hard with rage as he read. James leaned over his shoulder, trying to see what was causing such outrage.



DEATH EATER ATTACK IN LAVENHAM 

 

On Friday, February 5th, a muggle neighborhood in the village of Lavenham was attacked by The Dark Lord’s army of Death Eaters. Many muggles survived with drastic injuries, but two families were killed in their homes…

(cont. on page 13)




James paled, looking up at his friends. It was easy to forget about the war raging on when they were all safely tucked away behind the castle walls. And to think that while they were partying and celebrating Peter’s birthday, people were dying and they didn’t even have a clue. 

 

“This is sick,” Sirius spat as he crumpled the Prophet in his fist. “This is… They cannot get away with this! There were children there!” His raised voice was drawing attention to the Gryffindor table. But still, everyone was shooting wary looks at the Slytherins.

 

James scanned the green table, taking in their various expressions. The younger years, first through fourth looked pale and afraid, ducking their heads to avoid anyone’s eyes. The fifth years were whispering amongst each other, shooting glances at the end of the table where the sixth and seventh years were sitting. It was harder to gauge the upper years’ reactions. Some, like Regulus and his friends, were clearly unimpressed with the news, sullen looks on their faces, while others like Snape, Mulciber and Avery were grinning to themselves, heads put together and whispering quietly. James had no doubt that they would be joining Voldemort’s ranks, if they weren’t already in them. 
















Regulus kept his wand tightly clenched in his hand as he walked back towards the Slytherin common room. All day, students from other houses had been hostile and wary of the Slytherins, likely blaming them and their families for the deaths of the muggles. 

 

It didn’t help that Mulciber had been going around school laughing about the article that had been published that morning. He’d been hexed quite a few times by Gryffindors, Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs alike, but nothing stopped the brunet wizard from spreading his hateful agenda. Regulus thought that the only thing that would get a git like Nathaniel Mulciber to stop would be the Killing Curse.

 

Regulus had been avoiding confrontation all day, not wanting to be put in the middle of whatever was happening between Mulciber’s lot and Sirius’ friends. The Marauders had been especially vicious with their hexes, wands at the ready for anyone who even seemed remotely inclined to be a blood supremacist. 

 

Regulus had thought to talk to his brother, at one point, wanting to shake Sirius and tell him that they didn’t need the battlefield moving within the walls of Hogwarts, but he was sure that Sirius would somehow manage to see his lack of desire for revenge as an alliance to the Dark side. 

 

As he reached the common room, he quickly jogged up the stairs to the boy’s dormitories and collapsed on his bed. 

 

His arm had been burning him all day.






Chapter Text

FEBRUARY 8TH  1978

 

Regulus stared blankly at the small barn owl in front of him, wondering who had the audacity to send an owl into the library. Attached to the owl’s leg was a small black pouch with a red ribbon. Regulus sighed, long and suffering, as he untied the bow, simultaneously digging in his bag for a treat that he could give the owl.

 

Opening the pouch, Regulus gasped. Inside was a beautiful, black leatherback notebook with the letter R carved into the front in gold. Regulus ran his fingers over the notebook reverently, admiring the detailing of the gift. Almost frantically, he searched the pouch for a note.

 

 

Reg,

 

You seemed pretty down these last few days and it made me miss your beautiful smile. Whatever is going on, I hope you know you can talk to me if you want to. And I know, you’re probably rolling your eyes and asking yourself how could you possibly speak to someone who you don’t even know the identity of, but that’s where the notebook comes in. It’s a journal, (not a diary because I know you’d scoff at that). When you write in it, you can pretend that we’re talking. Even when I’m not with you, I’ll always be listening to you.

 

Hope you feel better!

 

 

Absently, Regulus twirled the ribbon from the pouch around his fingers and made a small knot before slipping it over his wrist. He read and re-read the note twice more before folding it and sliding it between the pages of his new journal.

 

He picked up his peacock feathered quill and dipped it into his ink well before turning to the first page of his journal.

 

I wish I knew who you are , he wrote, frowning to himself. It was almost concerning how much this mystery person knew about him while Regulus didn’t even know their name or gender. He hoped that the person would turn out to be Barty, who often had a hard time outwardly expressing his affections, but deep down he knew that it wasn’t the brunet. Barty would have said something about the notes that day in Regulus’ flat, if it were him.

 

Regulus thought of leaving a note for his secret admirer to find, but he couldn’t be sure if they would. After all, if they didn’t send him things by school owl then their notes would turn up in random places such as his Quidditch bag or locker. He could keep a note in the locker room in case the person decided to leave something for him there again, but that ran the risk of one of his teammates finding the note or even worse, Barty.

 

Barty always borrowed Regulus’ soap after practice, complaining that the one his father bought made his skin itch. Evan had once pointed out that Barty was old enough to pick up his own soap in Hogsmeade, but Barty had just spluttered some nonsense response about getting free soap from Regulus. Secretly, Regulus hoped that Barty borrowed his soap so that he could keep Regulus’ scent on him when they were apart.

 

Sighing, Regulus blew on his ink to make it dry faster and closed his journal. He admired it for a moment before slipping it into his bag and refocusing on his coursework. A wave of relief hit him when Evan and Barty took the seats across from him, only a minute after he’d put away his journal. He wasn’t actively trying to hide things from his friends, but he figured that it caused no harm to keep these secret notes to himself until he figured out who was sending them.

 

“Oh, you actually started it!” Evan exclaimed, sliding Regulus’ Transfiguration work towards himself. “Mind if I copy off you, Reg? Haven’t started mine.” He gave a sheepish smile when Regulus huffed at him, but ultimately the younger boy nodded his agreement.

 

They all began working in perfect silence, only the sounds of their quills scratching against parchment and the occasional tap of glass on their ink wells. Regulus loved these quiet afternoons in the library with Barty and Evan. His friends weren’t always this quiet, but it seemed as though the library was their sacred place where they could wind down and just exist in each other’s space in peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James beamed to himself, watching as Regulus walked across the courtyard holding the new journal James had got him. He’d clearly been writing in it, if the parchment sticking out from between the pages was any indicator. James was elated.

 

“Prongs? Are you even listening?” Peter poked his side, earning himself an undignified squeak of surprise from James. Clearing his throat, the dark haired Gryffindor stood up straight and faced his childhood best friend, ignoring the smug look Peter was giving him.

 

“Sorry, what was that, Wormy?” James asked, pushing his glasses up on the bridge of his nose. Peter raised an eyebrow at him, his gaze slowly sweeping over James and then scanning the courtyard. Thankfully, Regulus was already entering the castle by then, so James didn’t have to worry that his friend might figure out who he was staring at.

 

“I asked if you had a date for Hogsmeade next weekend. Moony and Pads are going together and I think I’ll be going with Emmeline, but I don’t want you to be all alone if you haven’t got a date,” Peter reiterated, flushing slightly at the mention of his crush. James tried not to coo at him.

 

“I will probably go stag,” James chuckled at his own pun. He sobered slightly, looking down at Peter seriously, “You don’t have to worry about me, Pete. Go ahead and ask Emmeline out, I’ll be fine.”

 

In all honesty, James had been trying not to think about Valentine’s Day too much. He knew that practically every couple in school would be going to Hogsmeade and he didn’t want to spend the day as a third wheel to his friends by going alone. He knew that the simple solution would be to ask someone out, but he felt a little sick at the idea of going with anyone that wasn’t Regulus Black.

 

Not only would he be using someone as a distraction, he’d also spend the whole day thinking about Regulus and what the younger wizard might be getting up to, which would mean that he wouldn’t put all of his focus into the date.

 

He couldn’t do that.

 

Not to some random person and not to himself.

 

And, there was also the risk of him seeing Regulus on a date with someone else. He and Barty Crouch were looking exceptionally close as of late, and James would rather not witness them being coupley together.

 

“Are you sure, Prongs? I wouldn’t mind staying at the castle with you, if you want me to,” Peter offered, always kind and considerate. James smiled at his friend, feeling a wave of affection for the shorter boy.

 

“Really, Pete, I’ll be okay spending a day by myself,” James said placatingly. “Maybe then I’ll actually get some of my coursework done,” he laughed, pleased with himself when Peter joined him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regulus wasn’t surprised when James Potter rounded the corner with a beaming smile on his face. Over the last few weeks, they’d been partnered up together for patrols and Regulus was starting to expect that blinding smile whenever he was in close proximity to the Gryffindor.

 

“Hello,” Potter greeted him with a kind smile. Regulus noted the way his eyes seemed to linger on the scarf wrapped around his neck before dragging up to meet his eyes.

 

“Hi,” he replied curtly, spinning on his heel to begin their patrol. Potter easily fell into step with him, walking closer than necessary which caused their shoulders to bump together occasionally.

 

Potter was silent for the most part, though Regulus could feel the heavy weight of the older boy’s hazel eyes burning holes into the side of his face. Regulus probably would have reprimanded the Gryffindor for his lack of manners and inability to focus on his task, if not for the fact that he himself was completely distracted by the journal in his pocket.

 

His fingers traced idly over the leather cover, careful not to show it through his robes. His fingers itched to write in the journal again, as he had been doing all day. There was something liberating in putting his thoughts and feelings into words without actually having to say them to anyone.

 

“Are you alright?” Potter’s question startled him out of his thoughts. Regulus turned to the slightly older boy and raised an eyebrow. Did he not look alright? As if reading his thoughts, Potter shook his head. “You look pensive, is what I mean. Something on your mind?”

 

“Do you think there would be a spell to reveal someone’s identity based off a sample of their handwriting?” Regulus blurted without thinking. Potter’s eyes widened at the abruptness of his question, and unwittingly, Regulus continued. “I mean, there must be… right?”

 

“Why – why do you ask?” Potter inquired, rubbing the back of his neck in what could be perceived as a nervous gesture. Regulus blinked at him, uncertain about revealing his secret. Potter could easily go blabbing his mouth to Sirius and his other friends.

 

“Just asking,” he replied casually, his fingertips brushing against his journal. The scarf around his neck suddenly felt too tight, so Regulus loosened it and sighed to himself. “It would be interesting if there were… Just think of how the Ministry could use such a spell.”

 

Potter hummed, seemingly only half listening to Regulus’ nonsensical ramblings. They were quiet for some few minutes, the air between them feeling thick and awkward, though Regulus wasn’t entirely sure why.

 

Then, rather out of the blue, Potter pulled him to a stop. Regulus waited for him to say something, or perhaps point out a student out of bed, but the Gryffindor simply stared at him with wide hazel eyes.

 

“What are…?” Regulus trailed off when a large hand cupped the side of his face, calloused fingers sliding into the hair at the nape of his neck. He blinked up at the taller wizard, one hand flying up to wrap around Potter’s wrist. But he could not bring himself to tear the other boy’s hand off of him.

 

“You are so…”

 

A loud bang interrupted him, followed by a shriek and a loud cackle of laughter. Regulus’ head snapped in the direction of the commotion, dislodging Potter’s hand from his hair. He looked up and down the hallway, then turned his startled gaze towards the Head Boy.

 

“Peeves,” Potter sighed heavily, beginning to walk down the hall. Dutifully, Regulus followed him, albeit taking care to keep some distance between them, this time around.

Chapter Text

Sirius stretched across his desk, stealing a quill out of Remus’ muggle pencil case, winking when the werewolf shot him an annoyed look. They’d been especially close these last couple of days, ever since Remus had asked Sirius to Hogsmeade for Valentine’s Day, even going as far as making James and Peter switch seats in lessons so that they could sit next to each other.

 

He wasn’t sure if they were dating yet, seeing as they hadn’t kissed or anything, but he hoped that it would change after their date. 

 

“It is too early in the morning for your shit, Padfoot,” Remus groaned when Sirius tried dipping the quill into the inkwell. He wasn’t taking any notes, instead choosing to draw on his own arm, while half listening to their Defence Professor blabber on about Unforgivable Curses. He knew enough about them, seeing as his own mother used two of them on him.

 

About fifteen minutes into the lesson, the doors at the back of the class bursted open and a disheveled looking Regulus came rushing into the class. His hair was messy and his cheeks were tinged pink, his shirt untucked and his bag hanging off of his shoulder.

 

“You’re late, Mr. Black,” professor Hastings pointed out unnecessarily. He eyed Regulus as the younger wizard shuffled up to the front of the room and held out a note. 

 

“Sorry, professor, quidditch practice ran later than expected. A snitch went haywire and I had to chase it into the forest,” he panted. “Hooch says I’m excused from having points taken away,” he added, handing the slip of parchment to the man.

 

“Hmm. Very well, take a seat.” 

 

Regulus slid into the seat next to Dorcas, who immediately set upon fixing his hair for him. Sirius smiled when Regulus met his eyes and his brother nodded at him in greeting. 

 

“Well, if there are no more interruptions, I will get started,” Hastings said imperiously. He reached under his desk and took out a glass box with a rather large looking spider inside. Sirius wrinkled his nose, sharing a look with Peter who was famously afraid of spiders; Sirius couldn’t blame him though, most of them were pretty nasty.

 

 He went back to drawing on his arm, swirling the quill around his wrist and inner forearm, creating wavy lines. He drew small stems, adding flowers and stars as he went.

 

“Crucio!” 

 

The quill’s tip dug into his skin as Sirius startled, the metal making him bleed. His head snapped up to where the professor was pointing his wand at the spider, which had started writhing and screeching in pain. Sirius stared in horror, barely noticing the steady trickle of blood dripping down his arm. 

 

“Stop! Stop!” A feminine voice called out, drawing Sirius’ attention. Dorcas was turned in her seat, one arm wrapped around Regulus’ shaking form and the other waving at the professor. “Stop, you’re scaring him!”

 

The professor ended the spell, finally realizing the reactions he was getting. There were a few scared people in the room, besides the Black brothers. A couple of Slytherin boys, Avery and Mulciber, as well as a Ravenclaw girl that Sirius was sure was named Kelly Clark, were all pale faced and covering their ears. Everyone else’s reactions weren’t as severe, but there was a general look of horror on their faces.

 

Sirius looked back at where Dorcas was slowly lowering Regulus to the floor. The younger Black brother was rocking himself back and forth, hands pressing into his ears so hard that they were as white as snow. He was murmuring apologies and pleas, his thin shoulders shaking with silent sobs. 

 

Instinctively, naturally, Sirius lunged across the room and kneeled in front of Regulus, cradling him into his arms. 

 

“It’s okay, Reggie, it’s okay,” Sirius soothed, rubbing his hand over Regulus’ back for comfort. Regulus cried into his chest, shaking his head. “You’re okay, I promise, you’re okay. Reg, you’re okay.” 

 

“N-not me,” Regulus hiccuped, clinging to Sirius’ shirt. “She didn’t get me – you!” 

 

Sirius’ heart stuttered, and he looked down at his brother. “No,” he cupped Regulus’ face and tilted his head up, shushing him when Regulus gasped for breath. “No, she didn’t get me either. We’re not there, Reg. She can't get to us here.” 

 

Regulus blinked, tears still coming out of his eyes. “Dorcas?” he asked hoarsely, going still in Sirius’ grasp. 

 

“I’m here, love. I’m okay, too,” Dorcas stepped into Regulus’ line of sight and smiled reassuringly. 

 

Around them, people were comforting each other and whispering about the professor using such a dark Curse so casually. James, Peter and Remus had gotten closer to them at some point, standing behind Sirius while looking down at Regulus in varying degrees of worry.

 

“What do you need?” Dorcas asked, and she and Sirius helped Regulus back to his feet. Regulus frowned as he looked around the room, his eyes lingering on the caged spider. Dorcas didn’t seem to mind his lack of answer, nuzzling his cheek and wrapping an arm around his waist. “Shall I take you to Evan? He should be in the common room, seeing as he has a free period.” 

 

“No,” Sirius spoke up, barely letting her finish her thought. “I’ll stay with him. He won’t be himself for a while.” He brought a hand up to Regulus’ face, going to wipe away the tears, but his brother quickly caught his wrist.

 

“I thought you said you weren’t hurt,” Regulus cried, staring at the blood on Sirius’ arm. He looked seconds away from puking, so Sirius quickly cleared away the mess and casted an easy healing charm on himself. 

 

“Just a little scratch, nothing to worry about,” Sirius played it off, smiling reassuringly. Regulus frowned at him, looking between his newly healed arm and Sirius’ face.

 

“Alright, everyone,” professor Hastings clapped his hands and called out for their attention. “That will be all for today, class dismissed.” He seemed fidgety, eyes darting around nervously, not really bringing himself to look at any of them in the eye. “Please go back to your common rooms. We will be starting a new lesson tomorrow.” 

 

Students started filing out of the room and Sirius latched onto Regulus before Dorcas could take him away. Regulus followed him docilely as Sirius led him to the library. If there was anything that could cheer Regulus up right now, it would be a good book.

 

He barely noticed that his friends were following them as well, Remus and James holding Sirius and Regulus’ bags, respectively. 

 

The library was mostly empty for once, due to almost all of the students being in class at this hour. They found a table in the Charms section, dropping down into the chairs with a muted sense of relief of being away from the Defence teacher.

 

Regulus dropped his head into his folded arms,  curving in on himself. He was still shaking slightly, trembling here and there, and sniffling every few seconds. 

 

“Regulus, are you, –” James began, but Sirius raised his hand to silence him with a shake of his head. He knew Regulus wouldn’t want to speak right now, much less to people he wasn’t familiar with. 

 

They lapsed into silence, all of them sitting still as they watched Regulus collect himself and regain his breath, until Peter reached into his bag and brought out his Potions essay. Remus quickly followed, finishing up his Divination assignment, and James reluctantly started studying for their Transfiguration test that was coming up later in the week. 

 

Sirius stayed right where he was, not taking his eyes off of Regulus. He didn’t know how much time had passed when he heard more people coming into the library, low voices and footsteps echoing in the otherwise silent room. 

 

He only raised his head when someone walked up to their table, causing all of them to look when Emma Vanity took the seat across from Regulus.

 

Regulus looked at his fellow quidditch player, blinking slowly like he was still sluggish. Sirius almost reached out to support his back, where his shoulders were still hunched. 

 

“I heard what happened in Defence,” Emma said gently, frowning. “Dorcas said that you were a little shaken up. Are you feeling better?” She watched Regulus run a hand through his hair and shake his head. Emma’s frown deepened and she sighed, “Is there anything special I could do for you? I could go to the kitchens and get you some of that nice lavender tea you like?” 

 

Regulus’ lips trembled when he tried to smile, and he finally raised his head enough for Sirius to see his red rimmed eyes and blotchy cheeks. Regulus always looked the same after he’d cried, and it always struck Sirius just how young he looked.

 

“No, thank you, Em. I will be better soon,” he rasped, then cleared his throat quietly. He tried to smile again, but he quickly dropped it when he saw the disbelief in the girl’s eyes. 

 

“Do you want me to walk you back to the common room?” Emma asked kindly, reaching out to squeeze the hand that Regulus had splayed on the table. Sirius watched the gesture, his eyes narrowing between the smile on the witch’s face as well as the hand she had touching his brother. 

 

Regulus paused to consider her offer, and Sirius internally panicked, fearing that he would leave with her. But, Regulus simply shook his head and looked around at the bookshelves around them. 

 

“Are you hungry? I have some sugar quills and chocolate wands in my bag, here,” she dug into the messenger bag that was laying in her lap, taking out a sweet for the younger Slytherin. It became clear to Sirius that Vanity had some sort of crush on Regulus. She beamed and fluttered her eyelashes flirtatiously when Regulus’ fingers brushed hers when he took the sugar quill out of her hand. 

 

“Thank you,” Regulus murmured, slowly unwrapping the treat. Emma smiled and nodded, watching eagerly as Regulus started suckling on the pink coloured quill, his eyes downcast. He couldn’t see the look of hopeless (read: disgusting) infatuation on the Slytherin witch’s face, nor could he see the calculating look on Sirius’.

 

Regulus couldn’t get a girlfriend, Sirius thought desperately. The younger wizard barely had time to spend with Sirius between classes, quidditch and his friends. A girlfriend would just add on another obstacle that Sirius would have to overcome to get even a minute alone with his little brother.

 

Regulus and Emma were whispering quietly to each other, Regulus trying futilely to convince her that he was fine and Emma fussing over him with treats and offers of tea and essential oils. 

 

Sirius cleared his throat loudly, drawing the attention of his brother and Emma, but also of his own friends. He leaned back in his chair, tossing his hair over his shoulder and grinned at the witch. 

 

“So, Vanity, did you catch Gryffindor’s win against Hufflepuff last week? Pretty cool, right?” 

 

Emma seemed hesitant to engage in conversation with him, but as a quidditch player herself, she wasn’t about to turn down a conversation about her favourite hobby.

 

“Could’ve been better,” she raised an eyebrow. “Your team is pretty sloppy,” she smirked when both him and James sputtered in offence. “What? You only won because McKinnon caught the snitch in time.”

 

“Oi, I think my ruthless playing helped as well. I knocked down both Macmillan and Roberts,” he boasted, flexing his muscles under his school shirt. That caught Remus’ attention, and the scarred boy looked at him funnily before dropping his gaze down to his books. 

 

“Whatever helps you sleep at night, Black,” Emma snorted, looking unimpressed. Sirius found that stilting. Usually, he’d just flash a smile and girls were throwing themselves at him. 

 

Emma kept shooting glances to where Regulus was now browsing the bookshelves, seemingly unentertained by their conversation. She looked disappointed when the younger didn’t look back at her and Sirius had to fight off a smile.

 

“So, got any plans for Valentine’s Day?” he asked casually, but his question didn’t gather the response he was looking for. Remus made a low rumbling sound in his throat and abruptly stood up from the table, stuffing his material back into his bag and stomping away. Sirius watched him go, eyebrows furrowed and mouth gaping. 

 

“Nice one, mate,” Peter chastised, glaring at him as he scrambled to put his stuff away and run after Remus. 

 

Sirius frowned and looked over at James, who was shaking his head and sighing. “What’s wrong?” Sirius asked, confused as to what he could have done to receive such a reaction. 

 

James stared at him blankly before slowly dragging his gaze over to Emma, who was looking between them curiously. Sirius blinked when the realization hit him and he quickly stood up to run after Remus. He hadn’t really meant to be flirting, he’d just wanted to get Vanity’s attention off of Regulus.

 

Sirius paused when he realized that Regulus was still there, looking at books. James noticed and offered him a smile.

 

“Go, I’ll stay with him.”






James turned to Emma, after Sirius left, sighing to himself. The girl looked terribly confused. 

 

“Sorry, did I do something wrong?” Emma asked. 

 

“No, it wasn’t you,” James quickly replied. He sighed when he saw Emma look back at Regulus who was coming back to the table with a stack of books in his arms. “But you should probably go now, Reg is in a bad way and he needs quiet right now.” 

 

He’d seen how the witch looked at Regulus. How she fussed over him and giggled and twirled her hair when the boy had accepted her candies. But putting his seething jealousy aside, Regulus really didn’t need any distractions at the moment. 

 

Emma nodded mutely and slowly rose from the table. She smiled and said goodbye when Regulus sat down, but he was too busy with his books to notice her departure or the fact that it was just him and James left. 

 

James was quiet, letting Regulus have his time in his head. He knew from experience with Sirius that it was never the right move to try to coax a Black brother into talking after they’d just endured something triggering. So he waited, and watched as Regulus got lost in a textbook about household Charms.

 

He wondered if Regulus was reading it for his benefit or if it was just the first interesting book he’d found. 

 

James moved to take a look at one of the other books Regulus had brought to the table and that finally got the younger to look at him.

 

Regulus’ eyes widened and he quickly looked around, finally noticing that they were alone. They hadn’t been alone since their last prefect round, when James had very nearly (and unwittingly) admitted his feelings.

 

“Er, where did your friends go?” Regulus asked, frowning at the empty space that once held Sirius. James wanted to coo and pinch his cheeks, because he looked absolutely adorable in this rare, petulant state. 

 

“They, uh, had a class to go to,” James lied smoothly, shrugging off the question. It wasn’t really a lie, actually. He was pretty sure that Defence had ended a little over twenty minutes ago and they were all expected to be in Herbology at that very moment.

 

“Oh,” Regulus blinked and looked down at the silver watch that was wrapped around his thin wrist. “Shouldn’t you be… you know, joining them?” He gestured vaguely to the exit of the library.

 

James smiled, “Nah. I wanted to stay back with you. Make sure you’re okay.”

 

Regulus looked genuinely baffled by this, for some reason, and his fingers flexed nervously around the book in his hands. He watched James carefully for a moment before turning away and reaching into his book bag. He pulled out his scarf, wrapping it over his head and neck, pulling the fabric over his hair, hiding away. He ducked his head, completely ignoring James as he read his book.

 

James just smiled a secretive, adoring smile, and resisted the urge to climb over the table and wrap himself around Regulus, shielding him from harm for the rest of their time on Earth.



Ten minutes later, Regulus spoke up. “Why did you…” he hesitated, looking down at his book with an unreadable expression. “Why did you touch me, the other night?” 

 

James grinned softly at the reminder of their stolen moment, his face going slack with fondness. “I wanted to,” he replied, because he had wanted to. “Is that okay?” 

 

Slowly, Regulus shook his head and James felt his stomach fall out from under him. He’d offended the boy, made him uncomfortable and James hated himself for it. Regulus looked like he wanted to get up and walk away, but miraculously, he stayed put.

 

“No one has ever touched me like that,” he whispered, ducking his head even more, but not before James could see his flushed cheeks. “I don’t know what to do with it.”

 

“Touch your hair, you mean?” James asked, furrowing his eyebrows. He was certain that he’d seen Rosier, Crouch, Pandora and Dorcas touching Regulus’ hair on numerous occasions.

 

“… Tenderly,” Regulus murmured softly. “Like I’m something precious. Just – how you held my face, that was… yeah.” 

 

James deflated, going nearly boneless as he stretched across the table and reached for Regulus’ hand. He squeezed it, not minding that Regulus didn’t squeeze back. 

 

“You are precious,” James said reverently. It was a shame that Regulus didn’t know just how much James appreciated him, admired him, cared for him. Regulus was so important to James, and he didn’t even know it.

 

“Oh,” Regulus chewed on his bottom lip and averted his eyes. Like a switch had been flipped, Regulus’ demeanour turned brighter and he straightened up. James followed his gaze and found Couch and Rosier coming towards them.

 

“Regs, are you okay? We just heard what happened,” Rosier collapsed into the chair next to Regulus and immediately tugged him into an embrace.

 

“That fucking bastard should be fired,” Crouch stated heatedly. “I mean, who just wakes up and thinks: yeah, let me use a torture curse in front of a bunch of teenagers.” His eyes were hard and unforgiving until Regulus looked at him, then it seemed as though all of the fight left him and he folded over and wrapped his arms around both Regulus and Evan.

 

Regulus’ friends either didn’t notice him at all, or they were steadily ignoring his presence because neither asked him what he was doing there. James fell into the background, which was mildly bewildering for someone who was used to being the centre of attention, and he quickly realized that he should leave.

 

He stood up silently, gathering his stuff and walked away with one last glance over his shoulder.

 

Regulus was looking back at him, his fingers holding onto the fabric of his scarf.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

FEBRUARY 12TH 1978.

 

 

 

Regulus had been on his best behaviour all evening. He’d dressed up in the gold trimmed robes that his mother had left on his bed, and styled his hair the way he knew his father would approve of; he’d even gone the extra mile and wore the expensive (yet horrible smelling) cologne that Bellatrix had gifted him for Yule.

 

Normally, he’d be left alone at pureblood gatherings – before, he was too young to worry about and then people started paying attention to Sirius after he’d been placed in Gryffindor and Regulus fell into the background – but now he was under a microscope, being scrutinized and watched by everyone. They wanted to know if he would turn into a disappointment like the heir before him. If they would have the chance to tear him apart like they’d done to Sirius.

 

He wouldn’t let them, of course. He had the act of the perfect pureblood son perfected from years of practice. He wore his Black mask so easily that he often found himself slipping into it without realizing it.

 

A loud pop rang through the air and in the blink of an eye, Kreacher was standing next to him.

 

“Master Orion wishes to see Master Regulus in his office before the dinner starts,” Kreacher announced with a deep bow. His pointy ears brushed the floor and Regulus sighed, he hated when the elf treated him like this.

 

A small flicker of unease pooled in his stomach as he made his way into his father’s study. It wasn’t often that Orion spoke to Regulus alone, let alone directly to him. His mother did most of the speaking, while his father sat back and nodded his agreement to whatever supremacist bollocks she’d been spewing.

 

The door was ajar when he finally got to the main floor, so Regulus pushed it open and stepped into the room. His father was standing with his back to him, seemingly staring out of the window even though the curtains were firmly closed.

 

Do you know how imperative it is for you to make a good impression on our guests tonight, Regulus Arcturus?” Orion had asked, still staring at nothing. Regulus had wanted to roll his eyes, but his unease had overpowered his annoyance.

 

“Yes, father,” he’d replied, taking care not to mumble.

 

“And do you know who is to be attending our dinner tonight?”

 

Here Regulus faltered, he’d been sure that it would just be their usual guests, families from the Sacred Twenty-eight, but something in Orion’s tone made it clear that it was so much more than that.

 

“Someone important, sir?” Regulus had inquired, too innocently. With a harsh scoff, his father rounded on him and gave him a hard look.

 

“Yes, someone important!” Orion took three large steps across the room until he was standing in front of Regulus. “You will act like a man tonight, boy. No boring the guests with your magical theories, no discussing literature or care of magical creatures. You will speak only when spoken to and you will be a good heir.”

 

“Yes, father,” Regulus had repeated, the reply falling from his tongue instinctively.

 

“The Dark Lord has been kind enough to come and meet you, Regulus. The consequences will be dire, should you embarrass our family in front of Him.” Orion had grabbed his shoulder, but Regulus barely felt the biting pain of his father’s mail digging into his skin over the ringing in his ears.

 

The Dark Lord was coming to his house.

 

He was expected to meet him.

 

Belatedly, he realized that his father was still speaking.

 

“– and you will kneel when He asks you to and you will accept His mark with pride and respect.

 

No.

 

He couldn’t mean…

 

That wasn’t a part of his duty as heir. They’d never asked that from Sirius.

 

“Are you even listening to me, boy?” Regulus hadn’t seen the slap coming. Orion had never hit him before, no he left that to his wife. But it seemed as though today of all days was the time for change.

 

He was knocked back with the force of the hit. His mother’s hands were small, her slaps only having just enough power behind them to make his head spin sideways. But his father’s hand was large, and adorned with thick rings much like his own. Orion’s slap made him stumble, his hand shooting up to his split lip. His jaw ached and some unshed tears gathered in his eyes at the sting, but he blinked them away and stared at the man that he resembled so much.

 

Orion was muttering to himself, “I told Walburga that you weren’t right for this. Always off in fairy land, never listening –“ He stopped and shook his head, staring blankly at his son. “There was always one thing that made your good-for-nothing blood-traitor brother complacent.”

 

Regulus’ stomach dropped when he saw his father reach for his wand. He knew what came next, so it was no surprise when Orion shouted:

 

“Crucio!”

 

Regulus had been placed under the Torture Curse once before; the morning after Sirius had been Sorted into Gryffindor. His mother had been livid and since she couldn’t take her anger out on the son she hated, she turned to her spare and unleashed that anger on him. At ten years old, Regulus was sure that his mother had him under the Curse for what felt like a lifetime.

 

At sixteen, Regulus was relieved that his father only held the Curse for five minutes. His body was spasming, his legs jerking involuntarily, his head pounding uncomfortably and he could taste blood in his mouth from where he’d bit down on his tongue while he was under. His father was looking down at him like Regulus was the dirtiest piece of filth he’d ever come across, and Regulus bit back a whimper. No matter how indifferent Orion might have been towards him in the previous years, he’d never looked at Regulus like that .

 

“Will you take the mark, boy?” Orion asked, kicking his foot against Regulus’ trembling shoulder, making sprawl out on his back.

 

Regulus stared helplessly, his mind already racing with plans on how to get the fuck out of here . Alarm bells were going off in his head, and his first thought was to find Sirius. But he couldn’t, because Sirius had left him here. Sirius had left and hadn’t looked back, and that was exactly what Regulus had to do too. But first, he had to survive this dinner.

 

Not liking the long silence that followed his question, Orion raised his wand again and bellowed, “Crucio!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regulus woke up with a gasp, sweat dripping down his forehead and goosebumps covering his skin. He leaned over the side of his bed and emptied his stomach’s contents. Groaning as quietly as he could, not wanting to wake up Barty and Evan, Regulus Vanished his mess. A quick Tempus told him that it was a quarter past five in the morning.

 

Regulus knew that he wasn’t going to be able to go back to sleep and he didn’t fancy sitting in a quiet dorm either, but breakfast didn’t start until seven, so he couldn’t go to the Great Hall either.

 

Sighing, Regulus rolled out of bed and grabbed his quidditch bag. He’d go for a quick fly around the pitch to clear his mind.

 

The sun was just peeking over the horizon when Regulus got down to the pitch. He dragged his feet into the locker room, planning to change quickly.

 

“Oh – hey!” Regulus startled at the sudden voice, snapping his head up. He nearly sighed when his eyes met an annoyingly familiar hazel. “You’re up early,” James pointed out, raising his eyebrows. His gaze drifted over Regulus’ pyjama clad body, and a small smile appeared on his face.

 

“You’re also awake,” Regulus countered, raising his own eyebrows. James had clearly just taken a shower. His dark hair was wet and dripping onto his bare shoulders, and his trousers were unbuttoned. Regulus tried not to stare too long at the dusting of dark hair that disappeared into James’ pants.

 

“Oh, yeah, I wake up early every morning,” James replied, turning around to grab his shirt off of the bench. Regulus ripped his gaze away from where it was lingering on the sharp lines of the other boy’s stomach. “I don’t usually see anyone else out here.”

 

“Couldn’t sleep,” Regulus sighed. He tapped his broom against his thigh as he moved towards his own locker in the Slytherin section of the locker room. Keeping his back to the Gryffindor, Regulus began undressing.

 

“No? Bad dream?” James asked, hitting the nail on the head. Regulus looked at him over his shoulder, finding the older boy already staring at him. Quickly, he pulled his quidditch jumper over his head and slid into his padded trousers, feeling the heat of James’ gaze linger on him.

 

“Yes, actually,” Regulus murmured, dropping his attention to his boots.

 

“Regulus,” James called, but the younger ignored him and focused on tying his laces. “Hey, you know you can talk to me, right? I’ve dealt with this before, with Siri-“

 

“I’m not Sirius,” Regulus snapped, standing up and grabbing for his broom. He tried to walk out, but James stepped in front of him, blocking the exit.

 

“I know you aren’t,” and he said it so sincerely that Regulus felt some tension drain out of him. “Still, I’m here for you. Anytime you need me.”

 

Regulus furrowed his eyebrows, looking off to the side. James’ face was too open, too revealing. The sincerity and solidarity was baffling to Regulus, who didn’t even consider the dark haired wizard to be his friend. Yet here James Potter was, ever the saint, offering Regulus a shoulder to lean on if his nightmares ever got to be too much for him to bear alone.

 

“I’ll think about it,” Regulus ground out, because that was the most he could offer. But it seemed to be enough for James, who smiled and stepped aside, squeezing Regulus’ elbow as he went.