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Marwa

April 2017

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Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters/Pairings: Sirius/Regulus, Kreacher, Bellatrix Lestrange, Evan Rosier.
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 8k / 15k
Summary: "You and Sirius knew that it wouldn’t work, that you two had chosen two different paths, but you wouldn't give it up."
Warning: References to domestic violence, character death.
A/N: Written for Trope Bingo round 6 and the 'right of passage/coming of age' square on my card.

Part Two. Part Three.


I.

1970.

Regulus Black was huddled in one of the corners in his bed, holding one of his father's large books in his hands. It was slightly chilly despite the rising sun, as the summer slowly died and fall took its place.

He opened the book and started reading, trying to understand anything and failing. It talked about spells and potions that looked too complicated, and he was, as his father told him a few days ago when he asked for a wand, too young to use magic.

He eventually gave up and just started looking at the moving pictures instead. He frowned as he flipped through the pages; most of the pictures were of people jerking and moving wildly, their eyes wide, like the eyes of the animals his father hunted, right before he flicked his hand and they went still.

When Regulus asked him what he had done, his father had told him that he put them to sleep. He asked if he could teach him that spell. His father only shook his head. Regulus was familiar enough with his father's moods and he knew from the look in his eyes to not bring up the topic again. He never did.

As he flipped through more pages, he started to feel the familiar pain in stomach, the one that made him stay awake at night, forcing himself not to sleep in fear that he might have another bad dream. He always had trouble sleeping whenever he accompanied his father to one of his hunts.

He didn't know what the book was about, but he had a feeling that it wasn't anything good. He slapped the book shut, and for perhaps the thousandth time that morning, wished that Sirius was there. He would have grinned when he found out that he stole a book from his father's library and read it with him. He doubted he would have been able to understand it -he had a feeling that this book was one of the ‘adult’ books his father mentioned before- but at least they would have tried together. But his older brother went away yesterday to Hogwarts for the first time, promising to write him regularly.

He wondered if he should ask his mother if Sirius sent anything, but he doubted he would receive any answer as his mother was usually busy reading the newspaper and answering her letters at this time. If Sirius had sent anything, then it is going to be a while before he found out.

As if on cue, he heard his mother shout his name from downstairs. He immediately bounced off his bed, his heart in his throat. Did she find out that he took the book? But his father wasn't home yet, and she never sat in the family’s library at that time. He grabbed the book, shoved it under his beds, and ran downstairs. Whatever happened, he knew his mother would be angrier if he didn't come at once.

He jumped the last two stairs and turned around towards where his mother stood. His frantic heartbeat slowed down when he saw her standing next to the usual pile of letters, staring at a particular one, as if she could burn it alive with just her stare. Her hand was clenched into a fist, fingers turning white from the pressure.

He crept towards her, wondering if he should ask what's wrong or just let her be for now.

"Mum?" He finally asked. "Are you okay?"

"Something must be wrong," his mother murmured. He wondered if she was talking to him or to herself. "The hat has finally lost its
magic."

Regulus tried to guess what she meant, but all that came to his head was a funny hat he saw a muggle wear yesterday as they accompanied Sirius to platform nine and three quarters. It was so weird that he was tempted to ask his father for one like it, but they hurried along, before he managed to pluck up his courage.

"Is something wrong, Mum?" He tried again, almost hoping that his mother wouldn't snap out of whatever state of mind she was in. He never liked her like that, as he was familiar with how she acted when she finally came to her senses. He suppressed a shiver at the memory.

She suddenly whipped around and faced him. "Go get your coat, Regulus," she ordered. "We are leaving." He quickly nodded and ran back up the stairs, only too happy to do whatever she wanted at that moment.

He snatched one of his coats out and hesitated for a second before leaving the room, debating whether it would be worth it or not to try and get the book back to its place. In the end, he decided that didn't have much time left and that any punishment for taking the book wouldn’t be worse than keeping his mother waiting right then.

When he went downstairs, he found her mother had already worn her cloak and was standing in front of the fireplace, tapping her foot impatiently. She grabbed his hand in a tight grip when he was next to her, then threw green powder into the fireplace.

"Hogwarts," she said. Then, he found himself spinning around as flashes of different colours and sounds assaulted his senses.

He blinked as his vision started to become clear again and found himself in a large room. It was decorated with shelves and shelves of books, potions, and things he didn't recognise. A phoenix was perched on a stood nearby, watching them with round ruby eyes.

In front of him, sitting on a desk, was a man with a long beard. He looked up and Regulus was met with piercing blue eyes. He remembered his mother describing him to Sirius a few days before he left, but for some reason, Regulus had the image a cold slightly mad man, not like the person in front of him.

"Ah, Walburga," he said. His voice was deep and warm. "I had a feeling I would see you soon."

"What is the meaning of this?" His mother demanded, raising her right hand, a crumpled letter in it.

"Please sit down, and let's talk," the man said. He looked the same age as his father, maybe a little older.

"I will not sit down until I know what kind of a game are you playing here, Dumbledore," she spat. Regulus flinched.

Dumbledore sighed. "I think you know very well that I have nothing to do with the hat's choices, Walburga."

His mother strode forward. He thought about following her then opted against it. It was better if he stayed out of it. "Then what?" She demanded. "What could have possibly happened to sort my own son into Gryffindor?"

Regulus searched in his memory for that familiar name and remembered a day where he and his brother sat next to each other as their father told them the tale of the Four Founders, and Godric Gryffindor's betrayal against his closest friend, Salazar Slytherin.

"What do you learn from it, boys?" He asked, as he always did, whenever he told them a story.

"That you shouldn't let stupid fights ruin your friendship," Sirius said simply. Their father gave him a disapproval glare.

"This wasn't just a stupid fight, Sirius," he said, then turned around and shifted his attention towards Regulus.

"What do you think?" Regulus hesitated for a moment before he answered. He was originally going to say something alongside what his brother said -- It really wasn't a stupid simple fight, but the friendship between the four seemed too strong and deep to be broken apart after all that time. But he knew his father wouldn't hear of it, so he thought of something else.

"That you shouldn't betray the one closest to you," he said at last. He didn't say who he meant exactly — in his opinion, both Godric and Salazar made a big mistake, but it was enough for his father. He smiled and clapped him on the back, then shot a look towards Sirius.

Regulus hated that look, because whenever he looked at Sirius like that, Sirius would shoot him a glare when his father wasn't looking, full of anger and something else he couldn't place. He didn't like it.

"Nothing," Dumbledore's answer brought him back from his thoughts. "The hat was given all its knowledge about the houses from the founders themselves, and it saw it best to sort your son into Godric Gryffindor's house. I know you aren't the biggest fan of that house, Walburga, but the hat believes that he will do great in it."

"Then, I want to speak to the hat."

"It wouldn't matter," he replied. "The hat made up its mind, and you know that it won't change it." Dumbledore suddenly looked towards him. "You are Regulus, aren't you?"

He blinked in surprise and quickly nodded. He didn't know that the Headmaster was paying attention to him at all, he rather hoped he didn't.

"Why are you standing so far away? Come here and have a seat," he said, gesturing to one of the chairs in front of his desk.

Regulus glanced at his mother but she wasn't looking at him, so he took it as a sign that she wouldn't say no. He shuffled towards where they were and sat on the chair. His legs dangled as he couldn't reach the floor yet, so he rocked them slowly back and forth while keeping an eye on his mother for the slightest sign of disapproval.

"How old are you, Regulus?" Dumbledore asked.

"Nine, sir," he answered. No matter what differences his mother and that man had, he was older than him, and he wouldn't show disrespect. His father taught him that.

"You shall be here in two years then." Regulus nodded. Dumbledore looked at his mother again. "Walburga, please, have a seat. Let's try to put our differences aside and talk about this."

His mother shook her head. "This isn't over, Dumbledore."

He sighed. "I'm afraid so."

“Regulus, come," she commanded. Regulus stood and hurried to catch up to her fast pace.

Just as she was about to put the green powder in the fireplace again, Regulus turned around. Dumbledore watched them as his phoenix stood on his shoulder and sang quietly.

* * *

Regulus opened the door of Sirius’ room slowly and looked around at the mess on the floor.

“What are you doing?” He asked.

“Redecorating my room,” Sirius spat, his back to him, as he waved his wand and another shred of the green wallpaper was thrown on the
floor.

“You can’t use magic outside of Hogwarts,” he reminded him, remembering all the stories he

had heard about people spending time in Azkaban.

“This is a magical house, isn’t it?” He said, waving his wand for too long, creating a thin crack

in the wall. “They can’t pinpoint exactly who is using magic.”

“But mum and dad will,” Regulus said. “They are bound to find out. If they didn’t come here because of all the noise you are making, then Kreacher will tell them.”

“I don’t fucking care!” Sirius shouted, turning around to face him.

That was the first time he had heard Sirius swear. He was about to ask him where did he learn that - language like this was forbidden in this house - but the words got stuck in his throat when he noticed Sirius’ eyes, full of unshed tears and silent misery.

He took a step towards him and Sirius took a step back, staring at the wall, clenching his hands.

“They didn’t mean it, you know,” Regulus murmured. “What they said before. They just said it out of anger.”

“Yes, they did,” he spat.

Sirius stood with his shirt crumbled up and his cheeks blotchy and his eyes puffy with the effort of keeping in the tears.

Regulus took a step forward, unsure of what to do, of how to help his brother, but he needed to do something. Anything.

“Do you want me to help you with the rest of the wallpaper?”

Sirius blinked and huffed, and Regulus pretended that he didn’t see him when he quickly wiped his eyes. “Yeah,” he mumbled. “Okay.”

When they were done, they sat on the bed. Regulus had glue on his fingers from trying to put on the scarlet and gold wallpaper — that was until Sirius got tired of it and they hunted down a spell that could help them. He knew that he was going to get in a lot of trouble, but right then, as he watched his brother toy with his wand, a grin plastered on his face, he didn’t really care.

“You know what?” Sirius asked after they had spent a while in silence.

Regulus made a noise that he was listening, as he thought of how he was going to postpone his parents finding out about the new wallpaper until Sirius’ vacation ended.

“They are right.”

He looked at Sirius. “About what?”

“I did choose to be sorted into Gryffindor,” he said. “The hat kept going and forth between Gryffindor and Slytherin. I told it to choose Gryffindor.”

“But why?” He asked. They both knew how their parents reacted when something didn’t go how they wanted it to. And they were certain that Sirius would be in Slytherin, just like the rest of the family. Regulus remembered his father’s reaction when he had found out. He shuddered.

“Because I belong in Gryffindor,” he stated. “I knew how they would react, but I also knew the right house for me.”

Regulus looked around the room, at all the shredded silver and green wallpaper. The last day before Sirius went to Hogwarts, their parents spent a day to decorate his room with proper colours, as they had said then. They even went as far as buying new furniture to match.

“How did you learn that spell?” Regulus asked as he picked one of the pieces from the floor and played with it idly.

“I watched Dad as he used it, it isn’t that hard.” He shrugged.

“You almost cracked the wall, don’t try to act humble,” he said.

Sirius looked at the wall as if he just saw the crack for the first time. “Oh,” he said. “Shit.”

He then looked at Regulus and they both burst out laughing.

“I will ask Kreacher to fix it, and ask him not to tell anyone,” Regulus said when they both stopped to catch their breath.

“He will tell them if he saw the new decoration. I still have a couple of ideas.” Sirius grinned.

“He won’t. He obeys me.”

Sirius scoffed. “That ugly elf is a spy for our parents,” he said, as he turned around to start collecting all the shreds of wallpaper off the floor

He sighed. “He isn’t. He actually helped me with a lot of things, even though he knew they would be angry if they found out. You just have to be nice to him.”

“Did you see how he looked at me when I came home with my Gryffindor cloak? It is like I betrayed the entire family!”

Regulus started to shred the silver piece in his hand. “He is…Well, he is loyal to Mother and believes in everything she does.” He shrugged. “But you can change his mind if you just treated him better.”

Sirius snorted. “I doubt it,” he said, as he placed his wand on the table. “Now, will you help me get rid of this mess? I need to finish up before dinner.”

Regulus nodded and together they put all the pieces in one pile and Sirius muttered a spell, it disappeared.

As they walked down the stairs to have dinner, Regulus caught Sirius’ hand in his and squeezed it lightly.

Sirius smiled briefly then it disappeared as their mother’s voice rang clear in the house, ordering them to come.

* * *

II.

1974.

The wind rustled around Regulus as he watched his brother mutter something under his breath, waving his wand.

For a moment, nothing happened, and then Sirius started to become shorter as black thick hair slowly came out from every inch of his body, his limbs shaking and twisting. Soon, a dog stood in his place, his tail swinging lazily as moonlight shined on his soft fur.

The dog sniffed and then suddenly froze. In a moment that Regulus could have missed had he blinked, Sirius was back to his true form.

Sirius turned around. "Who is there?"

Regulus put his hand on his mouth, making sure not to make any sound as he watched his brother look around, looking for him.

Sirius took his wand out of his pocket and raised it. "Regulus?" He called.

Regulus poked his head from where he was hiding. "Hey."

Sirius lowered his wand and put it back in place. "Aren't you supposed to be sleeping?"

"I could say the same thing about you," he said as he reached where his brother stood.

"What are you doing there?"

"Watching you. I heard your footsteps as you tried to sneak." He smirked. "You were never good at it."

Sirius rolled his eyes. "Well, Kreacher didn't catch me, and that's what is important."

"So, why are you training to be an Animagus?" He had read about it before, but he had never seen anyone turn completely in front of him like that.

"What? Can't I try and improve myself?" Sirius asked innocently.

Regulus raised his eyebrows. "You can, but you usually don't try at all in the summer, and you don't sneak at midnight to do it."

"I just want to be able to do it." Sirius shrugged. "And Mother never agrees on anything I want to do. She would probably say that I should focus on something else, something more 'useful', as she always says."

"Is it because of that werewolf?" He asked, having had enough of Sirius evading what he was really talking about.

Sirius' eyes widened. "How did you-"

"Oh come on, brother. Did you think I wouldn't notice?" He asked. "Remus isn't careful enough. You are lucky I am the one who saw him sneaking, and not another student like Snape."

Sirius snickered. "Snivellus can't do anything."

Regulus shook his head. "I never understood why you two hate each other."

Sirius pursed his lips. "Because he is a wanker."

He laughed. Sometimes he felt as if he were the older one. He turned around to make sure that Kreacher wasn't listening before continuing. "Where did you learn that?"

"I found a couple of notes written by Professor McGonagall." He winked. "After that, it isn't that hard if you know where to look. Remus might have helped."

"How long have you been practising?"

"A couple of months. This was the first time that I transformed completely." Sirius grinned, his silver eyes shining excitedly in the moonlight.

"And what do you plan to do?"

"Remus is dangerous when he turns, but only to humans," he said. "We will accompany him through the transformation, make sure he doesn't hurt himself, and be back before school starts."

"That's risky, you don't know how wolves are," Regulus said.

"But I know Remus," he stated. "Once his wolf gets used to us, nothing will go wrong. I will have James and Peter with me."

"Is that supposed to reassure me?" Regulus questioned.

"I will be fine," Sirius said. "I will have my wand, and I know a couple of spells for werewolves. Remus taught us himself. I can stop him if needed, but I won't have to."

"Someone will catch you."

"We will manage."

Regulus shook his head helplessly. "Always so confident with yourself," he said. "And whose brilliant plan was this?"

"Mine." Sirius grinned.

He snickered. "I should have known." He shivered as a cold gust of wind passed by. He sighed. "It is late and we should get inside. Mother will be up as soon as Dad comes. You know she is waiting for him."

Sirius' grin vanished.

***

Noise erupted from downstairs. Regulus leaned closer towards his brother. Sirius wrapped an arm around him.

Regulus could barely see anything in the dark cold room. They were hiding in Regulus' room, as they were used to whenever their father got pissed or drunk or in this case, both.

He lay his head on Sirius' shoulder, breathing his scent. "Do you think he will find out that we are here?"

Sirius shook his head. "He will be too busy with her."

Regulus tried to hear what they were talking about, but whatever they were arguing about this time was lost between their shouts. Regulus hoped that Kreacher had the sense to stay away from them, and dreaded what would happen to the elf if any of them called for him.

"Do you think he will..." He paused. He didn't want to say it out loud. It would make it all real.

"No," Sirius answered. The shouting increased. "Maybe. If she doesn't calm down soon."

Regulus looked up. "We need to do something. Stop him."

Sirius let out a bitter laugh. "And how will we do that?"

"I don't know. Tell someone."

"Who? No one cares," he stated. "And she would never want anyone to know anyway. She cares too much about the perfect reputation for this family." He snickered. "Imagine her reaction once she finds out. Or his," he spat the last word. "And he will find out, you and I both know that."

Regulus didn't answer.

Sirius was right, he knew, but that never stopped his mind from going in endless circles on how to fix it, because he needed to. He couldn't just watch as his family fell apart. He hated feeling so helpless, but he didn't know what he could do.

It seemed like it all started all suddenly, but maybe it was always there, just beneath the surface, and he was too young and naive to figure it out in time.

They tried talking to their mother, but it didn't end up well. They always reached out for her, but she never reached back.

Regulus intertwined his fingers into Sirius', holding on tightly, praying that this summer would be over soon. Despite that he wasn't in the same house with his brother and Sirius being constantly surrounded by his friends, he didn't feel the need to hide away there as much as he did in his own home.

A shattering sound and a scream echoed from downstairs. Regulus squeezed his eyes shut. He felt as if something was clawing at his insides, slowly tearing him apart.

"How long will this continue?"

"Until we leave this house," Sirius murmured, as he rubbed his back soothingly. "And we will leave it, Regulus. I will make sure of it."

* * *
III.

1975.

Excited whispers rang in Regulus' ears as people ran around him.

"What is going on?" He asked. Students stopped a couple of steps in front of him, circling around something he couldn't see.

"A fight," Lucius said as he pushed through the ring of people.

Sirius was standing in the middle of the circle, staring down at Evan Rosier, who was lying on the floor, a hand covering his bleeding nose.

"Cousin." Narcissa's eyes widened as she looked towards Evan and then Sirius. "What happened?"

"Your cousin was being a little shit," Sirius stated. "I was teaching him a lesson."

She shot a glare towards Sirius as she helped Evan stand, touching his nose tenderly. Her anger seemed to shift towards her boyfriend,

who took a couple of steps forward.

"It seemed that he isn't the one who needs to be taught a lesson," he noted coldly.

Sirius snorted and raised his wand. "And what are you going to do about it?"

Lucius smiled. Regulus knew that smile. He needed to stop the prefect before things escalated.

"Enough, Lucius," Regulus said. "We don't need to lose any house points."

Lucius broke his battle of stares with Sirius to look at him instead.

"No doubt that Evan would want to take his own revenge," Regulus continued. "Just leave it for now. Andromeda, get him to the Madame Pomfrey."

Andromeda nodded and put her arm under Evan's armpit.

"This isn't over, you traitor!" Evan spat as he limped slowly away.

"I would love to see you try anything," Sirius shouted, his arms wide open in an invitation.

Lucius regarded Regulus for a moment. Regulus was younger than Lucius and the whole group. He knew that there was no reason why he would listen to him.

Then, Lucius' eyes travelled towards Narcissa. Some sort of silent communication must have happened between them, because after a moment, Lucius took a step back.

When Regulus was sure that Evan and Andromeda were far away enough not to listen, he looked at his brother. "What is wrong with you?"

"Stay out of this, brother," Sirius warned, his eyes never leaving Lucius. There was a hard, uncharacteristically ugly edge to his voice when he said the last word.

He raised his eyebrows. "Or what, Sirius? What will you do?"

Sirius' eyes snapped to stare at him. "This isn't your fight."

"Evan is my friend," he stated. He sighed. "Why do I always find you fighting?"

Sirius scoffed. "Because I can't take bullshit, that's why," he spat.

"Lower your wand, Sirius," he said. He could feel the stares of everyone on them. "Don't take this any further."

Sirius lowered it slightly. "What the hell are you doing by hanging with people like them?" Sirius demanded, pointing at the Slytherin group around him. "Don't you ever fucking learn?"

Regulus narrowed his eyes. They had gone through this conversation several times, but Sirius never gave up. "You don't get to choose my friends, Sirius," he stated. "Just like I don't say anything about yours." His eyes wandered toward where James, Remus and Peter stood behind Sirius. James shifted, his eyes moving between Lucius and the rest of the group.

"At least, I'm not stupid enough to be friends with people who deal with Dark Arts," Sirius snapped.

He saw James snicker. A haze of red swam behind Regulus' eyelids. The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. "That's tough coming from someone who can't even talk like this at home."

Sirius' face clouded. Any slight mention of their house was enough to get a rise out of him. Regulus knew he had taken it too far.

Murmurs ran through the grounds once again, the student's eyes travelling between them. Excitement and anger thrummed through the air. Lucius was smirking. Narcissa watched them silently, his face a mixture of annoyance and curiosity.

Regulus looked at his brother once more. He raised his wand at the same time Sirius raised his.

A fight between houses, especially Slytherin and Gryffindor was common in Hogwarts. The hatred that brew between the two houses went before Regulus was even born, and the Blacks were one of the known Slytherin families in Hogwarts for generations.

His cousins taunted Sirius, some took it too far, enjoying Sirius' short temper, and Sirius never backed down from a fight. Regulus did his

best to ignore all that, even pretended that it wasn't real at times. He had all of his cousins in Slytherin and his brother in Gryffindor. He wasn't willing to give any of them up.

"What the hell happened to you?" Sirius demanded, something strange and heavy in his voice.

Regulus sighed and pushed a frustrated hand through his hair. He didn't know how to fix this. Everything between him and Sirius had always been as easy as breathing, and just as unthinking. It only made it all the harder.

Suddenly, a voice rang up through the air. "Stop this right now, Mr. Black."

Regulus and Sirius whipped around to find Professor McGonagall striding towards where they stood. Everyone around them started to scatter, mumbling about how they didn't want to lose any house points. Some stuck around, most likely to see McGonagall yell at them

"You two come with me," she ordered, her voice breaking no argument. She turned around and started walking down the path towards the castle. They followed her, already knowing what was going to happen.

As soon as they were inside her office, Professor McGonagall looked at them. "I'd expect this from Sirius. But you, Regulus? You never get into any fights."

Sirius snickered and Regulus wanted to punch him in the face right then and there and damn all the consequences. Instead, he gritted his teeth and met his professor's gaze.

"Now, would any of you like to tell me what were you two fighting about?" She looked at Sirius, who had shoved his hands into his pockets and shrugged.

"My brother was being a brat."

"You know better than to insult any student in front of me, Sirius. Fifty points from Gryffindor. I met Mr. Rosier. Whatever he had done, you hitting him is inexcusable."

Sirius glared at her and then looked at the ground, muttering something too low for them to hear.

"Did you say something, Sirius?"

"No, professor."

McGonagall narrowed her eyes and turned toward Regulus. "And twenty-five points from Slytherin. Fifteen from Mr. Rosier, ten from you. I don't care if you didn't actually use your wand. You were going to." Her eyes shifted from him to Sirius and back. "I don't care what caused the fight, but it better not happen again. You are brothers."

Regulus pursed his lips and decided not to answer.

After a couple of moments of silence in the room, both of them unwilling to speak, McGonagall shook her head. "Teenagers," she huffed.

At the end, she assigned them a detention then said that they were free to go for now.

As soon as they were out of the professor's room, Regulus marched towards the Slytherin common room without giving Sirius a second glance. He knew that if he opened his mouth right then, he would regret everything he was going to say later on.

***

At night, Regulus excused himself and went to his room, saying that he was tired.

He lay on his bed, glad that the room was empty. The only light in the room was the moon shining on the bed sheets.

He squeezed his eyes shut and groaned. He didn't even know what worked him up so quickly. Sirius was always like this, hotheaded with a sharp tongue. He learnt to roll with it and leave him until he calmed down.

If Regulus had been smart, he'd have heeded the warning and stopped, but he was never all that smart when it came to Sirius, for better or worse. He needed Sirius' anger, needed him to stay angry, so Regulus would have an excuse to stay away from him as much as he could.

Sirius had been patient for a long time, much longer than Regulus deserved. He'd met Regulus' distance with confusion, his hostility with hurt. He'd tried to talk to him, to ask what was going on, but each time the words Regulus wanted to say piled up on his tongue, crowded his throat and he couldn't answer, couldn't give Sirius anything but more distance.

And now Sirius had become more angry than patient, more snappish than hurt. He had taken to spending more time than ever with James, which is almost worse than anything. Regulus desperately wanted to fix things, to stay friends with his brother without exposing himself. To make everything right. To make himself right. But he couldn't. He had no idea how.

Regulus sighed and pushed a frustrated hand through his hair, tightening it into a fist, and pulling at his scalp enough to hurt.

He was driven out of his thoughts when he heard the sound of something breaking and a muttered curse. He sat up and looked around.

"Hello?" No one replied. "Sirius?"

A head poked out of nowhere. "How did you know that it was me?"

"I didn't," he said. He was rather hoping it was him. "How did you come in here?"

Sirius took off the cloak and suddenly his body was visible. "Invisibility cloak."

Sirius put the cloak on the bed. Regulus ran his hand along its length. It was silky and fragile to the touch.

"I borrowed it from James."

Regulus stopped touching it. "What are you doing here?"

Sirius shifted from one foot to the other. "Can I sit?"

Regulus nodded and shifted to gave space to sit on the small bed. Their bodies touched as they lay side by side.

"I shouldn't have gotten you in this," Sirius mumbled. "Rosier just drives me crazy, and that boy Cissy is dating just doesn't sit well with me."

Regulus didn't know Lucius much, but he was their Head Boy and he made Narcissa happy, and that was all that mattered to him.

"Evan is just…" Regulus paused, searching for the right word.

"Psychotic," Sirius finished.

He laughed despite himself. "He can surely be…energetic."

Sirius snorted.

"I'm sorry I was a dick earlier," Regulus mumbled.

Sirius shrugged. "We both said things we didn't mean."

Regulus grasped Sirius' hand. He waited for Sirius to say anything but he thankfully stayed silent.

Peaceful silence filled the room. Regulus missed this. Just he and his brother spending time together, without having to worry about their parents or school or anything else.

"So what was the fight about anyway?" Regulus asked.

"James and Rosier were arguing. Rosier raised his wand. I intervened."

"Always ready to save him," he said, trying his hardest to sound casual.

Sirius glanced at him, raising his eyebrows. Regulus looked away, cursing himself silently. He just had to make a stupid comment.

"He doesn't hate you, you know," Sirius mumbled after a moment of silence. "James, I mean."

Regulus hummed. He knew that. James never did anything bad to him, probably for Sirius' sake more than anything. But that didn't help him at all. It was hard to hate someone just because he was his brother's best friend. Someone who stole the only person he confided in, the only person he truly felt comfortable with.

"I don't understand why you don't like him." Sirius leaned on his arm. "You know, he reminds me of you, in a way." He chuckled. "Maybe because you two get angry so easily."

Regulus glared at him, but he doubted Sirius noticed as his face was hidden in the darkness. "Says the guy who regularly storms out of family meetings in the first five minutes."

Sirius' smile vanished. "That is different."

Regulus sighed, suddenly feeling guilty. "I know. I just-" He paused, struggling with words to explain. At the end, he huffed. "It is nothing."

He was always good with words. It was the reason why he stayed in his parents' good graces despite everything. But when it came to moments like this, he didn't know how to explain. He had a hard time explaining it to himself. The burning blinding feeling he felt whenever Sirius and James spent too much time together.

He sat up. "I noticed that James was talking to Lily today," he said, trying to change the subject. It ended up the same way it always did, with Lily storming out of the great hall. "What happened?"

Sirius sighed and Regulus could almost feel his eyes rolling. "James just doesn't know how to talk to girls. At all. I am almost embarrassed to hang out with him."

Regulus chuckled. "Is he trying to ask her out?"

Sirius hummed in agreement. "And she said no, yet again."

"Oh," he mumbled. "I thought that…"

"What?"

Regulus was suddenly glad for the darkness around him. "I thought that you and he were…" He swallowed, unable to finish the sentence.

Sirius made a face. "No. James is my best friend."

Regulus nodded, unable to stop a smile from stretching across his face.

"What made you think that?" Sirius asked.

"Just…I don't know." Regulus shrugged and looked away. "You two seem close."

"We are," Sirius confirmed. "But nothing like that. Oh, Merlin. The image is horrifying," he put his hands on his eyes and whined dramatically, causing a laugh to erupt out of Regulus.

He put his hand on his mouth, his eyes on the door, hoping that no one had heard him. They wouldn't be very happy to see a Gryffindor in their common room.

Sirius sat up. He could make out his silver eyes in the darkness, and the smile that was playing on his lips.

Regulus expected him to say something, but instead Sirius just stared at him for what seemed like an eternity, and then his eyes dropped to Regulus' lips and the air in Regulus' lungs evaporated.

Before he realised what was happening, Sirius leaned in and captured his lips. Regulus froze for a moment, every muscle in his body twisting and jumping. Something hot and wild and unbearably intense bubbled up inside his chest.

Sirius pulled away. He started to apologise before Regulus shut him up by kissing him again.

Regulus had thought about it a lot. He's thought a lot about kissing Sirius, about the right way to go about it, about what kind of situation that needed to make it seem natural and unforced. He never could come up with one. He'd never thought of Sirius making the first step. He'd never thought of it happening like this. He'd never thought of a lot of things.

Then, Sirius was kissing him back, hungry and messy and sweet, and Regulus stopped thinking entirely. Sirius leaned closer and buried his hand in Regulus' hair as he deepened the kiss.

"I thought that maybe-" Sirius breathed when they broke apart. A ghost of a smile pulled at the corner of his mouth. "I was hoping, but I wasn't sure." He cupped Regulus' cheek, tracing a rough thumb over his lower lip, sending shivers all the way down to Regulus' toes. "I missed you."

Regulus stared at his brother, speechless. He could feel his cheeks heating up.

Laughter erupted from somewhere outside the room. "You need to leave, or they will catch you," Regulus whispered, fighting against the voice in his head that ordered Sirius to stay.

Sirius nodded took the cloak in his hands. "I will see you tomorrow."

Regulus nodded and leaned in to give him a quick kiss before Sirius slipped inside the cloak and walked out of the room.

Regulus stayed wide awake all night that day, replaying everything in his mind over and over again.

* * *
IV.

The sound of footsteps echoed in the barely lit room.

"Where are you going?" Regulus asked, even though he already knew the answer.

Sirius stopped in his tracks, his back to Regulus. "Aren't you supposed to be sleeping, brother? Our parents wouldn't want you up all night. You know how they are."

"Heard you pacing around in your room." He eyed the suitcase in Sirius' hand and repeated, "Where are you going?"

His brother finally turned around. "Away from here."

"Sirius, they-"

"Don't," Sirius interrupted. "There isn't anything you can say this time, brother."

Regulus sighed. He didn't what he should say to fix this. The fight that happened a couple of hours ago between his parents and Sirius had almost blown up hadn't his mother made Sirius leave the room. Regulus had never felt so shaken before, so scared.

"You have nowhere to go," he argued feebly.

"I do."

"To the potters?" He demanded, his anger instantly rising.

Sirius regarded him for a moment then nodded.

"Potter convinced you to leave your family?" To leave me?

"This isn't about James. Don't try to turn this around and make it about him," he said. "This is about me. I can't live with them anymore."

He swallowed. "Is it that easy for you then?"

"No," Sirius murmured. "But, I can't stand it anymore, Regulus. If I stay with them one more day, I will go mad."

"So you will just leave me here?" He demanded, cursing inwardly when his voice cracked.

"Come with me then." Sirius let go of the suitcase and took a couple of steps towards his brother. "And we won't have to be apart."

"Sirius, we talked about this," he said. "I can't leave. I could never do that to them."

"Why not?" He demanded. "Don't you see how they treat us?"

Regulus shook his head. "They are still our parents."

"And that gives them the right?"

Regulus didn't answer.

Sirius grabbed his hand. His hands were warm and inviting. "Come with me. The Potters would be happy to have us, at least until we find a place for our own."

"You will be seventeen soon. I'm still a minor. They can bring me back."

"They will have to find us first."

"They will," Regulus stated. "You know our father. He will figure out a way."

"What then?" Sirius demanded. "You will just stay here, accept this hell? Or are you secretly happy about how they treat you? Their precious Slytherin son," he pat, his expression darkening.

"Sirius, you know that's not it. It was never about that."

"Then what?" He snapped, his voice rising in the quiet room.

Regulus looked around. Kreacher must have heard that.

Just as he expected, the house elf was standing in the corner, watching the conversation as it unfolded.
"Oh hell, what is this wretched thing doing here?" Sirius demanded.

"Master Sirius shouldn't leave in the dead of night like this," Kreacher whispered. "Mistress would be very angry, and Kreacher can never
lie to her."

"What are you going to do? Go and tell her now?" Sirius whirled around. "You just try it, elf."

Regulus scrubbed a tired hand over his face. "Kreacher, just go now," Regulus said. He needed to separate those two quickly before someone heard them. "And don't wake up anyone. I'm going to handle this."

The elf didn't respond. He remained standing, staring at Sirius. "Please, Kreacher."

After a moment, the elf nodded and then disappeared.

"We need to go before he tells her," Sirius slipped his hands in Regulus' and tugged slightly. "Come on."

Regulus stared at their joined hands. "He won't say anything." He looked up to Sirius' silver eyes, shining in the darkness. "I can't leave."

"Yes, you can," Sirius murmured, his warm breath brushing against Regulus' skin.

Regulus shook his head. "Mother needs me. You know that."

"She refused our help time and time again, Regulus. She doesn't want us. She is…" Sirius swallowed. "She is becoming like him."

Regulus knew that, yet he couldn't leave. He was bound to her no matter what she did. Some part of him refused to give up on the memory of his mother from years ago.

"So you aren't coming?" Sirius asked.

"Sirius, just listen to me-"

Sirius let go of his hands and grabbed his suitcase once more. "I will see you later, Regulus."

Regulus followed him until he reached the door, and grabbed his sleeve. "Sirius please-"

Sirius whipped around and cupped Regulus' face between his hands, crushing their lips together, forceful, messy and desperate. Regulus closed his eyes and kissed him back, clutching Sirius' jacket in his hand.

Sirius guided him, making Regulus walk backwards until he hit the wall behind him. Sirius' hand wrapped around his body, the other brushing against his cheek. He pushed their bodies closer as he devoured his mouth. Regulus stopped thinking entirely, focusing on the taste and feeling of Sirius. He twisted his fingers into Sirius' hair that was just reaching the nape of his neck, pulling Sirius in.

He heard a distant noise and quick footsteps coming from upstairs.

Sirius let him go far too early. He gave him one last quick kiss.

"Goodbye, brother," he breathed.

He was out of the house before Regulus could reply.

***

The light of the room was on. Regulus blew on his frozen fingers and tapped on the window three times, their usual sign to know that the other was at the door.

He heard distant shuffling and then the window was opened. A head with wild dark hair and pale skin popped out.

"What are you doing here?" Sirius asked.

"Let me in," Regulus said. "I am freezing."

Sirius looked around and then stepped back. Regulus jumped on the floor and closed the window behind him. He looked around. It was a small warm room, filled with clothes thrown everywhere. A few opened letters were on the bed. He recognised his handwriting on some of them.

"How did you come here?"

"I asked Kreacher."

Sirius wrapped his arms in front of his chest. "He is going to tell them you are here."

"No, he won't," he stated. "Mother won't ask anyway. I doubt that she will notice my absence anyway."

"And Dad?"

"He won't tell him. I asked him not to."

"What if dad orders him to? Who will he choose to obey?"

Regulus shrugged, but they both knew the answer. Sirius snickered and shook his head."I never understood why he chose to listen to you above the whole family."

Because he was the only one who treated him well, Regulus wanted to say but decided against it. This wasn't the time.

"Why are you here?"

"Do I need a reason?" Regulus asked. "I wanted to see my brother."

"If you keep this up, they will find out, and they will be angry."

Regulus pulled his shirtsleeves until they hid his arms completely."I don't care."
"Yes, you do." Sirius sighed. "Go back, Regulus, before they find out."

"I don't care anymore," he snapped. "Why are you even trying to convince me to go back? Do you really don't want to see me that much?"

"That isn't it, and you know it."

"Then what?" Regulus demanded. "Why are you taking this on me?"

"I'm not."

"You aren't answering my letters."

Sirius looked at the letters piled on his bed.

"Look at me."

His eyes shifted toward him once more. "If they knew that you were here, or that we are exchanging letters, then you would get in trouble and they would force you to tell them where I am. I can't risk it."

"I wouldn't tell them."

"You wouldn't have a choice."

Regulus gritted his teeth.

Someone knocked. "Sirius? I heard something. Is everything okay?"

"Yes, Mrs. Potter," he said, not taking his eyes off Regulus. "Just a lost bird hit my window."

"Okay. Dinner is in half an hour."

Regulus clenched his hands into fists, fighting an irrational anger rising from the depth of him towards a woman he had never seen. He shouldn't be angry at Sirius for leaving. He didn't even knew who he should be angry at anymore.

"Okay," Sirius said, then paused until the sound of footsteps faded. "Mrs. Potter wouldn't mind if you asked to stay, you know."

"I can't."

Sirius took a step forward. "No one would know that you are here, Regulus-"

He held up a hand. "Don't. You know I can't."

Sirius shook his head and let out a bitter laugh. "Forget it. I don't even why I am trying." He ran his hands through his dark hair. Regulus fought the urge to swap off Sirius' hand and replace it with his.

"You need to leave," Sirius said. "School will start soon. I will see you then."

"You will be too busy with your friends, pretending that you don't have any cousins, or a brother, for that matter."

He gritted his teeth. "I don't do that, Regulus. You know that."

Regulus knew that. He just wanted something. A reaction. For Sirius to get angry, furious, anything. Not this indifference, not this shell that he had wrapped himself in ever since he left the house.

"I haven't seen you in weeks. I still have a couple of hours," Regulus said. "Mum and Dad are out. They won't be back for a while. Kreacher will cover for me."

A heavy silence stretched between them as Sirius regarded him. Finally, he sighed and opened a drawer. He threw something at Regulus. It was a pair of gloves. He took them gratefully, stretching his hand against the familiar warm fabric.

"I will tell them that I am not hungry," Sirius said as he handed him a coat. "Take this and wait for me outside. I know a place near here. We can go and get something to eat."

For the first time in what seemed like forever, Regulus smiled.

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