I used to wonder how you died. We all thought you deserted Voldemort, and were killed by him. Probably not even by his own hand, but Lucius Malfoy or some other slimeball. (Moody reckoned you weren’t important enough.)
At first I thought that even you couldn't be such a coward. I mean, you practically snogged your pictures of Voldemort goodnight every single night, didn't you? I’d have thought you’d show more devotion.
Then again, you were always such an idiot. But apparently I’d underestimated your stupidity. Really, Reg? Did you even get what it meant to be a Death Eater? Thought it looked so cool, didn’t you, with all those blond Slytherin vampires. Oh, how dear mother had a fit when she realized you were missing, she even sent me an owl. Perfect Princess Regulus, damsel in distress. I think there might have actually been dust in the house then. Even the house-elf seemed depressed and Mother wasn’t telling him off, last I visited. But I’m sure it’ll please Your Highness to know that she never tried to get you off the family tree.
But you know, I could feel something was off. And admittedly it came to me a long while later – too long, yes – but it did.
If Voldemort had really found out about you somehow being a traitor, then shouldn’t he murder the people you cared about too, to set an example? That’s what any evil lord would do, anyway. But I was breathing and perfectly healthy, without any attempts on my life. Okay, so I was the estranged Gryffindor brother no proper Black cared about. But what about Mother and Father? They seemed fine, except for the fact that they were weeping over you.
Of course there was always the possibility that Voldemort saw right through the hole where your heart should be. But even I had to admit you weren’t completely heartless, seeing how you treat that abominable house-elf. I hate to say it, but there probably was some love (even for me) hidden somewhere beneath that pompous face.
Then why was Voldemort letting us live? Because he believed that you’d somehow gotten yourself captured, or killed by the Order. At least, that was the best explanation I could come up with. For all I knew he had you tied to his bed to please him. Either that, or even Voldemort had no idea where you were.
I’ll admit that for a second there I wondered if you could actually be alive. That it just might be worth suffering through Mother’s predictable great teary speeches if my obnoxious baby brother was back.
Then I realized that you couldn’t come back even if you wanted to. It would look weird from every angle. So from then on, I decided to just keep an eye out for signs, traces of you. I remember your magic billowed around the object like the finest silk robe, smooth and slippery. I daresay I know the touch of your magic; I was your first professor, baby brother. Surprisingly you weren’t that slow a student, too. Always so precise and subtle, both of which qualities I admittedly lacked. And your time at Hogwarts did not make you any less capable; I never found you anywhere. But there was still one place left.
It was the first time I entered your room since you put up that pretentious sign on the door. Do Not Enter Without the Express Permission of Regulus Arcturus Black...To this day I wonder where you got that phrasing from. James would’ve been proud.
It was very tidy, as if the inhabitant knew that he wouldn't be back for a long time and had cleaned up after himself. It was then that I truly realized that you had been planning something, probably had been for a very long time.
It scorched something in me, Reg. I’ll admit that we weren’t the best of mates, but I thought I still remembered a time before the Sorting when we’d make the Muggles next door scream Levitating their teapot.
Kreacher unfortunately chose that very moment to drag his sorry self into the room. And let’s just say that I lashed out, and I think it’s since then that the house-elf’s recalcitrant behavior turned to downright hate.
Well, to cut a long story short, in the process of taking out my frustration on him I threw Kreacher against a wall, and that somehow opened a hidden compartment. I left Kreacher and turned to look. Inside was a small box, which I took from its hiding place and set it down on your desk. Inside were a few letters that were slightly dusty with age. I picked one up to examine it.
It was from Snivellus Snape.
I never got to read the contents, because the letter in my hand – along with the box, even as I whipped around to look at it – Vanished.
The seconds seemed to slow down, down to an infinity, and there was absolute silence as my eyes met Kreacher’s. Then the bomb dropped.
I remember bellowing curses again, this time truly with intention to kill, and with Kreacher screaming at the top of his voice “BAD KREACHER, BAD KREACHER - ” apparently it was too much for Mother. She swept into the room and did a powerful Full Body-Bind, and chucked me into the Floo herself. I still have no idea where I landed then. Of course I tried to Apparate back as soon as the curse lifted, but the old witch had put up wards. I had no choice but to go back to the Potters.
Some time later, when my head had cooled down enough to think rationally, I came upon a very obvious point: there was another person who could tell me about the letters. Unfortunately, that person was Snape.
I prepared myself to be nice, and also to shove Veritaserum into his throat if nice didn’t work. But I still had to work out how to get to him, or even start a conversation – he was a Death Eater, for Merlin’s sake. But James vowed we’d get it done first thing after the Fidelius Charm, one way or another.
You must know what happened next; that blasted son of a bitch, pathetic excuse of a rat Peter Pettigrew sold Lily and James out and all hell broke loose.
I never even saw their bodies. I was a fool then, I believed something must have gone wrong, why would Peter betray us all – I devoted myself to finding Pettigrew, to finding an explanation. But there was none, and all I could do was laugh and laugh and laugh as I watched Peter use the most powerful Blasting Curse of his sorry life to blow up a street of innocent Muggles, as Lily smiled at baby Harry pulling my hair and told me I’d be a surprisingly proper godfather, as James put his hand on my shoulder as he had countless times before and reassured me wordlessly that we’d be together until the end. And then everything was gone save the echo of that laugh as the Dementors prowled around my cell.
The only thing that kept me going was revenge. I used to envision Wormtail writhing on the ground, foaming on the lips, yes, sweet vengence.
Twelve years. I escaped.
Then Harry let the disgusting weasel go, and set me truly free. He looks so much like James, it hurts in places I didn’t even know could hurt, Regulus. Do forgive my sentiment, but you know it’s hard not to feel pride having the Boy Who Lived And My Best Friend’s Kid as your godson. Oh, wait – you wouldn’t know. Ha!
Anyway, from my hiding-place I had enough time to collect all my thoughts and organize them neatly. I accepted that you’d died, but a part of me still wanted to know why. But though it seemed I finally had time, and perhaps opportunity (Snape was in the Order!) to resume the search for my lost brother, I convinced myself that I no longer wanted to dwell on the past. Harry was more important now.
So I gave up on you again.
Voldemort returned, and I was forbidden to leave Grimmauld Place. Once I could get in, anyway. I heard the Order had quite the time removing the blessed ward. I hated it there; the cold house never ceased to remind me of all the deaths I was powerless to prevent, chiefly yours.
It should never have been like this. At least I got to show James and Lily the love they deserved. But you...This was the house we grew up in, but the more I paced around, the more blurred your form became. Did you really sit by the fireplace once, contemplating a pamphlet on jobs at Gringotts? Prattle on about Slytherin’s won-almost-every-year House Cup?
What were we? Brothers? Rivals? No one? Merlin, what have you done, Regulus? Whatever it was, I should have been there. I should’ve always been there. I should never have let you out of my sight. You must have been so alone.
It all ends now, at the Department of Mysteries. Because I felt your silky touch on the other side of the Veil the moment I got here. For the first time in a long while, I feel at peace. Because it’s in these final moments, in your wordless murmuring from the Other Side that I realize you were never too far from me. It really is me that’s been an idiot all along.
You can get that smirk off your face, you prat.