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Into the Black

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Regulus was pacing in Remus and Tonks' living room, shaking his head, muttering to himself. "I have no idea what I am doing." He said quietly to the occupants of the room, little Teddy was having a nap in his crib close by.

Remus smiled at him. "You'll be fine, Regulus," he assured him. "It's fine if you don't have everything entirely planned out yet. It's only the second week of June."

"It's not just that," Regulus argued. "I've never had a job before. What if I'm not cut out for it? What if I'm the worst teacher there?"

He stopped his pacing and looked to Remus. "What if I say something wrong and McGonagall fires me? I could lose my temper - I mean I am a Black, we're renowned for it. What if I do something awful? What then?"

Regulus watched as Remus rolled his eyes and Tonks snickered at him.

"You'll be fine, Regulus." Remus repeated to him. "I still have my outlines from when I taught. Did you want to have them?" He looked pointedly at Regulus, waiting for his response.

Regulus nodded to him. "Please." He begged, he could admit to himself.

Remus stood up from the old sofa. "Give me a minute. I need to find my stuff." He smiled to Regulus as he left the room.

"Have a seat," Tonks said to him as she gestured towards an aged chair facing the home's fireplace.

Regulus made his way over to the chair. As he sat down in it he could hear the chair give a squeak in protest.

"So...how's it been?" Tonks asked him after he settled into the chair. She was sipping a cup of tea. Bags under her eyes. Exhausted.

"Good," Regulus nodded to her as he answered. "It's been okay overall, I think."

Tonks nodded at him as she had another sip of tea. "How're the kids? Nightmares? Or are they alright?"

Regulus grimaced, hesitating. "Some are having nightmares for sure. Hermione and Luna without a doubt." He paused, thinking. "I haven't heard anyone else have any...but I do notice that the majority of the kids are dead to the world during breakfast. Like they haven't been sleeping, which is no surprise considering. Draco and Theo tend to go out drinking quite often...not every night, but multiple times a week for sure. They drink quite a bit when they do go out. They're feeling the effects the next day for sure." Regulus said to his cousin.

Tonks was nodding at him. She took another sip of tea. More of a guzzle, really. "That's probably their way to cope with everything that's gone on over the last few years. A way to forget. I know of a few Aurors who had that same coping technique at one point. They were eventually able to deal with the job a lot better. But they did need help to do it initially." She paused, thinking. "Do you know if McGonagall will have mind healers at the school?" She asked him. "We have them working in collaboration with the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. With the Aurors there."

Regulus frowned. "She had mentioned something when I met with her," he said to Tonks. "She didn't specifically say 'mind healers' but she did say she was in talks with some people. The Ministry and St. Mungo's if I remember correctly."

"Good," Tonks nodded to him. "I worry about those kids. All of them. The ones you have staying at Grimmauld, the ones who were at Hogwarts this past year. The muggleborns who went on the run. The muggleborns who were locked up in Azkaban. All of them." She paused. "This war has really fucked up a lot of people...a lot of families."

"Yeah. It has, hasn't it?" Regulus replied. He looked at his cousin, wondering how she was doing. "How are you and Remus doing? How's Andromeda?"

Tonks smiled. "Mum's alright. She's still sad that Dad's gone." She sniffed. "I am too. I'm sad." She gave him a small smile. "But, I do know that she is happy that her and Aunt Cissa are speaking again. That you're talking to her a bit, and inviting her to Grimmauld Place to have a visit." She paused, thinking to herself. "I do know mum tried to hide it, but I remember how lonely she'd get when I was younger. When I was still a kid. She really did miss the family. Some people in the family, I think. Not everyone, of course. But, not everyone was bad in the Black Family. At least not from what I heard from mum. Not everyone was a bad seed."

Regulus nodded in understanding.

"I'm trying to figure out a way to return people back to the tapestry who have been blasted off. Walburga always said it was permanent, but she liked to exaggerate quite a bit. I'm hoping this was one of those times she did so." He told her. "I think I have thousands of books to go through. I don't really know where to start. So it will take me quite a bit of time to even figure out if it can actually be done."

"That's kind of you to look into, Regulus. You know you don't have to do that. Mum doesn't need that. Just the communication is good enough for her." Tonks replied to him.

"I know. But, it's something that's important to me. It's something that I care about," said Regulus. He looked to Tonks. "You haven't said how you and Remus are doing. How are you?" He asked her, watching her reaction.

Tonks smiled and looked down at her lap. She took another gulp of tea and placed the empty mug on her coffee table. "I'm exhausted. I don't sleep great. I haven't in years. With Teddy it's just one more thing. I love him so much, don't get me wrong. But, the child barely sleeps throughout the night. And when he wakes up, it's not like he's curious and just lays there. No. He screams at the top of his lungs. Every. Single. Time." Tonks frowned to herself. "I keep thinking someone is hurting him. That someone is out to get him and he's screaming for help. But, no...he just wants to be fed, or changed out of his stinky nappy. Or he just wants cuddles." She softly laughed to herself.

"Remus is alright, I think. He's exhausted, too. Don't get me wrong. But, I think he's at a point in his life where he actually sees a future for himself. With me, sure. But mostly with Teddy. He'd do anything and everything for his son." Tonks told him.

Remus came back into the room, carrying a box full of parchment and some old books. "I'd do anything for you too, Dora." Remus quietly admonished her. He gave her a kiss on the top of her head. He turned to Regulus who was sitting in the old chair, smiling at the two. "Here are my notes and rough outlines for when I taught there." He extended his arms to Regulus. Offering up the box.

Regulus stood up. Taking the box from Remus. "Thank you, Remus. You're a lifesaver."

Remus chuckled. "It's really no problem." He smiled at Regulus.

Teddy began screaming in his crib nearby.

Regulus winced. "Well, it looks like it's my time to leave." He snickered at the pair. "If you two ever need anything. Let me know." He turned to the fireplace, shifted the box into one arm and grabbed a pinch of floo powder. "Grimmauld Place!" He called out. Disappearing in the green flames.

...


...

Hermione was sitting in the library in 'her chaise lounge', as Theo put it. She was reading The Black Family History, the book Regulus had found for her in the Family Vault. It was a huge book, much to Hermione's glee. But it was difficult to read. Old English mixed with dark beliefs. The section of the book she was currently on was full of the political leanings of the different members of the family, starting from the Middle Ages. It also had pages of ideas or things that certain members of the family were able to carry out - passing laws, suggesting practices to the Ministry of Magic.

Regulus had wanted her to read it so she'd know about the history of the family. So she'd know what to expect if she decided to step in front of the Wizengamot to push through new laws. He had told her that the majority of the older families would probably be cautious of anything she suggested due to her being a Black. Due to the past political leanings of the family. She needed to know what she was up against. She needed to prepare.

Hermione looked up as Theo shuffled into the library clutching a mug of coffee, looking worse for wear. She had noticed that both Theo and Draco had, more often than not, gone out drinking late into the night. She had always heard as they stumbled through the hallway in the early hours of the morning. Struggling to get to their respective bedrooms. She had been wide awake, laying in her bed waiting for day to break.

"Hey Theo," Hermione said to him quietly. Folding her book closed. It was enough reading for today, especially since she had been reading about the need to pass laws to hunt muggles.

Theo grinned at Hermione, his smile not quite reaching his eyes. "Hey Hermione." He watched as she placed the massive book on the table beside her. "Good book?" He asked.

Hermione chuckled. "It's The Black Family History, so no...it's not really to my taste."

Theo softly chuckled as he took a slurp of coffee. He sat down in another chaise lounge near her. "Yeah...I bet." He grimaced at the book. "We have a similar book, the Nott Family does. I had to read the thing before I started Hogwarts. Father's orders." He took another slurp of coffee.

Hermione blanched at him. "You had to read about laws to hunt muggles down before you started school? Before you were eleven?" She frowned. "You were just a kid."

"Pretty much. Yep," Theo confirmed. "The Family History books are different for each family, but the dark families tend to have wonderful stuff like that in them." He paused. "I had to start reading mine when I was eight."

"Theo...that's awful." Hermione frowned. She really had no idea what it was like for children of traditionally dark families. She realized she was incredibly sheltered from it all, even though she had fought on the frontlines in the Battle. She really had no idea what went on behind closed doors.

"It definitely fucks with your head when you read that stuff when you're just a scrawny, squeaky-voiced kid. I'll give you that." He toasted Hermione with his mug.

Hermione looked down at her lap. "I feel like I am incredibly naive of the goings on of Pureblood families. I think...I can see why I rubbed some people the wrong way when I first showed up at Hogwarts. I don't really know anything, do I?" She looked up at Theo. "Textbooks really aren't everything."

"Hermione...no." Theo frowned and placed his mug of coffee on the table beside him. "I didn't mean what I said to make you feel like that." He paused. "I love how you approach everything magical with so much enthusiasm. It's refreshing to see someone's wonder for something I knew about before I could remember. I've never known anything else, Hermione." He looked down at his hands in his lap. "Please don't think you don't know anything. You do. You know more, and understand more than most people, Pureblood or otherwise. All families have their secrets. Light or dark. All families have their stories. Their history." He looked up at her. "I tend to be nonchalant about it because it's sort of my way to deal with it." He rubbed the back of his neck. "It's probably not the best way, I know. But it's all I know."

Hermione hesitated. "Is that why you're drinking all the time?" She slapped her hand over her mouth. Eyes wide. "I'm sorry, Theo. That's none of my business. I'm sorry." She closed her eyes and shook her head at herself. Ashamed.

Theo gave her a soft laugh. "It's okay. You haven't offended me, Hermione." He paused. "The answer is 'no'. I'm binge drinking for another reason."

Hermione opened her eyes and peered at him.

Theo swallowed. "I basically killed my bastard of a father." He paused to watch her reaction. "I sent a bit of family magic at him, a spell that the Nott family invented, after he killed Tracey...Tracey Davis. It caused him to suffocate. It caused him to collapse on the ground, weak. It led to Bellatrix sending an Avada at him. Even if she hadn't killed him then, my father would have died. There is no way to remove that spell from someone. There is no way to heal someone from that spell. Death is guaranteed." He continued to watch Hermione. "I've known about that spell since before I came to Hogwarts. I've been sitting on it since then. I've wanted to use it against my father, no one else, since then." He confessed.

"Why?" Hermione whispered. Afraid to speak any louder.

"I watched when I was a little boy as my father hurt my mother...repeatedly. I couldn't do magic yet. Not really. But I could read. I was reading anything I could get my hands on to try to help her. I wanted to protect my mother. I never got a chance to. She died when I was six." Theo replied.

Hermione cleared her throat. "How did she die?"

"Natural causes according to the healer my father paid off." Theo scoffed. "My mum was twenty six when she died. There was nothing natural about it, I can assure you."

"I'm so sorry Theo. I had no idea. I had no idea that you went through that." Hermione replied.

Theo shook her off. "I'm okay with her death now. I have memories of her. Of our time together. I've accepted it."

Hermione hesitated. Theo nodded at her, indicating to her to ask what she was thinking. "So you're binge drinking because you basically guaranteed the death of your father?" She asked him.

Theo shook his head. "No. I binge drink because I don't feel bad about it. I feel no remorse for my actions. And that fucking terrifies me." He looked at his coffee mug and picked it up. He took a sip, gathering his thoughts. "Does that make me like my father? Does that make me a monster like him?"

Regulus walked into the library, holding a box in his arms. Obviously he had been standing just outside the room for a while, listening. "Theodore, I can assure you that you are nothing like your father. I was with him in the Death Eaters. I worked next to him all too often. I knew the moment I met you, that you're nothing like him." Hermione and Theo turned to look at Regulus. "The fact that you're questioning it, and feeling terrified about it says it all. You're no monster."

Theo looked down at his hands. He gave slight nod. Unsure. "But...I don't feel bad about what I did." He peered up at Regulus. "I feel nothing."

"Sure you do." Regulus argued. "You just don't feel what you think you should feel considering he's your father. You do feel something, Theodore. What is it?"

There was silence as Theo thought about what Regulus said. "Relief." Theo croaked out finally. "I feel relief. And peace."

Regulus was nodding at him in understanding. "And there is nothing wrong with feeling that way."

Theo nodded at his answer. He hid his face in his hands.

Hermione watched as Theo's shoulders were shaking. No sound was coming out from him. But she knew he was crying.

She looked up at Regulus trying to figure out what to do. He motioned for her to sit next to Theo. To comfort him. He quickly walked to his desk in the library and dropped off the box he was carrying on it. He turned and left the library, leaving Hermione with Theo.

Hermione got up off of her chaise lounge and scurried over to where Theo was sitting. She sat down close to him and hesitantly put her hand on his shoulder.

"It's okay Theo." She tried comforting him. "You're going to be okay. Everything's going to be okay."

Theo turned into Hermione, face still hidden behind his hands. Hermione watched, still as a statue, as Theo slowly pulled his hands away from his face. He wrapped his arms around her, clinging to her tightly and burrowed his face into her hair and wept.