Rating: NC-17 (This part PG-13)
Warnings: Sex, violence
Genres: Romance, Angst, Drama
Word count: ? (This part: 2500)
Disclaimer: Characters and world belong to J. K. Rowling. I make no profit.
Summary: What is Remus to do when he suddenly finds himself caught in the middle of two brothers' furious feud? The last thing Remus wants is to hurt anybody's feelings, but how can he possibly avoid that? And what about his own feelings? SLASH, of course!
Chapter 28 - Frustrations
Remus stared at Regulus, his mouth falling slightly open. It was like his brain had been jerked to a halt. He just kept staring. So long that he could see he was making Regulus very uncomfortable.
"W-what?" he finally croaked.
"Y-you know... the..." Regulus began. The words seemed to get stuck in his throat and instead he rolled up his sleeve to point to the underside of his forearm.
Remus reached out to gently run his thumb over the spot where Voldemort burned his hideous signature into the flesh of his followers. The thought of the image of dark writhing snakes marring Regulus' flawless skin made nausea well up in Remus.
"Did you know this was going to happen?" he asked, looking back up at Regulus.
Regulus spoke so quietly that Remus had to strain to hear it. "I knew they hoped I would join up, but I didn't think they'd actually make the decision for me..."
"Why not?" said Remus, suddenly feeling anger grip him. "They make all other decisions for you!"
Regulus flinched at the hard tone. "Yeah, but... this is so... I don't know. I've tried not to think about it."
"Of course you have. Because that just makes all the unpleasant things go away, doesn't it?"
Regulus stood with his head bent, staring at the floor.
"So what's going to happen now? What are you going to do?"
"I don't know," Regulus whispered.
"Well, figure it out then! You can't just stay passive. Not this time. You have deal with it!"
"Lay off me, will you? I'm kind of in shock here, okay? I can't handle it right now! My head's aching and I'm exhausted. I've barely slept since Friday!"
Again noticing how pale and unwell Regulus looked, Remus felt his irritation ebb away.
"Okay," he said, pulling the younger boy into his arms. "All right. You should get a good night's sleep. And maybe something to eat. You didn't get any dinner, did you?"
Regulus shook his head. "I'm not hungry."
"Do you want me to stay with you? We could spend the night in the Room of Requirement."
Regulus gave a weak smile. "That would be nice."
"And tomorrow we discuss this, okay? No more procrastinating."
Remus sat leaning against the headboard, watching Regulus sleep, debating whether it was too early or not to wake him up. Wondering if the boy had gotten enough rest to get a clear head.
He himself hadn't slept at all. Regulus had cuddled up to him like a small child and passed out as soon as they got into bed the night before. Remus, however, hadn't been the least bit tired. His brain had been working on overdrive. Thinking about his time with Regulus. How far they'd come. Thinking about how completely Regulus' family was still dominating every little aspect of his life and controlling his will. Considering every possible and impossible solution to this problem.
When he had finally started to drift off as the morning hours drew near, Regulus had become restless, tossing back and forth and whimpering in his sleep, keeping Remus awake as a result.
Before he could make the decision, Regulus stirred and slowly opened his eyes. He gave Remus a little smile.
"Hey, you. Sleep well?"
"Sort of. What time is it?"
"What?" said Regulus, sitting up abruptly. "Why didn't you wake me? Lessons have started - I'll be late!"
"Honestly, Reg, there are more important things than lessons right now."
Regulus groaned and lay back down, covering his face with his hands.
"Here," said Remus, showing him a plate of food. "I sneaked down to get us some breakfast."
"Don't tell me you're not hungry. You need the energy. We have a lot to talk about."
Remus watched as Regulus slowly ate his baked beans and toast. He was a whirl of emotions. He was angry, scared, and confused. One thing was for sure, though: he was determined to make Regulus see the truth about his upbringing and his family. This time he wasn't going to let off for fear of being shut out. He was going to push through Regulus' last barriers. He wasn't going to let the Blacks ruin their youngest son's life for good.
"Okay, Reg," he said as Regulus placed his half eaten plate on the night stand. "Tell me everything."
Regulus was silent for a while. "Well... I don't know where to begin."
"You can start by telling me when this is going to happen."
"What? But that's - that's so soon!"
"You're not even of age!"
"I know that too."
"Why are they so eager for you to join, anyway?"
"Well, pure-bloods are becoming rarer and rarer. Our blood is being polluted with Muggle blood. You know that we're an old wizarding family, and my parents feel that we have an obligation to support the cause. More than just financially, which they've been doing so far. It's in our own interest. Sort of a fight for survival."
Remus opened his mouth to say something, but Regulus stopped him with a hand gesture. "You'll never understand this, because you don't care what people's blood status is. It wouldn't bother you the least bit if there were only half-bloods and Mud- Muggle-borns in the world."
"A lot of pure-bloods don't care either."
"Yeah well, that's the problem. If they'd only stick to their own kind..."
"So you think that justifies establishing a tyranny? To force people to stick to their own kind? Or should people less than pure-bloods not be allowed to reproduce at all? If so, then what about those that do it anyway - is the government going to dispose of those children?"
"No!" gasped Regulus, looking horrified. "That's not how it's going to be!"
"And how do you know that? How else are they going to stop Muggle-blood from spreading?"
"I don't know! But what you're saying - that's outrageous!"
Remus decided to continue with this strategy, seeing that it was making an impression on Regulus. "Or are they going to take it even further and simply wipe out all Muggle-borns? Have you heard about how the Nazis tried to exterminate the whole Jewish race during World War II?"
"Yes, I've heard about that. And it just goes to show how sick and dangerous Muggles are!"
"That's not the point I was making at all! It goes to show what can happen when someone believes they belong to a superior race and that another race is no better than vermin that should be exterminated!"
"Nowhere near all pure-bloods think that way!"
"Neither do Muggles! What happened during World War II was constituted by one evil tyrant and a few loyal supporters. Ring any bells?"
"You're SO far out, Remus! I'm not going to continue this idiotic discussion," Regulus said, crossing his arms.
"Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but the principle is the same. If Voldemort gains power, who knows how far he's going to take it?"
"Maybe he just wants to make sure the Wizarding World is safe. We're the minority here, Remus! We're the ones who need protection. Your little analogy doesn't hold water. And like I said - I don't want to discuss this anymore!"
Remus sighed and lay down on his back, trying to think of another way to approach the problem.
After a while he said, "Regulus. Do you actually want to join the Death Eaters?"
Regulus sighed heavily. "Of course I don't. I don't want to fight at all, and I don't want to hurt anybody. I don't like any of the Death Eaters I know. Most of them are cruel, and my cousin is downright insane. But it doesn't matter what I want, Remus. My parents -"
"Oh, don't start on that again! It DOES matter what you want! It's YOUR life!"
"You just don't understand! I have an obligation to my family. My parents are the heads of it, and I have to do what they say, even if I don't agree with them."
Remus got a sudden urge to hit Regulus. Really hard. Maybe that was the only language he understood, he thought bitterly. And then he immediately felt bad for thinking like that. Of course that wasn't how he felt. He just felt so helpless and Regulus seemed immune to all his arguments.
"But Reg, you don't always do what your parents want. You're with me, aren't you? I'm pretty sure that's the last thing your parents would want. You didn't choose to be gay but you choose to act on it. And you choose to be with a half-blood. I'm half Muggle, Regulus."
"No, you're a wizard!"
"BELT UP AND LET ME FINISH!" Remus yelled and tried to ignore how the comment caused Regulus to look like a kicked puppy. He wasn't used to Remus talking to him like that at all, much less shouting. "Fifty per cent of the blood in my veins is Muggle, Regulus. It's against all that your family believes in. And you do it anyway. Why? Because you don't really believe in all that elitist nonsense anymore!"
"That's not true. It's wrong what we do! Don't you think I know that. I do it because I'm a selfish and bad person. I don't want to love you, because it's not right, but I just can't help myself! "
"Merlin, Regulus, they've really messed you up, haven't they?" Remus groaned, shaking his head slowly. "You're not a bad person! Love is the most selfless emotion there is! You're with me because you love me and that's good."
"But I love my family too," Regulus said quietly.
"Why? They've done nothing but mistreat you your whole life! They don't love you. You said it yourself, remember?"
"Yeah, but... if I do this, maybe they will," Regulus said, looking both sad and hopeful.
"No, they won't! It doesn't work that way. If they don't love you now, they never will."
Regulus looked close to crying. "You don't know that... You don't know anything."
After another hour of prolonged discussion, that didn't really go anywhere, Remus dragged himself up the stairs, longing to collapse on his bed, draw the curtains and escape into blessed, oblivious sleep.
He groaned inwardly when finding Sirius in the dorm - right now when he just wanted to be alone.
"Hey," said Sirius looking up at him. "Where've you -" He stopped midsentence as he took in Remus' appearance. "What's with you? What happened?"
"Nothing. I'm fine," Remus said, attempting a smile.
"Bollocks! Do you think I'm blind? You look like something the kneazle dragged in. What's wrong?"
Remus ignored him, walking over to his trunk and pretended to put his things in order - although they were already neatly arranged. He felt Sirius stepping up behind him.
"Is it Reggie? It is, isn't it? What did he do?" There was a hint of protectiveness in his voice.
"He didn't do anything," Remus sighed. "That's the problem."
Sirius squatted next to him, wrapping an arm around his shoulder. "So, what didn't he do?"
"He didn't tell your fucking parents to go to hell!" Remus almost shouted, feeling his restraint slipping.
"Of course he didn't," Sirius laughed. "Were you expecting him to?"
"I don't know. I didn't... I thought there must be a limit to his blind obedience."
Sirius sighed. "What do they want from him now? Did they find him a nice little pure-blood fiancé?"
"It's worse than that. He... they want him to join Voldemort. They already set a date for him to take the Mark."
Remus knew he was betraying Regulus' trust by telling Sirius, but this was just too much for him to handle on his own.
Sirius' hand slipped off of Remus' shoulder. "Are you kidding me? And the little idiot is planning on doing it?"
"I don't think he's planning anything. It's like he doesn't know how to deal with it, so he doesn't do anything at all."
Sirius suddenly got up and headed resolutely for the door.
"Where are you going?"
"Off to knock some sense into that thick skull of his."
"No!" Remus exclaimed, jumping to his feet. "You can't do that!"
Sirius stopped and turned to face Remus who had now grabbed him by the sleeve. "And why not?"
"You know what happened last time you two came face to face!"
"I'm not going to hurt him! I just want to talk."
"Right," Remus scoffed. "He's going to provoke you and you’ll fly off the handle. You won't be able to control yourself!"
"I'll do just fine. Now, let go of me!" said Sirius, yanking his sleeve free of Remus' grasp.
"Stay away from him, Sirius!" Remus said in a threatening tone.
"You're so bent on protecting him from me, "Sirius snapped. "You should rather worry about protecting him from Voldemort and those psychos by his side! They're going to eat him alive, Remus! He doesn't have the stomach for what goes on in there. He once fainted when we saw Bellatrix AK a stray. Do you think they'll have any patience with someone like that?"
"Yes, I know! Don't you think I'd do absolutely anything to convince him? But you telling him not to join is just going to make him want to even more! You're just going to make it worse!"
"Well, I'm not just going to sit back and watch my little brother get himself into that shit! I'm going - with or without your approval."
Sirius fixed Remus with a very determined gaze. Remus sometimes wondered if Sirius' eyes could actually change hue according to his mood. When he was happy and excited they seemed to have a silvery glint to them. When he got angry they would turn dark - almost as dark as Regulus' - and when relaxed and content they were more like a soft slate. Remus knew it was stupid, of course. Eyes didn't change colour. Even so, the ones that met his right now looked like steel.
Remus knew that look. It meant that Sirius had set his mind on something, and that there was nothing anybody could do to change it.
"All right," he sighed. "But can we please do this in civilised manner? I'll be there to keep things under control; no wands and no physical contact. Somewhere where no one can spy on us. What do you say to that?"
Sirius contemplated him for a moment, then shrugged. "Fine with me. If that makes you happy. I said I didn't plan on hurting him."
Remus couldn't help the smile that tugged at his lips. "I knew you didn't really hate him."
"I didn't say that."
"Yeah, you did."