Rating: NC-17 (This part PG-13)
Warnings: Sex, violence
Genres: Romance, Angst, Drama
Word count: ? (This part: 2600)
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 29 - Cobwebs and Brats
And so Remus agreed to set up a meeting between the two brothers.
There was just one obstacle: convincing Regulus.
"Come on, Reg. Please just..."
When asked how Sirius had come to know about the plans for Regulus to take the Mark, Remus had deemed it necessary to bend the truth a little, saying that Sirius had guessed it himself when seeing Remus so shaken up.
"I thought you wanted to protect me! Isn't that what you always say?"
"I DO! That's why I want you to agree to this. If you don't he's just going to corner you somewhere, and then who knows what's going to happen! It's my idea to do it like this. This way I can keep things under control so that you don't get hurt."
"I'm not afraid of him."
Remus tugged at his hair in frustration. "Of course not. But you do remember what McGonagall said last time, don't you? That you'll both be expelled if you raise a wand to one another again."
That at least seemed to have an effect. The Slytherin paled visibly.
"What would your parents say to that, I wonder..."
"They would understand that I had to protect myself from that traitor. And they'd convince Dumbledore to let me back," answered Regulus; but he didn't look nearly as sure as he sounded.
"Please don't be difficult. I had enough trouble getting him to agree."
"Please, Regulus," begged Remus, taking Regulus' hand and stroking it. "For me. Do it for me."
"Alright, fine! But it won't make any difference. I couldn't care less what he has to say to me."
"Yuck - it's filthy down here," Regulus said, wrinkling his nose as he brushed a bit of cobweb from his hair.
They were making their way through the tunnel to the Shrieking Shack where they had decided to have the meeting. Regulus had flat out refused to use the Room of Requirement.
"Do you think I want to associate the room I'm having sex in with my brother?"
When they reached the trapdoor at the end of the tunnel, Remus stopped and held out his hand, palm up.
Regulus looked at it, a little puzzled, and then put his own hand in Remus'.
"Not your hand," said Remus, a bit impatiently, "your wand."
Regulus gave him an incredulous look. "What? Are you crazy? I'm not going in there unarmed!"
Remus fished out another wand from his pocket and showed it to Regulus. "I have his too. There is no way I'm letting you face each other with these. I'll be the only one with a wand."
Regulus looked sceptical. "How do I know he hasn't borrowed Potter's or something?"
Remus rolled his eyes. "He's a Gryffindor. You know he plays fair. Trust me, okay?"
Pouting, Regulus reluctantly handed over his wand.
Sirius was sitting on the battered bed in the corner of the room, but quickly stood up when they entered.
Regulus strolled across the floor, heading for a massive armchair by the opposite wall. When he reached it, he casually leaned against its back and studied Sirius with mild interest.
Sirius was watching him silently, flexing his fingers and worrying his lower lip. Remus knew he was concentrating on keeping his temper in check and carefully weighing his words before speaking.
"So," said Regulus, when it appeared that Sirius wasn't about to start yelling. "What is it that you want so desperately to say to me? I don't have all day, you know."
Remus noted how Sirius' jaw tightened before taking a deep breath. "What exactly do you think you are doing, Reggie?" He managed a normal volume, but the harshness behind the words was clear.
"What I'm doing?" said Regulus, eyebrows raised. "I'm in here talking to you."
"Don't be a smart-arse! You know what I mean!"
"No, what do you mean?" Regulus said with feigned politeness. "Please elaborate so that I can understand."
"I hear you are to join the Death Eaters."
"Oh, is that so?"
"Well, what the hell are you thinking? Are you seriously planning on going through with it? Are you actually that stupid?"
"It's really none of your business what I choose to do with my life."
"Choose? But you don't choose anything, do you? You let them do that for you. Mummy says jump and you ask how high."
Regulus didn't answer. He was studying his fingernails, looking bored.
"Isn't that how it is, Reggie?" Sirius continued. "Has it even crossed your mind that just because those old fools say something, doesn't automatically mean that it's right? Did you stop one minute to think about what it is you're getting yourself into? This is a decision for life! When first you're in, there's no getting out! When you stand there in the middle of the bloodshed, being asked to torture or kill somebody, what are you going to do? I know you don't have it in you. How do you plan on getting yourself out of that?"
"Are you done yet? Because if you are, I would really like to get out of this dump," said Regulus, glancing around the room with an expression of distaste on his face.
Remus bit himself in the lip. He wanted to tell Regulus to stop being an arse and listen to his brother, but of course he knew better than to do that. The more he stayed out of it the better. An objective referee - that was the part he had to play.
Sirius gritted his teeth and looked like he was counting inside his head. Remus had to hand it to him - so far he was doing a good job controlling himself, considering how hot-tempered he was and how insolent Regulus was being. He worried, however, how long it was going to last.
"NO, I'm not done! I'm not done until I've knocked some sense into you!"
He started walking toward Regulus, but Remus took a quick step forward, shaking his head. "Sirius, no. I think it's best that you don't get too close."
Sirius stopped with a frustrated huff and a wave of his hand. "Remus -"
"No. I get to make the rules, remember?"
"Listen to your friend. He's a lot smarter than you are," Regulus' voice sounded. "But then again - most people are..."
"Shut up you little brat! Do you think this is funny? Do you?"
"No, I really don't. I could think of a million things that are more fun than listening to your rubbish. Being knocked off my broom by a Bludger being one of them."
Remus could tell that Sirius' patience was wearing very thin and that it wouldn't take a lot more effort on Regulus' part to push him over the edge. And he could tell that Regulus knew it as well.
"I'm going to ask you one more time -" Sirius growled through his teeth, "what do you think you're doing? Are you going to go through with it?"
"And I already told you that I'm not discussing this with you. You have absolutely no say in my affairs anymore, so keep your snooping nose out of them."
"Of course I have a say in your affairs. I'm -"
"What? My brother?" Regulus laughed humourlessly. "Really, Sirius? You've spent the last couple of years pretending that you don't have a brother. Trying to convince yourself that you're in no way related to the atrocious Black family." He laughed again. "It's funny actually that you think you can run from your genes when everybody can tell just by looking at you. And it's not only your appearance. Take you and Mother for example - you're so much alike!"
Sirius looked like he had just popped a handful of Pepper Imps into his mouth. "YOU LITTLE -" he roared and lunged himself at Regulus.
Remus reacted immediately, casting an Impediment Jinx on Sirius, knocking him off his feet.
"He didn't mean it, Padfoot. He just said that to provoke you. He knows that comparing you to -"
"No, I really meant it," said Regulus, smirking in Sirius' direction. "Where do you think he got that temper?"
"Shut up, Regulus!" Remus hissed, sending him a stern glare.
Sirius, having got back to his feet, rushed forward again, only to be stopped by another jinx.
"Sirius, for Merlin's sake, control yourself! Are you trying to prove his point?"
Sirius stood there, tense as a spring, his hands opening and closing, scowling at his brother.
Remus stepped up to him, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Calm down, okay?" he said, quietly so Regulus wouldn't overhear him. "Don't give him the satisfaction."
"You're right." Sirius closed his eyes for a moment, concentrating on his breathing.
"Remus, can I go now?" it sounded from the other side of the room.
"NO, you can't go now!" shouted Sirius, his eyes flying open.
"I didn't ask you."
"You're not going anywhere! You're going to stay here and listen to reason!"
"You've spent the last two years ignoring me - why can't you just leave me alone now?"
"Because... I don't want you to get into trouble."
For the first time Regulus' cool facade showed signs of cracking. "Don't pretend you give a shit about me," he snarled. "You just don't want a Death Eater for a brother!"
"Damn right I don't! But even though you're an insufferable brat you're still my baby brother, and... and, believe it or not, I do actually care what happens to you."
"YOU HAVEN'T CARED ABOUT ME EVER SINCE YOU CAME TO HOGWARTS!" Regulus yelled, now having lost his composure completely.
Sirius looked a little taken aback at the strong reaction. Then he retorted, "What the hell do you mean? You're the one who stopped caring about me! The second I was sorted into Gryffindor I was nothing to you! You were just like the rest of them. Disgusted with me for what I was. Hating me like they did!"
"That's not true! I still cared - I was stupid enough."
"Right," Sirius laughed. "You never stood up for me! You were always taking their side, picking on me, lecturing me how to behave."
"I did that for your own good! If you'd just listened, they wouldn't have given you such a hard time! But you never listened to me!"
"You don't get it, Regulus! I wasn't interested in them not giving me a hard time - I was interested in doing the right thing!"
"The right thing is to honour you parents and your family name!"
"Why? Why should I honour a family who has never given a toss about my feelings and well-being? Who are cruel and hateful and have rotten values?"
"Because that's your duty! It doesn't matter how you feel or what you think is right! That's the price of being born into privilege!"
"Privilege? More like born into slavery!"
"You're an ungrateful bastard!" Regulus spat.
"Oh, like I haven't heard that one a thousand times before," said Sirius, rolling his eyes.
"Maybe because it's true."
"Regulus," said Sirius, once again squeezing his eyes shut and flexing his fingers. "We aren't discussing me - we're discussing you."
"No we're not. We're done here," said Regulus and started for the door.
Remus briefly considered stopping Regulus, but Sirius beat him to it.
"REGGIE, WAIT!" he shouted, almost sounding desperate.
Regulus turned around and gave Sirius a weary gaze. "What?"
"Don't do it! Don't do it just because they tell you to. This goes beyond family honour - it's madness! You have to stand up for yourself, or you'll regret it for the rest of your life! Reggie, you've got to listen to me!"
"Why should I listen to you? You can't be trusted! I could never count on you!"
"WHAT?" exclaimed Sirius incredulously. "You could always count on me! I protected you! I took so many beatings for you! I loved you!"
"YOU ABANDONED ME!" screamed Regulus. He stood still for a moment, glowering furiously, as if pondering what to say. Then settled for, "I hate you."
"I had to leave, Regulus! You know how hard they were on me! A person can only take so much without going crazy! I couldn't breathe! They hated me! And all the expectations - having to behave a certain way, being expected to carry on the family name, not being allowed to choose my own profession or spouse. Do you know what it's like having that kind of weight on your shoulders?"
"YES, I KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE!" yelled Regulus heatedly. "Who do you think inherited all your duties?
Sirius drew in a sharp breath, a mixture of shock and shame on his face. "Reggie, I... I forgot tha- I didn't think -"
"No, you didn't think! You never think about anyone other than yourself!"
"I asked you to come with me," Sirius said quietly.
"How very grand of you!" Regulus scoffed. "You knew there was no chance that I'd ever agree to come - You knew I could never do that!"
"I hoped you would!"
"What did you expect me to do? Break Mother's heart like you did?"
"She doesn't have a heart!"
"Don't talk about her like that! She gave us life - we owe her our respect!"
"WE DON'T OWE HER SHIT! Just because you give birth to someone doesn't give you the right to be an abusive bitch!"
"How dare you -" Regulus started, staring furiously at Sirius.
"And don't you start denying it, Reggie, 'cause I know you've also been on the receiving end - more than once."
"Sirius, you idiot - you aren't getting through to him like this!" Remus butted in, but Sirius either didn't hear him or chose to ignore it.
"She's an evil old hag -"
"SHUT UP!" Regulus screamed, even louder.
"- and Father's a cold-hearted bastard!"
For a second Regulus looked like he was going to attack his brother. Then he uttered a "Go to hell," spun on his heel, and stormed out the door.
"REGULUS!" Sirius shouted.
But the younger Black didn't stop this time.
Sirius ran to the door and yelled after him, at the top of his lungs, "FINE! Be a tool! See if I care! I hope the Aurors get you before you do any real damage!"
Cursing, he turned around and started kicking and punching the wall.
"Bloody hell, Padfoot," Remus groaned. He hadn't really thought Sirius would have any luck with his mission. In fact it had turned out pretty much the way he had expected. But still he couldn't help feeling disappointed.
He realised that he was just standing there. Then he set off, out the door, through the trapdoor, and down the tunnel.
"REG!" he shouted, running as fast as he could. He could just make him out at the far end of the tunnel.
Remus knew that Regulus was faster than he was, and if he didn't have luck getting him to stop by calling out to him he wasn't going to catch him.
By the time he reached the exit he had lost sight of Regulus. He dodged the willow and stopped when he got out of its reach to get a good look around. Regulus was gone.