Number 12 Grimmauld Place was not a house that was averse to secrets. On the contrary, it welcomed them. Its walls soaked up whispered promises and its floor leached onto broken vows. The paintings had ears that listened to everything you said when you thought you were alone, when you thought no one could hear you. Every last word hissed out under the cover of night and comfort of locked doors was eaten up by the house and stored away. No one placed a foot at the bottom of its front steps without leaving behind a secret. Number 12 Grimmauld Place survived on secrets.
Its current inhabitants were no exception to this unknown rule. The Order of the Phoenix had many secrets, secrets that the house never forgot.
It had known many secrets before them, though. Secrets written on letters with blood blotting the parchment. Secrets screamed into pillows in the dead of night. Secrets that escaped through tears, falling onto the carpet and wiped away with tissues later to be thrown away. Secrets burned into tapestries and seared into skin. Secrets shared between brothers that sat upon the roof, pointing up at stars and giggling like only children can. Secrets kept by a house elf, old and tired and with no one to tell them to. Secrets forgotten to the rest of the world, but not to the house. Secrets that they were about to remember.
(Call me a sinner, call me a saint, but don't call me a coward, don't you dare speak my name)
A thud. That's what started it all. A thud heard from the dining room, where people sat and ate, their fingers numb with knowledge. A thud from the room next to them. A thud that carried the weight of something that could only be alive. Or had been alive once.
The adults sprung up, wands pulled out and spells on the tips of their tongues. Someone, later no one could remember who, said to the children present "You lot stay here, we'll check it out." Looks were exchanged (secrets not spoken) and then they were gone. The grown ups left the kids behind in a flurry of robes and sharp eyes, leaving fear and wonder in their wake. Another look was exchanged, this time between children. And a look shared between children shares more than a look between adults ever can (and the house fed on secrets). Without a word all nodded, rose, and hurriedly exited the dining room. Food that would never be finished remained on the table.
A soft whisper stopped them from entering the room where the thud had come from. "No...it can't be." It was Sirius Black, they all recognized his voice. "It can't be." That voice and those words were all the children needed to follow their superiors into the room. The room that changed everything.
What they found in the room, was a circle. A circle of people, surrounding something they themselves could not see. But the house could see, the house could always see. And the house devoured all the secrets the room contained. The children squeezed their way between the adults, finding small spaces to fit and short shoulders to peer over. They saw what the house had seen before they could.
"We told you to stay behind!" Molly Weasley shrieked at her own children and their friends. But weren't they all her children? The house thought so. No one paid attention to her words, they barely heard them. Harry Potter looked up at his godfather and found the deathly pale face of a ghost instead of the man he knew. Or maybe this was who Sirius had always been, underneath. Maybe they were all ghosts underneath.
"Sirius?" he whispered. He didn't know why he whispered. "Sirius, are you okay?"
"Who is that?" It was Fred Weasley who asked. His hand clutched his twin's, neither knowing why. They hadn't held hands since they were eleven. Their father, Arthur, looked at them both and mustered up a quiet response, "I don't know." No one else spoke up, the house remained silent. The old man's eyes twinkled.
Sirius took a shuddering breath before answering what most were silently asking and what the house already knew, "He's my brother." They had to strain to hear him, but they did. Harry continued to stare at the body they gathered around.
It was the body of a boy. Not a man, a boy. Barely older than eighteen. It was wearing normal blue jeans and a white shirt. Its feet were bare. It bore an expression that was neither happy nor sad, proud nor angry. It was peaceful. Yet no one around the body felt at peace. The body looked a lot like Sirius. And a lot different. It was shorter, smaller. It wasn't unattractive, no, but where Sirius was brash, rugged smiles and haughty good looks, this body was sharp, pointed angles and delicate features. Its hair was shorter too, neater. But the same shade of black. And if its eyes were open, the house knew they would be the same gray as its brother's.
Remus Lupin's voice was gentle, as if he were attempting not to spook a deer, "But...Sirius, your brother is dead."
A dry, hollow sounding laugh. "Yeah, yeah I know."
Nymphadora Tonks did not speak, merely crouched down next to the body and put two fingers tentatively against its neck. A few moments and she moved them to its wrist.
"No pulse." The house didn't need her to say that, it knew (the house always knows). Sirius did not see the pitying looks he received.
It was Ronald Weasley's turn to break the silence. "He, er, he was a Death Eater?" All eyes fixated on the body's left arm. (Yes, yes, yes the house whispered)
"He was, yeah," Sirius's voice was hoarse, barely a croak. "That's um, that's how he died. He got in too deep and tried to leave. That was the story anyway. But no one just leaves the Death Eaters. They never found a body."
Confusion joined the pity in everyone's eyes and soon another spoke. "If they never found his body," Hermione Granger started slowly, looking at Sirius hesitantly, "then how did it get here?"
Not even the house would have been able to answer her. And it was itching to feed. It sensed the presence first.
"I brought him." All present turned to where the voice came from. But there was nothing there. Their wands were up and ready, humming with spells their owners had yet to cast.
"Who was that?" Alastor Moody grunted out. His fake eye spun wildly.
"I don't have a name," the voice was neither male nor female. It was neither loud nor quiet. It was soft, and soothing. The house liked it. "Or perhaps I have too many names."
"Where are you?" Bill Weasley asked, trying to locate the speaker. (Good luck the house whispered, no one heard)
"I am nowhere," the voice was coming from every part of the room, engulfing them in its presence, "but I am everywhere. And really, aren't the two the same?"
"Is there something we should call you by?" Albus Dumbledore's eyes twinkled.
"I don't have a name," the voice repeated. "Although others have named me. Fate, Destiny, Fortune, Doom, Chance, Karma. There are too many to remember."
"Fate," Dumbledore seemed to decide. "Why have you brought us this body?"
The voice, which held no real volume, somehow got louder, "To right a wrong."
Looks were exchanged amongst the adults. The children spoke without speaking.
"Long ago, a mistake was made," Fate sounded like it was reading from a storybook. And those present were wide eyed toddlers, enraptured with a tale of knights and princesses and dragons. "Perhaps it was mine. Perhaps it was not. But it was made, and people suffered. One person in particular."
A pause. Everyone looked down at the body.
"Regulus Black was not meant to die." The statement was a wave crashing against sloping rocks. "But he needed to. For I would not be here if he hadn't have. But he was not meant to."
"W-why?" Sirius managed to gasp out.
"To right a wrong," Fate said. "The river had to be diverted to avoid drying out, but now it must be set on its course once again."
Adults and children alike stood in wonderment and bewilderment. Even the house stopped living off of secrets for a moment, just to listen to them.
"Regulus Black is not the boy you thought you knew," this was directed at Sirius. He swallowed loudly. "He was so much more than you ever knew. He learned things from you. And from others. He hid in plain sight from everyone around him. He watched and listened and learned. He saw and heard what others did not. He was the boy who knew too much."
(Secrets are a poison that keeps you alive, don't drink too much dear, you'll drown)
"This house needs him" (Yes yes yes) "and so do you."
No one spoke. No one dared. The house could barely wait much longer.
"But you must remember," Fate's voice developed a tone of caution, "as it was his choice that diverted the river, it must be his choice to set it on its proper course."
Then, as suddenly as the presence had entered the room, it was gone. They could all feel its absence, they let go of the breaths they had not know they'd been holding in.
"What the bloody hell just happened?" Ron's usually loud voice was quiet and accompanied by a touch of fear.
"Look!" Ginny Weasley took a step back from the body as she yelled.
The body was no longer wearing jeans and a white shirt. Instead, it was dressed in a black button down shirt, the sleeves rolled up to reveal elbows that jutted out awkwardly, and dark jeans. Its feet were no longer bare, they were now covered in black, dragon-hide boots. Its face had lost some of its attractiveness, not in features but in presentation. It was gaunt and sicky looking, the skin pale and hair plastered to its forehead. It was drenched head to toe in water. It no longer looked peaceful. It looked dead.
(Color me surprised darling, I never saw you as the type to run, but of course you ran alone)
"Is that how he looked when he…?" Mrs. Weasley did not finish her question.
"I'm afraid so, Molly," Dumbledore was quiet, too.
"Then how...how did he d-die?" Sirius stumbled over his words. "This wasn't done by the killing curse."
"He looks like he drowned," Hermione murmured, not taking her eyes away from the body.
"Drowning isn't exactly Voldemort's style," Lupin's choice of words caused many to flinch. The house soaked them up greedily.
"No, it isn't," Moody's voice was gruff. Silence fell once more. No one went near the body, no one even moved.
"What...what was Fate?" Harry lifted his head, trying to meet someone's eyes. The old man's were the only ones he could find.
"Exactly what it said it was, I presume," he answered. "Nothing, yet everything."
"How can you be sure?" Moody raised a furry eyebrow in the Headmaster's direction.
"I suppose I can't," Dumbledore smiled softly. "But we all know it to be true."
That they did. The house knew it too.
"But why bring us this body?" Bill said, confused.
"To right a wrong," Tonks repeated the words in a whisper.
"How can a dead Death Eater do that?" George Weasley exclaimed, his eyes wide. His hand had never left his twin's. "He's dead!"
And then, something extraordinary happened. Something everyone backed away from, wands up and mouths agape. Something the house welcomed.
The body began to lift up off of the floor, its hair trailing on the floor along with the tips of its boots. It stopped there, its head tilted back and mouth slightly parted. And then, with the house's greeting seeping into the body, it became a he.
His open mouth sucked in air, lungs working for the first time in a very long time. And with that breath, the house exulted, and the boy hit the floor with another thud. A thud that carried the weight of something that had once been alive. Or was alive.
The boy moved. He rolled over, flipping onto his stomach. He tried to push himself up with his hands and failed, falling back down to the floor. His weak limbs shook slightly. He tried again. He fell. He tried a third time, his arms trembling with the effort, his legs struggling to bend in the way his body had once known how to do so seamlessly. He did not fall. He opened his mouth, a choking noise erupted from his throat, and water spewed from his pale, blue lips. No one moved. No one dared. He didn't notice them, too busy emptying the contents of his stomach onto the wooden floor. The water was dark and murky and sinister in a way no one could understand.
The boy stopped coughing and collapsed. His limbs shook once more. He rolled over onto his other side, involuntarily, and wrapped his arms around his stomach. He curled in on himself, becoming a small cocoon. Smaller than anyone would have thought possible. His legs were drawn up to his chest. A chest which was moving in rapid and ragged movements, as if each breath was a thousand dagger stabbing his lungs. And maybe it was. Only the house knew. His eyes were shut tight, seeing nothing and wanting to see nothing. No one helped him, they merely stood on the sidelines. Watching. Waiting. Fearing.
His breaths eventually smoothed out, their erratic nature ceasing to exist and transitioning to something less painful. Something even good, perhaps. He slowly uncurled himself, letting his arms unwrap his stomach and his legs leave his chest. He unfurled like a crumpled paper crane, the original shape recognizable but the creases forever remaining.
Carefully, as if he feared he would tear (goodnight crane, sleep well), he brought himself to his knees. They still trembled, struggling to support his weight. Which wasn't very much. Hair hung in front of his face, shielding it from the company he didn't know he kept. His head was bowed, facing the floor he had just lied upon. He cautiously brought his arms away from sides and brought his hands into view of his face. He opened and closed his fingers. He turned his hands to see his palms, then the backs of his hands. He traced each knuckle on each hand and each nail on each finger, as if he'd soon forget what they looked like and was trying desperately to commit his own body to memory. He twisted each wrist around, testing them and their abilities. He bent each finger, one at a time. He stared at his still hands.
When he spoke his voice was hoarse. Like it hadn't been used in years. And it hadn't, nothing had. "This...this isn't right. I'm...I'm not supposed to be alive."
And then he looked up.
The company he now knew he kept could finally see his eyes. They were gray. Not a stormy gray, but a clear gray, like the underside of silver banksia leaves when the sun hits them just right. And for the first time they saw how young he was. Not just how young his body was, but how young his eyes were. Young, not innocent, but robbed of innocence. Clear gray, like mist settling on pine trees.
A wand was soon stuck between those eyes.
Hands shot up quickly, held above the head in alarm and possibly in fear. Maybe neither. Those clear gray eyes, as they all would soon learn, were impossible to read. Like desperately searching for something on a foggy morning.
"Um...hi?" Regulus Black said. The sheepishness, that could at least be identified.
(This house rejoiced under the setting sun, the cover of night hid nothing, Secrets had returned)
GF: So...yeah. Hey, I tried! I've had this idea in my head forever and I hope I did it justice. This is my first Harry Potter fic, so I hope I can write all the characters well enough. I've always loved Regulus Black, he and Snape are my favorite characters. What can I say, I have a thing for redemption arcs. If you were wondering, I picture Regulus being portrayed by Logan Lerman (I know, so cliché!) but you can choose any actor you want to portray him. I know that those people probably weren't all eating dinner the night before Harry's trial, but I needed them there and I haven't read Order of the Phoenix in a while! Sorry! Sooo...review if you want...and...bye!
Edit: Hi, Charlotte from 2017 here. I'm going through and updating these chapters one by one. So if you're a new reader, prepare for a shift in quality from this chapter to the next. I'm gonna try to get them all rewritten ('cause dear Lord do they need to be) within the week, but it'll probably take longer. Bear with me. (By the way, totally see Regulus as more of a Simon Kiser now)