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An 18 year old Regulus Black made his way through the corridors of the school he had graduated from only a few short months ago. No one noticed him for he had long since become accustomed to fading in with the shadows.
As he approached the gargoyle which blocked the entrance to the headmaster's office, the young death eater became profoundly nervous. Here he was seeking out someone who was perhaps more likely to have him arrested than actually provide him with the information he was searching for. This is an incredibly stupid idea, he thought to himself, though he knew there were precious few other options if he hoped to learn more about his supposed master.
After a few false starts Regulus was able to guess the password to the headmaster's office with, 'cockroach cluster.' As the revolving staircase presented itself, he took a few calming breaths and arranged his face into the emotionless mask his parents had taught him to wear since he was a young child. Nervous though he was, he was still a Black and would present himself as such.
Upon reaching the top of the stairs he knocked on the door and was greeted with the headmaster's soft, "Enter".
Regulus did not hesitate to open the door and walk in. If there was anything Regulus Black had extensive experience with, it was following orders. Which is perhaps why he became a death eater in the first place.
"Ah, Mister Black to what do I owe the pleasure?" asked the professor. As the black hair, silver eyed young man walked further into the office, the aging headmaster's expression darkened. Regulus had become remarkably similar looking to his older brother in recent years. However the exact moment the headmaster realized which Black brother was in his office was quite clear. "What could a young death eater such as yourself possibly want from me?" Dumbledore continued.
"I am seeking information that will be difficult to acquire elsewhere," Regulus answered with far more confidence than he felt.
"Well it is clear you have no ill intent towards anyone at Hogwarts, as you were able to make it onto the grounds without the need of a visit to St. Mungo's. The wards placed here are very complex and specific in who they will allow admittance. For someone branded with the dark mark to have been allowed in is both curious and more than a little unsettling." The professor stated the last part almost more to himself than to Regulus. "What is the nature of the information in which you seek, Mr. Black?"
Regulus vaguely considered pointing out that he had been allowed onto the grounds with the dark mark while a student, but refrained. Admitting that would not help anything. Instead he stated,
"I wish to know everything you can tell me about Lord Voldemort, sir."
"A death eater who dares to speak his master's name, how curious indeed. Could it be that you are having doubts as to where your loyalties lie?"
"I am simply inquiring about history," he answered guardedly. "Who was he before he became known as Lord Voldemort? Where did he grow up? Who were his parents? Anything and everything you can tell me would be helpful."
Dumbledore steepled his fingers and silently observed Regulus with his piercing gaze for a long time. Regulus resignedly took the chair opposite the headmaster's while enduring his scrutiny. He regretted doing so immediately though, as it only intensified the feeling that he was a misbehaving student about to receive detention. As the silence proceeded well past awkward, Regulus forced himself not to break the silence between them. After what felt like ages, Dumbledore finally seemed to reach a decision.
"Normally I would not provide any information to someone who could use it against the regime that is fighting Voldemort, however, I can't see how the information you are requesting could harm our efforts. It may actually benefit you to know more about the one you have vowed allegiance to. I am sure you are aware that Voldemort is a master legilimens. I don't imagine he will take too kindly to anyone looking into his heritage," Dumbledore remarked with an ironic smile.
"I was tutored in the mind arts from the age of seven. Anything I want to hide I will be able to," unless Voldemort deems that I am no longer a faithful servant and tortures me into madness. He could get anything he wanted to know at that point, Regulus silently finished to himself.
"Very well then. I will share with you what I know with the condition that you will keep what I tell you to yourself. After all, it would not please Voldemort to find out how much I know of his past, nor that you inquired about him, I daresay."
As Regulus gave a terse nod, so began the tale of Tom Riddle. From his humble beginnings as the son of a near squib pureblood in Merope Gaunt. How she hoodwinked a muggle into marriage (Regulus let out a bark of laughter upon hearing the leader of pureblood supremacy was a half blood). Tom Riddle Sr's abandonment of Merope when she was pregnant with Tom Riddle Jr.; Riddle Jr. having been born and raised in a muggle orphanage.
The speculation that the children in the orphanage were afraid of Riddle, and the fact that he had control over his magic before even learning he was a wizard seemed to indicate that he had been manipulating the muggle children that resided there.
Dumbledore then skipped ahead a few years in his tale to the suspicious murder of Tom Riddle Sr. and his parents during Tom Riddle Jr's 7th year at Hogwarts. How he had requested a teaching position upon graduating, which was declined. That he turned down several apprenticeship opportunities and instead took a position at Borgin and Burkes before returning to Hogwarts to apply yet again for the DADA position. To Dumbledore's surprise it was Riddle's former job with Borgin and Burkes that piqued Regulus' attention.
"Did he seem to have an appreciation for objects of historical value then?"
"He was a bit of a collector of trinkets it would seem. He had been caught stealing things from the other children at his orphanage."
"What about the Gaunt family? You said all of the family money had been squandered long before Merope came about. Were there any family heirlooms that may have been in their possession? Anything of historical value?"
"Any particular reason you ask?"
"Only out of curiosity," Regulus lied thinking of the locket in the cave Kreacher had told him about. Looking up he saw that Dumbledore was looking at him skeptically. He smiled charmingly before adding, "I too have an appreciation for historical artifacts, sir."
Dumbledore seemed to ponder this for a few moments before responding,
"Despite having lived in shambles, I'm inclined to think that if the Gaunt's owned any valuable family heirlooms they would have kept them. They were very proud of their blood purity and heritage. There is a locket that belonged to Salazar Slytherin, whom the Gaunts are directly descended from, however as to the location of the locket I do not know."
Regulus mentally smiled at this. He had a pretty good idea of where that locket was.
On a hunch he asked, "What of the other founders? Are there any artifacts of theirs that have survived over the years?"
After learning about a certain cup of Helga Hufflepuff - which fit the description of a cup his cousin Bellatrix had bragged to him of, 'Having the honor of being asked to keep safe by The Dark Lord himself!', a long lost diadem of Ravenclaw and learning that the only remaining artifact of Gryffindor was a century ago lost sword, Regulus started to bid farewell to his former headmaster.
"Mr. Black, are you sure there isn't anything further you wish to discuss? Perhaps I could be of more assistance to you if you told me what instigated your interest into Tom Riddle's past."
He shook his head, "No, sir. I seek knowledge simply for the sake of the knowledge itself. It was often suggested that I would have made a good Ravenclaw."
"Yes, I remember. Professor Flitwick was especially put out not to have had you in his house, however, I feel it prudent to tell you that there are means to protect you, should you find that your loyalties have shifted," Dumbledore tried again. He very much wanted to find out what had triggered this meeting. The Black family was notoriously secretive and it was obvious that its youngest member was hiding something.
"That was not what this meeting was about," Regulus assured him as he stood and made his way towards the door. "I appreciate you entertaining my questions this evening. Good night, sir," Regulus bid him as he left the office rather abruptly.
"Good night, Mr. Black," Dumbledore intoned as the door closed behind his former pupil.