Monday morning at breakfast.
"Oliver Wood, reserve Keeper for Puddlemere United," Wood said, waving a piece of parchment in Percy's face. "Minimum salary of forty Galleons a week, to be negotiated later on number of matches played." He was grinning. "Want to know how many N.E.W.T.s I needed for this, Perce?"
"That's not the point," Percy protested, but Harry thought he didn't sound nearly as snappish as he would have with anyone else. "You can't play Quidditch forever. At some point you're going to be too old for it and you're going to need academic qualifications – "
"Like hell I will," Wood said, his look of joy undeterred. "By that point you'll be Minister of Magic and you'll give me all the money I need, won't you?"
"Are you all right, Harry?" Hermione asked, setting down her spoon. "You look like you've got a fever or a sunburn or something – "
"I'm fine," Harry muttered. As much as he wanted to forget that he'd seen Percy and Wood kiss, he couldn't help but blush every time he saw them together.
Since discovering he was a wizard, Harry had seen portraits that moved, a flying motorbike, and a teacher with Voldemort in the back of his head, all of which made infinitely more sense to him than the sight of Oliver Wood kissing Percy Weasley. The scene kept coming back to his mind, unbidden. At least they hadn't noticed him, he thought; if Percy and Wood knew that he'd seen them, he thought he'd probably die from the embarrassment, which annoyed him. It wasn't as though he was the one who'd been kissing another boy in the Quidditch changing rooms…
Harry supposed he could have asked Hermione if it made any sense to her – Hermione tended to be able to explain just about anything – but he didn't want to talk about it, and besides, he liked Wood too much to be telling people secrets about his personal life. Harry might not have understood why Wood would want to kiss Percy – actually, he didn't understand why anybody would want to kiss Percy, now that he thought about it – but whether Harry understood it or not, it wasn't any of his business. Besides, if Harry told Hermione, he would feel guilty about keeping it from Ron; if Ron found out, Harry knew Ron wouldn't be able to stop himself from telling Fred and George. And if Fred and George had gotten all of Gryffindor teasing Hermione about Astrophil's letter, Harry didn't want to think about what they'd do with the knowledge that their obnoxious older brother was secretly kissing a boy.
"Black's not here," Ron said, scanning the Head Table. "Today's the day he finds out what that envelope in the Malfoys' house said, isn't it? How great would it be if it turned out to have all the evidence the Ministry would need to put Malfoy's parents away for life?"
"It won't," Hermione said. "The Malfoys wouldn't let something like that sit around in their house for over a decade."
"Well, they let something about Regulus sit in their house for over a decade," Ron argued. "What d'you suppose that's about? Unless it's a will that leaves everything to them, you'd think the Malfoys would want to distance themselves from anything even remotely connected with Regulus – you don't suppose Malfoy's parents are on different sides of this, do you? Maybe Malfoy's dad killed Regulus but Malfoy's mum didn't want him to – "
"I doubt it," said Hermione. "Harry said Nymphadora said that it looks like they're still mad about each other, didn't he? Narcissa's not going to still be in love with Lucius if she didn't want him to kill Regulus – "
"I – I don't know," Harry said. Something had just connected in his mind. "Regulus's diary said that Narcissa never really had any friends, didn't it? If you're used to not having any friends, it really means a lot when you get one, and Regulus was just about her only friend for a while. If somebody kills your only friend, you can't just decide to forget about it and move on, I don't think. Maybe…maybe she doesn't even know. Maybe Lucius lied to her and she believed him, or maybe she just doesn't let herself think about it…"
Harry didn't get a chance to see Sirius alone until after dinner, though he did see him in Defense Against the Dark Arts class, where they had just started studying dark creatures, their last unit of the year. Sirius was keeping a sickly green creature called a grindylow in a tank; grindylows lived in water, had small horns, and had been known to strangle and drown humans, which meant that the class was learning how to break the grindylow's fingers. Unfortunately, not only did the grindylow seem remarkably able to reset its bones, but it had somehow learned to make obscene hand gestures, which sent Seamus and Dean into gales of laughter every time they came near it.
In his office, Sirius was sitting in one of his red armchairs, his head leaning back and his long legs sprawled out in front of him. To Harry's surprise, he was laughing.
"What – "
"I've really got to hand it to Regulus," Sirius said, taking out an envelope from inside his robes. "I don't know what he felt or what he was thinking near the end of his life, but this must be giving Lucius and Narcissa fits. They never would have kept this if they'd known what was in it."
"Does it have any evidence against them? Does it – "
"No, no evidence against them, but it's one big slap in the face to the notion that the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black was always pure." Sirius held out the envelope to Harry. "Go ahead and read it."
Harry lifted the flap, took out a yellowed piece of parchment, and read it silently, his eyes widening as he went.
Last Will and Testament of Regulus Arcturus Black
Written and signed on 15 August, 1980
I, Regulus Arcturus Black, son of Walburga and the late Orion Black, leave all of my worldly goods, property and money, with the exception of five hundred Galleons, to my fiancée and former co-worker, Selene Emma Harris. Should Selene Emma Harris pre-decease me, I leave her bequest to her heirs. I would like to explicitly state that under no circumstances do I want any of my estate to come to any member of my family, with a single exception.
I leave the five hundred Galleons exempted from Selene's inheritance to Nymphadora Tonks, the daughter of my first cousin, Andromeda Black Tonks. Nymphadora Tonks is the only member of my family whom I wish to receive any portion of my estate and is the single exception mentioned in the previous paragraph of his document. Thank you for the biscuit, and thank you for rubbing my hand.
Regulus Arcturus Black
[Note to readers: I'd like to thank all of you for sticking with this fic through all its twists, turns, and lengths between updates. I started it as a freshman in college and since then I've graduated with a double major, finished law school, had to study for the bar exam twice, and gotten married. When I'm not updating, I'm always working on this fic when I have the time; I can be a perfectionist and sometimes it takes forever for a chapter to turn out the way I need it to. Thanks for your patience, everybody. You don't ever need to worry that I'm going to abandon this fic unfinished, no matter how long it takes until the next chapter to be posted.]