Regulus's first murder. The sick feeling in his stomach is no more than just the heat affecting him, the sweat on his palms is the same. Gen.
Leave. Regulus trembles, gripping his wand white-knuckled. Barty and Rabastan Disapparate, and he knows he's meant to follow. You can't do this, mate, you're not this kind of bloke, live and let bloody live.
He tugs the mask over his face and Disapparates. His clothing clings to him with sweat that isn't purely from anxiety; the robes are heavy to mask their specific shapes and it's summer. The three of them have not been out of Hogwarts for very long and yet the Dark Lord considers them worthy of His work. Regulus, for his part, could not be more honoured.
They stand in front of a house. Barty hikes up the sleeves of his robes, and Rabastan yanks them down again, punching him in the arm. Regulus smirks behind his mask and follows. His conscience falls into rhythm with his footsteps and his heart as it says, No. No. Go. Go.
"Ready?" Rabastan whispers, muffled by the mask.
"Just go," Barty says scornfully.
Regulus just nods. He's prepared for this. The sick feeling in his stomach is no more than just the heat affecting him, the sweat on his palms is the same.
The door splinters and cracks under Rabastan's hex, and immediately hexes are being flung through the door at them. There is a shout, and Regulus recognizes it as Barty, rolls his eyes as he flings a hex at the leg visible through the door, and is satisfied with a scream. Rabastan glances back at him and then blasts the door off of its hinges, ducking for cover before beginning to attack again. Regulus scrambles to his feet, blocks an Impedimenta, and simply wraps the perpetrator, a pretty, thin woman, in a netting hex.
Barty is vicious and pointed with his hexes, and the man is already dead, slumped unnaturally on a set of narrow stairs with a nastily broken leg. The woman screams "Henry, Henry!" and sobs, and that's enough for Rabastan, who has never had a good temper for those who could not control their emotions. He points his wand at her. "Mrs Mason," Rabastan says calmly, "your husband is dead. Would you like to be next?"
"She doesn't have a choice," Barty says; his voice is strung and tense with irritation, almost a growl.
Regulus raises his wand when he realizes how it must look, him staring at this woman, his wand lowered, not having killed her. Later over drinks they'll call him a twat and say he goes in first next time. (He's heard the others talk.) "The children," he says once, then it occurs to him that the mask must have muffled it when no one responds. "The children," he repeats, raising his voice.
"Children?" Rabastan inquires, almost genteel.
"Two brats," Barty says. "Suppose we should kill them, too. They're halfbreeds."
Children. His head throbs, and he's so, so grateful for the mask, Merlin. He's seen how hard Narcissa's been fighting to conceive a child, continue the Black line, all the potions she must take, and this woman, a pureblood, a mother, with her children --
Halfbreeds, he reminds himself. Halfbreeds, a curse upon the world, continuing a line of abnormal genetics that ought to be stamped out. Regulus nods to Barty without missing a beat. "Come on."
"You're just teenagers," the woman says. Her voice is still clogged with tears, and she can't seem to make herself look at them. "What are you doing?"
Regulus stops his path up the stairs, past her husband's body, at those words. Barty pokes him in the back with his wand. "Go on," he says.
"You're a blood-traitor," Rabastan's voice echoes loudly. "You married a Mudblood. Dare you ask?"
Regulus keeps walking, and his dragging steps and leaden stomach betraying his thoughts. Is that reason enough? They're dirty, certainly, but should they be tortured, violated? Why not simply exterminated?
As Regulus and Barty reach the top floor, Barty pulls up his mask. His thin face is flushed, his hair mussed. Regulus enjoys that; Crouch is a vain little bastard. "Hotter than Hell," he remarks. "We shouldn't have to hide. Fucking arsehole Aurors."
"Put it back on, there might be someone here," Regulus hisses, pulling his own mask up just slightly.
Barty is clearly skeptical. "Yeah, right."
"You heard about them just like I did," Regulus says, his voice low, imitating Barty's characteristic growl now that it's audible without his mask. Barty glares at the mention of the mysterious interlopers into Death Eater plans -- Dumbledore's people, no doubt, but that's just a rumor -- and jams his mask down, silently stalking into another room. Calmly, Regulus pulls down his own mask and follows Barty into the room, stopping at the sight of a small bed and chest of drawers, a mobile. A child's room.
Regulus wonders what they're supposed to do, but Barty doesn't hesitate, raises his wand, says it: "Imperio." The child -- a girl, with dark hair and ruddy cheeks -- walks forward and out of the room. The two Death Eaters follow her, Regulus wondering what the command was, until they reach the next room. There is another bed, with an older child, a boy, in it, and he breathes loudly through his mouth as he sleeps. It is the only sound in the room, until Barty's accusing voice. "You do it."
"What?" Regulus snaps back, muffled enough to not wake the boy.
"Imperio him, you idiot. Or can't you?"
It's an Unforgivable. Can he? On a child? The automatic answer is no, no, no. He knows these children are going to be killed no matter what he does. If he hopes for them, perhaps it won't be so bad. Perhaps he'll be forgiven for killing them, halfbreeds though they are, because he must. He is a Black, and he has honour to carry on. Damn the consequences. Damn decency. He must live.
He can almost feel Barty's sneer through the mask and across the room. Barty gestures for Regulus to leave the room first. Dreamily, Regulus does, now capable of doing anything, anything at all. If he can do this, then he can do anything.
There is an animal groan from the bottom of the staircase. Regulus worries it's Henry Mason, the man who appeared to be dead, until he sees the woman's leg twitch in its binding. His hex. Rabastan is laughing, and the little girl toddles down the stairs, and the woman cries, "Oh, Lucy, Lucy!"
"Quiet." Rabastan flicks a piece of hair from her face with his wand. Regulus reminds himself that she's co-mingled with a Mudblood, and these people are the reason for the slow, undeniable downfall of the purebloods and the House of Black. This is for his own good. There is no other good. "We'll kill them in front of the mother."
Barty shoves past Regulus and removes the Imperius from the girl, picking her up with some difficulty. "Lucy, is it?" he asks the girl, who stares at the white mask.
"Lucy, love," the mother sobs, twists in her constraints. Little Lucy frowns and turns to her mummy with a smile. "Mummy," she greets happily.
Regulus releases the boy, who examines the scene and hurries up to his mum. "Mummy, who are they?" the boy wheedles.
Rabastan stands to his full height, taller than his two peers. "Which first?" he says, nudging the mother when she doesn't respond.
"Me," she says, her voice firm at this. Rabastan just laughs, makes the choice for her, and casts Avada Kedavra on the boy. The light envelops him; he hits the floor, dead.
Rabastan and Barty are laughing, but they don't drown out the mother's sobs. Regulus swallows, grateful for the mask as it means they won't think less of him for not laughing (though they do consider him the humourless one). "Give me the girl," he snaps at Barty.
"Always knew you liked 'em young," Barty says, and practically shoves the girl into Regulus's arms.
"Go on," Rabastan says. Regulus knows he's got that challenging look in his eye. Always the competitor. "Best me."
Regulus goes to set the girl down. She grabs at his mask, and he half-drops her, shoving it back onto his face, but it's too late. He's not paying attention to Barty's sniggers at his apparent ineptitude. The mother has seen him, and she is staring at him in disbelief and almost vindication, through the shock. A Black. Of course a Black is here to kill her daughter. Who better?
We can do better than this, and was Sirius right, is there something better than this? Is loyalty to humanity worth disloyalty to your own?
He kills her with Cruciatus. She is a year old, would be a peer of Narcissa's inevitable child, but she dies because he will not release her from the torture spell. The mother is silent. She's accepted her fate. Regulus breathes into his mask, feeling as bound as the mother must, before yanking it off. "Kill her," he grinds out. "One of you do it."
Rabastan's head lifts to stare at him through eye slits in the mask, and he pushes up his own mask to glare properly, ruffling his slicked back hair. "You twat. You do it."
"Avada Kedavra," Regulus mocks in a falsetto, twirling his wand. "I bested you. Best me." His conscience is ripped loose of him, along with something else, something much deeper, and he releases them both. He knows what he must do. "I'm better than both of you, you know that, they told us that. I can do it if you want, but I thought one of you might rather..."
"Oh, Monsieur Black, allow me," Barty simpers, shoving him in the shoulder again, before releasing her bonds, pinning her to the floor, and slitting her throat. They laugh and push their masks down, fix their robes, charm the blood of mother and child from their shoes. They abandon her to lonely death.
Regulus makes it a point to shoot the Dark Mark over the Mason house himself. He ignores that it is Voldemort's symbol and stares up at the death's head for a moment, considering himself the serpent born from the death of man, for there is nothing he won't do for himself and his own pride.