Mother says if we don't drink it, we'll be sorry. We're always sorry when Father comes home.
Sirius won't drink his milk. He says it tastes bad. 'It's sour and old,' he says. Sirius won't eat the soup. 'It has maggots,' he says. Mother says to belt up, or he will be very sorry.
I don't think Sirius will ever be sorry. 'I won't drink it,' he says. He won't drink it when Mother tells him he will be sorry. He won't drink it when Mother slaps him. He still won't drink when she pours it over his head. He sits and stares at the wall. I can see his eyes moving, and I know he is playing the Game in his mind. Counting cracks, naming colours. How big is Auntie Elphira's bum? Where did the brown bump on Mum's nose come from? How many hairs on Kreacher's ears?
That's the Game.
Mother gives him another glass, another chance. She looks at me, and I finish my milk. It's lumpy and tastes like the maggots in the soup. The ones Sirius won't eat.
'Regulus is a good boy,' says Mother. She gives me more milk. 'Regulus does as his mother tells him to. Regulus drank his milk and ate his soup, didn't he?'
I am playing the Game in my head. Twenty two cracks in the wall. The curtains are gray, the wall stone. Sirius has black hair and gray eyes like the curtains. Mother's mole is the colour of a dirty nappy. It's as big as the moon, which I never get to see. Only big boys can go outside and see the moon. Sirius showed me a photograph in a book once.
'Regulus is going to be ill again,' says Sirius, and he pushes the milk on the floor. He will be sorry now. Mother will make him sorry, and Father will make him sorry. I would be sorry for him, if I could. I would drink the milk that tastes like sick and then he could show me the photograph of the moon; we could laugh about Mother's mole and Auntie Elphira's big bum. We could put the maggoty soup in Kreacher's knickers.
I'm playing the Game again, because if I don't, I have to listen to Sirius crying and Mother screaming.
My bowl has two cracks in it; Sirius spills his soup on Mother's dress.
The milk is lumpy and yellow; Mother is pushing him to the sink.
There are four maggots wriggling on the floor; I wonder if I can sneak them to my room and make them soldiers.
The sink is full of soapy, gray water; Sirius chokes as Mother pushes him under.
Sirius's face is pink like the soap in Mother's toilet; I can hear Father on the stairs.
'What's all this, then?'
The Game is up. Sirius coughs and falls, but Mother catches him. 'The boy won't drink his milk,' she says, and dries his face with a flannel. 'The boy won't eat his soup.'
There is a maggot squirming by my chair. If I bend down, I can reach it. I could put it in my pocket to play soldiers with later.
'You'll be sorry, boy.'
Sirius says he will not. He says he doesn't care; he won't drink that nasty milk, and the soup's got maggots in it. Father says he will be sorry, and Mother says he will be sorry, and I think my maggot is sorry I put it in my pocket, because it's moving around like it wants to get out.
I look at Sirius again to let him know I have the maggot for our soldier game. He is staring at the spilt milk. He won't lick it off the floor when Mother tells him to. Mother always has the very worst ideas. He won't eat a maggot when she tries to push it into his mouth. He says he will never be sorry.
Never, ever, ever.
I just play the Game again.