Disclaimer: I don't own Regulus or anything related to Harry Potter. I also don't own "Harder to Breathe" by Maroon 5.

Please read and review!

o0o

When it gets cold outside and you got nobody to love,
you'll understand what I mean when I say
there's no way we're going to give up.
Like a little girl cries in the face of the monster that lives in her dream,
Is there anyone out there cause it's getting harder and harder to breathe.
Is there anyone out there cause it's getting harder and harder to breathe.

It's too late.

He's in way too deep.

And the people he cares about the most don't trust him anymore.

And there is no way of getting out, of escaping the shadows of darkness that followed him everywhere.

He is running, faster and faster, away from something chasing him. Screams and shrieks of pain and torture, demented laughter fill the air. He doesn't know what is coming after him but all he knows is that he has to run far, far away.

"Avada Kedavra!"

A whoosh of air, a flash of green light.

He is gone.

Regulus Black sat straight up in his bed gasping for air, drenched in a cold sweat. His gray eyes wide open in fear frantically looking around, searching for something in the darkness.

I need to get out.

The words resounded in his head, over and over again.

I need to get out, I need to get out, I need to get out, I need to get out.

There had to be a way and he would find it.

Oh Merlin, what had he gotten himself into?

It wouldn't be long before his time ran out, before the grains of sand emptied the hourglass. He couldn't perform any of the Unforgivables. The Dark Lord and the rest of the Death Eaters assumed that it was because of his youth, because of his inexperience, lack of focus and lack of power. For the last few months since he joined the Death Eaters ranks, his friends, Bella and Stan and Dolph and Severus and Cissy and Lucius (although the blonde constantly rubbed the fact that he was weak in his face with the patented Malfoy sneer), covered for him. In fact, they particularly enjoyed torturing and controlling and killing all those who went against the Dark Lord. But he knew he couldn't keep it up forever and sooner or later, they were going to grow tired of covering up for him and one day, he would have to perform those terrible spells. He knew that he wouldn't be able to do it; he didn't have it in him.

It wouldn't be long before his time ran out, before the grains of sand emptied the hourglass.

Tick.

Tock.

Tick.

Tock.

He never wanted this life. He wasn't a killer like the rest of them and he never would be. He no longer believed in their principles, their cause. What was the point of killing fellow human beings? What was the use of causing more pain and suffering? Was it the fault of the half-bloods and Muggle-borns (not Mudbloods) out there that they were born that way? It was what Sirius had been telling him all along, although he regretted that it had taken this long for him to realize it.

Everything Voldemort stood for was wrong.

Another thing weighed on his mind. If it hadn't been for Bella and her powers of persuasion and manipulation, if it hadn't been for his parents pressuring him to honor the family the way his brother Sirius never did, if it hadn't been for Sirius who had run away and had left the burden of redeeming the family name with him, would he still have chosen this life?

No.

He could have blamed those around him, who had influenced him to make this damning decision. And yet it had been his choice, his choice alone. No one had made it for him, and now no one except him was going to help him get out of this mess.

He wasn't going to be able to trust anyone but himself.

Not Cissy.

Not Bella.

Not Stan.

Not Dolph.

Not Severus.

Most definitely not Lucius.

Hell, not even Sirius.

Being a Death Eater was a lifetime of service or death, a voice whispered delicately in his head, the words echoing over and over again.

A lifetime of service or death, a lifetime of service or death, a lifetime of service or death young Regulus.

Make your choice.

He sighed and got out of bed, rubbing a hand through his face then running it through his black hair.

Black hair like Sirius.

His brother.

A long time ago, he had wondered if his brother had made the right choice to leave his family behind. A long time ago, it had felt like he, Regulus, was in the right and his brother in the wrong. Sirius had said that he had made the right choice for himself, not for his parents, not for his friends, not for anyone except himself. He had done the opposite; he had joined Voldemort to please his parents, to please his cousins and friends and at that time, he had thought that he was dong just what Sirius had done.

Making a choice for himself.

Now he realized how wrong he had been. He had never wanted this life. As for his brother, Sirius had gotten the better end of the bargain. Despite the fact that he had been labeled a blood traitor, despite the fact that he had many numerous enemies and was constantly in danger, he had a couple of priceless things, things Regulus longed for and would never have.

He had freedom.

He had friends, no, a family that loved him in the way his blood relatives (save for some like Meda and Regulus) never would.

He was doing what he wanted to do.

He was happy.

He was living his own life, and nobody else's.

And as much as Regulus wanted those things for himself, he could never begrudge his brother for having those things. After all, Sirius deserved it.

He began to walk, pacing back and forth, back and forth like a caged animal, which in his mind he was for only animals were branded, even if the brand was a Dark Mark.

Back and forth, back and forth.

What if he never got out? What if it would never end? What if he was doomed to serve the Dark Lord forever? What if someday, if he didn't get out, he turned into Bella and the rest of them, utterly loyal to deceitful and insane man, spouting out passionate beliefs while murdering innocents?

He could see the blood on his hands. Crimson, metallic, flowing, scarlet, red.

Blood on his hands.

Blood on his hands.

Blood on your hands Regulus.

No!

A voice roared in his head, sounding uncannily like Sirius. He could almost imagine his brother standing there, holding his shoulders and shaking them to make his younger brother see his point.

Never!

His heart began to beat faster, he could hear the blood pounding in his ears.

Blood on his hands.

Blood on his hands.

His thoughts began to come more rapidly. What if he was sent to Azkaban, forever to reside with the Dementors? What if he died fighting for a cause he didn't believe in? What if everyone turned their backs on him when they discovered that? They wouldn't turn their backs that quickly, a crazed voice in his head laughed hysterically. They would torture me slowly first then kill me before turning their backs. What if -

Calm down, another voice in his ordered, this time sounding like his Dad.

Deep breaths son, deep breaths.

Regulus' breathing slowed as he took deep, even breaths.

Dad always knew how to calm him, no matter how disastrous things seemed. If anything, Regulus was glad he hadn't heard his mother's voice in his head; if he had heard her, he would have been absolutely certain that he had gone insane.

He stopped his nervous pacing, his eyes flickering to the pile of papers on his desk, the pile he had been perusing before going to bed.

His father's Gaunt file.

Because of that file and because of his father's work as a historian, he had discovered a great many things about his master, things Voldemort had never and probably would never share with his followers.

For instance, did Bella know that her beloved Master was a half-blood, not a pureblood as he had led everyone to believe?

Did Lucius know that the Dark Lord was killing his own kind?

Maybe Dolph didn't know that the great Voldemort had grown up in an orphanage?

He could imagine telling them these things right now.

Stan, perhaps you didn't know that his real name is Tom Marvolo Riddle? You didn't really think his mother gave him the name Voldemort did you?

And Severus, I'm quite sure you didn't know that our master split his soul into seven pieces and created Horcruxes. You do know what Horcruxes are right? I mean, you being the Dark Arts fanatic and all.

It was actually quite amusing to imagine their faces go from varying degrees of shock and denial, if it weren't so terrifying to imagine how Voldemort would torture him for betraying his trust (not that the man trusted him) and undermining his authority.

The man was not only evil but was also creative.

The part that he wondered about the most was that if the rest of his fellow Death Eaters found out, would they still follow him or would they just abandon him?

He was betting on the former; they loved torturing innocents and causing havoc more than anything else in the world.

He decided to read the files again, knowing that sleep would never come to him and if it did, nightmares of green lights and screams and shrieks and laughter would follow.

As he sat down to go over them again, he reached a decision.

Serving Voldemort was a lifetime of service or death. There was absolutely no way he was going with the former, so when death took him, he wanted a piece of Voldemort to come with him. He wouldn't be able to bring the Dark Lord down, no, that honor wouldn't be his. But he would be able to help those who would come after him to do so.

Voldemort would become more of a man and less of a god.

Much easier to defeat.

And when the others would hear of his betrayal, Bella and Lucius and Cissy and Stan and Dolph and Severus and the rest of them, they would think of him as nothing but dirt but he would matter in the eyes of the people he had always cared about the most, the ones who would always love him unconditionally, no matter what side he was on.

Maybe then Sirius would finally be proud of him.

Maybe Meda would finally be able to accept him and forgive him.

Even if he was just a corpse, even if he would and could never be able to tell them what exactly it was he had done.

Absently, he noted that the moonlight was streaming through his window and bathing half of his bedroom in radiance. He hoped that Fenrir Greyback wasn't out there killing and biting innocents even if he probably was.

A cold shiver went down his spine. Times had certainly changed. Had he still been in Hogwarts, he would have worried about his brother and his little escapades with his friends come the full moon.

In the distance, he heard the roar of a Muggle motorbike. He smiled reminiscently, remembering his mother's reaction when Sirius had brought his 'baby' home. A part of him hoped that the person on that motorbike was his brother, although the other more sensible part of him knew it was wishful thinking. Sirius had run away at the age of sixteen, swearing that he would never come back again. What reason would he have to come back? Certainly not his parents and certainly not his Death Eater brother.

He could still remember how disappointed his older brother had been when he had found out he had failed in making his beloved younger brother see the light. Sirius had tried so hard, had even begged him to leave, something so uncharacteristic of him that he had realized how important it was.

Sirius had begged.

To come away with him, to leave the family, to be together, to find a way to leave it all behind.

He had refused even if deep in his heart, he wanted nothing more to say yes. Looking back, he should have.

But now it was too late.

Staring at the full moon he was certain that Sirius was with his friends now, helping Remus and whatnot. Sure, he might be with a werewolf but at least he was with the people he considered to be his family.

At least he was free.

And soon, he, Regulus Arcturus Black, would be free as well.

Is there anyone out there cause it's getting harder and harder to breathe...

FIN

o0o

There you go! Please read and review! Thanks: