Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Harry Potter or anything written by Shakespeare.
A/N: This is my take on how Regulus died. I hope you enjoy. Also, thanks to MiSa-PiVe, theturtlemoves and Kaleidoscope for reviewing 'Harder to Breathe'. Even if this is its sequel, or rather companion piece, it's not necessary to read that one in order to understand this one, but I would appreciate it if you guys did too and left a review. Thanks and please review!
It was done.
His fate was sealed.
Death was coming for him.
And at the same time, he was free.
Regulus Black strolled down the sidewalks of London, protecting himself from the rain with an umbrella. He could have cast a spell easily but he was in Muggle London and he didn't want to spend his last hours in the Ministry explaining what he did.
A few hours before, he had stolen a piece of the Dark Lord's soul, a Horcrux.
The moment he had entered the cave, his fate had been sealed. He had been terrified, but determined.
Maybe there was a reason the Sorting Hat had considered putting him in Gryffindor alongside his brother.
Then he had gone back to home, to Grimmauld Place and had hidden it in a stash of his mother's Dark Objects. Aside from the fact that the Black residence was Unplottable and was protected by numerous spells, charms and wards, he was pretty sure Voldemort wouldn't be looking for his Horcrux there.
However, just because he didn't know where to look didn't mean that he wouldn't know or find out who had taken it.
Which meant that Regulus Arcturus Black had around 24 hours, maybe even less to enjoy his freedom.
He was going to die but he was a free man.
It didn't matter that he was going to die because for the first time in his life, he didn't need to answer to anybody but himself.
He was a free man.
It was an exhilarating feeling, feeling alive, feeling bliss, of wanting to do anything and everything, or wanting to go beyond the boundaries and limitations of the world, of taking note of every little detail around him that he would never have noticed.
The happiness in the man's deep cerulean eyes in a world filled with sadness.
The refreshing beauty of the woman's smile in a world full of sorrow.
The infinite warmth of a child's laugh.
It was like being a terminally ill patient, realizing that suddenly, nothing else matters and nothing can stop you from doing what you want to do, not society, not your enemies, not your family, no one.
A whole window of opportunities open to you.
Climb Mt. Everest? Why not?
Travel around the world? Who's to stop you?
Freedom at long last.
That day, it was raining and absently he wondered if it was because Nature was mocking the fact that he was free by giving him depressing weather on what was sure to be the last day of his life or it was mourning in advance for what was to come. It would be fun to just stand in the rain and let the raindrops seep into his clothes, play in it like he and Sirius had done as children. He could still remember the fun they used to have when they were younger, when things were simpler, when they were just children, brimming with innocence.
Or at least Regulus was. He wasn't so sure about Sirius.
No mater how many times their mother yelled at them for not acting like honorable Black children despite the fact that they were children, no matter how scared he had been of having to face his mother's anger again, Sirius had always been able to find ways to persuade his younger brother to join in on the fun.
The same way he persuaded Regulus to do other 'fun' things, like having snowball fights and playing pranks on Kreacher.
Oddly enough, the last time he could remember doing it with his brother was in Sirius' last year in Hogwarts and like times past, he had been able to convince Regulus to play in the rain with him, telling him that it was the last time they were going to be able to enjoy it together, before they headed out into the world on different sides of the war.
The last time they could act freely as brothers again.
Regulus wished he could do it now, if only to feel innocent and young again, unaware of the dark times and troubles that had taken over the world. He would if he could but he didn't want to look like a fool in front of all these Muggles, hopelessly immature. The moment he stepped into the rain would probably be when they started pointing and staring. After all, who in their right mind would want to be soaked by the rain when they had an umbrella?
Then suddenly, he stopped and nearly laughed at his stupidity.
He was going to die soon and here he was, giving himself reasons on why not to stand in the rain.
Damn what the Muggles thought.
Damn what the world thought.
He had always been sick and tired of respecting all of his family's rules, following all of Voldemort's orders, living within the boundaries and limits of the pureblood elitist society. But like the good boy that he was, he did anyway. In that sense, he and his brother were quite alike, both of them hating having to follow senseless laws. It was also in that sense the Black brothers differed; Sirius had always had the courage to break them while Regulus always found himself following them despite himself in order to please others.
Dance in the rain? Why don't you?
With that thought in his head, he closed his umbrella and lifted his face to the rain.
It felt good, he realized. He had missed this, feeling the raindrops soak his clothes, the water washing over his body until he could feel the coldness in his very bones. It had been so long since he had felt this good, this peaceful, this alive.
Ironic, he thought amusedly, that it was when he was nearest death that he felt most alive.
All of a sudden he had the urge, the need to see his brother.
But at the same time, he didn't want to bring danger at his brother's door if the Death Eaters, possibly even Voldemort came looking for him.
Standing in the rain and remembering him would have to do.
Suddenly a thought enters is mind, unbidden.
This must be how Sirius felt everyday.
Everyday since the day he had been sorted into Gryffindor, since the day he had left home, since the day he had signed up for Auror training, since the day he had joined the Order.
After a few minutes of just standing there, ignoring the predictable stares of the Muggles, he decided he wanted to go to Diagon Alley, to the bookshop where the search for the Horcrux had begun.
If anything, it would be nice to die surrounded by books and the infinite knowledge of those who had come before him.
He began to walk towards the Leaky Cauldron, leaving the umbrella and the Muggles in his wake.
After soaking in the rain, it was great to feel nice and warm again.
He stood inside the quiet bookstore near the end of Diagon Alley. It wasn't as popular as Flourish and Blott's so it was quiet, just the way he liked it. He walked around, surveying the books around him, inhaling the smell of parchment all around. If there was ever a place he felt most calm, most at peace, it was here.
If this was where he died, so be it. Yesterday he had been terrified. Now there was nothing but calmness.
Unlike the other bookstores in Diagon Alley, this was a unique one in the sense that it had some Muggle literature. Despite the fact that the Blacks were purebloods and wanted nothing to do with Muggles, Muggleborns and even half-bloods, that never stopped Regulus from perusing the contents of those books when he was young whenever his father brought him there.
It was one of the only times he could remember directly disobeying his parents.
His father had found out but being the scholar that he was, being a man of learning and knowledge, he let his son read them and kept it a secret from his wife.
As Regulus stared at that section right now, his mind unconsciously remembered some of his favorite lines from William Shakespeare.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
The world was simply a stage and no matter how powerful one could become, no matter how lowly, every single person as still a player in the great play of life.
And like every play, every life would come to an end.
It was only a matter of time.
Maybe his brother and his friends would live to become 101.
Regulus knew he wasn't even going to reach his 19th birthday.
What would it be like to die? Was it as simple as going to sleep? Would it hurt?
He didn't have to wonder for long.
What would it be like?
And oh, the sheer number of roles he had played in this drama we all call life.
He had played the obedient son, following his parents' every whim no matter how much he disliked it.
He had played the diligent student, earning even higher marks at Hogwarts than his brother and his cousins.
He had played the loyal follower, albeit unwilling to destroy lives like his fellows did.
He had played the younger brother, loving and respecting Sirius as they went their separate ways.
What was he?
A traitor? A man who had redeemed himself? A fool?
A free man and nothing more, nothing less.
"Did you think you could escape me?"
Regulus whirled around, hearing the hiss of loathing and contempt.
Whirling around, he saw Voldemort. He had no idea how the man, if he could still call his former master that, had gotten in without anyone seeing him. Then again, it didn't really matter.
The time had come at last.
"No." he replied calmly.
"You will pay for what you did." He laughed, a sadistic smile on his face, anticipating a kill.
"Then so be it, Tom." Regulus emphasized fiercely.
He wasn't going to grovel, he wasn't going to plead. He wasn't going to run, he wasn't going to hide.
He was going to take his death honorably, standing strong without fear.
Voldemort laughed again. "Fool. You think bravery will save you from your death? You think it matters to me that you call me by that despicable name? Nothing you say or do will change your fate Black."
He smiled humorlessly. "I didn't think so. Not even if I told you where it was?" He asked, bating him.
"Not even." Voldemort replied, smirking.
"Then this is it then, because there's absolutely no way I'm telling you where it is." He replied firmly.
"Just one last thing before you die Black. Why did you take it? What did you hope to gain for yourself other than an early death?" The Dark Lord asked curiously, a morbid fascination in his voice.
Regulus shrugged. "Nothing for myself except freedom. I took it in the hope that someday, someone will bring you down. That honor might not be mine but at least I did my part."
Voldemort roared in laughter. "Then you are a noble fool, a greater one than I had thought. You could have had everything, power, money, anything and everything."
This time it was Regulus' time to laugh. "Because you would be willing to share it with the rest of your followers, people who are blind to see the truth, people who follow mindlessly while leaving behind murdered innocents in their wake. I would be an even bigger fool to believe that you would share anything with us, much less if I were to even follow your principles."
Voldemort shook his head ruefully. "You had such potential, much unlike your brother. Now you prove me wrong, showing to me that you are every bit as foolish and stupid as he is."
"He is neither stupid nor foolish. I believe you have the honor of having those characteristics, as does everyone else who follows you."
"Perhaps, but I'm not the one heading towards my death." He countered.
"Perhaps, but at least I am a free man." Regulus replied evenly, sensing that it would be his last words.
"Only history will be the judge of who is a greater fool. Avada Kedavra!"
A flash of green light, then darkness.
As he falls, he can see it in his mind's eye, can hear it somewhere in his mind.
The play was coming to an end; he was leaving the world behind.
He could see it in his mind's eye.
The crowd is silent and darkness pervades everything, save for the spotlight on the young man, the young man about to give his final bow.
All eyes are him, watching and waiting.
All they know is that the play, like life, has reached its end.
Slowly but surely the curtains begin to close and this young man stares out into a sea of faces he doesn't recognize, unafraid, faces the darkness with strength and honor.
With grace and dignity, he takes one last bow.
The curtains close.
Then there is nothing but the audience and their applause.
Then there is nothing but the light.
I know it might seem odd or out of place that Voldemort would still talk to Regulus and ask him why he did it but I think that he would because Regulus was the first to betray him, or at least the first one he was aware of so Snape's not counted. Regulus was also the only one who knew about the Horcruxes so I imagine that might have aroused his interest.
Thanks for reading and please review!