Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

AN: And the award for longest hiatus without abandoning a fic goes to… : D

Announcement: I...am NOT dead...and neither are my fics… XD

Thank you to everyone who continues to show interest in this story and who endures my chaotic updating pattern. Now onwards!

Chapter 13: All Wrong


"I drank...too much" was the first sentence out of Regulus.

Sirius bit his bottom lip anxiously as he watched his brother slowly sit up, hair scruffled all to hell-like he'd been struck by lightning.

"Hell of a bender" he grumbled "Sev, you're s'posed to stop me from…"

Regulus fell back onto the pillow melodramatically. He blinked up at the wrong ceiling and frowned. He wasn't in the dormitory, or the hospital wing, or at home.

"Where the hell am I?" It's spoken wonderingly without any real bite. Lethargy was thick in his voice and caused a lot of halting pauses. It was obvious he wasn't all there.

"Mungo's. You're at Mungo's" Sirius replied softly.

Regulus grey eyes glanced around the room for the source of the answer. His silver eyes widened and he frowned.

"You tried to kill me with a bludger."

"What?! No!"

Clearly, there were some heavy meds in that IV.

"Yes, you did."

The tone ticked Sirius off-it reminded him of countless other scenarios. 'Who broke the vase?" which was accompanied by a finger pointing at him and a confident, snobby "he did."

"You drank a shot of the Draught of Living-"

"Tha's riiiiight. Yes. Was everybody impressed? Did we get a ton of house points?"

"Uh...yes."

Reg probably did...though Snape might've lost a few, if their fistfight was reported.

"Liar" he huffed "You never come. You weren't there."

"I was too there! Boxers, not that I needed to know that" he made a face.

"You...You wanna know something you don't wanna know?"

"Er. No, not really."

In a loud obnoxious whisper, Regulus informed him "Barty goes without."

"Ugh Reg, I don't need that image floating about my poor brain, now I'm going to have to obliviate myse-"

"Says it's luckier for Quidditch Matches. Seems dangerous to me. Going on a broomstick...without."

"Demmed uncomfortable."

"I mean, what if a bludger-"

"A transfer to the girl's dormitory would be in order."

Regulus burst with laughter until he was hiccuping.

Sirius pulled his chair closer and poured Reg a glass of water. He'd pegged his brother's chattiness as a side effect of heavy medication and no social interaction for days.

Between sips, Regulus confided "Did you know? If you go in there, the Girl's Dorm I mean, did you know? It'll dress you in drag for a day?"

"...I...did not. You find out by personal experience?"

"Obviously. End of the year dare was to acquire Georgina Stone's bra. Couldn't convince the Hogwarts house-elves to give me some of her laundry. Mum forbid me to use Kreacher for pranks-so I couldn't send him in. No, it was up to me."

"And you succeeded."

"Course I did."

"She was a" Sirius coughed "buxom bird." She'd been an upperclassman who'd garnered quite a bit of admiration from all four houses.

"Mmhmm. Cissy was jealous o' that-couldn't get her to help me either."

Sirius raised an eyebrow, was his brother immune to a lady's...charms?

As if sensing his brother's train of thought, he sighed, "I was a first-year, I didn't appreciate it at all-it was just a lacy trophy."

"Lacy?"

"Yup. With a bright red bow tween the-"

"Got it." Sirius felt the need to curb that conversation in the bud-it'd be fine later. In fact, it'd be a good, new, fairly neutral topic between them that wasn't quidditch or weather. But right now, they were at St. Mungo's and it'd be awkward to have a Med-witch enter the room, or God forbid Mummy dearest.

"And then you were stuck in drag for the day?"

"Yes! But victoriously so."

Sirius couldn't bite back the laugh at envisioning a victorious eleven year old Regulus, bra held high...in a skirt. These were the sort of hilarious anecdotes brothers were supposed to swap. He found himself wanting to share the time he and Remus (in their Third-Year) convinced Evans that an old woman at the Three Broomsticks was a hag with a taste for muggle-borns. That night he'd dressed up and scared her senseless in the Common Room. But...but he didn't know if that would trigger some 'Mudblood' nonsense.

"Yeah, most of the Professors have forgotten about it. But, it's still a toss up now whether ol' Professor Binns calls me Mister or Miss Black."

Sirius smothered a snort at that and offered, "In Gryffindor Tower, the girl's staircase turns into a slide. James and I usually compete to see who can run up the farthest on it."

Regulus frowned "well that wasn't very imaginative of Godric. You could just use a broom."

"Well, there-there's an alarm too" he tacked on a bit defensively, though...damn, why hadn't they tried that?

"What happens in the reverse?"

"What?"

"What happens if a girl goes into the boy's dormitory?"

"Nothing. There isn't a ward for-"

"Well that explains a lot. In our dorm, they grow a mustache for the day. It's a good one too, enviable."

"You plan on having a mustache?"

"It's an idea."

Regulus frowned suddenly.

"You alright?" Sirius asked-concerned that he was in pain.

Regulus stared at him for a long moment, head tilted as if thoroughly puzzled.

"Out of sorts. Hard to think, mind's all in a jumble..."

"Shall I fetch someone?"

"No pain."

"Still, perhaps we ought to error on the side of caution."

"No pain at all" he repeated as though this was a perplexing occurrence. Like he was so used to it, that the absence of it was making things surreal. "I'm usually so heavy."

"Ah, and...now you're feeling...better?"

Regulus mulled the question over, "Yes, though...I wish I had a Rememberall."

"Why's that?"

He raised an eyebrow,"Tch. I think I've forgotten something important...if I had one I'd know for sure."

Sirius knew exactly what he'd forgotten and there was no way in the seven levels of hell that he'd let him get a hold of one.

Regulus had forgotten his older brother was a blood traitor. And he was chattering away to him as easily as if he'd been Narcissa or Dad.

"I remember!"

Sirius felt his stomach drop. He waited for icy indignation and a cold 'get out.'

"You took it!"

He shook his head in bewilderment.

"Yes, yes you did. The snitch! You took it! Dad got that equipment for BOTH of us! But you took it" he repeated petulantly; eyes narrowed, lips pursed into a tight line of disapproval. A look Sirius knew all too well from committing various other heinous crimes such as: taking the last "...towel, biscuit, clean spoon, etc."

Sirius blinked as he registered his own astonishment.

Regulus had just whined at him. Whined...over something as simple and petty and inconsequential as a pilfered snitch. It offered a bizarre sort of normalcy to their conversation-it was the sort of thing that a fourteen year old should be squabbling about with his brother.

It was a subject that had nothing to do with bills, or blood supremacy, or other clashing values. It was a glimpse of Reggie, shifting uncomfortably beneath the heavy mantle of the ever-composed, terribly dignified Regulus.

"They don't sell them individually you know? Had to enchant a ping pong ball. It just doesn't fly the same," Regulus grumbled.

"I'll get it back to you" Sirius replied sincerely.

When he took it (because Peter had lost James' snitch on a particularly windy day), he really didn't think Regulus would be inconvenienced. If anything, he'd been certain it would be the final act that would prompt their parents to buy a new set.

Their gear was worn out-between the two of them (who could get viciously competitive) and the times he'd borrowed the lot of it for the marauders to play- all of the protective guards were peeling. Not to mention that one of their bludgers had a dent (from when it flew into a lamppost), and the quaffle had been repaired so many times that it was no longer round but slightly pear-shaped. His mother may not have approved of the sport, but she hated any of their belongings looking shabby.

The idea of Regulus using peeling, cracked gear and a ping pong ball...it was awfully Weasley-ish.

He frowned as he recalled the scuffed shoes and the threads trailing at the bottom of several of his robes. His mismatched quidditch gloves…

He glanced again at the trunk which in the morning light looked particularly dusty, which meant Kreacher wasn't polishing it anymore. Cutting corners, stretching galleons... that wasn't their family's way.

The Black family was flashy and stylish, with a preference for the extravagant, but not in that desperate nouveau-riche way-where each and every purchase was loudly announced to simpering sycophants. It was a quiet snobbish simply had the best of everything, and no, nothing you had was going to impress them...they already had three.

He'd had nasty rows with their Mum over it. She insisted that things were the way they were based on the natural results of good breeding. He argued that they'd amassed their wealth at the expense of others and deserved to be knocked down a peg, for arrogance if nothing else.

This was the sort of ill-luck he'd wished on them in his more vicious moments. Now that it had landed, and Reg was no longer the spoiled baby of a rich family, but the head of a household in decline and decay….Sirius felt terrible. He shifted uncomfortably as Regulus continued to glower at him. Accusatory.

"I said I'd get it back to you," Sirius repeated.

"I heard what you said. I just won't believe it."

Won't...as in not just disbelieving it...but actively refusing.

"Why?"

"'Because you're the one who said it" Regulus replied airily-as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

Sirius rolled his eyes, "You are...so frustrating."

"You're soooooo frustrating."

It was a pitiful attempt at mimicking him. His voice did NOT sound like that.

"You want to know what else is frustrating?" Regulus continued in an annoyingly nasally voice that supposedly represented his older brother "Class. It's sooooo hard to sit in a seat for an hour or two NOT bringing shame on my house. Hey I know Prongsie, let's just hang out in the Shrieking Shack until Pomfrey sends Moony over and then-"

Sirius' heart stopped, "h-how did you know-"

"I'm sooo clever nobody will ever guess I'm an animagus, even though I leave all my research on the floor of my bedroom right next to the Quidditch equipment that I horde-so my poor younger brother has to hop over dirty laundry, books, and other crap any time he wants to practice."

Little bugger was in his room. Alright so he'd also gone through Regulus' trunk and getting self-righteous about it would be like the pot calling the kettle, well...black. But it was irritating.

"I swear if you tell anyone, I'll-"

"You'll feed to me Moony? First time with a Slytherin didn't work, so try, try again?"

Sirius' teeth gnashed, "Don't you ever talk about Rem-"

"I tried everything I could to keep you from becoming such a traitor."

Sirius felt his heart plummet, Regulus remembered. It must've all flashed back to him.

"I should've known the minute I saw you get sorted into Gryffindor-"

Sirius blinked. Saw him. Saw him? Those were some powerful meds.

"Really, abandoning us all on Christmas just so you and Potter could go gallivanting about the castle? Ooooh, you discovered a way to Honeydukes! Awww, Jamesie wants to be your brother too! If he only knew how little effort you put into the position, he wouldn't have been so quick to have you."

Sirius stiffened. He'd been eleven and miserable—torn between a need for familial approval and a desire to follow his own sense of honor.

Hazel eyes had looked on him with a mixture of compassion, sincerity, and determination. 'Don't worry Sirius, we'll be as good as family. I promise. Consider yourself a Potter from now on.'

The hell? There was no way Regulus could know that. Not only were they alone. They'd been under James' cloak. In a secret passageway.

Damn, he was all gooseflesh now.

"How did you-h-how could you know-"

"I told you" his brother replied impatiently "I saw you."

"You...You didn't see me Regulus. You couldn't have." He'd been nine and at home with their family!

"Yes, I did."

"Re-"

"Seen all sorts of things. Like when Cissy had to clear out those boggarts from their attic, or when Mum had to take that Floo Traffic School class. Sometimes it's just boring stuff like Kreacher shopping. Other times it's more interesting, like when you fought off those muggles who tried to jump you. Or when you bought that motorbike from that muggle auto-Oh...wait, sorry, no, I forgot, you haven't bought it yet."

"Reggie…"

He'd just started eyeing a motorbike. Hadn't told anyone. Not even James.

"The only positive in being ill has been that I don't go anywhere, anymore. Though, again, sorry about falling on you. It's not a great alternative, but…" he sighed "Now that I'm apparently on the mend, I bet you it'll start up again." He sighed more heavily, "It's a pain in the arse coming to in weird places-I think Dumbledore and Mum are catching on. Hopefully it doesn't happen here, they'll register me for sure."


Sirius leaned against the wall staring blankly at a floral painting in a St. Mungo's hallway.

He felt guilty about it, but it had been a grand relief when the med-witch-came in with a smile and a sedative potion for Regulus.

For the first time since he'd been there, she addressed Sirius. Apparently, they needed Reg to rest a bit more and then they'd try him with an easy meal.

Sirius released a shaky breath.

It was just too much.

He was trying to process it, he really was but…

Sirius ran a hand through his hair.

Now it was very likely Regulus had gotten poisoned on account of that web of reconnaissance-which weighed more heavily than ever in Sirius's pocket.

Really, sticking his nose where it didn't belong...though it was likely what spurred him into that happy pastime was his...visions.

Yes...that was a doozy to accept.

His little brother was a seer…it did explain his growing obsession with Divination, as well as some of their squabbles. That 'I-know-more-than-you' attitude that always irked him seemed somewhat justifiable now. Maybe in some circumstances he did.

It was clear he hadn't told their family.

Mum would've been over the moon with delight to have a seer in the family. It'd been centuries since they'd had one. Everyone in the Wizarding World would have known in a matter of hours-for she'd claim it was proof of their superior bloodline.

Couldn't have told any Slytherins either, because they'd have been quick to boast about it too.

One would think Snape would have had better leverage strategically over the marauders if Regulus was sharing visions with him.

The Professors likely would have assigned him specialty classes if they were aware.

No... Regulus...turned to books...and tarot cards.

The guilt that's been gnawing Sirius for a while now is biting deeper.

He'd done a lot for Remus and his furry little problem. Had put two and two together early by sharing a dorm and classes with him. Done hours of research first on lycanthropy and then on animagi.

But he'd shared a sink with a seer for over a decade! Standing there as they brushed their teeth, with nary an inkling. It made him feel incredibly stupid. He ran both hands through his hair in frustration.

Meanwhile, Regulus had known he was an animagus for ages.

It made him feel transparent. All his fiercely guarded secrets were easily unraveled between Regulus's divining talent and keen observations.

And just a few minutes ago, if Sirius had been a little more ruthless, he could've evened the score. Reg had been open and chatty and Sirius could've pressed his advantage. Could've demanded answers about his powers, about his reconnaissance, about possible enemies.

A seer.

The shock was transforming into anxiety. The potential for exploitation made his stomach flop.

Could registering him put him in danger? It'd definitely make him an appealing candidate to the Death Eater ring.

Pureblood? Check? Prestigious family? Check. Rare talent? Check.

The Ministry would probably be hot after him too for their Hall of Prophecy. But..if they had the resources to help him master the ability-books, mentors, coping strategies. There was no telling what he'd see.

Damn. He felt overwhelmed. If only he could borrow a Mungo's owl and tell James. Then they could research this. James wouldn't tell, not if Sirius asked but...what would Regulus think? Even if it was for his own good, would he also view that as a betrayal?

But if keeping silent on the matter risked his health-if his blend of magic caused complications with the antidotes he was being given, then he needed to alert the staff.

He needed to-

"The hell is he doing here?"

Sirius stiffened and immediately turned toward the voice-hand in his pocket, wand gripped tightly.

Uncle Cygnus had stopped just twenty feet away, his back turned Sirius' way-talking to someone around the corner.

"He's worried about Regulus, I couldn't convince him to stay at Hogwarts" Alphard's voice responded.

"How the hell do we know he didn't have a hand in it?" Cygnus hissed. "Arsenic. Alphard. Arsenic. That's a muggle poison. Who'd know about it better than our muggle-loving-traitor-of-a-nephew."

Fury licked at Sirius' insides at the accusation.

"You shouldn't say things like that out in the open."

"I'm not voicing anything these staff workers haven't gossiped over already."

Alphard sighed, "Wait for the Aurors to conclude their investigation before issuing a verdict." There was a pause and then "How's your arm?"

"In pain. Reg warded the house fairly well. What about you? Your hands are blistered."

"Regulus's handiwork as well. That infernal box. He's got a nasty hex on it. Family can touch it alright, but only for so long. It's got an anti-levitational spell on it too. Has to be carried if it's going to be moved at all. Don't know how Sirius managed lugging it all the way up from the dungeons."

"I had Druella owl Lucretia. I'm sure she'll be on her way. We can have her write to Orion."

"You mean to say, you haven't written him?"

"You haven't either. When he gets out and he will, those were fraudulent charges if I ever heard them, he'll be furious about that. I am not stoking the fire by adding 'No, no one thought to check in on your family during your absence, you know aside from the age old "cleansing".' Our heads will be mounted right next to-"

"How is Walburga?" Alphard asked.

"...asleep for now. Reggie?"

Uncle Alphard sighed, "Sirius is in there with him. He'll pester you to death with questions if you dare go in."

"You haven't told him anything?" His other uncle sounded impressed.

"W-well no. It's...not really my place. He...He's well, still technically…"

"My God, Alphard, are you actually admitting it? That your golden nephew-"

"Shut it, Cyg."

"You are! I never thought I'd witness it. Oh, Alphy I'm proud of you there is still some mediocrum of loyalty in you yet."

"It's Walburga's decision" Alphard responded stiffly.

Cygnus gave a harsh laugh. "You haven't looked in on her, have you? She's right here" he gave a soft knock. "Go right in, I dare you."

"...I'm going to owl Father. He'll be furious if he hears it second-hand."

Sirius heard a pair of shoes hurry away.

Cygnus sighed softly, "Pathetic."

Sirius scarcely dared to breathe as he edged closer. So his mum was in a nearby room? The knock had sounded like it should be the first one around the corner.

A pair of high heels then approached.

"Daddy?"

Sirius could've groaned. The last thing he needed was Narcissa flouncing about.

"My flower, what are you doing here? I know you and Lucius were plann-"

"Mother informed me about the..situation here."

"Cissy, we have things perfectly under-"

"Is he awake then?"

"..."

"Have they cured him?"

"..."

"When do they plan on releasing him?"

Upon this silence, she remarked "Well then. In my estimation it seems that things are far from perfection."

Her high heels marched past him and she rounded the corner.

She froze as she saw Sirius and gripped her bouquet of flowers more tightly against her pale blue robes.

"Sirius will be in there" Cygnus called to her.

Her pink glossed lips thinned, but she responded calmly, "A burden I'll face for Reggie's sake. Mother should be arriving any moment."

"I'll go to meet her then, alright dear?"

"Yes, Daddy. I'm going to sit with Reggie."

Narcissa waited for her father to be out of earshot before hissing "What the devil do you think you are doing here? Have you no shame at all? Hasn't Regulus suffered enough without you-"

Sirius temper threatened to burst, "Regulus is getting the help he needs because of me. No one else noticed he was off. He'd still be suffering if it weren't for-"

"And this one deed erases all others. It grants immunity over all previous and future offenses. It defends the action of eavesdropping, par example?"

"He's sleeping right now" he grit out. "Don't. Bother. Him."

Narcissa didn't dignify him with an answer. Instead she swept by him, robes rustling along the floor as she moved toward the door. Though her face showed total indifference, she was careful about closing it behind her quietly.

So...his fists clenched and unclenched and clenched.

So...Mum was in this room around the corner hmm?

Well, who better to bear the brunt of his anger? Than the hag from which it stemmed.


Given the drama of the previous day, Salem found his History Exam almost soothing.

He'd arrived at the Hospital Wing prepared for a brawl. To his disappointment, he'd found the place bereft of his younger self or brother. Instead he'd found a seething Remus Lupin bandaged up to the elbows and Peter who seemed confused at best.

The habitual spark of loathing at seeing the rat alive and unpunished was only interrupted because Remus noticed him.

On seeing him, Lupin acknowledged that he was Regulus's friend (Moony always had more human decency than he and James combined) and informed him that Alphard had him taken to Mungo's.

As he'd walked away he'd overheard Peter murmur, "But...but why did Sirius go? I mean, if his Uncle was already going?"

He felt his jaw gape. His younger self had gone with them?!

Damn, he'd really mucked with this timeline! Surprising...because he hadn't felt like he'd done that much.

When Dumbledore had made it clear he wasn't going to utilize the insight of a visitor from the future, a wiser man would've found a hut somewhere in the country...even though it would've been like being imprisoned in Grimmauld Place all over again.

He ran a hand through his hair in irritation. Left...and without a thought of the exams. That was...huge. Sure, he'd often act like grades weren't a big deal, to preserve his "cool" persona, but...but his N.E.W.T. s! They were incredibly important, especially because it was his Sixth Year. He needed high marks to qualify for Auror training.

He also felt annoyed at himself for leaving an injured Remus. There'd been a time when Remus in bandages (the after effects of a particularly rough night) or curled up in distress (nightmares where he'd attacked his friends) had prompted the lot of them to stay up and wait out the night.

He'd trudged back to the Slytherin Common Room feeling disoriented with the whole situation. He was tempted to go after the lot of them, but a note had been resting on his bed.

Oddly enough, it asked him "not to interfere."

If he'd respected Dumbledore less, he'd have left last night. But he was painfully aware that the times he ignored him-led to fiascos...like this...whatever this was.

He hastily scribbled out a misspelling after realizing his mind was wandering.

He pushed the matter to the back of his mind. Tried not to feel chastised and locked out of the loop. There were so many more important things he could be doing for the Order, for James, for everyone, than taking a stupid, superfluous test. He did his best not to look at the empty chair to his left.

But if he was trapped in this era with no way to return, than he needed to establish an identity. So Rostings needed to pass his Fourth Year O.W.L.s.


Sirius had expected a sense of power or righteous indignation or swell of well-earned fury to spur him on.

If his hand had shook as he gripped the doorknob, it was because of adrenaline…of anticipation.

This was supposed to be his moment of triumph.

Her hair was down and knotted. Streaks of grey, he'd never known, colored it now. Pallid and thin, she trembled as she propped herself up as best she could.

"You've returned earlier than I expected."

Her voice though, was every bit as cold as he remembered and his anger bubbled anew.

"Did you deliver the gift to Druella like I asked?"

He blinked. The hell was she going on about?

"The chocolates? You said you were going to Diagon Alley to pick up a new cauldron." She shook her head in irritation. "I still can't believe you managed to destroy another one. That's the second one this year."

Her dark grey eyes narrowed at him, "What sort of foolish experiments are you carrying out? You're going to lose a finger or two, and you'll have no one to blame but yourself when your wand work suffers."

She waited for some scathing response that didn't come.

And then she continued, slowly, tiredly "I asked you to pick up an assortment of chocolates for Druella and Cygnus. For their wedding anniversary Sirius." She pinched the bridge of her nose "You forgot, didn't you?"

His mouth gaped slightly, this was an…altercation they'd had two? Or three? Years ago. And no, it wasn't even that he'd forgotten but rather he'd run into James who'd easily convinced him that the tin of specialty chocolates would be better appreciated over at Remus's. The Lupins seldom had any extra funds for whimsical delicacies; it all went into doctor's appointments and new possible treatments.

That and Aunt Druella was never grateful for anything. Why waste time and effort on her?

And if his memory served him well, a huge row had commenced before he stormed off to the Potters for the weekend.

He really didn't need a repeat of that with the Mungo's staff as an audience.

"Sir-"

"Yes…I…I dropped it off before noon."

Her mouth snapped shut. She watched him expectantly, several tense moments passed "And?"

He shrugged—doing his best to ignore the horrible sinking feeling in his chest. Regulus's solo trips to and from the Hogwart's Express were the result of this.

"She didn't thank you? They didn't lunch with you? Or invite you in or-"

She huffed, fingernails twisting in the bed sheet a moment before she whirled into a tirade against his Aunt. "Ungrateful. Trust a Rosier to balk at traditional etiquette. Cyg will be most displeased. I warned him when he courted her. No sense of manners. No sense period if we're honest."

His guts squirmed uncomfortably and all plans of well-deserved vengeance seemed to evaporate.

"I…" need to go. His back bumped against the doorframe.

His mother's eyes were on him again.

"Sirius."

He stiffened, because it just wasn't a tone he was familiar with.

She sounded tired, and her voice didn't ring with the authority it was supposed to. He'd been so certain she would try exacting her will on him, the moment she saw him-that she'd bark that he was crawling back to them like a beaten dog-dragging his belly across the dirt.

"Sirius, since you are back early…" she trailed off and to his shock looked apologetic "Regulus has been waiting for you. I…" she looked away "might've implied that you'd be willing to take him to the park. I think he's waiting for you in your room so you can't avoid him…" she sighed and an unwilling smile attempted to twitch the corners of her mouth.

If Sirius was honest with himself, he did feel a habitual spark of resentment. Their mother always favored Regulus.

"He's been impossible since he made that silly Slytherin team. You tell him to take off the robes though. When you go up there you say "Mother says no robes." Otherwise he will attract every muggle's attention along the way."

She must've interpreted his silence as resistance because she felt the need to tell him "You know, I had two younger brothers. And it wasn't nearly so easy. I'm not even requesting that you indulge him in a match. I'm simply…he needs to be chaperoned."

She muttered something that sounded like "walks into traffic. I try to explain the lights but..."

Sirius' throat felt oddly clogged, but he forced out an "alright."

"I don't want you boys walking home in the dark. It's dangerous... It is..." she insisted as if expecting a rebuttal. "Even for wizards" she added and then amended "Even for two of them."

"Right" he mumbled.

"Thank you, dear. I'll owl your father and let him know dinner will be a bit later."

He nodded and his hand shook again as he turned the doorknob.

It seemed that his mother just had a special talent for inflicting injury on him.

It was difficult to pinpoint exactly which part made him feel worse.

That it was possible for the two of them to have a reasonable conversation that didn't break the sound barrier.

That she'd seemed genuinely pleased with him for the first time since he'd been sorted.

That she was totally out of sorts which was why their finances were so thoroughly screwed.

Or to think of a twelve year old Regulus, broom in hand, waiting for him to come home.

Damn it all, he'd have let him wear the robes.


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