Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
A/N: Recently discovered the rest of this story on my hard drive. And wow is it a monster.
"My Lord," Regulus whispered with the rest.
"I am displeased with the news lately come to me," Voldemort said. "One wonders what it takes to defeat a group of Mudbloods and blood traitors. Severus."
Snape stepped forward. His eyes were trained on the ground. "My Lord—"
"Your task was to destroy Soleil. You succeeded." Voldemort paused, and Snape waited with bated breath to hear if he was to be condemned further. "And yet when you encountered Order resistance, you did not kill nor maim nor take prisoners. Why is that?"
"We were surprised by the ferocity of the attack," Snape replied, his eyes on the ground.
"Indeed." Voldemort waved a waxy hand and Snape stepped back into line. "Regulus, why were we not informed of this development?"
Regulus fixed his eyes on the bridge of Voldemort's nose. He had to choose his words carefully to avoid the Cruciatus curse Voldemort was itching to cast on him.
"The Order was unaware of the attack on Soleil, my Lord. I confess that it was a…coincidence that the engagement party happened there."
"Coincidence." Voldemort licked his lips, tasting Regulus' unease. "You know how I despise that word, Regulus."
"Yes, my Lord." He held himself rigid, waiting for the attack he knew would come.
The curse was whispered, but that didn't make it any less horrific. Years of being in the Death Eaters had taught him to take a Cruciatus without any screaming. He sank to his knees, limbs twisting in absolute agony under the continuous onslaught. Regulus bit through his lip, and tasted fresh, coppery blood.
Voldemort let up the curse, bored perhaps, and turned his attention to his next employee. "Nott, do you have news on our Seer?'
Nott gave a curt bow. "We have been able to locate her, my Lord. She is in Brighton, hiding in a seaside cottage."
Voldemort's lips curled into a devious smile and he flicked his finger at Regulus. "Approach."
Limp as a newborn kitten, Regulus dragged himself to a standing position on trembling legs. Regrettably, there were mud stains on his nice black silk robes. He'd have to get them steam-cleaned at Mrs. Potts'.
He mentally prepared himself, shifting memories of tortured victims and Ministry paperwork to the front of his mind. Regulus pictured a steel box, placed his Order memores into it, and moved directly in front of Voldemort.
Regulus barely breathed as he stepped close enough to the Dark Lord to see the absence of pores on his snake-like skin.
"I want you to question the Seer and retrieve the prophecy. Bring Bellatrix."
"You don't want Bella to question the Seer?" Regulus asked, and then immediately regretted it.
Voldemort glowered. "If I had wanted Bella to do it, I would've said so. Bella?"
"Yes, my Lord?" She stepped forward, practically writhing with excitement. "What do you wish for me to do?"
"Go with your cousin and retrieve the prophecy from the Seer."
"Yes, my Lord."
Regulus backed up quickly, allowing Bella's hand to close vice-like over his arm. He inclined his head. "We will return shortly."
They turned and Disapparated.
Being a spy was really more like playing a never ending round of strip poker.
You winced every time it was your turn to go to bat, and prayed to God that today would not be the time that you would fuck up, that your poker face would be good enough to fool your fellow players.
Except consequences would be far worse than everyone seeing your goblin printed boxers—not that Regulus had any of those, even as a gag gift from his bloody brother.
And the stakes were far bigger than a pile of Galleons.
It was a miracle he had lasted this long, against everyone's expectations. They hadn't expected him to be completely for the movement, to go against the pureblood teachings of his parents. Naturally, it was expected of Sirius to join the minute he had gotten wind of Voldemort's intentions, idiotic Gryffindor that he was. But Regulus's involvement had been a bit of a shock to the die-hard proud blood traitors that filled the ranks of the Order of the Phoenix.
And he really didn't blame them; he had honestly shocked himself by asking Sirius how one went about fighting Voldemort.
No one had trusted Regulus the minute he had stepped into headquarters, the interested companion of an over the moon Sirius, who had been delighted that his baby brother had supposedly "saw the light". Paranoid glares and mutters followed in their wake as Sirius led Regulus to Albus Dumbledore, many convulsively grabbing at their wands as if Regulus was about to snap and hex the lot of them.
He sneered back, hurt and offended by the heavy suspicion on the white side of the fence.
What, did they think he was a spy for Voldemort?
Apparently, yes, they did.
In fact, Alastor Moody had gone so far as to snag him with a Body-Bind Curse, right as Regulus had courteously extended his hand to the venerable Hogwarts Headmaster.
Neither Dumbledore nor Regulus had been pleased about that.
He and Moody still did not get along to this day, even after Regulus had continually proved himself, time and time again. And if the suspicious gaze smarted a little every time he went to report his findings, so be it. He knew he was a spy for Dumbledore and not truly the Death Eater most of society assumed him to be. He had saved people's lives, damnit. That would have to be enough to placate his wounded ego.
A wailing shriek punctured his thoughts, and Regulus was rapidly pulled back to the present, and the wriggling, moaning woman on the ground. Her eyes rolled back in her head, and she screamed loudly, her mouth dropping open like the cavernous opening of a black hole.
Bellatrix Lestrange tossed her dark, lustrous, shining hair back and let out a high girlish laugh.
"Crucio." Pause. "Crucio." Pause.
"Help me," the woman said weakly, and turned her attention to Regulus, whom she subconsciously seemed to recognize as an ally. "Please." She curled her fingers around the heavy, expensive black cloth of his Death Eater robes.
"Don't touch me, you stupid Mudblood," Regulus snapped and moved away, letting her collapse onto the ground.
Bellatrix watched this exchange closely and allowed her full red lips to form a satisfied smile.
"I think I should teach her a lesson," she said, dark eyes glittering, a hint of excitement lacing her words. "Crucio."
Regulus inwardly cringed at the painful drawn out screams, but gave a pleased smile at the woman's pain, waiting until he could carefully broach the subject of stopping the torture.
Bellatrix giggled nastily, as the woman went limp.
"You didn't kill her, did you?" Regulus said in a tone of bored casualness. He nudged her with the toe of his boot. "Wake up, bitch."
She stirred slightly, but her eyes remained closed, probably fearful of what would transpire if she did awaken.
"I'll wake her up," replied Bellatrix eagerly, and twirled her wand. "Crucio."
The hoarse scream that ripped from the woman's throat quickly dismissed any notion that she was dead.
"That'll be enough, Bella," Regulus said finally. "Haven't you had your fun? Anymore of that, and she'll be completely useless."
Bellatrix, her concentration broken, turned her head sharply and regarded him with deep-set hooded eyes. "Getting soft, dear cousin?"
"Hardly." He turned to leave. "I know when to put the Dark Lord above my…personal indulgences. You want to play, Bella, do it on your own time."
Her eyes flashed with bright anger. "How dare you! I am the Dark Lord's most faithful servant! Everything I do, I do to please him."
"Then you won't mind allowing me to finally question her, like the Dark Lord ordered me to," Regulus said, putting special emphasis on the last words, knowing that they would be the trigger to stop his cousin.
"Go ahead," Bella said, lifting her chin. She waved a slender hand toward the ground. "I want to watch."
Of course you do.
"You can't," he said flatly. "The Dark Lord's orders were for me only. Leave."
"You dare order me?" she said, voicing rising with every word. "Me, who brought you into the sacred ranks in the first place? I am his most trusted confidante."
"Really?" he queried sardonically.
"The Dark Lord would never trust you over me," Bellatrix insisted passionately.
"Be that as it may," Regulus began delicately, smirking. "Leave."
"You will pay for your insolence," she hissed. "I will not forget this slight, cousin or not."
He gave her a mocking deferential bow, and watched as she furiously whirled away in a hurricane of swirling black cloak.
"She never did like to share," Regulus remarked aloud, to an audience of no one.
The woman was once again passed out, the stress of each consecutive torture session apparently being too much for her system to bear.
He stared down at her broken body, and wondered, what am I going to do? He knew, of course, what he was supposed to do: interrogate the woman and then kill her after. No body, no accusations.
Neat. Quick. Easy.
It could be the Death Eater's motto.
And as callous as it seemed, his mission for the Order did not usually involve saving any of Voldemort's victims. Spying was an already dangerous vocation, and Regulus didn't need any more potential risks. Even he could not talk his way out of a situation that involved him, and a rescued victim. From a purely tactical standpoint, he was much more valuable than any of Voldemort's victims. They lost him, they lost valuable insight into Voldemort's movements, and the Order did not have anyone with his credentials.
Regulus knew it very well, and was always reminded of it at times like these, when shoved up against a rock and a hard place. It was times like these that his conscience screamed to just get out of the spy business and move to Majorca. But the part of his brain that adhered to duty always silenced it, and he listened to that part now, promising himself that he could agonize on how he had ended up living a double life some other time.
He swallowed hard, and forced himself to focus on the task at hand. Distractions were always dangerous.
Now…the question still remained: what was he going to do?
If the woman had been an Order member, he would have been able to save her, and pin the blame on someone else, like he did when he rescued Peter last December.
If wishes were fishes.
He quickly ran through a list of possible scenarios, discarding them as quickly as they came to mind. Regulus was sure that he would be able to get information out of her without having to resort to physical violence, but he was starting to think that the woman was going to die, no matter what he did.
Well, Regulus thought bitterly, his face twisted into a sardonic frown, one had to make sacrifices for the greater good.
It just so happened that it wasn't him this time.
"Enervate," he said harshly, jabbing his wand at her prone body.
Her eyelids rose slowly and her eyes widened in fear as she took in his angry profile.
"Don't kill me," she whispered.
He set his jaw, and ignored her.
"Name," Regulus snapped.
The simple act of recalling and saying her name drained her, and she closed her eyes again, falling back into unconsciousness.
"Enervate," Regulus said, putting a little more force into the spell than was strictly necessary.
Natalia didn't move at all.
The only link to the prophecy, and his lunatic cousin had broken the Seer's mind beyond repair.
Just great, he grumbled to himself. Now what the hell am I supposed to do with her?
Plan A, bring her back to the Death Eaters. Explain the whole Seer-lost-her-mind situation. Voldemort attempts to draw information out by torturing her and fails. She dies.
Plan B, bring her to St. Mungo's and have them try to fix her mind. Arouse extreme suspicion on his part. Voldemort kills him after a torture session in which he reveals all of the Order's secrets.
Plan C, adhere to his orders from Voldemort. Kill her himself. Endure the suspicion when the Order asks why yet another victim has died. Tell them that he is not God.
I need a vacation.
Regulus rolled up his sleeves, exhaled sharply and looked at the woman. She was practically dead already. He was just sealing the deal.