AUTHOR'S NOTE: I know it has been a while. University kept me busy. I hope it has been worth the wait.
Godric's Hollow, 10 am, July 4 1979
Regulus was relieved that he and Sirius finally found some common ground, even though he still had to convince him of the truthfulness of his information. Sirius and Regulus had silently finished the bacon Lily had prepared for them, before Sirius went to talk to James about Order business. Regulus had assisted Lily in washing the dishes. Suddenly Regulus heard two loud bangs outside the cottage. Obviously two wizards had Apparated nearby. While Regulus left the kitchen for the living room, Lily went to the hallway to welcome the visitors. Regulus heard Lily open the front door as James and Sirius entered the living room too.
"Hello, Albus. Hello, Alastor. Come in", Regulus heard Lily say.
From her greeting Regulus figured that Moody and Dumbledore had finally arrived, hopefully to corroborate his story. He listened to the conversation in the hallway.
"Good morning, Mrs. Potter. I'm sorry it took so long for me to get to Godric's Hollow, but Alastor had some trouble locating me. You know how careful the International Confederation of Wizards is when it comes to conferences. They are top secret", Dumbledore answered.
"Yes, I know. It's a pity that I can't offer you breakfast. I've just gotten rid of the leftovers", Lily said.
"Never mind. We have very serious business to discuss. It is important that I interview Regulus Black at once", Dumbledore said.
"He hasn't escaped, has he?", Alastor Moody asked suspiciously.
"No, he's still here", Lily answered.
"Good, release him and bring him to the living room", Moody replied.
Lily opened the door to the living room, allowing Dumbledore and Moody to enter the room before she herself did.
Moody looked at Regulus, who wasn't at all restrained, and his eyes widened visibly with shock.
"By Merlin. Why isn't that boy restrained! Haven't you heard what I told you the day before last! This man is a risk to everyone's safety! He could have escaped, or even worse, killed you both!, Moody bellowed.
Regulus saw to his disappointment that Sirius nodded in agreement, but James stepped forward.
"Regulus here hasn't tried to escape. He has been a very helpful guest", James said.
Moody mumbled to himself as he shook his head. Dumbledore hadn't said a word.
Dumbledore looked at Regulus and a friendly smile appeared on his face.
"So you are Regulus Black. I remember seeing you walk around the corridors at Hogwarts. God, how many times did I think you were Sirius. Only the Slytherin attire could tell the two of you apart. How are you?", Dumbledore said while he extended his right hand to Regulus.
Regulus shook Dumbledore's hand and said: "I'm fine, thank you Professor".
Dumbledore's smile disappeared and he said: "I have come to talk to you about the information you have provided to Alastor".
"Do you know what a Horcrux is?", Regulus asked Dumbledore.
"Yes, I know what a Horcrux is, Regulus", Dumbledore said gravely.
"Then you know how dangerous the Dark Lord is, with this Horcrux at his disposal?", Regulus asked.
"Yes and that is why I want to thank you and commend you for your courage to bring it to my attention. Myself, the Order of the Phoenix and the entire Wizarding World are greatly indebted to you", Dumbledore told him.
A bit overwhelmed by Dumbledore's praise Regulus gazed across the room. James was sofly shaking his head, the real danger of the situation dawning on him. A frown had emerged on Lily's face. Moody was staring in front of him grimly. Regulus looked at his brother, who looked as if he saw hell freezing over.
Sirius snapped out of his reverie and asked Dumbledore: "You mean it's true what he has been telling you?"
"Can you tell me more about the Horcrux itself, Regulus?", Dumbledore asked.
"Kreacher, my house elf, told me it was a locket of some sorts", Regulus answered.
"Do you know where it is hidden?", Dumbledore asked.
"Yes, It is in a seaside cave, along the North Sea I think", Regulus told him.
"Thank you for providing us with this information, Mr Black. Hopefully we can destroy the Horcrux soon", Dumbledore said.
"What can I do to help?", Regulus asked.
"At the moment it would be best for you to stay here. Destroying a Horcrux can be dangerous, Mr Black. Voldemort may have cursed the locket. It is better for someone with experience to try and destroy it", Dumbledore told him.
"One more question, Professor. Could you provide protection for my parents? They live at number 12 Grimmauld Place in London", Regulus said.
"Of course I can protect your parents. Running from Voldemort is a big step and dangerous to both oneself and to one's direct environment. I will tell Alastor to put your parents' house under guard", Dumbledore said.
As Dumbledore retired to tell Alastor to arrange protection, Regulus thought about his conversation with Dumbledore. Regulus was a bit disappointed about Dumbledore taking over the quest to destroy the Horcrux. He didn't come this far to sit idly waiting for the Hocrux to be destroyed. He wanted to do something. Now that he has seen the Dark Lord's horrible ways, he wanted nothing more than bring him down. But Dumbledore was right of course. What could Regulus do? He was still a sixth-year pupil at Hogwarts.
As he was thinking Regulus felt a burning sensation on his left arm. His Dark Mark had been activated and the Dark Lord was calling him. Should he answer?, Regulus wondered. His parents and Kreacher didn't know about him being here and if he answered the Dark Lord would be left in the dark about his allegiance. At least he wouldn't go after them to punish Regulus. But if he answered he would squander his only opportunity to make up with Sirius and to contribute to the fight against the Dark Lord. Also, Regulus was tired of being a slave to that monster. No longer did he wish to answer the Dark Lord's every whim. Regulus wanted to be free. Free of the Dark Lord and free of the guilt that was gnawing at him, the guilt of not having helped Mrs. Thornton. Regulus would not answer the call. After a couple of minutes the burning sensation subsided.
Alastor Moody left the Potter home to make the arrangements Dumbledore had requested. The rest of the day went by idly until supper. While the others discussed the latest news and exchanged rumours Regulus's mind wandered off to Anne Thornton and what she must be going through. He wondered whether she slept as uncomfortably as he did? Probably worse than he did, Regulus thought. For the past few months Regulus had often thought of visiting her and explaining his part in her parents' death, but he was afraid that she would get angry with him. She had every right to be, but it wouldn't make it easy for him to confess his crime to her. But now that Dumbledore had taken the quest for the Horcrux out of Regulus's hands he had plenty of time to visit her.
Regulus decided to confide in Dumbledore: "Professor, have you heard of the murder of Francis and Jackie Thornton, the parents of Anne Thornton?"
Dumbledore put down the glass of pumpkin juice he was holding and answered: "Yes, I do. Alastor has told me you were a witness. You were unable to prevent Mrs. Thornton from being killed".
Regulus grimaced and said: "I feel terribly guilty about having done nothing. I can't put it out my mind and not a day goes by without me thinking about it".
Dumbledore nodded his head in understanding and said: "And now you want to talk to her and tell her about your failure to save her parents?"
Regulus nodded and said: "Professor, do you think that she will ever forgive me for my evil?", Regulus asked.
"Mr Black, you speak of evil, but if you were truly evil you wouldn't feel any remorse. I think Ms. Thornton is greatly upset about the death of her parents, but hopefully she will listen to you. After all it doesn't happen every day that a Death Eater comes clean with his crimes", Dumbledore said.
While Dumbledore Disapparated, no doubt to work for the Order, Regulus got up from his seat and walked to James and asked: "Can I have my wand returned to me. I'm leaving and I need to Apparate".
James reached for the pocket in his shirt and handed Regulus his wand, saying: "Of course you can have your wand. You're not dangerous anymore. Where are you going, if I may ask?", James asked.
Regulus took the wand from James's hand and said: "I am going to visit Anne Thornton and ask for her forgiveness"
Lily smiled at Regulus and said: "James and I know you deserve to be forgiven, Regulus. Good luck".
Unconsciously Regulus gaze shifted to meet his brother's. A mildly reproachful look appeared in his eyes and Sirius solemny said: "You're going to need it. You've got a lot to answer for."
Regulus nodded curtly as he felt an uncomfortable sensation taking hold in his stomach. Regulus didn't know where Anne lived, but he remembered how her home had looked like when he, Avery and Mulciber had raided it in the night. The memory of that night briefly flashed through his mind and it sent shivers down his spine. He focused on the memory of Anne's house and soon the familiar surroundings of Godric's Hollow disappeared and Regulus reappeared at an unknown location.
Somewhere in London, 7:30 pm, July 4 1979
When the world took shape again Regulus found himself facing an urban house not unlike his own. During the raid Regulus had noticed that Anne lived in an urban environment and that her house had been quite large, but because of the nerves and the cloudy night back then he hadn't seen that it was this big. He took in the surrounding neighbourhood and soon realised that he was in London. In fact he recognised the street name engraved on the sign closest to him and knew that he was only a mile away from his home in 12 Grimmauld Place. Mulciber had organised the raid but hadn't told Regulus where Anne lived. Instead they had used Side-Along Apparition. Regulus entertained the idea of going home to visit his parents after he had spoken to Anne.
Little did he know that Anne lived so close by. Most members of the magical community lived in the countryside, far away from Muggles in order for the Statute of Secrecy to be more easily enforced. Some rural localities in Britain had a substantial magical population relative to the Muggles who lived there, examples were Godric's Hollow and Mould-on-the-Wold. Hogsmeade, the village on the outskirts of Hogwarts, actually was completely inhabited by wizards and witches. In comparison the big cities of Britain, with their high concentration of Muggles, were only sparsely populated by magical folk. Only old magical families with connections to the highest levels of the Ministry of Magic lived in London, such as the Blacks and the Crouches, or the entrepreneurs on Diagon and Knockturn Alley, such as Mr Ollivander and Madam Malkin. However, as the number of Muggleborn pupils at Hogwarts increased so did the number of wizarding families hailing from British cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester. But still, the magical community in London was so small that unless families knew each other it was very difficult indeed for a wizard to find another one of his kind, except at Diagon Alley. Most wizarding families in London were pureblood and like his own family shied away from contact with Muggleborn wizards. That and the fact that he hadn't spoken to Anne at all at Hogwarts made sure that Regulus wasn't at all surprised that he didn't know that she lived that close to him.
Regulus eyed the house to gauge if Anne was indeed at home, but Regulus couldn't see anything inside. He swallowed and let out a heavy sigh, before he walked towards the front door. He knocked at the door, but no one answered. He then noticed a button that was situated on the wall next to the door and he recalled that Sirius had once mumbled about something called a doorbell. He vaguely remembered Sirius describing it as a device Muggles used to make known to people inside a home that there were visitors waiting in front of the front door. Regulus decided to press the button and he heard a light chime.
Regulus looked through the somewhat opaque glass in the door for ten seconds before a person appeared in the hallway behind the door. He soon discerned the body of a young adolescent woman moving to the door before she opened it. Regulus saw that the woman had shoulder long blond hair and blue eyes. While Regulus was wearing wizard robes, the woman wore Muggle attire. She had dressed for the hot summer weather, for she wore a short-sleeved shirt and jeans. The woman was so Muggle-like that Regulus started to think that he was a the wrong house. However, the face of the woman looked like that of Anne Thornton as he remembered her from Hogwarts. The woman slightly frowned her eyebrows and studied his face intently as if she too recognised it. She had after all seen his face in the corridors at Hogwarts.
Even though he was extremely nervous, Regulus decided to make the opening move and he asked: "Are you Anne Thornton?"
The young woman answered: "Yes, and who are you?"
Regulus was so relieved that he had found the right house that he almost forgot to answer Anne's question: "I am Regulus Black, a Sly.."
But Regulus didn't get the chance to finish his sentence, for right after he had mentioned his name Anne's eyes widened in fear and she proceeded to close the door in his face.
"Go away, Death Eater! Leave me alone!", Anne shouted.
Even though Regulus had thought of himself as an unimportant Death Eater, Anne apparently knew who he was and that Regulus had joined the Dark Lord. Luckily enough it appeared that most neighbours were out that night and weren't there to witness the scene or they would have come out to confront Regulus or get in touch with the Muggle equivalent of the Aurors, who according to Sirius were called 'Metropolitan Police' in London.
Before Anne had closed the door on him Regulus called out: "I don't want to hurt you, I just want to talk".
"There is nothing for us to talk about.", Anne said.
Hastily Regulus said: "There is. I want to talk about your parents".
Anne stopped closing the door. She looked amazed and asked: "What do you have to do with my parents? Unless...". She stopped mid-sentence and the expession on her face changed to contempt and revulsion and she continued: "Unless you murdered them, you beast! Now get away, before I call the Aurors!"
Regulus couldn't blame her for her reaction but his attempt of explaining what happened that evening was going awry. She tried to close the door again.
In a last ditch effort to get her to speak to him Regulus said: "If I meant you any harm I wouldn't have rung the doorbell, would I? I would have used Alohomora to open the door or Reducto to knock it down and get to you without saying a word. Please, Anne? Give me a couple of minutes".
Anne stopped closing the door again, gave him a cold stare and said: "I'll give you five minutes. Come in".
He followed her to the living room, where she beckoned him to sit down. Anne didn't sit down but positioned herself in the doorway, folding her arms across her chest.
"I remember you and the gang of Slytherins you were with. Constantly bullying and hexing Muggleborns with your hideous Dark Magic. I've been at the receiving end of it too. I'm not surprised that you sank so low to become a murderer", Anne spat at him.
Regulus winced at her words. Not that they were unexpected. He had gotten Sirius to warm up to him somewhat, but he was his brother and Regulus had never taken anything precious away from Sirius. Anne was different in that he had robbed her of her parents or, as Regulus knew, at least had done nothing to prevent them from getting killed. He also remembered the Dark hexes they had used on Muggleborns. He had long thought of Muggles as inferior beings, but ever since Anne's parents had been killed he could no longer support that notion. Regulus still thought that being pureblood was something special. It meant that you were the descendant of the first wizards to walk on the face of the Earth. His parents had taught him to hate anything or anyone not living up to that pureblood standard. Even though Regulus still thought blood purity stood for the finest traditions in Wizardry, he no longer thought Muggles and Muggleborns to be beneath him. They were just different, but not inferior. He turned his attention back to Anne. How on Earth was he going to justify the injustifiable? He hadn't murdered Anne's parents but that didn't make him less culpable.
"Look. I didn't kill your parents, but I was there when they got killed", Regulus said.
Regulus looked at Anne and saw that his words annoyed and upset her.
She looked at him in disgust and said: "So you think you can wash your hands in innocence and shift the blame away from yourself. Whether you laid your hands on them or not doesn't matter. You're as guilty as if you had killed them". Anne impatiently looked down at the small black watch on her left wrist and said angrily: "This has taken long enough already. I have more important things to do than listening to a murderer like you making up excuses for his crime. You can't justify what you've done".
Regulus didn't want to justify his actions, he merely wanted to tell Anne what happened. Explain his own part in it. He hesistated to go further. What should he tell Anne? Her mother had died a horrible death and describing it to her seemed almost cruel to Regulus. At the same time he felt she needed to know what happened and how it happened. For the second time he started his story of the evening, tears building up in his eyes as the memories returned.
"I was with Avery and Mulciber. Mulciber killed your father, who tried to keep us out, and Avery killed your mother", Regulus said.
Regulus started crying and he continued with a quivering voice: "Your mother's death....It was horrible. Mulciber killed your father straight away....but your mother..".
While he had been speaking Anne had started crying too and when Regulus paused to swallow deeply and to shake his head hatred became visible on Anne's face.
"You beasts! What have you done to her!", Anne shouted.
Regulus continued: "Mulciber started torturing her. He placed her under... he placed her under the Cruciatus Curse. She started twitching and screaming...".
"Stop it! I don't want to hear it! Get out!", Anne spat at him.
Regulus eerily remembered the last words of Anne's mother: Please! Make it stop! Please! He really started to think it was a bad idea to visit Anne and confront her with her parents' death like that. But in spite of the memory, or perhaps because of it Regulus continued his story. Anne, who had moved towards him to grab him by his robes, stopped and listened.
"...Then she begged me...to end it all....And I did nothing....Nothing, but standing there....watching. And then Avery killed her off.....like some animal", Regulus sobbed.
Anne exploded and grabbed him by his robes, saying: "You coward! How could you let this happen! Is there no humanity in you! No simple decency! You don't understand how it is to lose your loved ones. Not because they had done something wrong, but simply for being who they were!"
Regulus was lost for words. She was right that he didn't understand how it was like to lose someone he loved. Even though he tried to understand, he had never experienced it and therefore couldn't fully understand. He now understood what it was like to fear losing loved ones, but had never experienced real bereavement.
"And now you expect me to feel sorry for you?! To forgive you?! Begone, Death Eater! I don't want to see you again!", Anne bellowed.
The fruitless confrontation had made Regulus weary and he allowed Anne to push him through the hallway to the front door. As Anne opened the door to shove him out an owl flew straight at Regulus, dropped a piece of parchment in his hands and went back the same way. Instead of shoving him out, Anne stopped, folded her arms over her chest and looked at him reading the parchment.
Regulus read the parchment:
Your parents' house is under attack by the Death Eaters!
I've called upon reinforcements and I am on my way to 12 Grimmauld Place.
He felt the blood leaving his face and his eyes widen in horror as he read the parchment. He had feared this moment ever since he had been brought in by the Potters the day before last. After he had failed to show up this morning the Dark Lord must have figured out about his duplicity and now tried to hit him where it hurt him most.
Unconsciously Regulus looked at Anne whose face, upon noticing Regulus's horror, showed wonder as well as anger and he said: "I really have to go now".
While Anne closed the door with a big bang, Regulus tucked the piece of parchment in his pocket and drew his wand to Apparate. His heart was beating so fast that he feared about splinching himself, but after Disapparating from Anne's house he Apparated near his own home.
Grimmauld Place, London, 7:45 pm, July 4 1979
As soon as he had Apparated Regulus heard more bangs and he saw James, Lily and Sirius Apparating nearby. Regulus noticed that they were running towards a stately-looking witch who was hiding in front of the hedge that enclosed the frontyard of his home. At her feet he saw the unconscious body of a wizard. Regulus approached the witch too and he arrived at her position at the same time as James, Lily and Sirius.
The witch quickly examined their faces before she fixed her gaze on Regulus's face, before saying: "My name is Emmeline Vance. I gather from your looks that your are Regulus Black".
Regulus nodded, before Lily asked Emmeline: "What happened?"
"We were patrolling Grimmauld Place, with me guarding the section south of the Black home and Dedalus here guarding the northern section. About ten minutes ago I thought I heard a suspicious sound and I checked to see what it was and from whence it came. There was nothing there. When I came back about five minutes ago I saw Dedalus lying Stunned at this position and I saw a group of Death Eaters unhinging the front door and entering the building. I hid behind these hedges and sent you and Dumbledore a message by Patronus", Emmeline said.
James put his hand in his hair and cursed: "Damn it, Dumbledore told you not to lose sight of each other, didn't he?".
Emmeline nodded guiltily.
"Do you know which Death Eaters entered?", James asked.
"I thought I recognised Dolohov, Malfoy and the Lestranges", Emmeline answered.
Regulus felt his heart being clasped by dread. Regulus knew those names all too well. Malfoy was their ringleader, Dolohov was there for his meanness and the Lestranges were experts on the Cruciatus Curse. The worst of them all was his own cousin Bellatrix Lestrange. Regulus had always liked Bellatrix. She could be tender even though she had more often been sullen and cynical. Being a Death Eater had brought out the worst in him and so it had done in Bellatrix. But Regulus had been alarmed at how Bellatrix's malice had shown itself. She had become meaner than he could have possibly imagined. The change had been rather sudden and Regulus had long thought that something caused her to go mad shortly after she had joined the Dark Lord. Perhaps she too had been forced to kill and instead of turning away from the Dark Lord, turned insane?
The Order members had apparently come to the same conclusion as he did for Regulus heard them curse and sigh heavily. Regulus gaze met his brother's and what he saw surprised him. He had always thought that Sirius stopped caring about his parents after he had run away, but Sirius and Regulus exchanged a look of concern.
Regulus was growing restless as the Order member started to debate the best course of action.
"What are we waiting for? My parents are in mortal danger!, Regulus cried out and he ran for the broken front door of his own home.
"Stop Regulus, you don't know what's in there", he heard James say. But Regulus knew exactly what was in there. A couple of thugs, trying to make him see sense by taking everything away from him. He heard the others follow him in.
He took in the situation before him. His mother was running up the staircase, while his father was duelling at the base of it, attempting to hold the five intruders off. To Regulus great relief the anti-intruder spells his parents had put on the house apparently had succeeded in delaying their entry into the home. His parents had had a warning and managed to mount an improvised defence. There was no sign of Kreacher.
The combatants were distracted by the sudden entrance of Regulus and the Order of the Phoenix and they looked at him. So did his father and he said: "Thank God, Regulus". Regulus smiled at him and nodded. But Bellatrix, his own cousin, recovered from her amazement, noticed that Regulus's father had his guard down and interrupted the moment between father and son when she pointed her wand at Orion Black.
"Avada Kedavra!", she shouted and a green bolt hit his father in the chest.
The world seem to grind to a halt as he saw his father hit the ground and look at Regulus with lifeless eyes.
Bellatrix grinned at Regulus. "Look what you made me do, traitor!", Bellatrix said and she mocked his helplessness by laughing at him.
"Dad!", Regulus shouted as soon as he regained the power of speech. Bellatrix was laughing menacingly, but Regulus ignored her and ran for his father body. Bellatrix stopped laughing when the Order engaged her and the other Death Eaters.
Regulus kneeled next to his father's body, pulled it close to him and said: "Why did they have to kill you? Why didn't they come after me instead?"
Regulus didn't pay any attention to the battle raging around him and he didn't care whether he would be killed or not. He just wanted to sit next to his father's body and die too. He felt tears falling down from his eyes. Suddenly he heard Lily telling him: "Pull yourself together, Regulus. The life of your mother is still at stake". Even though deep down he wanted to argue with her, the rational part of him told him to keep on fighting.
He saw Sirius fighting against Dolohov and Regulus noticed that Sirius was so engaged in the fighting that he hadn't seen their father fall. James and Lily were taking on Malfoy, and Emmeline Vance and Dedalus, who had regained consciousness, were duelling Rabastan Lestrange. However, Bellatrix and Rodolphus, Rabastan's brother and Bellatrix's husband, had followed his mother upstairs.
His helplessness slowly gave way to a desire for vengeance and a great concern for his mother's safety. Through furious fighting the Order of the Phoenix managed to force their opponents away from the staircase. Regulus was unsure of what to do. Should he join the fracas downstairs and help bring down the Death Eaters there or should he follow Rodolphus and Bellatrix who were going after his mother? He fully realised that if he went up alone he wouldn't have any backup, but he couldn't leave his mother to her fate. So Regulus mounted the stairs.
As he ascended the stairs the sound of the battle downstairs was smothered somewhat and he heard Bellatrix roaming the empty corridors, calling out: "Dear aunt, show yourself. You can run, but you can't hide".
Just before reaching the top of the staircase Regulus heard his mother shriek, before he heard Rodolphus's heavy voice saying: "Bella, I've found her!".
Regulus increased his pace and he saw his mother walking backwards, her wand drawn defensively.
"Leave my mother be!", Regulus shouted.
Rodolphus and his morther turned their attention to Regulus and Rodolphus said: "Well, well. What have we got here. Walburga's precious son is trying to save his mother".
"Regulus, run! Save yourself!", his mother shouted at him.
"I will not leave you behind, Mum!, Regulus answered.
Regulus saw Bellatrix sneaking up on his mother and Regulus warned her: "Look behind you, Mum!"
His mother turned around and cast a Shield Charm to protect herself against an incoming curse from Bellatrix.
Rodolphus, angry with Regulus for interfering with his plans, tried to disarm Regulus.
"Expelliarmus!", Rodolphus shouted.
But before the spell hit Regulus, he cast his own Shield Charm: "Protego!"
Regulus and Rodolphus duelled fiercely for the next couple of minutes, constantly firing, parrying and dodging curses. He managed to catch a glimpse of the duel between his mother and Bellatrix and saw that, despite her lack of agility, his mother was holding her own. The key to duelling was to put your opponent in a position in which he cannot defend himself or to coax him into making a mistake. After another two minutes of duelling, Rodolphus made such a mistake.
"Crucio!", Rodolphus shouted, but it was immediately clear that curse wouldn't hit Regulus and almost as soon as it had left Rodolphus's wand Regulus reacted.
"Stupefy!", Regulus said and the curse hit Rodolphus who was knocked unconscious. Regulus watched his mother duel and just when it appeared she was gaining the upper hand Bellatrix made her move.
"Serpensortia!", Bellatrix shouted and a serpent emerged from the tip of her wand. His mother hadn't counted on that and was surprised. The snake moved swiftly, sliding up his mother's body and biting her in the neck. After it had bitten his mother the snake moved straight for Regulus.
For moment Regulus was frozen to the ground before aiming a curse at the snake: "Evanesco!"
The curse hit the snake and it vanished.
It was as if a nightmare was unfolding in front of his eyes. He looked at his mother and saw that she was struggling for her life, which was slowly leaving her body with her blood. Regulus was engulfed in sorrow and anger. He had arrived in the nick of time, but still he couldn't save his loved ones. His mother tried to talk to him but her words were to weak for Regulus to hear.
"Oops, I did it again", Bellatrix said triumphantly and she laughed when Regulus collapsed to the floor on his knees, resigned to the fact all life had lost its meaning.
"Come on, cousin. You're making it too easy for me", Bellatrix said and an evil grin appeared on her face before she her wand at Regulus.
"Avada Kedavra!", she shouted and a green bolt left her wand, moving towards him.
But a fraction of a second after she had invoked the Killing Curse Regulus heard a familiar voice. The voice of Kreacher, his loyal house elf.
"Cousin Bellatrix mustn't hurt the master!", Kreacher shrieked.
The next moments seemed to go by in slowmotion. Regulus saw Kreacher step in front on him, so that he could block the spell aimed for him.
"NO! Kreacher! NO! Don't...", Regulus said as he tried to dissuade the house elf from sacrificing his life for him. But house elves only obeyed orders and Regulus hadn't given him any.
The bolt his Kreacher in his chest and he fell over, dead. Time resumed its normal course and Regulus screamed in agony. Bellatrix ran for Rodolphus, mocking Regulus by looking at him with a pseudo-pitiful look in her eyes.
She grabbed her knocked out husband for Side-Along Apparition, grinned at Regulus and said to him : "Goodbye, cousin. We will meet again", before barking out orders to other Death Eaters: "Our job is done, let's get out of here". She Disapparated and the other three Death Eaters downstairs did the same, for he heard three loud bangs.
He then heard a lot of footsteps on the stairs and heard the gasps of the Order members after they took in the scene in front of them. Tears were falling from his eyes. He saw Sirius looking at his mother, anguish visible all over his face. His mother looked at Sirius too and her eyes signalled recognition.
"Sirius?", she asked weakly.
"Yes, Mum," Sirius said as tears began to fall from his eyes too.
"Come...closer..both of you", his mother said as she grew weaker.
Regulus and Sirius did as they were told.
"Sirius....my boy. I am...glad that you returned", his mother said.
"I am sorry, Mum. But I couldn't support him. I really couldn't support You-Know-Who", Sirius sobbed.
"It is..alright...son. You are here, that...is...all that matters. Father...is he?", Regulus heard his mother say.
Both Regulus and Sirius nodded to confirm that Orion Black had been slain.
"Listen to me....my boys. You...only...have each other now. Take care...of each other", his mother told them while she looked in the eyes of both her sons.
"We will", Regulus and Sirius said in unison.
"Never...forget...that...I am proud of you. Of...both of you", his mother said and she looked at Sirius when she said the last words. Sirius managed to smile thankfully.
But Mother hadn't finished and she continued, her voice growing weaker every second as more blood left her body: "Also...don't forget...you are...pure. Always pure. Toujours Pur".
"Toujours Pur", both brothers whispered.
Then Walburga Black, matriarch of the the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, took in a final breath before her eyes closed, never to open again, and her head tilted sidewards.
Regulus looked around, completely lost for words and unable to think straight. He noticed that none of the other Order members had managed to keep their eyes dry. When he saw Kreacher, lying peacefully after he had bravely thrust himself in harm's way, a new waves of tears filled his eyes.
He grabbed Sirius and hugged him tight.
"I've failed, Sirius! I am a loser and good for nothing! There are gone! Father, Mother and Kreacher!", Regulus sobbed angrily.
He felt Sirius's tears dropping on his hair but Sirius, like the true Gryffindor he was, pulled himself together and said: "Yes, they are gone, but it's not your fault Regulus. You are not a loser. You are my brother", Sirius said.
Then Regulus heard the loud bangs of wizards Apparating nearby and a minute later Dumbledore, accompanied by Alastor Moody and James's friends Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew, arrived. They were too late to make a difference. After they looked at the scene before them they cursed and sighed, looking down in defeat.
"Let's go, Reg. Back to Godric's Hollow", Sirius said.
Regulus, too tired to do magic, clung to Sirius's robes as they Disapparated to Godric's Hollow. After he had arrived there, Regulus went to bed and, even though he felt miserable, fell asleep.