A/N: Unfortunately I don't own anything. I just happen to love Regulus Black.
I had never thought I would meet him, and I don't mean bumping into him in the corridors of Hogwarts but seeing him face to face in my own doorway.
He looked a lot like Sirius and, at the same time, not at all. They shared the same, arrogant shape of face, strong jaw and narrow mouth that had in a habit of twisting into a slight, sharp smirk. Their bodies looked quite the same, even though Sirius had probably a bit broader shoulders and he might have been a bit taller, too. Still, anyone could see they were siblings.
And still Regulus Black looked nothing like his brother. Sirius had sharp, grey eyes, too, but Regulus' eyes were smaller and there was something in them that I couldn't make into words yet. Sirius looked tired, too, at least sometimes when we had been fighting against Death Eaters all night long and were bleeding when we finally got back to our flat. Sirius looked unhappy, sometimes, even miserable, even though those moments were quite rare since he was careful not to let those feelings show.
But Regulus Black looked stretched. That was what made him different from Sirius: he didn't look whole but seemed to be stretched by something I couldn't nor wanted to know.
'He's not here', I said.
'Well, Lupin', he answered, glancing blankly at the living room behind me. 'Are you planning to invite me in?'
I glared at him, not sure what I was supposed to think. The man – boy, I reminded myself, he was just eighteen years old – standing in the doorway was his only brother, after all. But he was a known Death Eater and I knew better than to invite one to enter my home.
'Please', he said suddenly. I flinched, surprised.
'He won't be here until nine, I said and wondered if that had been a clever thing to say at all. I was practically telling him to attack us now, since there was only one of us at home.
He nodded. 'I sort of knew it, to be honest. Or guessed. You don't have much free time as Auror, I think. Can I?'
I sighed and swore in my mind. Sirius would kill me for letting him in, if I was still alive.
'Thank you', he said politely, putting his shoes neatly against the wall so that no one could stumble because of them. I stared. Well, he was Black, after all, I supposed they didn't live in messy houses. And then I remembered that I had two coffee cups on the kitchen table, unwashed.
'Er, do you want something? Tea? Coffee?'
'You don't probably have any wine, do you?' he asked and I saw a slight grin appearing and vanishing on his face when I kept on staring at him. 'Well, coffee is fine, then.'
He walked straight to the kitchen. I followed him and wondered if I was supposed to warn Sirius. But how could I have sent him a message without Regulus noticing it? And what would I have said? Please, come home, your brother's visiting our place and I've asked if he wants some coffee and I'm scared of him making the whole place explode?
'Quite small', said Regulus under his breath when he sat down, and then, with a bit louder voice: 'How long have you guys lived here?'
'Sirius bought this when we left Hogwarts', I found myself saying. Oh, fuck. He was just too polite. I was beginning to imagine having some average person sitting in my kitchen, and that was far too dangerous, forgetting who he was. But he was looking at me and so I swallowed hard and continued: 'I… I moved here sixth months after.'
'Yes', he said, not even blinking.
I made coffee and he drank it very slowly, not looking disturbed even though I couldn't help staring at him. It was just so weird, and frightening, having him in my house, in my and Sirius' house that belonged to us, in our life that belonged to us and not to his relatives who had abandoned him a long time ago.
I sighed under my breath. I wasn't probably being too fair. When Sirius had left his home Regulus had been about thirteen years old. It wasn't his fault. Besides, Regulus and Sirius had been talking once in a while for a few years, if I remembered right, and when it came to Sirius I didn't tend to forget anything.
Of course, that had been before Regulus had become Death Eater.
'You're staring at my hands, Lupin', Regulus said, intervening my thoughts. I was angry to feel blood rushing under my skin.
He shrugged. 'Well, I guess you're quite annoyed because of me sitting here, so I guess it's completely forgivable. Why did you think I came?'
'I've been wondering it.'
'Yes', he said slowly. I frowned when I realized that this was making him different from Sirius, too. Sirius never thought in advance what he was going to say. Regulus seemed to weigh every word beforehand, and when he spoke, his pronunciation was careful. And still there was something uncontrollable on him, and it was freaking my out. I couldn't understand him, even though I had an eternity to do it.
And, as we found out a few weeks later, that was exactly what I had not. No one had time to get to know Regulus Black, not anymore.
'I don't know', he said suddenly, turning to look at me. He was frowning and there was something dark on his face, maybe a slight shadow of fear or worry or death. For a moment I thought I knew that look. I had seen it in the battles, when I saw people dying for no reason but to be in the wrong place in the wrong moment. And I had seen it on my own face when I came home after those nights and looked at the mirror.
'I don't know', he repeated, flinching as he turned his gaze away. 'I just came. I'm doing… a lot of things for no reason, Lupin.'
'Like joining him', he said.
I couldn't help getting startled. He looked so unreal, Regulus Black, sitting in my kitchen holding my cracked, old, red mug between his fingers and talking about becoming Death Eater.
'I wasn't going to say it', he said, his jaw tightening like there had been something stretching him from inside. 'You're weird, Lupin. Really weird. I don't get you at all and I don't realize why Sirius chose you.'
I coughed, not sure how much he knew.
'Or maybe it wasn't about choosing', he said, staring at the wall. There was a spot of drained blood there and I remembered clearly the night when it had got there. There had been a battle near the Ministry, too near, everyone had thought, and it had been quite long and Sirius had been wounded on his shoulder. When we got home I tried to make him let me clean it, but he wouldn't. He was sitting on that same chair that was Regulus' now, and when I tried to check his shoulder he grabbed my face with his too cold hands and kissed me and we ended up pushing each other against the wall. Next morning, I realized that there was blood on the wall, but I was too tired to clean it.
And now Regulus was staring at it, his eyes narrowing. He was pale like he wouldn't have been out in the sunlight for weeks, and there were some odd scars on his neck, and suddenly I couldn't understand how I had been able to think that he looked similar to Sirius. I didn't want him to look like Sirius. I didn't want Sirius to have that bitter furrow on his mouth nor the gaze that looked haunted.
'Maybe it's not about choosing, after all', he muttered slowly. 'That would explain a lot.'
'Like what?' I asked, unsure whether I wanted to know or not.
To my surprise, he laughed. 'Like everything. You, for instance. Sirius is living with you, poor half-blood from nowhere, in this crappy flat in Diagon Alley, planning to become an Auror and fight against his whole family.'
I tensed but he kept on staring at me almost sadly. Besides, he hadn't said it as it had been a bad thing.
'And I'm sitting in your kitchen', he went on. 'I didn't definitely choose this. Maybe that's what it is.'
'I don't understand a word.'
He laughed again. It looked really odd, coming from his strained mouth and haunted face. And, yes, he looked like Sirius. I wanted to close my eyes, but I couldn't.
'That's good', he said then, standing up. 'Well, I guess I should be going. I've got work to do.'
'What kind of work?'
'Don't worry, Lupin. I'm not going to kill any of your friends.'
He turned away from me, walking to the door, and didn't answer my thoughtless remark. My head was aching and there was something in the back of my mind that annoyed me, something that I should have realized or said or asked, but I never got to know what it had been.
He went to the door and took his shoes.
'I'll tell him that you visited.'
He stopped, his hand already stretched to open the door. 'Don't, please. You can tell him, but wait for a few weeks. Two or three, I guess.'
'I just… I have to take care of a few things. I can't take any trouble. You know him. If you tell him, he's going to come after me.'
'You can't blame him. He hasn't seen you for a long time.'
'There was no reason to stop by. He hates me.'
'He doesn't – '
'Yes, he does, and for a good reason.' Suddenly he turned around, blank expression on his face and mouth narrowing. 'And when you'll tell him, you should tell this, too. I don't regret anything. And I'm not doing this neither for him or anyone else. I'm doing this only for me.'
'I'm quite happy that he has got you, though', he went on like I hadn't tried to interrupt him in the first place. 'At least you love him.'
Having said that he closed the door. I shook my head and decided that I'd better drink some coffee before Sirius came.
I didn't tell him. Two weeks later, I found a sheet of paper from the trash can. It didn't say much, just that Regulus Black had died. They hadn't found a body, but there was a rumor that he had tried to leave Death Eaters and had been murdered by them.
I went to empty the trash can and then returned to the flat, wondering whether Sirius had gone to James' place or some pub. The pub, I realized later that night when he came home smelling like cheap whisky. We ended up having sex on a couch in the living room.
I thought he had been right. It had nothing to do with choosing.
A/N: I'm really happy you read this long! Any reviews are more than welcome :) And I'm sorry for grammar mistakes etc. in the story, English is not my first language and even though I enjoy writing fanfiction in English, I'm making quite a lot of mistakes, I guess.