infamy. four things about regulus black.

***

first. two days.

He wants to get drunk. To not feel anything anymore.

But the bottle of Firewhiskey he finds in the kitchen is already empty.

Regulus considers going back to his own room for a moment, but that would mean having to pass the door with the empty space behind - he can't, he simply can't. Right now, it would kill him. He nearly runs every time he has to leave or return to his room; and he doesn't know how his parents can bear to spend minutes and minutes in front of his door to make him get up in the morning - in vain -, where Sirius' room is in view and the mere thought of it should tear them apart.

"What are you doing here?" His mother enters the kitchen, scanning the room suspiciously and finally resting her gaze on the empty bottle.

"What is this? Were you drinking that?! Have you lost your mind?!" With every word, her voice gets louder, and the last words she screams.

"I didn't..." His reply is barely audible. Walburga doesn't seem to hear him; she goes on and on and on with her tirade, obviously glad to have found something that distracts her from facing she has done something terribly wrong.

Regulus pretends to listen for a while, then just goes away without looking at her. For a moment, he contemplates throwing the bottle to the ground - Sirius surely would have done that - but he just puts it aside; and his weakness is already enough to make him feel like cut with broken glass.

His departure remains unnoticed. In the hall, he leans on a wall and listens to his mother talking to herself without deciphering the words. Somehow, he is glad that she is suffering, too.

***

second. two years.

Regulus Black doesn't believe in mistakes anymore.

They don't count. Not as an excuse, and not as a reason.

He has learned; yes, certainly he has learned a lot. And now he is sixteen, and he knows that mistakes don't count.

With Sirius having left Hogwarts everything is better. It's still difficult, that's right; but he doesn't have to feel inferior anymore because now, there's no one left to be compared to. And no one's there to see the mistakes he makes, and the ones Sirius makes, because his brother is gone now, forever, and he will never return to the family he loathes. Nothing Regulus does can change that. That's why it doesn't count.

"Your cousin really hit on my brother las night, didn't she?" They sit in the boys' dormitory. Rabastan laughs at the memory of seeing his brother blush for the probably first time in his life.

Regulus shrugs. "Is that all you're interested in?"

"Of course not. ... He's fascinating, isn't he?"

At once Regulus knows who his friend is talking about. "Yes. Fascinating. And..."

His voice trails off. A bit repelling, he wants to say. But he doesn't know whether it's a good idea to tell Rabastan, whose brother already is one of these Death Eaters. What a strange name.

For a second he remembers Sirius' grinning face when he once made a joke about that. And knows this shouldn't affect him at all.

But his thoughts keep spinning on and on, and when Rabastan has gone, he lies on the floor, crying and screaming into the emptiness because he misses Sirius so badly, still.

***

third. winter.

They make him go home for Christmas holidays. In the evening, he watches them; his father with the bottle of Fireshiskey and his mother staring blankly at the wall.

Regulus knows that wall very well. Once there hung a photo of two boys, one laughing, one looking sad; and Regulus wasn't the one who was laughing. Sirius has been such a perfect son back then. He knew how to be a Black: How to smile and say the right words, how to make everyone else seem like they were inferior. How to be perfect. Until the Sorting Hat sent him to Gryffindor and suddenly, everything changed.

There's a small rectangle where the tapestry is brighter – a fault which probably could have been fixed by magic. But neither Regulus nor his parents were ever good at fixing things.

He longs to escape this awkward atmosphere - with every second he stares at the Christmas tree he gets more depressed, these perfect green branches and perfect decorations. But looking away doesn't help anything, because everything in this room reminds him of Sirius. The less they talk about him, the more he's present; and they never do.

Orion opens another bottle of Firewhiskey.

"May I?", Regulus asks, slightly aggressive. Without waiting for an answer, he reaches for the bottle and takes a sip, and then another one.

Suddenly, Sirius vanishes, and his parents look at Regulus and only him.

"Go. Up. To. Your. Room.", Orion says very slowly, as if he spoke a language Regulus doesn't understand. Maybe he does.

Regulus gets up and leaves the room, taking the Firewhiskey with him.

***

fourth. end.

It's spring again and Regulus decides he can't grieve for Sirius forever. It's just a brother, after all, and not a very good one, too. (Something is hurting, but he ignores it.)

And he finally agrees that Rabastan shouldn't be the only one to join the Dark Lord, and the next night, there is only darkness, and torture, and shame.

And then, life gets much easier.