By: Akiko, Keeper of Sheep
"I find my life is a lot easier the lower I keep everyone's expectations." ~Bill Watterson
Regulus had never wanted anything more than to bring honor to the family.
His brother had been so brilliant, so skilled, it had always seemed like the opportunities had been boundless. In comparison, Regulus had been a veritable non-entity. He had been thoroughly overshadowed by Sirius in every way - looks, talent, charm.
In the early years before Hogwarts, it had been the most oppressive feeling. It was like Sirius' greatness was restricting Regulus, reining him in. As the years went by, he could feel the walls of his prison building up. He had been certain that he would be forever doomed to be 'Sirius' little brother' or 'the other Black boy'.
A terrible fate, indeed.
Then came Sirius' first year at Hogwarts. The prodigal child had, in one fell swoop, thrown off the mantel of the chosen one of the House of Black. He had been Sorted into Gryffindor - surely the most terrible offense a Black could commit. Sure, Regulus knew that it hadn't been Sirius' choice, but a large part of him felt incredibly grateful towards his brother. That one moment, when the Sorting Hat called out "Gryffindor," had been Regulus' salvation.
Suddenly, he wasn't 'Sirius' little brother' anymore. No longer was he 'the other Black'. He was Regulus Black, the good son. Regulus Black, the last hope of their noble family. Regulus Black, success. He was free.
The walls of his prison crumbled, all of his limitations swept away. And when he turned eleven and went to school, he had been Sorted into Slytherin. His place as The Good Son was cemented further and further with every passing day, and the possibilities just multiplied.
And all that time, his brother frittered away his own options, gallivanting around with that group of miscreants. Every moment he pulled further and further away from the family. Regulus had been a bit sad - he had loved his brother, had idolized him.
And perhaps that had been the problem. For so long, he'd both hated and revered his brother. Hated him for being so perfect, and revered him for the same. Now it seemed that all his hero-worship was misplaced. Sirius was no honorable wizard. He was rude, cruel, obnoxious. He palled around with Mudbloods and half-breeds. He wasn't the brother, the man, Regulus had imagined him to be.
None of that mattered, though. If Sirius was determined to cut himself off from the family, so much the better. Regulus would fill that void. He was the perfect son, now. So determinedly Slytherin, and with his own skills in magic and in charm. Yes, Regulus would make the family proud.
That was what he'd always wanted most.
So why, why didn't it feel as though he were free? Why did it feel like another, more elaborate and deadly prison had been constructed around him?
He watched Sirius throw his head back and laugh at something the Potter boy said. Across from them, the small, mousy lad that always shadowed the group was tittering like a groupie. On Potter's other side, Lupin smiled softly. Regulus could almost feel the shackles of his family's expectations tightening around his wrists and ankles.
It wasn't what The Good Son would want. It wasn't what any self-respecting wizard would want. It was shameful, disgusting, disappointing.
Lupin's eyes found his across the room, and the older boy offered him a long-suffering grin. Though they never spoke to each other, Regulus had discovered a sort of kinship with the Gryffindor prefect. Namely, the fact that they both often found Sirius and Potter tiresome. It was an odd sort of relationship, made up entirely of rolled eyes, wry grins, and exasperated head-shaking.
Regulus had enchanted journals filled with plans, plots, and ideas about how to strike up a verbal conversation with the prefect. He'd devoted hours to loitering in the corridors between classes, hoping to find Lupin alone to talk to him. He'd spent far too long weighing the pros and cons of developing so much as a friendship with Lupin.
He hated Sirius all the more now. He had imagined, all through their childhood, that Sirius had been the one for whom all the doors opened, and Regulus had been the one boxed in by inadequacy. Then, when Sirius had shamed himself, it had appeared to all the world as though their roles were reversed. Sirius was now the outcast, the abhorred one, and it was Regulus for whom the world was laid out.
He had been a fool. There was no freedom for The Good Son of the Most Noble House of Black.
The fearsome four were leaving the Great Hall, Sirius and Potter nattering on about absolutely nothing important, as was their wont. As they passed him, a folded square of parchment tumbled onto his empty plate, his name scratched across it in neat handwriting. He snatched it up, watching the four disappearing around the corner. And then, as if sensing his gaze, the lean young man who had filled Regulus' every thought tilted his head just slightly, winked, and smiled.
Author's Note -
Okay, so maybe it's crap…I hope not, but it probably is.
This was a gift for my sister, who challenged me to write a Regulus/Remus story. So…yeah. As you can see, I couldn't really do it without making it a long string of rambling nothing first.
Let me know what you think!