The Dread Pirate Roberts

I strode quickly and quietly down Diagon Alley, head bowed, hood pulled low, no particular purpose clouding my mind. I hadn't walked these streets for many a month. I always working for the Dark Lord these days. It's not really like you can take sick days with a job like the one I have.

But I had just completed a mission. One that, in truth, still and always would sicken me to think about.

My stomach still twisted when I remembered the Muggleborn girl, only sixteen years old – not younger than I'd been when I'd joined Voldemort – laughing, trusting eyes as she sat in her living room, sprawled across the hearthrug, chatting amiably to her little brother, also a wizard, but only eleven years old, with the same trusting, full, happy eyes, their parents sitting in armchairs, laughing. The girl was writing away at a letter. A happy family.

A happy family, that was, until we'd come in. The Death Eaters. We'd broken into the house. As soon as the door had burst open, the mother – a Muggle, I forced myself to remember – had screamed so loudly I thought her throat might've fallen out. She was yelling about robbers, burglars, but the children knew.

"IT'S HIM!" the girl had screamed, such terror in her voice that I froze, suddenly unwilling to go on. "MUM, GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT, IT'S HIM!"

We'd been too fast. We were always too fast. We'd killed the parents and the brother first. It was hardest to murder the little boy. I didn't want to, suddenly. I wasn't quite sure why. Maybe it was the tears falling down his face. Maybe it was his scream of 'MAMA!' as his mother had fallen for the last time. But I'd stepped back, let Rodolphus kill him.

And then we'd turned on the girl, backed into a corner, eyes overflowing with tears at the sight of her brother. Rabastan had murmured hoarsely about 'pretty flesh', and about 'perhaps keeping her for pleasure' but I'd snapped that the Dark Lord had said to kill her and that was that, perhaps because I couldn't stand the idea of this innocent girl having to live all alone in the servitude of the Dark Lord.

"Kill her and be done with it, then, Regulus, if you're so eager," he'd snapped.

My throat had gone dry as I'd stepped forward.

"Please," she'd whimpered. "Please I need to live."

I was vaguely reminded of a book Andromeda used to read to me, The Princess Bride. I'd loved that book.

I couldn't resist.

"And what could be so important?" I asked. "..I am, remember, the Dread Pirate

Roberts."

Her eyes had gone wide in incredulity. "You..you..oh my God.."

"Well?" I'd said, not daring to believe what I was doing.

"True love," she'd whispered, the flicker of a smile playing in her eyes behind the fear.

"But the problem is," I said quietly, skipping a few pages, "I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts. My name is – ''

"Ryan," she'd whispered. More tears streamed out of her eyes. I wondered what was so special about the word 'Ryan.'

"Kill her already, or I'll do it for you!" barked Rabastan. Without waiting for me to say anything, he'd stepped forward.

"Crucio!"

"NO!" was the last thing I heard her scream as she fell to the ground, writhing, horror overtaking her eyes as she looked up at me desperately. I couldn't look at her eyes. I found myself looking at her forehead, her nose, her ears, her mouth, anything but looking at those eyes, once so full of trust.

I could've sworn her lips shaped the words "Death cannot stop true love.."

I resisted the urge to complete the quote. Instead, I pulled out my wand and shouted, "Aveda Kadevra."

Before the green light hit her, I could've sworn her lips shaped the words "It can only delay it a little while."

I wondered, vaguely, who she was in love with.

I wondered, less vaguely, if it mattered.

No, I decided.

Whether or not it mattered, I'd pocketed the letter she was writing. I hadn't read it, but I'd looked at the heading.

It read Dear Ryan.

Thanks to that wonderful mission, the Dark Lord was ravenously happy, and he wasn't calling any meetings. And, for some reason unbeknownst to me, I'd found myself strolling down Diagon Alley.

Suddenly, I collided with someone.

"Ouch!" I muttered as I fell painfully to the ground. "Ugh.."

"I'm sorry," said a hoarse voice from above me. It was something about that voice that was so sad, so thick with tears, that I had to ask what I did next.

"Are you all right?" I stood up and passed him the book that he had dropped.

"Yes," came the listless reply. I looked carefully at the boy. His head was bowed, so I couldn't tell what his face looked like, but I could tell he couldn't be older than sixteen, maybe seventeen.

"No, you aren't," I said gruffly. "What's wrong?"

Why am I doing this? I wondered. But I knew why. I couldn't ignore such pain in such a small boy's voice.

"Okay, fine, I'm not all right," came the reply, harder now. "My girlfriend was just brutally murdered by Death-Eaters, along with her brother, who was barely twelve years old, and her parents, who wereMuggles. And it was obvious that she hadn't died easily."

My heart stopped considerably. Could it be..was it..

"Who was your girlfriend?" I asked, my voice softer.

"Buttercup," he said in a constricted voice after a moment. "She loved her name, you know..it was after her favorite book character." He showed me the book in his hands.

No way.

I must be reading wrong.

"..Buttercup, from The Princess Bride."

"Is your name Westley?" I found myself saying.

He smiled slightly, but it was more of a grimace. "No, afraid not. Ironically enough, it's Ryan. The Dread Pirate Roberts and all that."

My head was spinning. This was impossible...it was too much of a coincidence..it was too much of a coincidence.

It could be any Ryan, any Ryan who likes The Princess Bride and whose girlfriend died last night quoting it.

But I knew that I believed that it wasn't just any Ryan, and that this Buttercup was the girl I murdered last night.

So what I did next was the least I could do.

"Death cannot stop true love," I said quietly. "It can only delay it for a while."

He smiled, a true smile this time. "I suppose you're right," he whispered. "Thank you – what was your name?"

I paused.

"The name doesn't matter," I quoted softly. "You can call me the Dread Pirate Roberts." And, on pure impulse, I pressed the letter into the palm of his hands.

I winked, tipped my hat, and walked away.

Fin