In the Pensieve:
Regulus had always carefully built walls around himself to keep anyone from knowing who he truly was: who he cared about, his secrets, his passions, and what he felt was important. That was what you had to do to survive an abusive mother, being in the Slytherin hierarchy, and being a traitorous Death Eater. The only people who had ever truly known he was; had managing to break his carefully constructed façade were Sirius - his brother - and Emmeline - his wife.
For some reason, Harry Potter, even in memory form, seemed to be trying to do just that.
Regulus and Sirius were really the only ones who had known what to expect from the memories of an abused child: they, themselves, had been ones. Remus, too, it seemed was more prepared then the rest, but even he was horrified.
As was Regulus.
While Walburga had been an abusive mother, she was not as bad as the Dursleys. Withholding food while growing up, hits and slaps as teens, and curses as young adults with colorful language all through the ages, that was Walburga Black.
The Dursleys, though, were just…cruel.
The physical abuse was not as bad as everyone feared it would be. A beating, every six months, and withholding food just about once a week, but it was obviously the mental and emotional abuse they were aiming for.
They burned pictures of Lily and James in front of an eight-year-old Harry, they sneered at him wondering where his parents were at age four, and laughed in his face at age six asking if they would come for Parents' Day.
Regulus felt sick. Even his mother was not that cruel. Sirius seemed to have the same thoughts. But by the time they got to Harry's first Hogwarts letter, he seemed so resigned to the cruelty it was just…sad. He simply seemed like he needed a hug.
Harry's second birthday, however, caused his heart to wrench.
Harry sniffled, lying in his cupboard with a diaper rash and looked underfed, deep purple circles under his eyes and bones very visible through his skin.
"Mama…" he whimpered, "Dada?" tears leaking through his lids.
Lily burst into tears, leaning against James, sobs wracking her body, as James buried his face in her hair, which was now stained with his tears.
There was no response.
"Pa'fut?" Harry tried again, his voice reaching urgency.
Sirius sucked in a sharp breath. Regulus did not point out the wetness in his eyes.
"Mo'y!" he cried, balling his little fists and kicking his feet in the air.
Remus closed his eyes and opened them again. Regulus thought he saw them flare gold for a minute.
"I'm so sorry, cub." He muttered, pressing his hands to his face.
"Mama, back!" he screamed, "Dada, where you?"
Lily couldn't seem to take it anymore and flung herself into a kneeling position near his cot. She tried to touch him, but her hand went right through his body. Lily sobbed even harder, "I'm here, baby! I won't let you go, not anymore!"
James leaned down and gathered her in his arms, as she sobbed on his shoulder, he held her, eyes squeezed shut and tears leaking through. He looked in turmoil, watching his son with some perverse fascination: like he wanted to be anywhere else but here, but yet could not look away.
A woman with a horsey structure and hate-filled, cruel brown eyes flung the cupboard door open.
"They're not here, freak!" she screeched.
"Mama," Harry whimpered, "Dada."
"Shut up, freak!" Petunia screamed. She raised her hand and smacked him straight across the face. "No dinner for you tonight, disgusting mutant!"
"Tuny!" Lily shrieked, anger filling her eyes, so unlike her sister's. "How could you?" she screamed, slamming her fists into her thighs. "My son! My son!" she screamed with venom, "You are no sister of mine, Petunia! NOT ANYMORE! NEVER AGAIN!"
James clutched her upper arms, holding her back from hitting phantom-Petunia.
She slammed the door shut and Harry quieted, adult-like despair filling his young features.
"Mama. Dada. Pa'fut. Mo'y," He moaned, clutching his brightred cheek, "Where you?"
"Here now," Regulus heard the four whisper.
Hogwarts was no better. Full of Dumbledore's manipulations, Voldemort's followers and traps, cruel pre-pubescent teens, mindless, rumor-embracing sheep, and slandering press, the castle school seemed to be Harry's private hell.
It also seemed to be James and Lily's, also. Even though the group had seen the memory at least half-an-hour ago, (not that Remus or Sirius were much better), the two were still crying.
They were in a cavernous, stone room. The light of the room was tinted with green and the walls and floor were slimy and wet. There was a statue of a monkeyish-faced man against the wall, and Regulus recognized it as the founder of his house; the Slytherin common rooms had held a statue very much like the one in front of Harry.
Harry was covered in grime and stood in front of the prone figure of a small, redheaded girl, and a young Tom Riddle, who was glowing slightly, like a ghost. In between them the small, black diary lay innocuously.
"…You found it, and I couldn't have been more delighted. Of all the people who could have picked it up, it was you, the very person I was most anxious to meet…"
Regulus shivered involuntarily. He did not like to hear his former "master's" voice. Sirius put a hand on his shoulder.
James' breath hitched when Riddle said, "Haven't I already told you," said Riddle quietly, "that killing Mudbloods doesn't matter to me anymore? For many months now, my new target has been — you."
Lily looked faint. She clutched James tightly as she swayed dangerously on the spot.
Regulus silently prayed that Harry would use Riddle's bragging time to run away. However, his hopes were crushed when Harry, who seemed to have gone into shock, finally said, "You're not," his quiet voice full of hatred.
James seemed to be holding his breath. Lily moaned, "Don't taunt him, Harry!"
"Not what?" snapped Riddle.
Sirius's eyes widened comically. "Don't make him angry!" he shouted, like Harry could hear him.
"Not the greatest sorcerer in the world," said Harry, breathing fast. "Sorry to disappoint you and all that, but the greatest wizard in the world is Albus Dumbledore."
"Not sure if he still thinks that," Regulus muttered, but not loud enough for the others to hear.
"Everyone says so. Even when you were strong, you didn't dare try and take over at Hogwarts. Dumbledore saw through you when you were at school and he still frightens you now, wherever you're hiding these days —"
Remus had bitten his tongue so hard it bled.
"Shut up, cub," he groaned.
The smile had gone from Riddle's face, to be replaced by a very ugly look.
Lily was taking very quick, shallow gasps of air. James was pale and clutching Lily tightly. His eyes were wide; with shock, anger, or fear, Regulus was not certain. Sirius looked like he had been punched in the gut. Remus was struck speechless.
Tom Riddle was officially angry.
"Speak to me, Salazar Slytherin, greatest of the Hogwarts Four!"
The mouth of Slytherin's statue slowly opened. A mighty snake, almost sixty feet in length, with acid-green hide slithered out. It had foot-long fangs that glittered with venom in the gloom. As it was a pensieve, they could see the lamp-like, bright yellow eyes without fear of being petrified. A basilisk.
There was complete silence in the pensieve.
Riddle hissed, "Kill him."
Lily's breathing hitched.
Fawkes flew in and gouged out the eyes, but Riddle kept shrieking, "NO! LEAVE THE BIRD! LEAVE THE BIRD! THE BOY IS BEHIND YOU. YOU CAN STILL SMELL HIM. KILL HIM!"
Sirius closed his eyes as Harry pulled Gryffindor's sword out of the hat and swung, trying to kill the basilisk.
Finally, Harry swung true, the sword going through the mouth of the basilisk.
Regulus was dumbfounded that Harry managed to kill the basilisk, but more than a little relieved (not that he would ever admit it) that Harry survived. He frowned at his brother, who was pinching his nose and biting his lip, not looking at Harry.
Harry stumbled away from the carcass, a fang embedded in his upper arm. He knelt near the almost-lifeless Ginny, as Riddle stood over him. Harry yanked the fang out of his arm, but he was rapidly paling.
Regulus looked at him in shock. It was too late. Lily was sobbing uncontrollably, tears staining her clothes and makeup running down her cheeks, and James still seemed to be partially catatonic.
"You're dead, Harry Potter," said Riddle's voice above him. "Dead. Even Dumbledore's bird knows it. Do you see what he's doing, Potter? He's crying."
Regulus remembered vaguely something about phoenixes. They had…healing powers, wasn't it? Regulus held on to that. And Harry had to get out of this alive; he was upstairs.
"I'm going to sit here and watch you die, Harry Potter. Take your time. I'm in no hurry."
Lily finally let out a shriek of rage and screamed, "HOW DARE YOU! HOW DARE YOU! MY BABY! YOU CAN'T JUST STAND THERE WHILE YOU KILL MY BABY! My baby…" she mumbled almost incoherently, collapsing on the floor, tears streaming down her face. "My baby…"
James let out a snarl as he swept Lily into his arms, glaring a fiery death on Tom Riddle.
Harry shook his head, like he was trying to clear it. Color was coming back to his face, and he grabbed the fang, plunging it into his dairy.
Regulus was suspicious at the screaming the diary had done. He concluded it was a horcrux, and that scared him slightly. Voldemort had made more than one. He had suspected it, now he had conclusive proof.
As Riddle disappeared with one last scream, Ginny woke with a start, bursting into tears at the sight of the diary. Hogwarts was now safe once again.
Regulus frankly didn't understand how Harry loved the school so much. Even at times of peace, someone always hated him. He supposed his friends, Ron and Hermione, might help with that; yet they both had their fair share of fights, with or without Harry involved.
Regulus felt his respect growing for the Boy-Who-Lived, but also felt his sympathy deepen. He understood the glance of empathy that the boy had given him: he understood what it was like loose people. People you cared about. Anger rose in him as he saw Dumbledore renew compulsion charms and use Legilimency on him, fill his food with potions, and blatantly use him as a tool.
Regulus realized, belatedly, that the kid was Sirius's magically and blood adopted son. (The whole pretence on that was so that if anything happened to the Potters, Sirius could take him wherever he wanted, regardless of the laws and paperwork usually involved in the transfer of guardianship.) His nephew. Somehow, he thought, scowling at his own softness, that didn't seem so bad.
The memories had flip-flopped, showing what Harry and Neville were doing at the same points in time. For example, it showed Harry's fourth birthday (lying in his cupboard) and then Neville's, (unwrapping a few presents while Augusta watched with a slight smile on her face).
Neville's past was not as bad as Harry's. Augusta was strict, but she cared for him and loved him, Neville knew that. She knew that Algernon, Neville's great-uncle, kept trying to "force" the magic out of him, and had promptly banned him from visiting when she saw smack him with a shovel. Algernon had only come over twice a year since that incident when Neville was five, being watched like a hawk by Augusta the entire time.
Augusta was distraught when she saw the next year, after the Longbottoms' annual Christmas party:
"So, have you shown any magic lately, Squib?" he jeered at Neville. The little six-year-old trembled.
"No, shir," he mumbled, quivering.
Algernon smacked him straight across the face, sending him flying to the floor.
Frank roared in anger and Alice shrieked in outrage. Augusta shook violently, clutching Minerva's shoulder tightly.
"Speak up, boy!" he sneered. "And stand straight!"
A shaking Neville got to his feet, "No, sir," he enunciated clearly, squeaking slightly at the end as Algernon drew his wand.
"Well, we'll have to fix that won't we?" he questioned, snarling. "No heir to the Most Noble and Ancient House of Longbottom can be a squib! If you can't show magic correctly, we'll have to force it out of you. Conteramosis!" He fired off, a jet of bright light shot through the air and Neville crumpled, his shinbone breaking with a loud SNAP.
Deadly silence ensued from the two Longbottom parents as Augusta quivered like a leaf.
"He fired a bone-breaking curse at my son," Frank enunciated the last two words very clearly to remind everyone that Algernon Longbottom would not get away with this abuse.
Alice was caught between heartbreak and anger, tears leaking out her eyes as she violently cursed, her hold on Frank becoming a death grip.
All was not done for the Longbottoms: they watched the curses get more violent and savage as Algernon and Neville's ages increased, the former determined to make sure the heir to the House of Longbottom had "at least one modicum of magic", as the man so kindly put it.
Regulus felt his empathy increase for the Longbottom boy, too. The boy was gifted in Herbology and had a real sense of humor that he only seemed to be able to share with plants and house-elves, as he didn't have any friends and Augusta had to take care of the estate.
But seeing all the damage Dumbledore had done, to his brother, his nephew, and his cousins—and to children, no less—it left no doubt in Regulus' mind that he was going to pay the price for his actions.
What was it the Muggles say?
Revenge is sweet.
Harry watched through his six-month old eyes as his grandmother ("Ga'ma" in his baby-speak) tickled him mercilessly.
Dorea Black was what was called a "metamorphmagus". She could change her appearance at will. There were different levels of metamorphmagi, though, as the difference between her and Harry's cousin, Nymphadora Tonks, was that Nymmie had complete control over all of her features and could change her hair pink, purple, or blue, could grow three feet, and make her nose ten inches longer. Dorea only had control over her hair; and even then she could only change it different shades of red, brown, blonde, and black.
The Blacks, her birth family, prided themselves on being recognizable: olive complexion, wavy black hair, gray eyes, high cheekbones, and a sharp jaw. Dorea was picture-perfect with all of these traits, except for the fact that she was a natural redhead.
From a young age she had worn her hair black, the way her parents wanted it, and had been the epitome of a pureblood-princess. (At least in Black standards.) She sneered at Muggles and Muggle-borns (though she seemed rather indifferent on the subject), acted like she walked on air, basically made everyone think they were below her, was cold and concise in public matters, and gave no hint of emotion.
In reality, though, that was just Dorea's façade (well, somewhat). In private, she cared very much about her family and welcomed Lily to the Potters' household with open arms. She only wanted to protect those she cared about and her family to be happy.
The memories Harry had watched had all been from year and a half he had lived with his parents. It had started a couple hours after his birth, in St. Mungo's. Harry had watched memory after memory of his father or mother holding him, singing to him, telling them they loved him, and playing with him.
He had seen Sirius before Azkaban; how he always had a smile on his face and a mischievous twinkle in his eyes and how he came over every afternoon to the Potters' cottage in Godric's Hollow. He watched how Sirius would play with him and tell him how much he loved him like his own son.
Harry watched as Remus came over every other afternoon, to read to him and try with Sirius and his father to get him to talk. Remus and Sirius would pick him up and swing him around in the air when James or Lily wasn't looking, and Harry had seen what happened when they had gotten caught doing that one time. The incident, funnily enough, had resulted in his first words.
Harry had to stifle a laugh as he watched the memory.
Sirius swung him up high in the air, eliciting a giggle from his one-year-old self. Remus laughed and caught Harry, throwing him back to Sirius, who swung him up again, only—
"WHAT. THE. HELL. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING WITH MY SON?" came the roar and James barged into the room, snatching Harry out of the air, who only giggled.
"Come on, Prongsie," Sirius tried for a smile, no doubt thinking about what happened to the Death Eaters who only three days ago tried to snatch Harry out of his carriage while shopping. They were in St. Mungo's, and probably would not make it to Azkaban because of the terrible shape James had left them in. The two Marauders were once again reminded that James was very overprotective of his son. So were Remus and Sirius, but definitely not to that extent. "We were just having fun, weren't we, pup?" he looked to Harry for support.
Harry just giggled, this time muffled against James' chest.
"He wasn't hurt, Prongs," Remus tried to sooth, but to no avail as James turned his furious stare on him. "Harry's fine, look! He was having a fun time!"
Harry giggled again, "'ell!" he laughed, making the Marauders freeze.
"Harry," James said cautiously, lifting him to eye-level, "Can you repeat that?"
Harry tried unsuccessfully to snatch James' glasses, "'ell!" he laughed.
Sirius'ss eyes bugged out. "Lily will be here soon!" he whispered frantically.
"She'll kill us!" Remus said, his voice full of dread.
"Oh hell," James swore, than promptly shut his mouth as the door rattled and Lily stepped into the room, arms laden with groceries.
"Hell!" Harry screamed with delight, his words getting more coherent.
Lily froze and frowned. "James, don't swear!" she scolded, "You know Harry's getting to the point he'll try to copy you to form words!"
James unsuccessfully tried to muffle Harry as he clapped his hands and said, fully enunciating the word, "Hell!"
The three Marauders froze, to look at Lily who was glaring daggers at James, who was holding the baby in his arms, "Give him here. Now."
James walked carefully over to Lily, his legs shaking, and handed her Harry. She put him down on the couch with the groceries and slowly pulled out her wand.
"You have five seconds to run," she said in a deadly voice. "Five—"
Remus scrambled out of the way, pushing Sirius to the ground—
Sirius ducked into the kitchen, changing into Padfoot as he did so—
James hurriedly opened the latch of the window, only to find it didn't open—
Remus ran up the stairs—
James ducked behind the couch, but not before a jinx caught him, turning him bald.
"YOU ARE CORRUPTING MY SON!" Lily screeched. "CHILDISH WAYS—MARAUDER GENES—YOU WILL BE SLEEPING ON THE COUCH, JAMESON POTTER!" she roared, chasing her husband and his friends as they ducked out the back door.
"Hell!" Harry clapped happily in the background.
Watching his memories, Harry finally felt like he belonged somewhere. (Not only that, but the warm feeling of his magic spreading through his body helped him feel more comfortable, also.) The memories gave Harry the knowledge of the Wizarding world he should've grown up in. He now knew all the sayings; ("There's a cat among the pixies, now." And "No use crying over spilt potion.") and caught all the references; he knew every feature of the magical world; and could probably recite every Quidditch team's score from 1980-1981.
No longer did Harry feel like stranger in the world he was born in. He watched almost two years worth of memories, filled with his mum using magic to cook and clean and his father healing injuries from full moons to decorate his room. Harry had memories of watching a Quidditch game every month and playing with house elves.
Harry didn't feel so lonely any more. He remembered playing with Neville, his best friend, every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. He also saw himself playing Susan Bones, Hannah Abbott, a girl named Luna Lovegood, Terry Boot, Seamus Finnigan, and Michael Corner. (Even one horrific afternoon of having to play with Draco Malfoy for a very long three hours.) While he played with both the Weasley twins and Ron, he played with Neville the most. He was eager to restart the constant companionship Dumbledore had deprived him of.
After watching two years of him being cared for by his parents and godparents, he felt like a piece of him was back. While he was still an independent person, he understood more why he could let his mum, dad, Uncles Moony, Padfoot, and Frank, Aunt Alice and Grandmas Gusta and Minnie take care of him. They loved him and they would help him.
Harry, after watching countless Wizengamot meetings, also understood his position more. While using your position to keep your family safe, you could also keep others safe, too; like Muggle-borns and magical creatures, who were generally sneered at in the Wizarding world.
Harry also had to endure watching his parents, Sirius, and Remus brag about him. When his father brought him into the Auror office everyone was looking to see "Your kid you kept bragging about" as Dawlish put it. It made him blush in embarrassment every time they brought up the newest thing he had done.
Harry had howled with internal laughter as Lucius Malfoy walked into the Auror office sneering, "This is your child, James? Amazing to see how much he is like you. Let's hope he isn't as…lucky as you." He turned, but before he had walked away, Harry had performed some spectacular accidental magic that transfigured his hair purple and his robes pink with rainbow sequins, his hair grew, along with his chest, to the dismay of Aunt Alice ("Are you mocking me, Malfoy?" She had thundered, even though she knew the real culprit, "Those robes look much better on me than you, unless you are permanently changing your name from Lucius to Lucy, you egotistical, blonde peacock!").
While watching memories would usually bring a melancholy feel to him, Harry was only filled with joy as he realized that these same people were in the same room as him.
Watching his parents' murders, however, was even harder than before as he knew them as real people. The most disgusting part was when Harry was deposited in Dumbledore's care, before he was left at the Dursleys'.
"Brat," he had sneered at him. "Well, you'll give me what I want, if nothing else. Binding your magic and magical gifts, erase your memories, compulsion and loyalty charms…" he muttered, checking off his list. "Thank Salazar I could at least use you to steal Charlie's old monitoring devices. Paranoid old bastard. Should've been in Slytherin rather than Gryffindor. Well, at least you'll be easy to sacrifice to Voldemort. Idiot child."
He swung Harry into his arms, not at all gently, and shoved him in waiting Hagrid's arms. "Bring him to the Dursleys', Hagrid. It's in Little Whinging, Surrey." He instructed, putting on his grandfatherly-persona before apparating away with a pop.
That wasn't the only time he had seen Dumbledore's manipulations. After both the Chamber of Secrets and Sorcerer's Stone debacles, he had managed to gain independence, at least for a few weeks. Then, he was forcefully shoved back to the Dursleys' and obliviated.
The most recent incident that was obliviated, though, sometime in the spring of his last school year.
Harry had decided to research more about Sirius Black and had come across that he never had a trial. He had also found, that in the Potters' will, which he managed to get a copy of, that Sirius was innocent and had guessed Peter was the one guilty of the charges. He had brought the tale to Dumbledore, who in turn obliviated him.
"Potter spawn," the old headmaster spat. "You're a spitting image of your thrice-damned father, meddling in things that aren't your concern! At least once a year you've either gained independence or come to me with proof of my own manipulation. You're more slippery than your bastardly grandfather and grandmother combined. You'll ruin my plans, at this rate!"
Harry stepped away, stunned speechless. Incidents and suspicions were connecting in his mind.
Almost as reading his mind, Dumbledore sneered, "Too clever for your own damn good, Potter. Obliviate!"
Harry snapped out of his trance, furious at Dumbledore and ready to take control of his life. The old coot had a lot to answer for.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or JKR's works.
ON INDEFINITE HIATUS
I really, really owe you all an explanation. So, this work's on indefinite hiatus because these chapters that I just uploaded are actually about a year and a half old. (Dumbledore wasn't terribly in character, was he? *sheepish, awkward laugh*) During that year and half, I'd done many more (very incomplete) works and started to really learn how to write and find myself as a writer. I'm sure anyone who read this in its original format would agree that the writing changes drastically from the prologue to the last chapter. That being said, I did rework the prologue and chapter one, which is why the change from prologue/chapter one to chapter two is so dramatic - the prologue/chapter one is very recent, while chapters two through sixteen are all over two years old. I think the change to prologue/chapter one helps the story flow a little better, and though this work desperately needs a revamp, I have too good of works in the process and too much school work to do it. However, I figured I wasn't really doing you all any good not posting these chapters (you all have been much too good to me!). I hope I'll make it up to you all by announcing that I have two works that I will be updating once a week, every week. The first is…
THE BLACKS ARE BACK!
This is a Harry Potter fic about how the Blacks are…well…back and rarin' for revenge! The official blurb is on my page, and the first chapter of the story'll be up when this is.
The second, for any Star Wars fans that would like to check out…
A SEMI-UNWILLING ACCOMPLICE IN SORT OF EVERYTHING
In which Luke Skywalker, an almost-fifteen year old slightly amnesiac galaxy-feared thief, ends up becoming a Jedi. How, he's still not entirely sure.
Thank you all SO MUCH for your reviews!
Please, any comments, suggestions, or questions are welcome.