Characters: Emmeline Vance, Regulus Black, Sirius Black, Marlene McKinnon
Pairings: Emmeline Vance/Regulus Black, Emmeline Vance/Sirius Black, Marlene McKinnon/Gideon Prewett, Fabian Prewett/Caradoc Dearborn
Era: October, 1980
Word Count: 2188
Story Summary: There is only one person he needs to see before he dies.
Warnings: er…character death. Too much angst, really.
He whispers her name like a curse, the sound jutting through the silence almost menacingly, as if the single word can take back all the wrong he’s done and offer him some sort of redemption. He knows the idea is ridiculous, somewhere in the deep dark recesses of his brain, but Sirius was always the more logical brother, and it isn’t like the voices in his head are going to be the things that kill him now.
Last night he stole a horocrux from his master, and now he knows his time is running out.
He’s been running for thirty hours straight; running from the undead half-humans that chased him through the water surrounding Voldemort’s soul, running from the wind as it rushed upon him like a hungry manticore demanding blood sacrifice in order for him to save his own soul, running from the men and women he used to call friends because he knows that this is the ultimate betrayal. Most importantly, running from himself and all the secrets that wrap him up in Black and suffocate him as he thinks about the past. He wonders if Sirius ever feels like this.
Banging on the door again, his arm bloody and raw and his throat burning like a house on fire (like Marlene McKinnon’s house on fire. Remember her? The cute little redhead who sometimes hung around with Sirius. The one who said he could be anything he wanted to be and that older brothers were a right pain in the ass. Remember how she burned?) The locket is safe now, stored with Kreacher, so he knows no one but a Black will ever again hold it in their hands. He wonders what will happen if it’s Bella that finds it, if all of his hard work and self-sacrifice will be for naught, but that isn’t something he wants to think about right now. His body slumps against the wooden door and he topples forward when it opens.
Sirius? Regulus? What are you doing here?
It hurts, that she would expect his brother before him, but he guesses that’s something he has to get used to now. Everyone else always chose Sirius first, even Marlene with her long red hair, it makes sense that the only woman he ever loved would choose his brother too. Life comes full circle right before you die, and as he started with nothing while Sirius had everything it’s only fitting that he ends that way as well. She moves aside when he tries to smile and lets him in, hr arms reaching out to steady him. He balks at how bright her house is now, all white light and pink paint and flowers on the walls. It’s probably her sister’s fault, because Evangeline was a Hufflepuff and they have a thing for bright colors. He doesn’t like it, it isn’t her, and he wants to scream at how fucked up the world has become.
It’s funny, how after everything, it’s the pink walls that bother him the most.
She still looks regal, still looks like she belongs in the time of Kings. It’s been a few months since he last saw her and almost a year since he last touched her skin. He reaches out now, with the arm that isn’t slowly turning into a bloody stump, and smoothes his hand across her cheek. He expects her to recoil and is surprised when she just stands there and takes it. She isn’t a Gryffindor, she won’t slap him. She isn’t a Hufflepuff, she won’t lean into the touch. She isn’t a Ravenclaw, she won’t dissect this moment ten years from now, trying to understand if he really does love her. No, she’s a Slytherin through and through, and if he wants affection, he’s going to have to work for it. Drawing herself up to her full height, she moves towards the stove. The clock above the window strikes three.
Would you like some tea?
The questioning tone stretches beyond whether or not he needs warmth, which he does, but he’s not going to ask for that. He knows she’s trying to figure out why he’s there, sitting on a chair at her kitchen table, after three months of nothing. He knows he’s treated her horribly and he knows he should be apologizing, but there doesn’t seem to be time for that now. He doesn’t meet her eyes, because he isn’t his brother and he doesn’t have that type of courage. The truth always burns when it’s on the tip of your tongue and he tries to swallow it down but chokes on it instead.
I betrayed him, Emme, I think he can die now.
Which is a lie; because Regulus is quite sure there was more than one, even if he does only know where one was. At least she knows that he’s free now, that he’s trying to be the knight in shining armor that she always wanted, always deserved, but never had. And if this kills him, so be it, as long as one of them gets to see the sunset. He watches as she falters, watches as the cold façade all Slytherins master early fades away and all that’s left is a broken porcelain doll. He wants to help her pick up the pieces, but he doesn’t want to get blood on the shards scattered across the floor. He watches in silence as she struggles internally, the only sign that she is fighting a losing fight is the way her hand twitches towards her wand and her hazel eyes glow Avada Kedavra green. She hands him his tea without looking at him, her eyes trained on the flowers behind his left ear and her voice traveling beyond him when she finally decides to speak.
So you decide to come here? You think I can offer you protection Regulus? You’re wrong. Every day I watch my friends die, and I cannot do anything to protect them. Why, then, should I protect a man who helped kill more than one of them?
There is no bitterness in her voice, not because she isn’t angry, but because she’s above such banal things. She’s speaking the truth the only way she knows how to, with cold, calculated words that bruise as they punch against his heart. He wonders how long she’s been suffering and how long she’ll continue to suffer. He wonders if the green in her eyes was meant for him or, worse, for herself.
Because you love me.
He says it because it is the only answer they both know she cannot dispute. She does love him, every inch of him, both good and bad and downright evil. She’s loved him since she was old enough to know what it was to love and she’ll continue to love him until her heart has returned to dust. It’s a comforting thought, one that kept him warm many a night while he slept on the marble floors of the Malfoy Manor or sat on the granite chairs that give no heat. He’s clung to the fact that she loves him for so long that he knows it is unwavering in its truth.
You’ve never questioned that, have you? Years of fighting against me, of blocking my every move, and you still think I’m in love with you.
Her voice is so cold he almost thinks she’s over him, but then she throws her head to one side in a show of faux-bravado and he knows it’s all an act, all a way of forcing him to say the words neither of them have ever had the courage to say. He takes a sip of his tea and winces as it heals the dry recess of his throat. The clock above the window ticks away time like an old man throwing bread to birds. He tries to find the words, sputters as he fights the feelings, and finally finds himself unable to fight the obvious any longer. He’s going to die soon, anyway, he doesn’t need his dignity.
I still love you. I’m still in love with you.
She almost smiles, which is enough for him. He can die now, and die happy, and he thinks that if everything else in his life results in failure, this one victory is enough to vindicate him. She moves towards him, careful to avoid his right arm, and kisses his lips. There is no warmth in the kiss, because there is no warmth to be found in either of them, but he still melts into it as she presses up against him. He knows every curve of her body better than he knows his own, and as his hand moves to her face, to hold her there, he smiles, truly, as she lets out a breathy sigh.
I love you too.
The words are almost lost in the small divide between them, but he catches them just before the clock above ticks them away. It’s something he will treasure for the rest of his life, which shouldn’t be too long. She takes out her wand and charms his arm to stop the bleeding. She tells him she’ll wrap it now, because later it may get infected. He wants to laugh, tell her that it sure as hell won’t be blood loss or infection that gets him in the end, but for some reason that seems too morbid right now. He tries not to protest as she pulls away from him and moves towards the pantry, where her bandages are kept. He tries not to groan as she straddles him and tries not to cry as she magically cleans the wound.
You’re such a baby.
She teases him the way she did when they were children, and he replies to the banter in kind. There’s suddenly less light in the room and more light in her eyes and he’s happy for the first time in his life. She finishes tying and retying the cloth and then settles herself more firmly on his lap. Her lips taste like wildberries and chocolate, the way he remembers, and soon she’s moving against him in a dance they’ve perfected over the years. Mother used to say it was improper, for her to give him her body without any ring on her finger, but he knew marriage just wasn’t something they could do, not when the war has torn them apart like this.
He groans as she opens his robes and her own, sinking on to him so flesh meets flesh and there is suddenly warmth, everywhere, and he feels like he’s sweltering in sweet summer heat even if it’s the middle of October. She isn’t soft and slow as he wishes she would be, but then, neither is sure that they’ll have enough time. By the time he lets go and lets into her, she’s cleaning up the mess and waiting for him to button his robes.
They cannot find you here.
She tells him this with absolute authority and he agrees because she’s never been wrong before. He knows he’s going to die but he refuses to put her life in danger too. Kissing her once more, looking into her eyes like he wants to get lost in there, he pulls away and makes his way towards the door. There are no goodbyes, because he’s never been that emotional and she isn’t sure she can say the word without her voice cracking, there is only the moment between him being there and him being gone, where their eyes meet and they know this will be the last time. Emmeline turns away first and closes the door and Regulus is shocked by the lack of light as he makes his way back home.
The authorities find his body six hours later, flayed and tortured and so badly distorted the only person who knows, absolutely, that this is Regulus Arctus Black is his brother. Or that’s what Moody says when the older Black boy goes to identify the body. Emmeline takes the news in stride, not even blanching as she hides the only tear she’ll ever cry behind a curtain of dark brown curls. There are no sympathy cards like the ones Marlene got when Gideon died, there are no moments of awkward silence that followed Fabian around once Caradoc disappeared. There is only a single daisy passed to her before a meeting one day by Sirius’ hand.
Of course he would know.
She breaks then, shattering beautifully like a broken rainbow and he holds her while she cries.
He was so tragic.
She tells him this as if he doesn’t already know; almost forgetting that this is Regulus’ brother and that nothing she can say will surprise him. Sirius mutters words of comfort into her ear and then pauses before he kisses her. She can almost taste elderberry pie on his tongue, but then she realizes that this is the wrong Black, regardless of how gray his eyes may be, and she turns away.
She doesn’t flinch when she realizes that their voices are exactly the same.