|Of Causes, Loyalty and Treason (Regulus, Tom Riddle)
||[Jul. 7th, 2013|03:31 am]
Title: Of Causes, Loyalty and Treason
Character(s): Regulus Black, Tom Riddle/Voldemort, Antonin Dolohov, others in mention
Word count: 3,098
Summary: Regulus Black is faithful to the Cause, yet he is starting to wonder whether the man he and his friends follow is fighting for the same thing.
A/N: Written for the worshipdarklord fest. Recced in the quibbler_report.
The wind blew in small, abrupt gusts, pushing grey clouds around in the gloomy July sky. At the height of the summer, the day had been overtaken by a distinctly autumn mood. Cool and dark, it was the appropriate mood for a funeral.
Black cloaks and dresses, subdued bouquets of flowers on the ornate, polished coffin. The men’s cloaks were clasped by pins showcasing their family crests and they glinted haplessly in the subdued grey light.
This wasn’t the first casualty of the war, but it was the first one that had come so close to home for Regulus. All the others, even if he knew them, it had only been in passing. Now, feeling lost and small, he stood between Evan and Barty, the Black family crest heavy on his chest. It forced him to recognize that he was the Black family’s last hope for honor, pride and continuation. There was a half-bitter, half-salty taste in his mouth. Tears and bile rising up as Regulus forced himself to be strong, to be honorable, and not avert his eyes.
Their entire battle squad was there. Also, some of the other young men from the Organization, some of the younger boys Anatole had helped train, a few of the officers, some of Anatole’s childhood friends, his family.
Regulus could listen to the eulogy, his thoughts were completely absorbed by memories and thoughts. Anatole Bonfante had been Regulus’ classmate and friend. They had studied together, trained together, fought together, laughed together for seven long, not-unhappy years. Death seemed like such a strange thing to come between them. Dying seemed to be such an easy, selfish way of bailing, just sinking behind the veil and leaving everyone else to do the mourning, the hard work.
Regulus had born a loss before – Sirius. He had once had a brother, a brother who was no longer his brother, yet he was alive. And there was the catch: Sirius was still alive, paying whatever the price was for him just as Regulus had paid the price of pain and shame. Dying on your friends seemed like such a strange, unfair thing to do.
Regulus tried to rid himself of these thoughts. He realized they were nonsensical and stupid, small childish things brought out by grief. But his mind could not focus. He stood throughout the entire ceremony, hands clasped behind his back, eyes respectfully lowered, with thoughts chasing one another in his head. It was strange that out of all of them – their entire elite squad, highly trained, high risk – Anatole would be the first to go. It could have been anyone really, but it was him. And for such a strange reason too: betrayed by his fiancé. “She didn’t like it, I guess, when she found out he was a Death Eater. Led him straight to the Aurors,” someone – in his daze, Regulus could not recall who – had told him. A raid, a mortal Blood Curse hit…and then a month of everyone holding their breath to see if the Lab could find a cure.
It made no sense to Regulus. Why would a good Pureblood girl betray her betrothed because he was fighting for their rights? It wasn’t the first time this had happened either. They’d heard of similar things happening: fathers giving up sons, brothers turning on each other, wives leaving husbands… It made no sense. Regulus wondered, if Sirius had still been around would he have led him into an Aurors’ nest too, betrayed him to his Order friends. Regulus had nightmares about the day he might have to come face-to-face with Sirius in battle and cast the Avada. But on one seemed to understand that. Everyone said – Mr. Dolohov said – that it could happen and that Regulus should not have doubts about it. “Your brother betrayed you, Mr. Black,” he had been told by the Lord himself. ‘He is no longer your brother. Treachery is the greatest of crimes.” Regulus had responded with the “yes, my Lord,” which was expected of him and yet he wondered, late at night during the long hours of insomnia, if he could ever truly bring himself to kill his brother and why everyone insisted it was so easy.
Regulus had been taught from very early on, that family was the greatest unit of life. That a man must always be true to his family, beyond all other loves, all other duties and all others causes. So Sirius had committed treason, the greatest crime. Regulus should have hated him on the fact alone, but he wondered, without wanting to, what could possibly push a person to do such a thing. Treason was a scary word, Regulus thought, far scarier than Death.
At the wake, their squad staked out a corner for themselves and brooded together over half-finished glasses of wine. When Antonin approached them, Rabastan was the firs to pose the question: “Mr. Dolohov, will someone transfer into the the Young Guard to take Anatole’s place?”
Antonin looked around at them, running a hand through his hair. “I’m not sure, Mr. Lestrange. I may transfer someone in eventually, but we will shift formations for now. Let us speak of this later, though?”
They accepted this without question. Regulus’s eyes latched onto Antonin and the thoughts that had been running around in his head took form. He remembered the conversation he had with the Lord after Sirius ran away. Regulus had only been an Academy boy of fifteen at that point, unmarked and not yet fully trained. But he had been made the Black heir and he was part of the Young Guard so they must have worried about his defecting as his brother had. The Lord himself had issued a summons which was run in mid-training session by some assistant or another.
Regulus had went, nervous and fidgety, trying his best to not show how much the looming dark rooms of their Lord frightened him, not to mention the ominous figure of the man himself.
The thick double doors swung open and Regulus found himself in a dimly-lip room. The Dark Lord presided over the chamber in a plush, regal-looking armchair sitting beside the fire. He face was deep in shadow and Regulus could not make out the minute details of his expression.
“Come closer, Mr. Black,” the Lord said in his soft, velvety voice which over-pronounced the “s”s sometimes. Regulus moved forward, feeling more than hearing the doors behind him close. He dropped to a kneeling position on instinct in the middle of the room, his training cloak pooling around him in folds of deep black.
“You are yet to be Marked, Mr. Black.”
“Yes, my Lord.”
“Antonin is very hopeful for you, Mr. Black. Your training is progressing well and if you continue to serve well, you shall be awarded that honor.”
“Yes, my Lord.” Regulus was not sure what else he could say. These were not questions, merely statements. They seemed to be aimed at reassuring him but Regulus felt, intuitively, that something was coming, something that would hit him upside the head from around a dark corner and he would never see it coming until it was too late.
“Do you believe in the Cause, Mr. Black?”
Finally a question. “Yes, of course, my Lord.”
“So you understand why your brother is no longer your brother?”
“My brother has committed a vile act of treason in the name of Mudbloods and Blood Traitors. A Black never betrays his family and his blood.”
There is silence for a very long time so that Regulus begins to fear that he had either said something wrong or that the Lord had forgotten about him. He wanted to look up and see what was happening but his entire socially-attuned set of instincts protested against that, so he kept his eyes lowered.
“Do you fear me, Regulus?” The use of his first name and the forward question confused and startled Regulus. He tried to find something honorable to say, like that he was in awe of their Lord’s power, but before he could form a reply, the Dark Lord spoke again. “Rise, Mr. Black. Let us talk as one wizard to another. After all, you are not officially sworn to me yet.”
The bait was obvious, however, Regulus rose, understanding that that was requested of him regardless. Somehow there was a tinge of sarcasm in the Lord’s voice when he said that Regulus was not sworn to him, as though he dared the young wizard to agree, to confirm that he still held onto a potential way out. There was something insulting in that tone, something that Regulus’s entire sense of honor protested against but he was just a boy and the Dark Lord was mighty and powerful and great, so he kept his mouth shut and his eyes respectful.
“One day, Mr. Black, you will be Marked and made worthy of your name and of your blood. It is true that I am the greatest wizard of my time and that I have great power. You have seen it, Mr. Black.” The Lord rose and Regulus straightened his shoulders as to not seem too small and pathetic. “I can give you many reasons to follow me, Mr. Black. Fear is one of them, respect is better though. I have the power to preserve our culture, I lead our Cause and very willingly so. Now your brother, the reason he ran, was because he did not understand. It is not even the Mudbloods that he loves so much – although he may cover his actions up with altruism. Do you know the real reason, Mr. Black?”
Regulus slowly shook his head, “No, my Lord.” He had lain awake many times late at night, wondering why Sirius had abandoned him, subjected their entire family to shame. Even if he did not want to fight for their Cause, why did he join people who could not recognize his honor and his blood? He had seen what James Potter and that sort had done to Sirius – he ran around like a common bully torturing Snape and any other poor soul who wasn’t quite socialy adapt. Their lot had tried to make a go at Anatole as well for his French accent, but Anatole, unlike Snape, was not as fun to torment for he held himself with a confident self-worth ingrained in Purebloods. It was a self-worth Sirius had been conditioned to respond to instinctively from childhood. Surely, nothing Sirius did these days was good and honorable, so why did he chose such a path?
“It is not in a Pureblood to serve,” the Lord explained. “A Pureblood is a master not a servant, so I suppose your brother feared that under my leadership, fighting for me, he would be forced into servitude which would degrade his sense of self-dignity. Surrounded by Blood Traitors he can be lord and master of any poor soul he chooses to torture. Your friend Severus, for example. It satisfies his pride.”
It made sense, Regulus thought. “Sirius had always been very prideful,” Regulus said softly, thinking out loud.
“No one is making you take my Mark, Mr. Black.”
Regulus’ eyes went wide. Certainly, they couldn’t suspect him of defecting. He had never done anything… “My Lord, I do no—“
“Listen.” There was a stern commanding note in the Lord’s quiet, hissing tone and Regulus closed his mouth, all protests stifled. “I let my best men train you and your friends so that you may decide for yourselves if this is a Cause honorable enough to serve. We all serve the Cause, Mr. Black, even I. And you, the Pureblood heirs of our world, are in the end the most important pieces of the puzzle. My power is great but if the Pureblood families were to turn on me…This war is won with your blood, Mr. Black. All men serve in one way or another. It is not shameful to serve, Mr. Black. It is even less shameful to serve a leader who will honor your name and your Cause, who values his men. The Young Guard was created for the very purpose of advancing you and those like you, of allowing you to take your places in this world. Those like your brother will tell you that I do not value my men, that I simply want to conquer and kill and that I do not care how much blood is spilled in my name. These are all lies, of course. Either lies or painful misconceptions. I mourn every drop of magical blood spilled.”
Regulus nodded and thought and nodded and though that he understood.
That had been a couple of years ago. They had all finished their training since then and transferred into the battle forces. They had been Marked and honored and fought battles in the name of the Cause and the Lord. Regulus hated the blood and the fear but he would always think of that day their squad had been presented to the Lord, the ceremony and the ball, the way their Lord had looked at them and said: “You are my best men and our civilization’s future” and he would feel reassured. Regulus used to feel proud of that, but now something wormed unpleasantly inside him.
The Lord never came to the funerals and memorials. Regulus had always waved it off; after all most of the people who had died so far were informants or Half-Bloods. Now that Half-Bloods weren’t important but the Lord certainly could not attend every funeral and memorial service. He was a busy man. But, for some reason, Regulus had expected him to be here. Because if the Lord did not care to pay his respects to one of his best men than how could he claim to really care? And there was something else…
Regulus detached himself from his friends and took Antonin aside where they would not be easily overheard. “Mr. Dolohov, I must ask you something. I now right now may not be the most appropriate time but—It is…known that our Lord has experimented with immortality. There are even rumors that he has achieved it or has a way by which it could be achieved. I know…I know the Lab had tried to come up with all sorts of ways to save Anatole…Did none of the Lord’s experimental methods work? Did you not try them?” For some reason, Regulus feelt that it was important for him to know. He had a sick feeling in the bottom of his stomach that had been there for a very long time, growing and gnawing away at him and now it was unfolding and all of his thoughts were bleeding together again.
“Mr. Black…Regulus.” Antonin looked at him sympathetically. “I know you are upset. I know how tightly knit the Young Guard is and believe me when I say Mr. Bonfante meant a lot to me. I made sure the Lab and the Medics did what they could. But there is no cure for a Blood Curse and we had orders—“ Antonin stopped as though he was saying too much.
“Orders?” There was a roaring in Regulus’ ears. It was always I and the Lab and the Medics. But never our Lord. It was almost as though the Lord did not know or did not care. He cared to carry out punishments so certainly he must have cared to save one of his most promising fighters.
Antonin sighed. “We had orders to not expand beyond standard resources. Had there been a known cure, certainly we would have applied it but development of any new, experimental rituals or remedies, especially so quickly, takes up human and economic resources—“ Antonin broke off and shook his head. “Regulus, please understand that I am not indifferent. But I answer to the Lord as we all do. At one point, the orders start coming over my head.”
Regulus nodded. He was being childish, it was reasonable to want to conserve resources in a war. “So none of the Lord’s experimental methods have ever worked?”
Antonin’s expression went blank. “That information is classified.”
“Mr. Black. For Merlin’s sake.” Antonin dropped his voice. “As to my best knowledge no experimental method has worked. If it has, the Lord has not been forthcoming. The only known method to cheat death is by the creation of Horcruxes but the price of that magic is great and it is so complicated that only a very powerful wizard could achieve it.”
Regulus did not know why this bothered him. He felt as though something was pulling at him, trying to tell him something. He felt betrayed and did not know why. To his mind came the face of their Lord as Regulus remembered him from his childhood and then the thought of how the Lord had changed, how he looked now. Certainly it was the war. Yet none of the High Officers, who certainly had a lot of stress to cope with as well, did not change so strikingly. The Lord resembled a man less and less and a creature of some sort more and more. “Do you think our Lord has been making Horcruxes?” The words tumble out before Regulus can stop them.
Antonin sighed and put a hand on Regulus’ shoulder. “Go home, Mr. Black. You are tired and upset and all of these thoughts are useless. I am giving the Young Guard a day off to regroup and then we are back into training. There are new orders coming in and the war does not wait.”
“Of course, sir. Thank you.” Regulus stayed for another hour before going home. His mind was running wild and his emotions were overtaxed. He did not understand why it was important that the Lord did not come to the funeral or why it bothered him that he may be making Horcruxes in secret from his supporters.
But the word treachery kept running around in his head, detached and rampant. So for the next few months, Regulus brooded, observed, listened and committed all sorts of petty yet traitorous violations of “classified” information because he needed to know. He needed to know if the Lord truly cared about his Cause or if he only cared about himself. The Cause would always remain – strong and noble, like his friends, like his family – but even a great Cause could be run into the ground by a parasitic leader who uses it as a vehicle for his own power. And that Regulus could never allow.