Harry Potter. Regulus Black (gen). PG-13. I'm writing 100 drabbles in the name of Regulus Black for a challenge on this community. So enjoy the first :)
The first time the liquid touches his lips, he's certain that the consequence will be death. He's known his fate for weeks, months even, yet he still wraps his gaunt, worn fingers around the goblet he's conjured for the sole purpose of his demise. He was followed. He needs to hurry, but as the second wash of green bile taints his throat, the atmosphere becomes a solid thing, passing malevolently through his lungs, his legs stuttering, bending at the sheer agony, the madness that he knows is close. Death and deep suffering linger on his mouth as he scoops the goblet through the murky potion again, watches as it barely recedes, the light from his wand flickering as his vision flickered.
The third time is harder than the second. His fingers tremble as they come to his pale lips, tipping the glass back. The liquid stings a hot line down his esophagus this time. He nearly screams, nearly turns to run, nearly forgets what he has to do when his worst memories spin around in his head. They spin around in front of him as though they were happening again.
Sirius's face. His face as he takes his things to the front door. Ignoring their mother's loathsome voice scratching its way through the halls of Grimmauld Place in its anger, its resentment.
"FILTHY MUDBLOOD CONSORT. GET OUT OF MY HOUSE."
Sirius's face when their eyes met.
Don't leave me here, Regulus's expression said, for he had never really lost his affection for his brother. He tried to hate him, but he couldn't. Not Sirius. Never Sirius. Somewhere, deep inside, he wished he was Sirius. Wished he was so brave.
"I have to. I won't stay. I won't. I won't."
Old, spectacled eyes dim, glaze over as he drinks the first cup of nightmares. Nightmares that begin to play in his head as he's force fed the worst kind of poison. Poison that makes you see.
He sees steel gray eyes, long, dark hair plastered to a pallid, panicked face. He feels the pain that coursed through the young boy's veins as Cruciatus was cast. Over and over. The boy had already gone through so much, Dumbledore knows that somehow.
As he sees flecks of blood spilled from pleading lips, the headmaster finds himself screaming out the same words, involuntary, over and over.
"It's all my fault, it's all my fault. Please make it stop! I know I did wrong. I'll never, never again!"
His knees are scraped through even the thick fabric of his robes as he falls to the jagged stone in shared agony.
He needs Harry to give him relief. He can't bear the painful, vivid memory much longer.
Crucio! A familiar, sinister voice sneers.
"Please, please, please, no..."
Regulus is on the last cup. He raises it to his quivering lips, barely even seeing his own hand in front of him. All he can see is dark. Dark and cold as Bella laughs in his head.
Bella guiding his wand up. Up. Waiting for him to prove that he really deserved the mark that was burned into his forearm, lumpy scar tissue and flecks of angry black pigment.
"Kill the mudblood," she hissed.
And he sees his mouth forming the vile words. Avada.
It echoes through him as he collapses on the stone floor, clutching the prized locket in his hands, holding it out to Kreacher. The horcrux.
Voldemort will be destroyed. He'll make sure of it.
He doesn't care if no one ever knows he was the one who figured it out. All he leaves are his initials.
All he leaves are fingerprints that don't exist. Not to anyone that matters.
And as he hears footsteps, voices, he knows that his time has come to an end. That he will die and his only imprint on the world will be nameless. Lost with the great roiling sea that laps at the edges of the cave. He can hear it, the slow beating of waves. It calms him, and even as he screams for mercy, even as he writhes in agony on the damp, pitted floor of the cavern, he is calm inside.
He lets Sirius's voice lull him to sleep.
When his eyes close, he wishes that his brother will know he was brave after all.