last mile in the pale light; a seventynine logharry potter (seventynine-verse) | barty crouch jr/regulus black | 3,179 words | log
begun on 9/30/07
notes co-written with trinities (regulus pov). title from the stars' time can never kill the true heart.
It caused him to become impatient. Impatient, uneasy, uncomfortable, and quite honestly, Regulus wanted to break something. Breaking something was a proper show in the Black house. He didn't like acting like his angry mother or even his brother, but the appeal of taking something in the common room and causing a large crash was something he longed for. However, just as he pulled his wand and locked on one of the objects he felt wasn't too valuable, a better plan came to him. Rather than waiting for the individual that was causing this level of anxiety in the common room, he could go elsewhere. Didn't he know the passageways just as well? His fingers uneasily teased up and down his extended wand before he slipped it back into his robes. No one else was present; it was late enough that he was the only one awake. No one else even noticed Barty missing, but he did. There wasn't a notice that Barty was gone with his father again; this was something different.
Disgruntled, he slipped through the corridors of Hogwarts until he reached the one least visible and most difficult to reach. If he was correct, this would be the one that Barty would take. Anyone that would follow him would write off the location quickly. Regulus inspected the location, hoping for some indication that it had been disturbed lately. There were a couple places where the dust hadn't settled completely, but was still carefully brushed over recently. The meticulous nature of it seemed quite like Barty, if Regulus knew at least that aspect of the boy well enough. He didn't disturb the dust more, and instead stepped away until he reached a wall behind him.
His head shook as he lowered himself onto the dirty floor and waited for his friend to come through. Both of his arms rested on his knees, and he started running verses from books through his mind to keep himself awake. The more difficult the verse, the greater the chance that Barty wouldn't come in to a sleeping Regulus.
As Barty walked back through the tunnel towards Hogwarts, he kept his wand lowered by his side so that it illuminated his next steps and not much more. He was getting to know the passage enough that he could rely on his body — high as it was — to follow the meanderings more or less accurately. He hummed low in this throat: not a song, but a steady note that vibrated pleasantly down his neck. His thoughts went frequently to Em, fell away, turned corners and came back again. The girlishness of her voice, her boyish figure and the places her dress clung to it, the lethargy the smoke had caused and the way she'd looked at him.
The first thing Barty noticed when he stepped through the insubstantial wall into the large Potions stockroom was the faint set of footprints that hadn't been there before. Before his stoned mind could tense up his body, his eyes flickered to where the prints' owner sat against one wall. Even then, he remained loose, the sense of resignation distant and the irritation further still. He'd been expecting it, Reg's indignation building behind his glares for days now. "Merlin," Barty said, his soft voice made scratchy by smoke.
"I could have you expelled," Regulus said almost instantly. It wasn't a greeting, and if Barty knew him well enough, it wouldn't be much of a threat once given the opportunity to really think on it, but it felt good saying it. He straightened up from his place, if only because the thoughts of sleep were lingering a little more freely during the time he'd been sitting there. Sitting up made him look less dazed. Of course, he didn't look as badly as Barty did at the moment, even in the faint light provided between them in the small store room.
He rested his head back and considered pointing his wand in a threatening manner. But instead, he relaxed, and hoped this conversation would end in his favor.
"What do you do when you leave?" His voice was firm, indignant, and perhaps seeping with jealousy. The idea that another comrade, however close or far, could fall into this kind of path irritated him. Barty had earned the Dark Mark. And he was practically spitting on the fact with every moment. "You look like shite." A vicious word, and not at all accustomed to falling off Regulus' tongue when he wasn't into one of his rare moments of rage, but it fell out all the same.
Barty moved closer to Reg, but not too close, pushing himself up onto a table a few feet away from where Regulus sat. The edge touched the backs of his knees. He leaned back on his hands and looked down at his friend, if that was what they were. People seemed to have several definitions of the word, and he supposed Regulus met more of them than anyone else did.
There was a window nearby, outside the room, and the moon was bright; to Barty's mind it illuminated the side of Regulus' face and the dark pigment of his hair like quicksilver.
"You know what I do, or you wouldn't be here," he murmured. "What do you want from me, Reg?"
There was a brief moment in which he considered standing up, but sitting would make his stance seem less uneasy. If he stood, his hands might shake and he might not be the formidable opponent that had come to meet his friend in this place. A few strands of hair spread over his head as he brushed his hand over it, and he felt hot, hotter than he should have, considering that it was in a dungeon during the winter time. But this was too much for him, and he was expecting that simple phrases and questions could do it for him.
What did he want? He wanted Barty to not become like the rest, to slip away and fall through the cracks as the others did. Regulus felt no particular kinship toward his brother, but he still resented the fact that he pulled away like it was nothing.
"For you to stop." It came out flat, and he didn't even focus in a little more properly to say it. "What do you think that He'd think?" he asked, the question coming out quickly, harshly, as if it had occurred to him and he needed to get it out immediately. "Associating with Mudbloods like that. You aren't even getting anything out of it." Regulus figured this was what he wanted: for Barty to stop, for Barty to realize he was being an idiot.
Barty huffed out a quiet laugh that never would have escaped him were he sober, the absurdity of it all striking him rather suddenly. The contrasts Reg was presenting (black hair black robes white glowing skin edgy lines haughty tones) held his steadfast attention, however.
"Who am I meant to associate with?" he asked, it seemed a bit more scratchily, the laugh still lingering in his throat. "Death Eaters, purebloods? I'm a Crouch." He swallowed, deliberately ran a hand across his bloodshot eyes. He let them burn for a moment. Opened them. "And He doesn't want me to sever that tie. Not yet."
Barty straightened and leaned his elbows on his thighs, not looking at Reg. He was too liable to give something away in this state; even then, it was probably the drugs' doing, because Regulus already knew. It galled Barty sometimes to think of it. The knowledge about him that Regulus possessed and no one else. He demanded answers of him, though, and this was the impractical essence of Regulus, the need for honesty from everyone but himself. "We can't all be like you," he said, his fragmented mind not realising this wasn't as much of a non-sequitur as it seemed to himself.
Even in his state, Regulus had to note that Barty had a point. His fingers brushed over the ground, and even if it was dirty, it didn't bother him as much as it might have bothered the other boy. He considered it briefly before the last statement came out. What did that mean, he wondered? His eyes squinted to analyze Barty's features, to pull something of meaning from what he was saying, but the same vaguely stoned expression remained. The other things flicked through his mind, then. The fact that Barty was laughing when he wasn't, the fact that he was showing more expressions than usual. Perhaps this was all a connecting theme.
Instead of staying on the floor, Regulus rose unsteadily. He felt too small, too clumsy, especially in comparison to his brother who could part a crowd with his appearance. Regulus, in comparison, was frail looking, as if someone wouldn't have to try to break him.
"Better people than that," he uttered blandly, just to quickly answer the question before moving on to the other bit. Barty looked almost white to him; his hair seemed to shine; his cheeks looked more pallid than usual; it disturbed him that Barty looked almost ethereal. "What do you mean, 'we can't all be like me'?" Regulus' hands clenched into fists as he stood, hands clenched at his side, and leaning a little toward Barty. You almost sound like my brother, he thought, the quip passing through his mind and away as quickly as he entertained it.
Barty lifted his head to find Regulus staring at him. He looked back, as always, and vaguely thought of Dung, the way he vibrated with tension if he was high and not touching someone. Dung was becoming more familiar as time went on and he (small body quick little heartbeat like a rabbit's) became more comfortable with Barty; he'd never tried it before Barty had partaken of his bag of tricks, and Barty sensed that some residual instinct of Dung's warned him against it. But Barty was all acquiescence afterwards, the acuteness of physical sensation too pulling.
The thought slipped fitfully through his mind and Barty wondered if Reg realised how close he was. Barty could smell him; like wealth and skin. He'd pushed off of the desk without planning to, but was careful not to move Regulus back, the invasion of his space slow and drug-languid. Here the heat of Regulus intensified the smell and mingled with sweat. He breathed in, and Regulus's question only just came back to him then.
Barty thought for a moment, his gaze dropping lightly down the other boy's face. His throat ached, pulse throbbing; his voice sounded used when he spoke.
"Black and white." Barty looked up again with a challenge in his eyes, wondering if Regulus could stand to back down from it. "Pure."
While Barty could smell the sweat — and the wealth — practically leaking off Regulus, Regulus could smell the smoke that lingered in Barty's hair, and the fact that he'd been in a place that was unclean. The drugs clung to him in a myriad of ways; they revealed themselves through Barty's eyes, through his tone, and through the way he carried himself. As he grew accustomed to the mixtures of scents lingering between the two of them, Regulus felt a disgusted twitching in his stomach. And as Barty seemed to move closer, his natural inclination was to pull back, turn away, leave him there and forget this confrontation.
But even though Regulus wanted to do that, he never let himself step down. The nervousness, once much like his normal character, was even more present. His hands shook a little, his throat was dry, and he was frustrated. The frustration, usually a blank mask, was far more evident than usual. If anything, the more this situation grew into a dead end argument, the more he looked less like his father, a frank but subdued man, and more like his infamous mother.
"That means nothing to me," he spit out. "And probably not to you, either."
Regulus' anger, so venomous in the scant distance of air between them, slithered down Barty's throat and coiled low in his gut. He didn't usually talk around Regulus (unless by second nature), if only because there was less to talk around with him: Reg knew Barty's secrets, and as for Regulus himself, Barty preferred to keep the things he thought he understood about the other boy even closer. He didn't need Barty's encouragement to dig his own holes. But now he was practically trembling with his agitation, and it would have been intoxicating even if Barty wasn't already. His hands still gripped the edge of the table, but he leaned closer. Reg could probably feel Barty's breath along his jaw when he spoke.
"I always know what I'm saying." Barty dropped his head to the side, Regulus twitched slightly, and the brush of his mouth over Reg's could have been a mistake. For one of the few times in his life, Barty wasn't interested in ambiguity. He let go of the table with one hand, and could still feel the imprint of the wooden edge on his skin when he slid it up Regulus' neck into his hair; his scalp was hot and slightly damp. "I always know what I'm doing." Barty pressed their mouths together.
Despite all of the ways his admittedly adolescent mind had conjured this scenario, Barty kept the first few moments fairly undemanding. The pot made him slow and sensitive to the merest movement, but he was also waiting to see what Reg would do.
It may have been a good idea to step back sooner, but Regulus didn't do it when the idea finally became a better idea.
Instead, he stood in place, and let Barty kiss him, let his mouth, which tasted like a mixture of drugs and sweat, press against his own. Regulus remembered the last time he kissed someone, the Davis girl, in the common room at the end of his fifth year. The session didn't last long because he was disinterested in her, and only interested in the way her fingers trailed up on the inside of his thighs when he was looking away. There were other false conquests, made up in spats with his brother, and they weren't altogether unrealistic. Girls often wanted a piece of a Black brother; if Sirius tossed them aside or didn't give them more than a passing glance, they would go for the younger one. It didn't mean he reciprocated, as he hated nothing more than being a second choice. Most of the girls weren't that attractive as it was.
This wasn't like kissing a girl in a common room he was disinterested in; this was a friend of his, who he was currently angry at, practically assaulting him and forcing him to have to think quickly. Regulus leaned up into it while he thought — quickly as he could — and then shoved Barty away with all the force he could muster. The action seemed to drag up all the anger he had stored up but never used for some time. He lurched forward and grabbed on to Barty's shirt and pressed against him. "What the fuck is wrong with you?" he growled. As the hairs on his head seemed to become more matted, he only served to look like his brother. It was only now that he looked more alive than usual.
"I'm not a fucking shirtlifter." It didn't even sound convincing — the images and feeling still lingered in his mind; the initial reaction, too, lingered, telling him that he shouldn't have done that — but he resisted it by pulling Barty with him and slamming him back again.
If the violence of Regulus' reaction was meant to turn Barty off— He stayed leaning against the table where Reg had shoved him and didn't take his eyes off the other boy, though Regulus seemed to barely see him. The anger and horror and — there, yes, fear — were all turned in on himself, Barty just the catalyst. It was a power he'd not yet experienced, to actually do this to someone, rather that passively watching and waiting. His eyelids felt heavy with it. His ribs were sore where Reg's hands had been. "I never asked," he said.
In his fury, it seemed Regulus had forgotten to move out of Barty's reach, eyes wild and bright. Barty reached out and pulled him sharply back against him. The fist gripping Reg's shirt pressed into both of their stomachs, and when Barty kissed him this time it was hard and wet and bruising; when Barty held his neck his fingers bit into the muscles. "Show me you're angry," he whispered against Regulus' mouth, a deliberate hint of supplication carrying with his breath.
Regulus kissed him back this time. It wasn't caused by some overwhelming desired to do so, but because he thought that would give Barty what he wanted while there would be an opportunity to throw a hex in and leave him to the room. An ache shot through his neck as he opened his mouth and kissed Barty back, the kiss a little sloppy, a little misplaced, as if he didn't know what he was doing. There was a dizzying effect this time, though, that passed through his head and made him aware of the little space between him and Barty, and it was making his anger subside whether he liked it or not. Perhaps it was because, to initiate this return of a kiss, he had to close the distance off between him and Barty, or perhaps it was because he hadn't been very convincing.
The pain, however, bothered him too much. It was almost like a deterrent from him possibly enjoying this, even if he refused to admit that from himself. Pain was what kept most of his childhood memories with Sirius from being pleasant, as they would wrestle and Sirius would end it with a punch too hard to the gut or Regulus would walk away with a bloodied lip. Quidditch was the same way, and Regulus would likely only find his seventh year to be memorable, a year without all of his brother's friends coming and destroying every match he played in.
This wasn't like those situations, however. Regulus did have some ability to get out of this, and as he seemed to lose focus on what his lips were doing, he moved his hand to pull his wand. The word incendio didn't even need to be spoken as he quickly dropped away from Barty and turned toward the door. "Aguamenti." The wand was pointed at Barty again with this. "Get back to your room, Crouch." There was a level of disdain to his voice, and he didn't even bother to look at Barty before he opened the door and slid out. If Barty started after him, he would realize that Regulus took this opportunity to run. Running away from any sort of revelation was what Regulus did best.