This is for the lovely Amber who is always wonderful and awesome. And thanks to Paula dearest for looking this over since she ships these two hardcore.
All anyone wants is to be somebody, and Regulus and Peter are no exception.
They live in a mutual shadow -the other Black and the fourth Marauder, crossing paths but never stopping for long. It's always a brief moment of eye contact in the corridor or rubbing shoulders on the way out of Potions class. An occasional smirk from Regulus and Peter shifting his gaze to see if Sirius noticed. It's never more than an idea. And neither thinks it's a possibility the other would entertain.
Until finally, they somehow end up sharing a detention in the trophy room. They're told to dust the entire room. No magic. And no talking, but of course, that couldn't last for long. At first, it's fumbling exchanges between two people who feel as though they know each other when really they don't at all.
"So, you're Sirius' brother…"
"So, you're Wormtail…"
"What are you in for?" Peter asks.
"Not telling," Regulus says. Then he cracks a rare smile and it's like a dare that Peter can't resist. And they decide to leave any preconceived notions behind with the Special Services to the School Awards because they are both so much more than the labels they've been given. Deep down they've always known it. They're just so used to being underestimated.
But Peter swears he won't make that mistake with this boy. He knows he's clumsy and he doesn't always say the right thing. And he knows from the start that he's in for trouble; it's Regulus Black, after all. But he's determined not to screw this up.
He's determined to be Regulus' somebody.
"Hmm?" But Peter's not really paying attention. Regulus is making it difficult. Cold hands trail up and down his spine, and thin lips linger near his ear. And all this sneaking around is worth it for moments like this. Peter doesn't want to talk.
But Regulus can't shut up.
"Term's almost over. I'll miss you when you're gone."
"I'm not gone yet."
Yet. But Regulus is always two steps ahead. He's living in the future and once again, Peter feels like he has to struggle to keep up. Neither of them has learned not to make plans with someone else in mind.
But all anyone ever wants is to be loved, and Regulus and Peter are no exception.
So they make plans that won't work out quite the way they anticipate.
"When I'm your age," Regulus continues. "I'm going to get my Mark. Bella says I'll be old enough." He feels Peter's jaw clench. It always does when he brings up certain things. But he goes on as if he doesn't notice. "Can't wait to get out of here. It's going to be hell without you, Pete."
Peter doesn't know what to say to this, so instead he does a very Gryffindor thing. He clears his throat and dislodges the I love you he's been trying to swallow for weeks and it comes out as a whisper, shaky and hesitant and definitely unplanned.
Because all he wants is for Regulus to love him now and all this talk of Marks and maybes can wait for another day.
"Love you too, Pete," Regulus says, pressing a lazy kiss to his lips. "You too."
"Are you ready?" Regulus asks.
Peter stands up straight and hopes he looks more confident than he feels. He's said a lot of things, told so many lies to so many people that he doesn't know truth from fiction anymore. And honestly, he's not even sure if he cares. All he knows is that he could never be ready for this.
He looks from his own pale forearm to the skull on Regulus' skin. Its mouth is slightly open in a grim smile and once again, all he sees is a dare he can't resist. And Regulus has convinced him that there is no sense in trying.
This is going to be meaningful. He's going to make his mark by putting one on himself. He's going to finally be somebody, a somebody that Regulus can be proud of.
He's going to make a grave mistake. He just doesn't know it.
He soon finds out, though not soon enough; Peter's always too late for everything and this is no exception. And later he will look back and think that he should have known.
He should have known.
"Pete," Regulus says. It's late and Peter is startled out of his sleep to see the other man leaning over him.
"When'd you get here?" he mumbles.
Regulus doesn't answer, only crawls into bed and presses his lips to Peter's jaw. His nails dig desperately into his shoulders, causing Peter to pull back and look questioningly into Regulus' face. He looks exhausted with red-rimmed eyes and two days worth of stubble. There's no daring smile tonight.
"Just needed to see you," Regulus says, tugging at Peter's shirt.
It's not an answer, but Peter's used to this, and he knows better than to push him. Besides, for once, Regulus doesn't want to talk.
But in the morning when Peter wakes up alone, he doesn't wonder why.
And the empty space beside him at the next meeting isn't empty for long.
(It turns out any somebody can be replaced.)
Two years and Peter still can't believe he's in so deep and none of them have a clue.
But he always has been good at keeping secrets.
James and Lily express their gratitude while Harry tugs at his robes. Sirius claps him on the shoulder, says he's proud. There was a time when Peter would have done anything to hear him say that. But now? Now it is too late and bittersweet. Now it is nothing but insult to injury.
And a week later Peter watches from a safe distance as the wreckage he has caused unfolds before him, wondering what Regulus would have to say about any of this. Would he be proud? And what does it all mean, anyway?
Because all anyone wants is to be somebody, and Regulus and Peter are no exception. But in the end, all Regulus is, is dead.
And all Peter is, is a rat.