In the Cave
Regulus stood at the mouth of the cave with the little house elf at his side, trembling. They were both soaked to the bone from the frigid water that had carried them to the jagged rocks on which they stood. He cast a quick spell and they were once again dry. Staring at the dark, abyss like appearance of the cave, a strange apprehension filled Regulus's mind along with a small, nagging voice that said that they would never return if they were to enter. However, he had no choice. It had to be done soon, and if it was delayed any longer, all of his work would be lost. Slowly and cautiously, the two of them proceeded into the wall of darkness, waiting for whatever was to come.
As the blackness engulfed their eyes and the damp air melded around them, it felt like they had walked into a pitch-black velvet curtain. His skin prickled as he felt the dark magic radiating through the cave.
"Master what must we do?" Kreacher spoke up in a whisper. It took all the willpower the little house elf had to keep himself from breaking down. Coming back here was like reliving his worst memory.
Regulus scrutinized the walls and felt them for any sign of what he would have to do next. Kreacher said that the Dark Lord had opened a wall by touching it, but he knew that it would not be the same for him. After trying several spells, he only managed to make a glowing arc in the wall; Regulus then realized that he would have to give some sort of payment: A sort of payment to maim the trespasser. Slowly, the young Black pulled a knife from a small pocket in his cloak, easily concealed yet easy to acquire, and made a slight incision on his forearm.
"No! Master let Kreacher do it!" the scrawny house-elf squeaked in a distressed voice and tried to grab the knife from his hand.
"Kreacher! I brought you here under the condition that you will do exactly what I tell you, and I specifically told you that you must not question my actions."
"But Master did not tell me…"
"Kreacher please understand. I cannot bare to let you hurt yourself on behalf of my task," and with that he let the pooling scarlet blood from his forearm drip onto the wall. Once again it glowed, but this time it opened into a passageway.
Kreacher led Regulus through the arc where they met an eerie sight. He stood transfixed as if a mysterious trance held him at bay, disabling his ability to move. Before him was a lake so still that it could have been mistaken for an endless chasm; only the enigmatic greenish glow found at the center gave it away as water.
"Master, it is this way," whispered Kreacher, and Regulus broke from his trance. The two skirted around the lake until the house elf abruptly stopped. He motioned to the water and said, "There is a boat here. In the water."
"Excellent… Now to bring it up…" He raised his hand and cast a few spells. Then, in his raised hand, a chain appeared that was connected to something invisible in the water. As he pulled it, the lake began to ripple slightly and a tiny, dilapidated boat appeared. Without a word, the two clambered into the compact boat, which began moving itself toward the green iridescence.
The only sound Regulus could hear was the boat cutting through the black, satiny water and his heartbeat pounding in his chest. The darkness around them seemed heavy and impenetrable, yet the boat was carving through it as if the light in front of it was a magnet. Suddenly, there was a splash of water just a mere two feet from the boat. Kreacher shook, which caused the boat to lurch slightly. "Master! There are people… in the lake!" Kreacher whimpered. He did not quite remember this happening during his last visit.
Regulus peered into the water using his wandlight seeing many faces of people who were simply drifting below them; their open eyes looked like clouds and their hair and robes drifted alongside them like seaweed. It felt like death itself had showed up and cursed the waters making it truly dead. "Inferi. Placed to protect the horcrux," Regulus whispered. His contempt for Voldemort only grew at the sight of the lifeless bodies drifting like distant shadows waiting for a trespasser to disrupt them. The thought made him shudder.
The boat was nearing the small island that held the green light. When it finally stopped against the jagged rocks, Regulus and Kreacher climbed out, trying not slip on the wet rocks. In the middle was a stone basin, which was the source of the green phosphorescence.
With a quivering voice, Kreacher spoke, "Tis the… the… potion. Kreacher had to… drink it. Kreacher saw terrible things… so many terrible things…"
Regulus, though not very keen on hearing the horrible story again, listened intently as the feeble creature shivered as recounted his story. Then he stared into the basin, only seeing his own reflection, which looked shaken and worried. He had a sudden urge to give up, but he couldn't now, not after how far they had come. Turning away from Kreacher, Regulus took out an old photograph that he had kept hidden from everyone.
He looked at the boy on the ruffled piece of paper smiling back at him. Some say that they could be twins, but the boy's perfect face shown shining, grey eyes filled with laughter, and he was wearing a scarlet and gold tie on his school uniform. If only the boy knew that his brother had changed and was going to help end this terrible war. "If only… I had said that I was sorry," whispered Regulus. His mind was set. He had no choice.
"Kreacher, you must listen to me and do exactly what I say. I will have to drink this potion just like you did…"
"Master! Is there not another way? Kreacher can…" the house elf could not bare to let his beloved master to suffer through the same thing he had to experience while accompanying the Dark Lord.
"No! Listen. The entire potion must be drunk like Voldemort made you, but if I stop, you must give it to me. No matter what I do. You must give it to me. Understand?"
"But what if Master shall die? What shall Kreacher do? Master is not thinking."
"Kreacher. I said, do you understand?"
"…Y-Yes… Kreacher understands…"
"Good. Then you must take the locket out of the basin and switch it with this one," Regulus said as he handed him the shiny gold locket that had been pressing against the skin on his chest. "When you have the real one, you must destroy it. Can you do this for me Kreacher?"
"…Master…Poor Master…" the meek, little creature wept.
"Kreacher, you must do this for me. This is my last request to you. Please."
"Yes… Kreacher will do as Master says. Kreacher can do it Master. Kreacher can do it," he said through sniffles. Regulus half smiled at the loyal house elf. Despite his occasional cantankerous behaviour, he had a good heart deep inside and always listened to him.
"Thank you Kreacher. I will never forget this." 'That is if I'm able to remember anything.' he thought to himself. Then with slow, trembling hands, Regulus conjured a small vial and dipped it into the glowing potion. Carefully, he tipped it into his mouth.
A sensation of utmost burning inundated his throat, and by the second vial full, his mind was beginning to escape him. Regulus collapsed to the ground hearing a slightly distant whimper and squeal. Looking up, he saw a familiar, gaunt creature dressed in rags… what was its name again? Kreacher. Yes, Kreacher. 'He is helping me.'
With a quivering hand, Kreacher held a vial to Regulus's mouth, and so thinking it to be water, he drank it heartily, but the burning only increased. His mind was numbing and someone was screaming, pleading, and entreating the small trembling creature to kill him. Regulus wanted to help the person, not completely realizing that the pleas were in fact escaping from his own mouth. And they only grew louder and louder as he felt the coldness of the vial on his lips time after time.
With each sip, he was losing sight of the cave and soon found himself at Grimmauld place seated on his bed listening to the yells from his brother and parents. Despite its normality, it made him go crazy each time, but today's was worse. An unexpected series of bangs echoed through the halls and he ran outside. His brother was on the ground with a gash on his face and blood pouring out. All he could do was stare in horror while he staggered to his feet. His father was there, looming over him, taking up the entire space, and it seemed like his mere glare could kill someone. The next thing Regulus remembered was the injured boy dragging his trunk from his bedroom. He gave a single, strained glance towards his younger brother and disappeared behind the large, ornate door. Only until the door slammed did Regulus realize what had happened. In reality, he had not yelled for his older brother to return, but now as he came back to that day, he couldn't help but plead for him to come back.
But then he found himself standing amidst several men positioned in front of a human-like man wearing a cloak that hung like billowing smoke and eyes that glowed red like the light from a spell. There was an excruciating pain on his forearm, which was caused by the newly seared symbol on his flesh. It seemed right at the time as he had adhered to the false truths fed to him by his family. He realized his foolishness that led him to being branded into what looked like a merciless syndicate made to persecute others, but now felt more like a coalition of perpetual self-torment.
Every scar on his heart surfaced to his mind, making him relive those painful memories. Watching innocent lives being shattered like glass, their physical and mental pain becoming his own with every sip. He felt as if his body were being ripped apart inside out. He wanted it to stop.
"Water… I need water… please…"
"Master must drink this. Master will feel better. Kreacher promises… Just one more Master. One more." He heard the quivering voice reply. 'One more' he thought.
He lay there for what seemed like hours, but in reality it had probably been a few minutes. During this time, Regulus somehow managed to surface part of his mind to the task at hand; it wasn't done yet.
"Kreacher… go… leave… destroy it… please…"
"Master let Kreacher help you!"
"No! Go now… please…" a few more distressed whimpers came from Kreacher and the house elf flashed out of sight. Regulus began feeling his head lapse back into its previous distress. Water. He needed water.
Blurry and exhausted, he literally crawled down to the edge of the jagged island, and let himself fall at its banks. The water was as cold as a dementor's path. Just as he sipped some water from his cupped hand, he felt something frigid tighten around his wrist, attempting to pull him into the cold water. More hands began to grab him, and he was now fully submerged under the lake, completely numb. Realizing his efforts were futile, he made one last fighting attempt and brought his head back out of the water, but the number of Inferi was increasing by the second.
Before his head was once again subdued under the water, Regulus glimpsed a piece of square paper floating just at the surface of the water right in front him. Clasping his free hand around it, he saw that reassuring smile from the young handsome boy once again. A smile he hadn't seen face to face for years. A smile he would never see again.
"I'm sorry Sirius. I'm sorry," and there was nothing more.
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