Pairing: Regulus Black/Alecto Carrow
Word Count: 1000
Summary: They were Marked at the same ceremony. That has to mean something.
Author's Notes: Inspired in part by the song “Babel” by Mumford & Sons. Prompts are from a list I’d written down a year or so back from a generator that has (unfortunately) disappeared. My apologies in advance for the time jumps. Written for the Number Game Ficathon on rarepair_shorts.
in the shadows
She couldn’t imagine why she’d been invited; with her long face and lank hair she paled in comparison to Imogen Yaxley’s elfin features, Narcissa Black’s stately beauty. She might’ve been good with a wand and quick with a hex, but she’d always been little Lectie Carrow, lumpy Amycus’s baby sister – ugly and poor, unworthy. There was no limelight waiting for her, no starry brilliance in her future.
She tried to disappear into a shadowy corner of the Lestrange’s ballroom, but Regulus Black was already there, hiding. He’d nudged her with his elbow. She took a long drink from her wineglass.
It was a prank: James Potter and his merry band of misfits charmed the entrance into Slytherin to lock certain people out. It wasn’t a blood-based charm; Milo Savage got in just fine, and so did half-blood Deirdre Bole, but not Dolly Urquhart, not Alessa Goyle. Not Alecto.
When he found her, she was sitting by the portrait, waiting for someone to stop laughing long enough to run for Slughorn.
“Aren’t you going in?”
“I can’t,” she mumbled, ashamed. Regulus blinked, then shrugged his bag off his shoulder and took the space next to her.
“Then I’ll wait with you.”
Regulus and Alecto were Marked at the same ceremony. They’d stood together quietly while the Dark Lord pressed his wand to their forearms; it burned as they pledged their loyalty, ink spilling hot into their blood. Afterward, when the others had left them alone in the cemetery, she’d tried to speak to him, but his only response was a grimacing smile.
Amycus teased her about it the whole next day, picking at the scabbing flesh around his own month-old Mark, tugging on her braid and laughing that an act like that must mean something. Alecto wasn’t entirely sure it didn’t.
It was a big scandal her first year: some dirty mud-monkey got hold of her sister and their father had her sent away, swept everything under the rug. Narcissa Black was at the forefront of all the gossip, because everyone knew girls like Aella Carrow never really went off to “care for their aunts.”
Regulus found her hiding by the lake. “I’m sorry,” he’d said, and Alecto didn’t know if it was for her sister or his cousin but she bit down hard on her tongue all the same, digging in her teeth to keep the sound from coming out.
He made Seeker their fourth year and their first match against Gryffindor left him with a broken arm and three cracked ribs. Alecto knew she’d always remember that sound: the bludger colliding with his chest, the reverberating crack of contact. How it felt to be frozen in the stands, unable to do anything but watch.
She found him afterwards in the Hospital Wing, propped up on pillows and examining his bandaged arm. Regulus smiled as they made small talk, and she tried not to notice the flicker of disappointment in his eyes when he realized his only visitor was her.
Aunt Aurelia sent her an absolutely hideous set of hairpins for her birthday the year she turned fifteen: silver with pearlescent feathers, an old family heirloom. She hated them, but they were a gift – her only gift that year – and she wore them to Hogsmeade one rainy afternoon. Drying off in the crowded tavern, Lumina Avery nearly fell over a table laughing at Alecto and couldn’t stop until they fought their way to the bar and bought her a gillywater.
“You look – you look like –” she wheezed, giggling and gasping through her words.
Regulus only shrugged. “I like them.”
The common room was empty when she’d curled up on one of the plush sofas by the fireplace, letter in hand. She nearly jumped out of her skin when Regulus fell onto the couch next to her. “Thought I’d be the only one up,” he said, “Can’t sleep?”
“Something like that.”
“Want to talk about it?”
She thought about telling him how Aella wanted to see her, how she’d sent a letter with money and a picture of Alecto’s half-blood nieces. How angry Amycus had been when he’d found out.
“No,” she said, and tossed the letter into the fire.
Half the girls in her year were already promised and Alecto was sixteen and sullen, hacking at her dirigible plums in Potions like they were Lumina Avery, Eris Rowle, all the girls with futures ahead of them. She was in Hogwarts almost entirely on the school governors’ sickle: secondhand robes, a thirdhand wand – there was no hidden vault of galleons, nothing but a vast amount of swampland only Amycus could inherit.
At this rate not even Niles Crabbe would take her, let alone Regulus Black. Her blood was as pure as anyone’s and not a single drop of it mattered.
It was her first raid. She was the youngest of the new recruits, Marked less than three months – the earliest anyone had ever been called on to fight, even if she was only brought in at the end. She flew to the McKinnons and arrived in time to see fire bursting through windows on the upper floors, licking at the vines curling across the brick.
Travers was the one who’d called her and she stumbled around the dark front yard, trying to find him. Glass crunched underneath her feet as she found Regulus instead: bent over, vomiting into the rosebushes.
Regulus’s disappearance hit her hard, harder than she thought it had any right to. They had been nothing to each other – acquaintances, at best – but his absence was more than an empty space at their Lord’s summons; his name was never spoken, the task he’d disappeared performing never brought to light. It was as if he’d never existed.
But he had, he had. She remembered. She always remembered.
Years later, when the Dark Lord rose again and she took her rightful place amongst his ranks, part of her wondered, however pointlessly, why couldn’t he return from the dead as well?