Regulus Black, the loyal son. Regulus Black, the Slytherin. Regulus Black, with grades just good enough to please his mother.
Regulus Black, who keeps his hair neat and is polite at family gatherings. Regulus Black, who does not pick fights, who does not ride a motorcycle, who does not hang out with werewolves or get disowned.
Regulus Black, who Phineas Nigellus keeps an eye on from the portraits on the walls. Regulus Black, who occasionally hears whispers of kindness from random frames, and catches winks and thumbs-ups from oil-painted old men and women as he walks to class.
Regulus Black, who sits through painfully long and dull Slug Club dinners, and writes thank you notes, and attends quidditch matches in the Slytherin bleachers with the right kind of kids.
Regulus Black, who graduates with a freshly healed tattoo on his forearm. Regulus Black, whose brother will not speak to him. Regulus Black, who makes his family proud.
Regulus Black, who lies to his mother when he says he will be staying with friends, who tells her he will take care of himself, with a knot in his stomach and an old necklace in his pocket.
Regulus Black, wandering the British coastline, only Kreacher for company. Regulus Black, angry, disillusioned, miserable. Regulus Black, finally doing something on his own. Regulus Black, disobeying everything he’d ever quietly and mild-manneredly adhered to.
Regulus Black, smearing his blood on the stone door, seeing it, with no reference for it except childhood scraped knees and bloody noses and cracked lips in dry weather. Regulus Black feeling important.Regulus Black, an individual.
Regulus Black taking the boat with Kreacher across the glassy water.
Regulus Black, cold, scared, drinking from the basin. Regulus Black, weakening, writing on a scrap of parchment, sending Kreacher home.
Regulus Black, fighting the undead.
Regulus Black, dead at nineteen.
Regulus Arcturus Black, the unsung hero of the House of Black, never burnt from the family tapestry, never again spoken of by his brother, never buried, never honored. Never remembered as anyone but a good pureblood boy who kept his head down and disappeared.
But he knew.
And Harry knew.
And Kreacher knew.
And maybe that was enough.