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Wit Beyond Measure

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Word of your Sorting has come home, as you are probably aware; I must say, this is a most unusual situation. Of course, your cousins have noted a certain oddity in the Sorting Hat's idea of appropriate placement with regards to bloodlines before now. I had also held some hope that you might join your brother, and thus be able to mitigate some of his lingering rebellious tendencies; however, the environment of Slytherin House ought to bring him around eventually.

I trust that, in spite of the Hat's decision, you will remember to keep a close eye on the company you choose. I do not know from whence it acquired the notion that one may come from Muggle stock and be possessed of noteworthy intelligence. In light of this, you must above all remember who you are and act accordingly. You are better than these Mudblood pretenders; therefore, your company must be as well.

We expect great things of you.

-Mother

Regulus set the letter aside with a sigh. Three readings later, and he still couldn't tell if his mother was actually angry under all that formality. With any luck, he'd have a better idea of his chances of survival before he went home for Christmas hols.

***

Sirius found him in the library the next week.

"Thought you'd end up in here at some point."

"You could at least try to sound surprised."

"Well, I am, at least as far as where you got Sorted. I was expecting company. Congratulations on not making it there, by the way."

"Save your congratulations for after Christmas, if I survive."

"...Point taken. Have you heard from Mother yet?"

"Yes, as it happens. I don't think she's going to come hex me, but I can't tell whether she's upset. I almost wish she'd just sent me a Howler and had done with it. Then I'd at least know where I stood."

"Better you than me."

"I am deeply touched by your abounding sympathy for my plight."

Sirius grinned. "Any time. At least you didn't end up in Gryffindor?"

"Then she would come and hex me. Presuming I didn't get caught in the crossfire of your little prank war with Potter, that is. I've heard enough about that mess to know it didn't sound good for my health."

"...I was writing home to see if you had any ideas."

"And that's what's given you the leading edge, so far. That and whatever it was you and Snape were plotting over the summer."

"Just the doom of a Gryffindor. Mother couldn't help but approve of that. Anyway - I shouldn't have to ask you how your classes are going so far, considering, but are you at least making some useful friends?"

Regulus sighed. "When people aren't scared away by sheer force of the family reputation, yes. A few of them have heard I'm related to Bella and run the other way."

"Sweet of her, wasn't it?"

"Very. I'd much prefer the chance to scare people away by confusing them."

"...Put it like that, I'd say the Hat got you pegged."