It was all Regulus knew. Or had known. He had no idea whether this was how he had been born, or whether he had been thrust here at some point. He had no idea of anything, really.
It wasn’t too bad. There were others here. They kept him company.
He recalled movement when the two others had arrived. The ones surrounding him had moved, trying to reach them, stretching their hands out. Regulus had tried as well. One voice was familiar, casting spells and giving commands. How he had known the voice’s owner, though, he could not remember.
A brief moment of heat and bright warmth had happened, once, soon after the familiar voice. Regulus did not know what it was. He had been too far from the source of it all. Moving with the others, he had tried to reach it; tried to touch the bright flash of light. It had been gone too quickly, though. They had been gone too quickly.
Now he rests in his cold, wet space. The others are still here, still waiting with him. It is safe here. Familiar. He cannot recall anything that came before it.
Light. Warmth. Pain.
Regulus is dragged up and out of his comforting cold. Rough hands pull him out of the water, and press him to the cold stones. He coughs, taking his first breaths of air in many long years. Voices assault his ears, all of them shouting and cheering. Others are pulled up and out of the water. Some are coughing and breathing, just as he is. Others are… He shudders, seeing the desiccated corpses that Voldemort had cast into watery graves.
It is too much. The lights are too bright. He gasps as magic washes over him.
“Stop, please,” he tries to beg, but his voice is gone. It has not been used in too long. “Please.”
There is a familiar tone to one of the voices. Regulus tries to look up to see who it is, but the bright lights blind him. Raising a leaden arm, he blocks the light as best he can.
“Regulus Black? Sirius’ brother?”
Someone is kneeling in front of him. Someone with messy black hair.
“James?” he splutters, still trying to catch his breath.
A warm hand lands on his shoulder, gripping tightly and holding him steady. It is a stark contrast to the cold he has known for too long. He leans into it.
“Harry,” the voice responds. “James was my father.”
Regulus blinks, unable to see through the bright lights shining all around. Not James. He nods.
“We have to get you out of here. We’ll get you warmed up,” Not James tells him.
Regulus is dragged up before he can agree. His legs do not want to work. They collapse as he tries to put weight on them.
Magic washes over him again and he is raised into the air. A stretcher floats silently over to them and Regulus is placed on top. Not James presses a hand to Regulus’ forehead, pushing him to lie down. Regulus reaches out, grasping Not James’ wrist. The stretcher pauses in its movement, Not James standing still beside it.
“It’s alright, Regulus. You’re safe now. Voldemort is dead.”
Regulus blinks, bringing Not James into focus before him. He is young; too young. He has seen a lot, that much is blatantly clear. Bags are beneath his eyes, grim lines surround his mouth, and a crease that appears between his eyes is too deep for someone so young. Regulus can see no lie in his eyes, however. He nods briefly and closes his eyes.
He relaxes. Not James had said that Voldemort had been defeated. That was enough for him. With the cold and wet seeping from him slowly, Regulus finally sleeps.