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Regulus Black and the Way Things Changed: A Not!Fic

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-So Regulus Black survives stealing the Horcrux, on account of his house elf being unexpectedly badass or similar

-And he goes home to his creepy obsessive mother and says, “Hey mom, guess what, the Dark Lord just tried to off me,” which is debatably true but guaranteed to piss her off

-And suddenly the Official Black Viewpoint on Voldemort is that he Needs To Be Dead (which dismays Bellatrix but is actually something of a relief to Narcissa)

-Unfortunately Sirius is a bit busy being a covert operative for the Order of the Phoenix and doesn’t hear about this, and also he’s still basically disowned on account of being a reckless Gryffindor idiot

-So it’s still Snape who overhears the prophecy and tells Voldemort, but it’s probably Regulus who hears Snape tell Voldemort (before the whole almost-dying thing) and goes hotfoot to Dumbledore like, “So I hear you have a Chosen One, you should protect him.”

-And Dumbledore is smart enough to hire him on the spot and apprentice him to Slughorn whether either of them likes it or not

-Which Regulus doesn’t because his tolerance for creepy flattery is fairly low, but hey, you do what you’ve gotta

-But because he’s there, Snape does not manage to get the job, which doesn’t help at all with his ‘everyone is out to get me’ worldview, and then Lily Evans is murdered by Voldemort and everything goes to hell and Snape doesn’t have Dumbledore’s backing and ends up in Azkaban just like everyone always knew he would, the greasy bastard (says everyone who has the time to think about it)

-Amusingly enough, he ends up across the hall from Sirius Black, who has been tossed unceremoniously in Azkaban for betraying his friends, murdering Peter Pettigrew, and blowing up seventeen Muggles. This has the somewhat unexpected side effect of causing the Dementors to avoid that entire hallway, because there are Absolutely No Happy Thoughts available, on account of Snape and Sirius being so busy hating each other.

-Like seriously, they basically come up with a schedule: up at seven, bowl of gruel, sneer at each other for two hours, have a screaming fight, bowl of gruel for lunch, three hours of furious glowering, another screaming fight, bowl of gruel for dinner, nasty sniping insults until bedtime.

-The Dementors have never found two humans so perfectly suited to torture each other before.

-Anyway!

-So Regulus is the new Potions Teacher after Slughorn retires, and also ends up as the head of Slytherin House because nobody else will take the job

-And he is very explicitly anti-Voldemort not because he’s still creepily obsessed with a dead woman but because he figured out from first principles that Voldemort was wrong and also had created Horcruxes and yeek, dude, those are so evil even the Black Family Library only has one book on them and it’s How To Not Create Horcruxes.

-So the kids in Slytherin get these quiet talks about how while Muggles are, indeed, not as worthy as wizarding folks, there are also a lot of them, and the entire wizarding world would probably die out without them, and also Voldemort had no qualms about killing purebloods for shits and giggles, including (gasp) their Head of House himself, Lord Black, the best teacher at Hogwarts

-This causes a slow but noticeable shift in the politics of Slytherin House, to wit, the motto basically gets rewritten to “Be ambitious enough to take over the world, but don’t be stupid about it.”

-Also, Regulus has a very quiet long-running project with Albus, that they mostly work on in the summers, to the tune of, “Well, if Voldemort had one Horcrux, he probably had others, and we should maybe find them…”

-By the time Harry Potter comes to Hogwarts as a titchy little eleven-year-old, Regulus and Albus have managed to find the Diadem (because Regulus is a Slytherin and understands the urge to hide an evil artifact in the school you want to conquer) and the Gaunt Ring (because Regulus has memorized the family trees of every single important family in Great Britain and most of the ones on the Continent, and there’s really only so many people you can be descended from if you’re claiming to be Slytherin’s Heir; Albus is not dead of Ring on account of Regulus going “You cannot possibly be stupid enough to put a Horcrux on, Albus”) and the Cup (because Bellatrix hid it in a Black vault, and Regulus is Lord Black these days, and really his cousin always did have more hair than sanity).

-This gives them Locket, Diadem, Ring, and Cup; they’re missing Book, Harry, and the as-yet-uncreated Snake.

-They haven’t figured out how to destroy them yet, but they’re all locked up in the basement of 12 Grimmauld Place, behind so many wards it takes thirty minutes to get in even if you’re authorized.

-Incidentally, Grimmauld Place has been renovated, because after Regulus’s mother died, he looked around and went, “Wow, this place is creepy as hell. Kreacher! We’re going for a new aesthetic,” and Kreacher went, “Yes, wonderful Master!” and now the whole place is in white and green with silver accents and actually looks like a place you might want to spend time for reasons other than “on the run from the law and haven’t any better choices.”

-Apart from the bits in the basement where the Really Dark books and the Horcruxes got stashed.

-So Harry comes to Hogwarts and his Potions Teacher is this tall dark fellow who sneers at everyone but who is not considered by all and sundry to be the Embodiment of Evil, and who has no particular grudge against Harry on account of his dead mother, and Harry actually does alright in Potions class.

-He does still end up mixed into the whole mess with the Stone, because this is Harry we’re talking about, but the Trio pretty much figures out the problem is Quirrell from the word ‘go,’ because Professor Black is not sweeping around being Gratuitously Evil all over everything and therefore is not the immediate target of suspicious eleven-year-olds.

-It’s worth noting here that Professor Black has a Vested Interest in not having cauldrons explode every class, because it makes such a mess and he loses so many robes that way, so when Neville Longbottom turns up he sort of puts a hand over his eyes and then orders Neville to report to Remedial Potions two nights a week. There’s already a Hufflepuff and a particularly head-in-the-clouds Ravenclaw from that year alone.

-Also Regulus pays attention when people are gossiping in the staff room, and about a month into the school year he says, “Longbottom! What are the properties of Devil’s Snare?” and Neville, to his own surprise, knows the answer and earns an entire point for Gryffindor from the head of Slytherin House!

-Neville Longbottom’s Boggart in this universe is still the great-uncle who dropped him out a window.

-So that’s the end of Harry’s first year.