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It is distressing, to look into your father’s eyes and see nothing but blank apathy staring straight through you.

It is distressing to know that no matter how perfect your attendance and disciplinary record, how many snitches you catch and how many times you top your class, that the greatest sign of emotion your father will grant you will be a blink or the merest incline of the head.

Had he always been this way?

There was perhaps a time, if Regulus reached back into his most distant memories, that his father had shown some interest. He remembered the first time he had been allowed to accompany his father to Gringott’s; he had been taken down to the family vault (praise Salazar he had managed to prevent himself from vomiting in that mine cart) and shown the great Black fortune and all the treasures that laid within. Sirius would have first choice of course, as heir, but Regulus had been told that some of those treasures would be his one day.

Father had graciously allowed him use of the family library (though not his study, never his study) and had once asked after the runes he was translating. Sometimes he had permitted Regulus to help solve the daily crossword puzzle in the Prophet.

Father had taken him to Diagon Alley to purchase his Hogwarts supplies the summer before first year. He’d selected a handsome eagle owl (Regulus had wanted the friendly barn owl, but Father had dismissed it as too common), the very best potions ingredients and tools, fine leather-bound books, and, of course, perfectly-tailored black robes.

It was perhaps after Regulus had been sorted into Slytherin and thus rescued the family from the shame of the previous year that his father grew more distant. Perhaps he considered his task now complete: his younger son had fulfilled his duty and chosen the correct path.

But Regulus wasn’t sure that he was on the correct path. He would like to be able to ask his father’s advice about the murmurs and whispers in the corners of the Slytherin common room. He would like to know what his father thought about cousin Bella’s new-found zeal - and who was this so-called Lord anyway? Why had they never met him before? Surely if anyone should have a title it would be they, the Most Noble and Ancient? Why did his father not do something?