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Consolation Prize [+podfic]

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Regulus Black. Regs. He was a fool. An ignorant boy who would do anything for a pat on the head and a few words of praise. He was nothing to me. Less than. Only a means to some small measure of revenge against his brother. I wanted to use him - to hurt him. But I never wanted him dead.

He was fifteen the first time I had him. I was outraged over Black and Potter sending me to the Shrieking Shack and almost certain death, and getting off with only two weeks' detention. The resemblance between the brothers made it just too perfect. If I couldn't get satisfaction from Black for what he had done, I could have it from his brother. It was all the sweeter that I made him willingly submit to his own humiliation.

I watched him, learning his habits, reading the signs. I was decent enough at Legilimency even then. He didn't look at girls, but he never looked at boys, either. The strongest feelings I read in him were for that fat little friend of his, Heloise Fawley, but he didn't seem interested in fucking her, either. It was only when I let him see me watching him that I noted the first thrill of excitement in him, well seasoned with fear. That was a good sign. I wanted him afraid, but if he was excited, too, then my work was half done.

When I finally made my move, cornering him in the empty Potions classroom, the fool barely resisted. Black would have fought me, but his brother just stood there, holding his wand, looking unsure of himself. I smiled and showed him my empty hands, saying I was sorry for scaring him, saying I know the things his brother does aren't his fault. Once he was nice and off-balance, I moved in for the kill.

"You look like him," I said, touching his face. "Are you like him in other ways, too? Are you a queer, Black?"

He said he wasn't, but when I read him, he wasn't so sure. He told me to stop, but he didn't push me away when I touched and kissed him. When I felt between his legs, he was hard.

I couldn't help a laugh of triumph. "I knew it."

I went down on my knees and unfastened his trousers, taking that perfect little cock in my mouth. He didn't tell me to stop doing that. He came in less than a minute.

He only started saying no again when I bent him over a desk. I told him he'd had his turn and it wasn't fair if we stopped now. He didn't want to be a tease, did he? The stupid tart believed me. He just gave up and let me fuck him, right there in the Potions classroom. I used a lubricating potion, so it wasn't as hard on him as it could have been, but he still cried about it.

After, I told him he was mine now - that if he told anyone, I'd tell everyone how easily he gave it up - that he'd learn to enjoy fucking the more we did it. Then I let him go. For a while.

I was banking on the fact that he knew I didn't have nearly as much social status to lose as he did, and I was right. For a little while, the arrangement worked like a dream. I could take whatever his brother and Potter dished out, knowing I'd have Regulus at my mercy later on. Whether it was making him swallow my cock in the library, or sneaking into his dormitory at night to fuck him raw while he struggled not to make a sound, I found that I could do more or less as I pleased with him. A few sweet words, and the judicious use of my mouth and hands to pleasure him now and then, convinced him that I liked him, and that he liked me.

Did I fancy him? I didn't want to admit it at first. I had been drawn to other boys before, but I ignored it, since the only strong desire I had ever experienced was for Her. Anyway, when I read those boys, I learned exactly what they thought of me, and that was enough to keep me from ever trying anything. With Regulus, it wasn't about attraction, but I was attracted to him. I had initially dismissed the idea because his resemblance to his brother put me off. It was only after the incident under the Whomping Willow that I realised I could use that resemblance to my advantage, punishing one brother in place of the other.

It was Lupin who ruined my fun. That fucking werewolf. If word had got out that there was one at Hogwarts, the parents would have rioted. Dumbledore would have been sacked. A violent Dark creature mixing with children? They blackmailed me with expulsion to shut me up, but I still might have risked it and told, if it hadn't been for Lupin.

He tried to apologise for almost killing me, as if that made it all right, and then he had the nerve to remind me that I mustn't tell. I laughed in his face and told him that maybe I'd think about it if his boyfriend sucked my cock.

"Is that what you want?" he asked me. "Both brothers in your bed?"

I wasn't expecting that. I'll admit it shook me somewhat. "What are you talking about?"

"I can smell him all over you, Severus. I know what sex smells like, and fear, and blood. I imagine Dumbledore would take an accusation of rape very seriously, don't you? Is that something you want him and Pomfrey asking questions about? What you're doing is revolting. Using him as a way to get back at Sirius. You disgust me."

A monster like that calling me disgusting? I wanted to hex him into oblivion, but short of killing him, I couldn't see any sure way of keeping him quiet. "What do you want?"

"I want your word that you'll keep your mouth shut about me for as long as I'm at school, and that you won't bother Regulus Black again. Promise me that, and I won't tell anyone what you've done."

I gave him my word. What else could I do? I'd keep his secret for as long as I had to, and as for Regulus - well, I would just have to be more careful.

I decided to back off for a while. But when I did, the strangest thing happened. After a few days of ignoring him when we met, the looks Regulus gave me went from fearful to confused. Then one night after lights out, he turned up in my bed. I asked him what he wanted, and he said he wanted to talk.

"Did I do something wrong? Do you not like me anymore?"

I didn't know what to say to that. I thought for sure he'd be glad to be left alone, not act like a lost puppy.

"It's nothing," I told him. "I just didn't feel like it. I thought you'd be pleased to have a break."

"Oh," he said. Then, "Can I stay here tonight? With you?"

Baffled, I merely shrugged.

He took off his clothes and lay on the bed. "You can do whatever you want. I don't mind. I just want to stay."

I tested his sincerity, and he bore the rough treatment silently. After, he curled up against my side and went to sleep. I stayed awake half the night, staring into the darkness, listening to his breathing, feeling the warmth of his body next to mine, and wondering what the hell it all meant.

It wasn't long after that that he first told me he loved me. She had told me that once, too, but whatever this thing was between me and Regulus, it felt like the opposite of what I had with Her. For one thing, I don't believe he was ever interested in sex. He never seemed to enjoy it, even when I went easy on him, and he never initiated it. With enough of the right kind of touch, I could get him up and bring him off, but he never asked me to do it. It was a different kind of touch he craved. More than anything, he wanted to be held and treated with affection. He was hungry to be loved.

Sometimes I gave him what he wanted. I had no tender feelings toward him, but it was no great hardship to pretend that I did from time to time. It kept him content and relatively willing. At other times, such as when Black and Potter made a nuisance of themselves, or just when I felt like it, I still used him hard, but I took more care about bathing and avoiding Lupin, after. I never used the word love, except on those few nights when I used Polyjuice potion to turn him into Her. For a few hours, I could pretend. On those nights, he went to sleep blissful, but I was left feeling cold and empty, because he wasn't Her. She was never so passive and compliant.

I won't say it meant nothing to me. That would be a lie. Flawed and twisted as the whole affair was, Regulus was the only one who ever gave a damn about me, after She took herself away from me. It was nothing short of a cruel joke. I was never good enough for a poor, Muggleborn girl, even though I treated her like gold, and yet the son of a proud, pure-blood family gave himself to me when I would have used him and cast him aside without a second thought. Regulus Black was my consolation prize from an unjust universe that would not give me Her.

I joined the Death Eaters that summer because - well, there were a number of reasons, but what it came down to was that, if I couldn't have what I wanted from life, I might as well take whatever I could get. They could give me something. A decent life. Power. Respect. Who wouldn't want that? They had been courting me since I turned sixteen, in spite of my being a half-blood. They wanted my skill at Potions and Dark magic, and my willingness to do whatever was necessary to advance the Cause. They were welcome to it.

When Regulus saw the Mark on my arm, his eyes lit up. I don't think he'd ever been so impressed by anything. He sucked me off, right there, against the door of his bedroom. I would have fucked him, but if his parents had caught us at it, there would have been hell to pay. He swore that he would join, too, as soon as he finished his OWLs. And I said -

I honestly didn't know what to say. He seemed so excited. A fucking idealist. But the Cause demands a certain amount of ruthlessness, and he never had that. He was too soft-headed and soft-hearted. If the Dark Lord ever asked him to do something, and he balked ... But it was almost a year before he would be able to join. I thought that would be enough time to find a subtle way to dissuade him.

I was wrong. I told him it wasn't that exciting, that they never let the younger members do anything interesting, that he'd still be at school for two years anyway, so why not wait? I should have told him the truth: that he was a weak-willed pansy. That the Dark Lord would have no patience or use for someone like him. That he would only end up dead. I should have driven him into the arms of his brother and those bleeding-heart Gryffindor friends of his. They were all a bunch of fucking idealists, too. Much good it did them. But they might still have saved him.

His eyes shone the night that he joined, and I stood by and said nothing, a silent witness to his destruction. He may have been named for the star at the heart of the Lion, but that night he was a lamb, going willingly to his own sacrifice. He screamed when the Dark Lord put the Mark on his arm - a high, thin shriek like a death cry - and I knew it was only a matter of time. The warrant was signed. The only thing left was to set a date for his execution.

When the ceremony was done, I took him away to an inn. I was gentle with him that night. I held him and kissed him and told him I was proud of him. It was a lie, but it was all he had ever wanted, so he might as well hear me say it once. He would be miserable enough before long. He deserved to have one good night before the shine wore off. I even told him we didn't have to do anything if he didn't want to. He smiled and snuggled close beside me. I held him while he slept and I didn't.

For a time, I hoped that the clock would run out before the inevitable came to pass. The Dark Lord was gaining ground. We had every hope of winning the war. Not much was expected of the younger members of the organisation. They spent time together, volunteered for less important missions, occasionally informed on friends and relatives who were less sympathetic to the Cause, and generally kept out of the way. As long as no more than that was asked of him, Regulus might have been all right. While he was still at school, the chances of anything going wrong were minimal.

It was a year before the shine wore off for him, but when it did, it wore off fast. One night, he was out with a few of the younger members of the organisation when, in a fit of high spirits, the others exterminated some Muggles in front of him. It wasn't sanctioned. They should have been more careful. But the damage was done. Regulus came to me, distressed, wanting to talk about it, as if such a thing were possible. I told him to calm down. That it wasn't a big deal. When he wouldn't - or couldn't - calm down, I told him to fuck off.

I distanced myself from him after that. I didn't think he would try to talk to anyone else about it, but I was terrified that if anyone noticed how unhappy he was, he was as good as dead, and me with him, if there was any question about where my loyalties lay. The Dark Lord had learned of our affair when he read Regulus during his initiation. He found our "dalliance" amusing. It would be less amusing if My Lord decided my connection with Regulus meant that I could not be trusted, either.

It was weeks before I saw Regulus again. When I did, he said very little, but it was obvious he was unhappy. He told me he had decided not to return to Hogwarts for his final year. That was troubling. If he was out of school, he would be expected to play a more active role in the organisation. He asked about helping me with my Potions work, and I told him that I would take his request before the Dark Lord. Regulus would be safe enough working with me, if My Lord would permit it.

He did, and for a short time, all was as well as could be expected. Regulus was happier, but we didn't talk much. Whenever he tried to bring up a dangerous subject, I cut him off. If he persisted, sometimes I had to be rough with him, but I always patched him up afterward if he bled, or if any bones were broken. Beating or fucking, he took his punishment without complaint, and for a while, he would keep his mouth shut. Say what you will; I was teaching him to survive. Isn't that what matters?

In the end, time ran out. I couldn't save him from himself.

On the last night, he showed up on my doorstep. I hadn't seen him for nearly a week, and I had begun to fear that something had happened. I guess it had, though to this day, I could not guess what. I could tell something was different about him. He seemed calm, subdued. He was getting better at Occlumency by then, though, and I could not read him as easily as before.

He smiled at me so sweetly. "Can I come in, Sev?"

I was suspicious. "If you're here to talk, you can fuck off right now."

He shook his head, still smiling. "No talking. I just wanted to see you."

I let him in. It was cold outside. October. I didn't want to stand there with the door open.

I offered him a drink, but he shook his head again.

"It's late," I told him impatiently. "What do you want?"

"It's very late," he agreed. "Too late. Can I sleep here tonight?"

"What's happened?"

"Nothing. I've just figured some things out, and I wanted to be with you."

I was still wary, but I let him stay. When I brought him to my bed and started undressing him, he smiled again.

"Can we not tonight, Sev? I just want to be here with you for once, without it being about that. I'm so tired. Can we just sleep?"

He was acting so strangely that I didn't press him, for once. I didn't ask again what had happened. I had the feeling that I didn't want to know. Regulus lay close in my arms, his head pillowed on my shoulder.

"I love you, Sev," he said, voice filled with sleepy contentment.

"Regs -"

"It's all right, Sev. You don't have to say anything. It doesn't matter that you don't love me. I just wanted to make sure you knew how I felt."

I wanted to say something - to tell him that it did matter - that I did care, at least a little - perhaps even that I was sorry for whatever was happening - but I couldn't find the words. By the time I found any, he was asleep, but I said them anyway.

"You deserved better, Regs."

I held him and listened to his breathing, and eventually, I slept. When I woke, he was gone.

It was days before I found the diary, nestled between two other leather-bound volumes, on one of my bookshelves. I read the last few entries with a growing sense of dread. There were few clues to what had happened, or what he planned to do, but there was enough for me to guess how it had ended. On a torn page following the final entry, there was a letter.


Dear Sev,

I am going. My eyes are opened. My vision is clear. I won't tell you where or why, because I want you to live.

You may call me a traitor, but the only person I have betrayed is myself. I could never betray you. I sold my soul to the Dark Lord because I thought it would make my family proud. I thought you would be proud.

We're not heroes, Sev. The Dark Lord lied to us, and we can't build a new world on a foundation of lies. You'll get no love for the things you do in his service. He doesn't care whether we live or die. But I do. I hope you will find a way out. I leave you this diary, my life as I knew it, in the hope that it will help you understand why I have to do this.

Please tell Sirius that I tried, that I did the best I could. Tell him I wish him love and happiness, as I wish love and happiness for you, Sev. Let your heart be filled. Do not poison your spirit with bitterness and regret. Know that, in spite of everything, I have loved you.

Goodbye, Severus. Think of me kindly.

All my love to you, always,


He was dead. Regulus Black was dead. He had gone off and tried to do something stupid and heroic, and got himself killed for his trouble. I knew it as soon as I found the fucking diary. I knew it before that, when I woke up to an empty bed. I tore out the letter, along with the final few entries, crushing them into a ball in my fist before throwing them onto the fire. They flared up briefly, then disintegrated into ash.

It was foolishness. He should have known better than to commit such dangerous words to writing. At least he wasn't stupid enough to tell me where he was going, or why. When the Dark Lord asked me what I knew - and he surely would - I would be able to truthfully say that I knew nothing.

My eyes stung and my throat felt tight. I was so angry with him, throwing his life away like that. And for what? Who had he helped by it? No one. He was weak. He cared too much. He was just a stupid boy who got in over his head. And I was weak, too, for sitting there, clutching that fucking diary to my chest and crying over him like he mattered.

It was some time before the storm of helpless rage subsided. The fire died away, and I stirred the ashes with the poker until all trace of his reckless words was gone.

I had been wrong to ever go anywhere near Regulus Black, and he had been wrong about everything, except for one: we're not heroes. I know that better than he ever did. People like him and me aren't meant to do great things, and we shouldn't try. Playing the hero most often just buys you a ticket to an early grave. But not me. I'll keep my head down and my mouth shut, like he should have done. Like I told him to do. I mean to survive, even if he couldn't. That's how you win a war.