Hey readers! I'm back with an actual chapter, for real this time! So, by now, I've been thinking that there might be 20 chapters in total for this story, but it's far from finished. I've realized that these plots and subplots are so far out of reach for one book-so to speak-to handle, so there may be a book 2! I'll continue planning, but that's what I see happening! Thank you for sticking with this story so far! -Gabriel (P.S.: I hope any Wiccans/anyone who celebrates had a healthy, safe, and well Ostara!)
Chapter 13: Odium
I've got secrets in my pocket, and I'll pass them out if anybody wants to try
I've got all this information, but I keep it to myself 'cause that's how I survive
A thousand eyes are watching…
-Hey Violet, "Where Have You Been? (All My Night)"
It was Friday.
Regulus Black was running, trying to get the feeling of hundreds of cadaverous hands off him. This was a mistake, a mistake, a mistake, kept cycling through his head as he ran, unable to shake the feeling that evil was crawling up his spine.
He had joined them a few months prior.
He saw Severus Snape at the induction. Emotionless as ever, enigmatic; who some Death Eaters rumored was the Dark Lord's Protégé.
He heard the whispers that encompassed the meeting room before the Dark Lord entered; you always hear the quiet discussions you aren't apart of when you're new and quiet.
"Severus Snape? Why him? Why not me?"
"I hear the Dark Lord trains him, tells him how to fly…"
"Without a broom?"
Regulus clutched the locket in his hand, feeling it pulse with a heartbeat that nearly drove him to throw it off the cliff he was running from. The knowledge that throwing it into the ocean would do nothing was the only thing keeping him from doing it.
"His Potions Mastery is being paid for…"
"What does the Dark Lord see in him?"
Mysteries attract mysteries.
Regulus thought of how he had to get this locket to Severus Snape. He knew Severus Snape and his brother Sirius's friends were the only ones who could dispose of it.
The ticking locket that ticked away the hours, the minutes, and the seconds Regulus had left to live.
He tried to put what he did to Kreacher in order to obtain this locket out of his mind.
Regulus ran until he knew it was safe to Apparate, holding the slip of parchment he received from Sirius 'for emergencies' in his other hand. The parchment held the Fidelus-kept address of the meeting place of The Order of the Phoenix, and Sirius's friends' secret group, The Millennia.
He apparated to the house's porch, and knocked as quickly as he could.
Regulus was never happier to see his older brother.
—3 Months Ago—
The first meeting after Regulus's painful induction was strange, to say the least. Regulus was really only familiar with one other person there (other than the members of his family, who he didn't really want to talk to anyway), and that was one of his old housemates, Severus Snape.
The same Severus Snape that was a large part of the inner circle's conversation that Regulus was overhearing.
"I don't understand it," said Abraxas Malfoy, looking as disdained as his son usually did. "Of all the people the Dark Lord could have chosen for a Protégé, it's him? A poor halfblood?"
"They say he has a knack for potions, Mr. Malfoy," replied a Death Eater that Regulus didn't recognize.
"So much of a knack that I hear the Dark Lord will begin to pay for his Potions Mastery," grumbled a man who Regulus thought was Antonin Dolohov.
Regulus began to tune out the conversation, but only because he felt someone's piercing gaze on him. Out of his peripheral vision, he saw Severus Snape staring at him.
Regulus thought it important to note that he was sitting at the Dark Lord's right side.
He didn't have much time to think on it much more, since the meeting had just been called to order.
—2 Months Ago—
Regulus didn't know what really occurred, but he was currently being ushered into a dilapidated house in an equally run down, broken town by his brother.
"This can't seriously be where you're living now, is it?"
"Of course not. My…friend said I could use this place," Sirius replied. "Now, listen up, because this is important."
Regulus was told by Sirius that he knew Regulus was in the Death Eaters, but wasn't told how he got that information-Sirius only said that word gets around.
"What would you do if I told you that Dumbledore, Death Eaters, and death itself aren't the only options out there?"
"What do you mean?" Regulus had learned by now that there was really only two options in the world around him, and a third if you wanted to try to be neither or both.
"I mean that there are other ways to go, if you look for them."
Regulus just looked confused, and Sirius wasn't explaining well enough to clear the air.
"Here," Sirius said, handing Regulus a slip of parchment. "If you lose this, you don't get another. I'm risking a lot as it is." Sirius pointed to the address. "It's for emergencies. Apparate there, and I'll be there."
—1 Month Ago—
Regulus had been reading one of the many tomes he stole routinely from the Black family library, and too many things dawned on him at once.
He had heard of the outburst of Wild Dark a few months prior, and making a Horcrux would have been one of the more obvious dark routes to take, as obscure as Horcruxes were in the first place.
If the Dark Lord was making Horcruxes, he'd continue to grow unstable. He'd become a threat to even his own cause, and in turn, to Regulus himself.
And with more Horcruxes, the more unstoppable the Dark Lord would become.
—2 Weeks Ago—
Regulus didn't usually believe in luck, but, as luck would have it, he was traversing soon to be—or already—Inferi-infested waters.
Through the memories of his house-elf, Kreacher.
Earlier that day, the Dark Lord had asked to "borrow" Kreacher, and the house-elf had returned, looking worse for wear. Regulus had asked to try and view Kreacher's memories—which, he wasn't sure would work—and Kreacher let him. Thankfully for Regulus, house-elves' memories can be extracted the same way that a wizard's can.
Regulus was right. The Dark Lord was making Horcruxes, and had at least one.
Regulus decided that if he was going to do anything with his life, it would be at least to prolong it, and to prevent the Dark Lord from winning.
Every Thursday at dusk, Severus had been meeting with the Dark Lord. Most of the lessons so far had been slightly menial—mostly research. But tonight, Severus could sense in the air that something was different.
He entered their meeting place in the unused wing of the Parkinsons' manor house, and saw the Dark Lord sitting in the middle of a chalked outline on the floor. To Severus's surprise, his eyes were closed, and he didn't appear to hear Severus enter.
"Severus. Sit directly in front of me. You will see a point made with chalk, that's where," the Dark Lord hadn't made a move, he hadn't even opened his eyes.
"Yes, my Lord." Severus did as he was told, even copying the position the Dark Lord was sitting in.
"Today, I am going to have you call upon the Wild Dark."
Severus couldn't contain his surprise at this. He had only heard myths of the Wild Dark, never having felt it himself. He never saw it called upon, either, but part of him wasn't shocked that of course the Dark Lord could call upon it so easily.
"You must close your eyes and allow yourself to melt. The popular myth nowadays is that some terrible act must be committed in order to call the Wild Dark to you, but in reality,—though, violent, terrible acts are much my preferred way of doing things—that is not true. If you have a natural aptitude for it, which I will see if you do now, it can come to you quite easily."
"Is the Wild Dark something rare to have an aptitude for?" Severus asked. As strange as their arrangement was, as a Protégé, Severus couldn't really be denied asking questions, which was something he was grateful for.
"No," the Dark Lord said simply. "It's just a matter of nobody calling upon it. It is not inherently rare, although some people cannot do it at all. It's much like your talent in Potions. You are not the only one on your skill level, and many people can work to be there, as you yourself have, but it is rarely explored by those who do not think on it."
"Can it be taught?"
"No, and that is the strange thing about it. It seems to be an innate ability within magical beings. I cannot teach it to you, you have to learn it yourself. The Wild Dark is different to everyone it encounters."
"My Lord, I…have only heard rumors and mythos about the Wild Dark. What is the actual reasoning behind it?"
"The thing about the Wild Dark, Severus, is that there is no rhyme and reason about it. It is magic in its rawest form, and that is what scares people. It cannot be properly harnessed by any wizard, and that is why it was called dark. You would be very foolish if you tried to harness this or manipulate it for your own will. This magic is sentient. And yet, it runs through those who wish for freedom the most."
Severus nodded slowly, not minding whether or not the Dark Lord could see him—although, it seemed that he could—and shut his eyes.
"Let yourself become water. Feel nothing, and clear your mind—much like Occlumency."
Severus found immediately that letting himself go unguarded was an issue. He tried to relax, but there was something holding him back. What if he was attacked? What if someone tried to enter his mind?
"I will leave the room. You will be alone. Perhaps that would put your obviously turbulent mind at ease. I will be able to sense the Wild Dark if you do manage to call upon it and I will reenter, but by then, you will most likely take no notice of me. Leaving you to find this yourself is the utmost trust I will place in you as Protégé."
Severus heard the Dark Lord get up and move towards the door, and pause.
"Do not make me regret this, Severus."
The door opened and closed.
Severus opened an eye to make sure he really was alone, and when he saw he was, he shut his eyes fully again, immersing himself in the pools of his mind.
His Occlumency was based around water, having a layer of ice as the surface, with hundreds of fathoms of memories below. The Dark Lord had told him to become water, not surround himself with it, though. Severus decided to focus on something else instead.
He breathed deeply, and let himself relax and become as fluid as possible. He thought of his magic, but not so much that it distracted him from relaxing.
He envisioned magic running through him has blood vessels do, veins, capillaries, arteries. He envisioned them not stopping at the ends of his fingers and feet, but going beyond him, and calling. Embracing.
His magic became the tide, pulling in and out, casting a net of liquified messages. He felt the edge of something, as though it was a pinch of something sharp, but he couldn't quite identify where it was coming from.
Then, he remembered what the Dark Lord had said earlier: It seems to be an innate ability within magical beings.
Severus directed his tides within himself, drawing out his own darkness to respond to his magic's call. Before he knew it, he heard it.
There was a song around him, a chorus of magic that sounded too unbelievable to explain. It called to him, just as he called to it, but it was the pull, whereas he was the push. It gave in what he gave out. He could feel it physically around him, surrounding him as a thickening fog, but lighter than air. He could feel it gliding across his hands and face, through his hair, and around his legs. It felt as though he was flying, without ever leaving the ground, with a birdsong of magic in his ears and wings beneath his feet, gliding him over his tide.
He didn't notice the Dark Lord re-entering the room. He didn't notice the astonished look the Dark Lord couldn't contain in his face.
He also didn't notice at how the glint in the Dark Lord's eye was not one of fear, but one of sick pride and satisfaction.
The Dark Lord held a powerful one within his ranks, and now he knew it for a fact. Severus Snape had called the Wild Dark to him for the first time in no more than three hours, and he was seeing him with his own eyes suspended in the middle of the room, off the ground, with nothing holding him but sheer will.
The molding had begun, and Severus Snape hadn't even known it.
Calling the Wild Dark was only the first step. Now, Severus must learn the rituals, traditions of old. There would be no way someone of his low status and high caliber of magic could survive being thrown out into Voldemort's hand-made society of aristocrats and magical elite without even knowing the basics. Too many would try to eat away at Severus's power.
It would be such a waste to let such potential fade away like that.
Voldemort decided to let Severus stay as he was, for the Wild Dark would leave him soon enough. It didn't prefer to have one host for a long time. It wouldn't be detrimental, only…eye opening, more than anything.
Voldemort felt something he hadn't felt in a very long time, not since he made his first Horcrux: something new was on the horizon, and it was bringing a storm with it.
He was the herald of the storm.
Albus Dumbledore shook his head as he poured over his meticulous plans, his List of Lives. He could feel the Wild Dark being called upon again, but this time, with a newer, fresher feeling, as if it had just rained and the sun had shone.
Who was summoning it now?
It definitely wasn't the regular, syrupy feeling that often associated with Voldemort summoning the Wild Dark for his rituals. It was something else. It was almost as if it was something watery, something light.
But who would have been able to balance themselves like this? Who was studying for weeks for this moment? Dumbledore had only read that summoning the Wild Dark was something of great toll on a wizard or witch, and something like that was not to be messed around with, not while the List of Lives was being authored by him.
There was something new coming, and it was bringing a storm with it. Dumbledore had only hoped that he would be ready when it began to pour.
"Regulus? What are you doing here?" Sirius asked, once they were both inside and upstairs, in the designated Mill'-Meeting-Bedroom, Severus and James's room.
"There's something more to You-Know-Who than everybody thinks, and there's a major problem," Regulus said, wringing his hands. He was still holding the ticking locket.
"I'll call the others."
Sirius rounded up the rest of the Millenia that were around the house within minutes, and soon, James, Severus, Lily, Peter, Remus, and Sirius were watching Regulus pace around, swinging a glinting gold locket in his hand.
"Regulus," Severus began, "What is that you're holding?"
Regulus stopped his pacing.
"Have you…did you guys notice or hear about the outburst of the Wild Dark from a few weeks ago?"
Severus nodded his head, looking surprisingly serene. Regulus knew Severus had a private meeting with the Dark Lord the night before, and he had contained himself from asking questions about it so far. The others in the group said varying answers, mostly 'No's.
"Well, that was…that was because the Dark Lord was making this." Regulus held up the locket. "I don't know how many of you have read on Horcruxes, or even heard of them, but the gist is, he's trying to make himself immortal, and doing some very dark magic to get himself there. This is one of them."
Regulus paused as the others grew shocked at his words.
"And I stole it."