The last eight days of Regulus Black's life. Dark, psychological. Beware wordplay and a faint creation-story allegory that may or may not grant redemption. [Somewhere in the back of his mind, he wh...
The first day is all terror-red miasma, surreal and false and maybe some sort of out-of-body experience, like this isn't happening, this isn't happening, Regulus is a good boy mantra echoing in his head. The first day is all fear and horror and panic and the taste of blood on his tongue and lies in his throat, bile in his stomach, vivid life in his eyes. The first day isn't real.
He wanders around like a madman, like a zombie, like a ghost. He walks around like a paranoid, expecting anyone to leap out from any corner, shrieking - I know what you've done! - expecting to be caught, killed, drawn, quartered, put on display like a murderer captured by the law, strung up like a tortured prisoner, like a lesson to all the pirates daring to taste freedom. The first day, he isn't himself, he's sure that he's turned into someone else, someone who isn't Regulus Black, someone who doesn't make foolish mistakes. The first day, he is a dead man, and dead men can't be killed, dead men tell no tales, dead men don't -
If the first day is insanity, the second is harsh reality. Like waking from the nightmare only to find the murderer leering over you, he realizes on the second day that being dead will not save him.
He much preferred the insanity borne of fear. Simpler, when all he had to do was jump when someone said his name, simpler when all the terror was focused on the outside, as opposed to within. Simpler when he knew he was going to be caught, before he realized that he couldn't escape it.
So he runs. On the second day of stark white lights blaring his sins, he leaves it all behind for the darkness, for the shadows, for the salvation of nighttime and hiding places in the depths of the wilds. On the second day, he thinks he is safe, for only a fragment of an instant, and then he realizes that he will never be safe, not even when he is dead and gone, because Death Eaters know secrets, loathsome dark mysteries that human minds aren't supposed to know (at least, that's the rumor, and he feels like he ought to know if it's true, but he doesn't, and the unknown is so much more frightening when he's seeing it through the haze of terror). On the second day, he cries.
And then feels like such a /fool/, because only scared children cry (and he is a scared child, but will never admit that, because being a Black is being proud, and he should be able to retain his pride, even when all else falls short). He isn't a hero, and he was a fool to believe that he could be one. Heroes need shining armor and damsels in distress to save. Heroes need bravery and strength. Heroes don't snivel in the woods, they do something about it.
But there is nothing to be done. And on the third day, he realizes this.
The third day is clarity. On the third day, he relents and allows the Black in him to take over the human side (because, he's learned, the Black family is not entirely human) and he allows some well of inner strength to reign.
Or so he pretends. And somehow, it's easier when he's telling himself that this hidden willpower exists within him, easier when he claims to be more like his brother, who probably could have handled this and laughed when they came for him, because his brother was much braver and stronger and cleverer and everything he's never been but always wished he could be. Because his brother never followed the wrong path like a blinded fool laughing in the dark with the dragon leering up behind. Because his brother kept his eyes open.
And he pretends to be Sirius, because Sirius could handle things like this. He pretends to be his brother, to be strong, proud, clever Sirius Black who can control himself (only he can't, but to admit this would be to shatter his illusion, and he prefers the sharp lies to the cutting truth). He acts like the powerful one, like he's in control of his destiny.
On the third day, he stands out in the rain, laughing, screaming, yelling, begging them to come and find him, taunting them, catch me if you can! like he's got some sort of secret up his sleeve, like he knows what he's doing.
On the third day, he feels no less dead than before, but with a pantomime of vitality, he pretends.
Four days after his mistake, he hides in a corner in the dark, pretending not to exist. All the imitation of life threatened by fear, all majestic, heroic I am /Sirius Black/ cries lost in the howl of wind and perceived footsteps begging entry. All pride swallowed in favor of sniveling terror, like a boy stung by the bee he foolishly chased. He has made his own demons, and he is too afraid to live with them.
On the fourth day, he sickens himself.
Then fear turns to anger. By the change of days he is wired, strung up by taut adrenaline and terror, tired of lying like a rat in a cage, tired of being played with (for they have surely caught his trail by now, probably watching in the bushes, laughing at his fear, laughing as he hides, laughing at his charade of bravado). He begins throwing punches at imaginary foes, violent anger surging through every pore, being released with every breath, until he lands on the ground at the doorstep at dawn, a crying, sweating, lifeless shell of who he once was.
By the fifth day, he has broken. He stands on the doorstep watching the sunrise and begs them to just kill him already. They are doing neither of them any good by playing this cat-and-mouse game, and he's sick of the anticipation. By the fifth day, he is ready to die. They do not come for him on the fifth day.
By day six, he has found a Muggle religious book, some sort of holy story, and he reads it to pass the time. He stands in the darkened living room reading aloud about how this God created the world in seven days, wondering as he reads, calling his theories to the air - why can't this God save him? Does this God even acknowledge wizards? Does this God look upon terrified murderers with grace and forgiveness? He laughs at himself.
Gods don't have time for the bad guys. Gods are too busy looking out for the good people to notice the death-throes of the evil. He wants to scream, to burn the book, to curse this God who claims to love, to curse this world that saves so many and refuses to help him. He wants to hit something, to watch something bleed, to die, to sleep, to cry, to keep living, to destroy something beautiful. He wants to fall apart, to self-destruct, to throw all the beauty of creation back at a God who refuses to save him. He wants to rip up the Earth and force it to salvage his broken, non-existent future.
He wants to curl up in his mother's lap.
On the seventh day (/God rested/, says Genesis) he relaxes. On the seventh day, he finally relents to his own imminent death. On the seventh day, he reaches the final stage of dying, the acceptance (he supposes that whoever decided that there are set stages of dying must never have known what it feels like to hear the swooping wings of Azrael. He supposes that whoever came up with the five stages of dying must have been absolutely batshit fucking mad, because there is no reason, no rhyme, no meter to dying. It isn't poetry, and it isn't textbook perfect pretty. Dying is messy and terrifying and there is no way to define it by steps or stages or facts of life. No one who has died ever pretended to be anything other than dead.)
On the seventh day, he closes his eyes like the dutiful son returning home, like the prodigal lost boy coming back from Never Never Land, like Peter Pan all grown up. On the seventh day, he awaits his death. And they do not come for him on the seventh day.
The eighth day dawns in a blood-red fiery sheen, and he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will come for him on the eighth day (/and he saw that it was good/). He waits for them outside the little hovel, waits dry-eyed and more afraid than he would ever admit, and somewhere in the back of his mind he whispers that his brother would be proud of him. When dear cousin Bellatrix looks him in the eye, he grins.
Took you long enough, didn't it?
Sirius would have been so proud of his spineless little brother. The book closes with a laugh and a grin and a bittersweet salvation of a potential never realized - tortured, broken, bruised, shattered wings fluttering down to waste.
And God said let there be light.
(A/N: I wanted to play with phrases. In case you couldn't tell. Review if you like.
Quote at the beginning is from Matthew 16:26. All others are paraphrases from Genesis.)