Disclaimer: The characters and setting in this story are not mine; the story and interpretation are. Thanks go out to J.K. Rowling, for creating such a wonderful world and letting us play in it, and to my beta Yolanda for her suggestions.
Flowers at King's Cross
By Olive Hornby
“It shouldn’t have been this way,” Sirius whispered.
That, he thought, had to be the biggest understatement of all time, on many different levels.
He crouched against on of the brick pillars at platform nine and three-quarters. The distant patter of rain was the only sound he could hear, and moisture seeped through cracks in the brickwork, giving the platform a damp, sickly atmosphere. Though the day had been warm, the night breeze chilled him slightly. Only a few of the many torches were lit, and the long, dull shadows they cast danced and flickered. It was so late--or early, depending on the person--that no one else was there. No one would bother him.
“I didn’t know where else to go,” he continued, staring at his feet. “And now that I’m here, I don’t know what to say. I had it all thought out, but now none of it sounds right.
“I keep thinking, somehow, that this is my fault. At least partly. I should have treated you differently, I should have tried to help you instead of picking on you... maybe if I’d been a better brother you wouldn’t have joined the Death Eaters. Maybe if I’d been a better brother you’d still be alive.”
He shifted slightly and moved his package out of his lap. He laid it on the ground to bury his head in his hands.
Standing where he now sat at the platform, returning from his final year at Hogwarts, was where he had last laid eyes on his brother Regulus.
Regulus hadn’t even looked at him. He’d barged away, angry and sullen as usual, and Sirius had watched him go, glaring at his back.
How he wished now that he had stopped his brother and spoken to him. Anything said would have been preferable to the chilly silence they had kept with each other for so long.
A hug wouldn’t have killed him, either.
But he’d let Regulus go. And now, he would never get the chance to sort out the confusing tumble of emotions threatening to overwhelm him. His little brother was never coming back. The life Regulus had chosen had turned out to be more than he’d bargained for, and when he’d tried to escape he had been murdered by the very people he’d thrown his lot in with.
He wasn’t entirely sure what happened, only that the memorial service had been held a week before he even knew that Regulus had been killed. There was no one in the family willing to send him notice. Peter happened to notice his name in the obituary section of an old newspaper he was about to throw away.
Sirius had stared at the words for the better part of an hour while James and Peter stood by, deathly quiet and apparently uncertain of what to say. James tried to pat his shoulder reassuringly, but he’d shaken him off and taken off to visit his cousin Andromeda, the only person in his family who would still associate with him, to see if it was true. Regulus couldn’t be dead. He just couldn’t.
But he was. Andromeda had been in tears as Sirius ranted about not having been told. She insisted that she hadn’t known either, but nothing she said even slowed him down. He raved like a madman until Andromeda’s husband Ted came home and, seeing how he was upsetting her, promptly kicked him out.
He left the Tonks household and went straight to 12 Grimmauld Place. He’d sworn he’d never go back there, but given the circumstances, he couldn’t help himself.
He hadn’t needed to go inside for proof. His mother had covered every single window with heavy black drapes or sheets and hung a ridiculous black veil in front of the door. He might have laughed if not for the huge lump in his throat and the peculiar prickling in his eyes.
“You know,” he said softly, “you really weren’t as bad as I made you out to be. It’s not like you were any better a brother than I was--you lied all the time, got me in trouble whenever you could... but you couldn’t help it. You never had the guts to stand up to Mother and Father.”
He had never thought about it quite like that before, but it felt right. While Regulus had been a terror in school, constantly finding ways to irritate him and his friends (though they had certainly retaliated in kind, and probably more harshly than necessary), he realized that he really didn’t know what Regulus really believed or whether he really agreed or disagreed with their parents--looking back, he realized that Regulus had avoided them as much as he had, hiding in his room or the library.
He and Regulus had been practically inseparable as small children, but things had changed. They’d grown apart as they had grown older, and what little understanding he’d had of his brother had disappeared somewhere along the way. The most conversation they had was shouting matches and the occasional bout of hexes and curses. Dirty looks became their most common form of communication.
He was stunned to realize that, despite living with him most of their lives, he really hadn’t known his brother at all.
“I... gods, Regulus. I wish we could have talked. I wish I could have told you that I really don’t hate you, even though I know you think I do. I wish I could have told you that you really weren’t like Mother or Father, even though I told you that you were all the time. I wish I could have told you that you didn’t have to follow their ideas blindly, that being your own person is more important than their approval.”
The words poured out of him now. “I wish I could have told you that even though James was my best friend, he wasn’t a replacement brother. I know you were jealous of him, and maybe you had reason to be. But I never meant to hurt you. I wish I’d paid more attention to you instead of just ridiculing and dismissing you. I should have kept you with me. We would have been a good team, you know. We were when we were little. I wish I could go back and change so many things, but it’s too late for all that now.”
He’d tried his damnedest to find out just exactly what had happened to Regulus. He spent a week trying to track down his cousin Bellatrix--Regulus had been part of her gang in school, and he was fairly certain that most if not all of that group had gone over to the enemy. Bellatrix had proven more elusive than he anticipated, though. Finding Bellatrix’s sister Narcissa had been easy enough, but she refused to even speak to him face-to-face, instead sending a highly apologetic and high-strung house-elf to turn him away.
He had, however, run across Evan Rosier entirely by accident in Diagon Alley.
Rosier had been one of Regulus’s closer friends, and was also part of the same group of Slytherins as Bellatrix. He had been rushing through Diagon Alley when Sirius had spotted him. He’d tailed the other man to the entrance of Knockturn Alley before moving in and cornering him at wandpoint.
At first Rosier tried to bluster his way past Sirius. When that failed, he had grudgingly muttered something about Regulus turning traitor and getting his just rewards. He hadn’t needed to say whom Regulus had betrayed.
Sirius had justly rewarded him with a right cross, and hurried away before the Knockturn Alley denizens who were beginning to take notice of him could take any action.
“At least you came to your senses in the end,” Sirius said softly. “I know it doesn’t mean much, and if you heard me say this you’d probably be appalled, but I’m proud of you for that.”
He bit his lip and looked around the platform. The rain had stopped, and from the faint noises he could hear, the Muggle side of the train station was beginning to get some traffic. He reached down and carefully removed the protective paper from the package he had brought.
He removed the small bouquet of brightly colored flowers that he had picked earlier that day. He stood and walked stiffly to the spot where he had last seen his brother stand before he was swallowed by the crowd, and set the flowers down with utmost care.
“Goodbye, Regulus,” he whispered, then he turned and walked away from the platform, careful not to look back.