Another moment in time. Another mistake. Another life changed. Another regret. All he has are mistakes, regrets, and memories.
He couldn't afford to make any more mistakes, he couldn't afford to look into her. That would be a mistake. She was an unknown, an impossibility, Hogwarts has no history of taking in transfers. He knows that she would be the first, but Hogwarts has very few firsts left to waste on random American half-bloods. He knows that she flinched when the hat called out Slytherin, not necessarily uncommon. He knows that he has never seen her in the Commons, he could have missed her. He knows that misty glance towards the Gryffindor table, into the mere prospect of safety, a look that he has seen all too often as of late. He knows all of this and doesn't care about the explanations, he could feel it in his bones they're wrong. And Regulus had to know Hermione Graves.
However, he hadn't really attempted talking to Hermione Graves. He wasn't used to people not coming to him, he was Regulus Black after all. He was the "spare" of the House of Black- no- Sirius had been disowned. Regulus was the heir, both positions brought the privilege of being the most important person in a room but his new one also forced an air of respect. As arrogant as it might seem, a sixteen-year-old claiming to be the most important person in the room, it was to some degree true. Point is, it was quite the role reversal for him to approach people, and he had even less experience with the whole talking thing.
Not to mention, whenever he saw her she seemed to be leaving. Going to the library or class or away from him, and maybe he should have seen that as a hint, but it only made her more interesting to him. It was embarrassing really that he couldn't even open his mouth to ask her something. Someone who by the majority of his peers would be considered below him or at the very most his equal. So he followed her progress. It wasn't difficult to get the word out that he wanted her information. It was hardly unusual in the eyes of his housemates: if she answered a question they would tell him who asked it, what it was and what her answer was. And soon enough he knew exactly who she was on paper and academically but it didn't even begin to quench his thirst. The more he looked into her personal life the less he found, she had no friends, is never in the common room and left class feeling sick nearly once every week.
Maybe this was the definition of stalking. Maybe he was turning into a major creep. Maybe she didn't want to be known. Or perhaps there was simply nothing to know. It didn't change the fact that after Slughorn's class he went to the library. The same place that she went whenever she wasn't in class because maybe being at her table before her would somehow make him less of a weird, creepy, stalker.
Upon getting there her table was not empty, in fact, her seat was not empty. In it was none other than Lilly Evans, the Mudblood his brother's friend seemed to have an unhealthy obsession with, was sitting there looking through some ancient volume of a Runes book. He sat down anyway. Pulling the redhead's attention up from the book with an exasperated sigh of "Sirius." She realized her mistake the second she looked up but didn't make to move. Regulus wondered for a second why he sat down as they sat there staring at each other, he came up with nothing but his desperate unfamiliarity with social interaction: he could practice talking with a mudblood, it's not like offending her would affect his life.
"Hello," he said in a cautious manner most would only take with someone who absolutely terrified them, maybe Lilly Evans did terrify him. "I- Have a question?"
Now he needed a question to ask the Mudblood, maybe in a way that would refrain from calling her a Mudblood. "Sirius?" the name came out of his mouth before he had consulted his brain. "Is he- Is he okay?"
"Yes. For the most part." She said it looked like a weight had fallen off her shoulders and they relaxed as if him asking about his brother's well-being automatically vindicated him of any past wrongdoing. As if he were just a brother of this girls friend, a brother who was in a fight, as if Sirius were still his brother and as if Regulus still cared. Why did he ask that question? "Are you okay?"
"Of course. I- There-" he was once again cautious, all things considered, this conversation wasn't turning out to be a total failure he hadn't insulted the girl he got an answer albeit one that he didn't really want. "He isn't- He's still with the Potter's?"
She tucked a random paper into the book in front of her and closed it. "He is. They are good, he's good with them."
"Family?" He hesitated he shouldn't do that with Graves.
"They're as good as."
He felt suddenly uncomfortable and alone. "I was family."
"Asking, caring, it means you still are," Evans said she shifted closer to him now, uncomfortably comfortable with him. "You can talk to him. Regulus, you shou-"
"No Thank you," He stood up abruptly, regretting sitting down in the first place. "I don't need advice from someone like you."
She looked unsurprised and pitying. She stood up, too, collected her books and bag and looked right at him. "And you asked anyway. It was nice talking to you, you should talk to your brother though. Talk to Sirius."
Then she left. Left him and his regrets.
Regulus wasn't there when she came to the table, he was on the other side of a bookcase and he saw her sit there completely unaffected by the bag on the chair across from her and completely absorbed in her journal. He has seen her writing in it before she felt sick, almost everytime. He sat down quietly within her line of sight pretending to read The Bones of Trolls and Dragons or A History of Magic or whatever it was he picked up, waiting for her to see him. But she didn't notice or at the very least she didn't talk to him. A bit annoyed at the prospect of starting a conversation for the second time today Regulus pushed the book off the table and on to the floor where it made a very undignified smack! with the hardwood floor. Graves flinched as if a gun had gone off and Madam Price loudly shushed the room from her place at the desk. "Sorry..." he smiled at her hoping she didn't think he had done it on purpose.
She glared at him from across the table before going back to her book. "Don't worry about it."
Not looking up again she scoffed, "No, It's a bit too much horror for me."
"Didn't you write it?" Regulus tried to smile but she did not seem to be joking.
"Apparently." She seemed to be distracted by the book and, despite him being the only one there, Regulus didn't really think she was talking to him so much as she was talking to the void. As if she would answer anyone who asked. He tried not to be offended by what he thought would become a one-way conversation.
"Fiction or Fact?" He asked staring across the table at the girls slanted rushed writing.
"I'm sorry to hear that," He said trying to think about the last weeks and what could be going on in her life that could be qualified as horror. "Is Slytherin really so bad?"
She paused and looked up at him. "I wouldn't know. I'm not a Slytherin."
His brows furrowed. "Pretty sure you are. I was there when you were sorted."
She looked back down at the journal, an expression of offense pulled up on her face. "I suppose."
"What does that mean?"
She said nothing, now officially ignoring him. "Okay, I know you didn't want to be a Slytherin, I saw you flinch when you were sorted. But Slytherin really isn't that bad, in fact, it's a great house to be in if you know people."
He smiled without knowing why and tried to catch her eye again. "Maybe you could if you tried to talk to someone? Me, perhaps?"
"Perhaps," she looked up once again seeming to see him for the first time. "I don't want to know people. Perhaps I just want to live my life."
"Fair," Regulus smiled nodding along as if considering her point. "I had considered that before sitting down in fact. Then I figured you're brand new and people who are brand new need friends whether they want them or not. So, decided I better come over here and introduce myself. I'm Regulus Black and it is a pleasure to meet you."
He held his hand out for her to shake, she didn't. Instead, she smirked just barely showed that she had any kind of emotion and said, "Though we have technically already met I suppose I should play along?" He nodded matching her smirk. "My name it Hermione Gra-ves. The pleasure is not mine."
He couldn't help laughing just a little bit. "Then I suppose I'll have to have enough the pleasure for both of us."
Rome wasn't built in a day. I tried my best not to make Regulus look too creepy but at this point time not going to lie even he thinks he is. He's a sixteen-year-old with a brother he thinks abandon him, an overbearing mother and a boss that is down with murder… him clinging to the mysterious new girl will start out as something he can do. He doesn't think he has any control over his life, so he wants to know her.
Thank you to anyone that followed and thank you to Invader Johnny, DarkLadyHex, and janethejhon for commenting. It really means a lot!