Hello from house moving hell, I hope your life is currently a little less chaotic then mine, but also I wonder why I always end up posting during times of change like this?
Just a little note, someone wrote and said that you (the reader) don't know what classes Regulus actually teaches and thought it might have been a big fancy plot point but no, it was in the blurb I scrapped, and apparently it wasnt mentioned in the story so that's my bad!
Professor Black is the runes professor. As it's an elective, it gives him a lot of spare time to manage the Black estate and various political responsibilities, as well as the things that will be described this chapter.
I'm also sorry that the formatting was wonky last time I posted. I always forget that ff doesn't allow for fancy line breaks, but hopefully it's now clear where the note ends and the story begins.
Thanks so much to everyone who is reading, I hope you're enjoying it! xx
The children were as ill behaved and raucous as ever as they flooded into the great hall for the welcoming feast, and Severus rolled his eyes at Regulus, who he caught grinning at some of their antics. He became more like his brother every day, though Severus would never say such a thing out loud; it was rather frowned upon to speak so about someone who was locked away in Azkaban indefinitely--though Severus knew that man deserved it, even if the crimes he had actually committed didn't match the ones he had been incarcerated for. Instead, he kept his eyes on his snakes and they settled down under his gaze, finally behaving with the manners and decorum they were raised with rather than those their esteemed headmaster insisted were 'good enough'.
He watched Regulus out of the corner of his eye. Neither of the ex-Death Eaters had planned on becoming teachers when they started out, but Regulus had taken to it with far more grace than he. The younger man had always been sensitive, both magically and in temperament. He'd suffered tremendously under his parents and the Dark Lord, and had made the wise move so long ago to start healer training early so that he would be required to take certain vows which would prevent him from fighting, instead helping heal the injuries of Death Eaters both made by the other side and those made by the mercurial Dark Lord himself.
In the end, Regulus had built up the courage to defect long before it had ever occurred to Severus as an option; and had executed his plan of escape while Severus fucked up everything good in his life and became little more than a tool of Dumbledore. Regulus was stuck here too of course, though as Lord Black he had a little more freedom, and because Dumbledore was such a cunt, he insisted Severus take on the nurturing position of Slytherin Head of House instead of Regulus, who would be so very good in such a role. Albus said he had his reasons, but Severus knew it was just a power play, a means to twist the knife for them both.
Regulus had always had a natural grace and integrity in spades, and that didn't go away just because a certain Headmaster tried to keep him under his purple suede high heeled boot. So instead of caring for the Slytherin children alone, Regulus took on many financial burdens of caring for all of the students, and used his extra time to cultivate the muggleborns and teach them about their world so that Severus' snakes had less to hiss at. It was almost entirely the opposite of Severus' predecessor's Slug Club, and not without reason. Regulus truly put in significant effort and care as well as cold hard cash into making sure that the children who he took on did well, and if the first few batches of students to graduate under his steady hand and sponsorship were any indication, it would no doubt go far to making their world a better place. Severus knew they would do well.
Severus could see Regulus' remaining students, all muggleborns, and all sitting as gracefully and properly as most of the Slytherins and other scions of the sacred twenty eight were --Other than the Weasleys of course. Though admittedly young Percival tried; he had little help from his family, who seemed to think that closing one's mouth when they ate was tantamount to blood supremacy. Fools. The muggleborns of course didn't sit with the almost fearful rigidity that Regulus and the others had had beaten into them, learned through spells that shocked them anytime they slumped or shrugged, or performed any number of childish behaviours that were deemed unseemly by the upper echelons; but it was a marked difference to those who hadn't made the grades that would get them into his class, (who tended to drop out after their OWLS and go back to the muggle world) and it would mean everything once they went out into the world of adulthood and employment in that prejudiced and patently unfair realm, that of wizarding Britain.
Thankfully Minerva promptly stepped into the room with the year's crop of tiny and terrified first years. The old hat made its song and they were on with the sorting. People tried to be polite, but there was no question the entire room was waiting to hear one name and one name only--though Severus could see Regulus faithfully taking notes on the various magical signatures of the children while their attention was distracted by the voice in their head. He had told Severus once that the hat drew interesting things from the children's magic that he never saw at other times, so he used the sorting to inform him of the students, particularly the fresh blood. His notes were always shared with the other teachers, especially the House heads, so that they could deal with each child better.
Severus himself knew that he was a better teacher for knowing why certain children never seemed to be able to go through a class without exploding their cauldrons.
"Potter, Hadrian" Minerva called, and he could see her taking in the tiny form and crooked, broken glasses just as Severus was, and he could feel Regulus stiffen next to him.
There were a few every year; children who worked so hard to cover for the sins of their parents or family members; but none of them had expected the great and mighty Harry Potter to be among the number of those abused or neglected. Severus fought the impulse to openly glare at the headmaster, but couldn't resist looking to Regulus who was still the very picture of polite interest, leaning back in his seat with one leg elegantly hooked over the other, his muscles schooled under the famous control of Lord Black; but as he looked to Severus he didn't need to utter the legilimens spell to see the raging storm in his grey eyes.
Severus took a sip of water and a few calming breaths. He need not give in to his wrath; Regulus would be looking into it.
Severus of course had a role to play. He was to be the big and bad bitter ex-Death Eater, spitting hate like venom. He was to rejoin the masked idiots in the case of the Dark Lord's inevitable return, whenever that may be, and Regulus would be here, watching over the muggleborns and maintaining neutrality as an option for the sons and daughters of Death Eaters who needed to know they had a choice. The two of them spoke about it often enough, dismayed by the fact that after the dust had settled and they looked back both of them could see that they hadn't had as few options as they had thought. They didn't want that for these children, were determined that no child Slytherin or not, would be coerced into fighting the war either under the heavy cruciatus of the Dark Lord nor the legilimens-enabled manipulations of the Light Lord.
Neither of them had any trust in Dumbledore's supposed undauntable goodness, especially not after working in the school, and they were both determined to go about protecting Lily's child, as well as all the other children (that Albus didn't seem to care for at all) in their own ways.
The feast finally began with Severus' acquisition of the Zambini heir, and he allowed Minerva to speak at him about all the quidditch games she would be winning in the coming year, though he didn't feel up to much replying and she seemed to understand. Neither of them commented on the long winning streak Slytherin had been enjoying; it was beside the point.
Both of them knew they were really watching the tiny Potter heir looking like he'd never even dreamed of so much food in his life. Over at the Slytherin table his godson Draco Malfoy was already trying Severus' nerves, proving he should have been sorted in with the lions for all the bragging he liked to carry on with.
After dinner Albus insisted on carrying on in his usual way and practically inviting dunderheaded Gryffindors to explore the third floor where the staff's challenges were situated, even while he pretended to condemn it. He saw his snakes rolling their eyes and agreed with them; though again, young Malfoy had a certain gleam in his eye that matched those in the Griffs' eyes completely.
It seemed he'd taken after his cousin. Regulus' brother had been the first Black to ever be sorted into Gryffindor, and was a true reckless idiot indeed. Too bad young Draco hadn't followed Black and gone to the lions to be Minerva's problem.
There were always a few snakes and lions who were put into the wrong House because the hat saw a very real danger of disinheritance or abuse should they be placed in a House their parents didn't approve of. Severus knew that Regulus should have been put in with the eagles or even the badgers; but if he had stepped out of line after Sirius had been determined to provoke their parents at every opportunity, he would have called punishment upon himself that even his brother didn't deserve.
Severus was relieved when the whole ordeal was over and he only had the Slytherin induction before his responsibilities were over for the evening and he could take off his mask. Seeing Potter in such a state was making him feel things he couldn't afford to let out. His role as a spy meant he had to keep his head. He couldn't afford to fall apart at the slightest reminder of Lily or his own sins --at least not publically.
Free of his official responsibilities for the night, Regulus retired to his rooms after dinner and immediately called Kreature. "What can Kreature do for Young Lord Regulus?"
Regulus sighed, he'd tried to get the old elf to be less formal after his mother's death but it was either his proper title or 'Master', which he found distasteful for a number of reasons; first it was a regular reminder that Regulus was never able to actually get the mastership he had always wished for and, as he disagreed with the outright oppression of house elves rather than a much preferable mutually beneficial partnership on a societal level as well as a personal one, he resigned to be called by his title any time his beloved house elf addressed him.
"We will be entertaining tonight Kreature, we'll need the scotch for our lovely Minerva, sloe gin for Fileus, Vodka for Severus, gillywater for Pomona; I'll start with wine, and I'm sure we'll need firewhiskey as well."
"Certainly. Shall I bring up some comfort food as well my Young Lord Regulus?"
Regulus couldn't help his smile, "Yes thank you Kreature, pull out the trashiest muggle foods you can find if you would."
He went to his bedchamber on the floor below in order to freshen up and change out of his formal academic robes into a more comfortable pair of muggle slacks and a navy blue button down shirt with a cable knit jumper in the same colour, and pulled his hair back into a tidy braid.
He sat down and took out his file for the supplementary lessons and moved some of his notes from dinner; a list of the students and what he'd seen in their aura as the hat was speaking to them. Then there was the list of muggleborns with even more in depth notes. He added Hadrian Potter to the second list despite his status as half blood and heir of an Ancient and Noble House, as he had apparently been raised with some truly horrid muggles, and if Regulus was right in his assumption, knew nothing of his true place in the world. However he would need to be smart with this one, he foresaw trouble ahead if he was too obvious in his cultivation of Hadrian Potter, and resolved to figure out ways to subtly smooth his way in the wizarding world without making his self appointed magical guardian too suspicious.
The other notable students had also been in Gryffindor. Longbottom, whom his cousin and her husband and...Regulus' ex lover had for all intents and purposes orphaned, had a heady and strong aura that spoke of life and growth, but had behaved in an anxious manner. He resolved to watch him closely, feeling a responsibility for his state as Lord Black, though as he was barely eighteen at the time of the incident he could hardly have stopped the Lestranges...and...and Barty...Regulus suppressed all of his tumultuous feelings about Barty and moved on.
Regulus didn't know all that much about the Longbottoms, but knew that young Neville's great uncle, Lady Augusta Longbottom's brother was a violent and volatile sort who loved to get into fights. Regulus could remember in his own lifetime at least three separate public duels that the man had initiated, all of which ended badly, and he wondered if Arthur Selwyn was responsible for the boy's overall nervousness.
The first knock came at eleven PM like clockwork just as it always did every year. Everyone on staff loved to take advantage of Regulus' liquor cabinet, and he had to admit that he quite enjoyed being someone who was sought out for his company, as well as his booze. He was good at entertaining despite his reputation of shyness, and was the only staff member with his own house elf, and so it was natural that he would be the host (though he made sure their fair share of extra curricular gatherings still took place at the three broomsticks so Rosmerta didn't have his hide). That none of them cared about his status was rather lovely as well. He had earned their trust over the years, and he had earned their friendship, "Fileus welcome, Kreature has pulled out a bottle of your favourite gin for you."
The half goblin entered, clapping Regulus on the back of his arm in thanks (in lieu of being able to reach his shoulder). The ever spritely and energetic man looked exhausted already, and that started the flood. Eventually all of the Heads were there, bitching about the troublemakers that were already wreaking havoc in their common rooms; but this year they all carried an identical weight of disappointment and regret, as well as a real grief.
Hadrian Potter was clearly a victim of abuse. The perpetrators were muggles; he wouldn't be getting threats of cruciatus, nor the scourgify charm used for a purpose it wasn't designed for, nor any number of the other magical means that Regulus had withstood as a child, but it was clear he had been starved and neglected at the very least. Watching him at the feast had been heartbreaking for Regulus, who had gone many nights without dinner himself in his childhood. The boy's magic had told an interesting tale as well.
Eventually Regulus asked the question they were all here for, "So...does he qualify for the scholarship?"
They all stilled, each teacher staring into their own glass.
Minerva, the child's Head of House spoke, "Albus said he'd be safest there. I had watched them for a day, and it was time enough to see they wouldn't be suitable. I advised him against it, but he was adamant. He said he'd be best out of the limelight, that he'd be safer with them but…" she trailed off, staring into the fire but not seeming to see it, "I should have checked back. Eleven years and I never…I trusted him!" she cut off, choking on tears as they flooded from her eyes . Pomona took her hand and patted it in comfort. Regulus was livid. Minerva was a brilliant women and an intimidating agent during the war; Dumbledore should not have ignored her recommendation.
Fileus was looking at him steadily, "What did you see in his magic?" He asked, as Minerva reached out for a wagon wheel and opened the colourful packet with shaking fingers before taking a bite of the chocolate covered cookie. It was known among the Heads that Regulus was magic sensitive and all of the them made use of his gift when they were worried about one of their charges.
"It's damaged, definitely; wounded, depleted. And there has been at least one seal put on his magical core. There is also terribly dark magic left in his scar that worries me, and not just a small remnant either. Dumbledore should be charged with willful neglect at the very least, but we know that will never happen. I'll have to get closer to know any more. did you sense any different?"
Goblins didn't see magic like he did necessarily, but they were canny and were able to sense a lot of things humans could not. He shook his head, "I'll let you know after a few classes, but I do agree with you about the wounding and the block," Was all he said. His more goblin features were usually subtle, but when he was this angry they really shone through. Goblins were very protective of their young, and wizards often disgusted them for the way they treated their children.
Regulus nodded. "I do think he should be sent to the infirmary for Poppy to have a look at as soon as possible. I'll write a letter to Gringotts on the morrow for the scholarship money. He'll need a potion regimen for the malnutrition at the very least, and I didn't like the look of those eyeglasses," He said, and Minerva nodded, happy to have something to do. She was, as ever, a warrior and a woman of action.
"I'll send him to Poppy tomorrow, and I'll find some time to take him to Hogsmeade for some new spectacles. Bless Hagrid, but he doesn't think far outside of the box or Albus' instructions. I'll bet he was so distracted buying that pretty bird that he forgot about things like underwear and socks," All of those present snorted.
Everyone got a little into their cups after that, drinking to little Hadrian's health, and making bets on everything from future allegiances and couples to quidditch positions for the new students. The House Heads all nominated who they thought would be the students who would benefit from Regulus' class, and agreed to work extra hard to keep Harry above the line so he would qualify.
Eventually they all went off to bed with a gift of sobering potion and hangover cure from Severus, and soon enough it was just the two snakes.
"It's not your fault," Regulus said, and Severus snorted.
"As if it's not? I'm the reason that boy is an orphan!"
Regulus shook his head, "You were far from the only spy the Dark Lord used, and he never made that much of a fuss about prophecies unless he had confirmation. He would have found out anyway. I know you have regrets and they are your business, but you have already been more than adequately punished for any sins. No, I lay the blame in this case lies firmly on the shoulders on those beastly relatives of his and on Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore."
Severus sighed and took another swig of fire whiskey.
Regulus took a long sip of his brandy and let it roll on his tongue before he said, "I'll put in for guardianship first thing in the morning. I have everything ready anyway," Severus didn't reply but there was a loosening of his shoulders, "And I'll contest the sealing of the Potter and Evans Wills again; I would put the entire Lestrange vault on at least Minerva being on there as an option for guardianship after Sirius, Lupin and Pettegrew; Andy and Ted as well. They would have been great parents, and you know they like to keep to themselves, he had no reason to out the boy where he did."
Severus nodded in agreeance, "Lily would have had me take care of him before she left him with Petunia --and we all know I swore an oath never to be a father."
Regulus nodded, taking another sip, "I'll resort to kidnapping if I have to," He said quietly, and Severus finally looked at him.
Regulus shrugged, "It's been a while since a Black caused any drama, and Chateau Noir hasn't had a visit in a while; and I have all kinds of other boltholes if things become dire."
Severus snorted, "Could you imagine if he just turned up at Beauxbatons one day? Albus would have a fit!" Regulus chuckled, but frowned when Severus added, "Might as well break your brother out while you're at it."
"I just wish I knew why he was in there in the first place!" He said glumly and Severus gave him another flat look, it was a conversation they'd had so many times it was nothing new.
"Sirius either knows something, or he threw one dark spell too many in front of the wrong people. You know how fanatic they are, and how careful Albus is about His image of 'the light.'" Regulus nodded, but continued to brood. Severus sighed tiredly, "My bet is that he knows whatever spell Lily used that night, and I'll make it double that it was dark --or you know, 'dark' as they define it these days, which could be nearly anything. It's probably from your library."
"No bet; but if it is from our library he took the book; but that would hardly be new. I've combed through them all looking for exactly that thing, and haven't found it yet," Regulus said.
There was a silence as they both continued to stare and at the fire and drink their glasses down.
Eventually Severus sighed, "You might want to write to the wolf though," Regulus looked at him to check if he was joking but he was perfectly sincere. He really was suggesting bringing in his own bogart, "You know Albus will. You'd be better to get there first, and he's qualified for all kinds of uses," He finished his drink then stood, "I'd better go.Thank you once again for the hospitality my friend."
"Darling," Regulus drawled, "Pleasure's all mine. Send me a list of ingredients you'll need for the potions. I'll send off the order as soon as I receive your word."
After Severus left, Regulus sat at his desk and began his correspondence. He wrote to the goblin in charge of his accounts at Gringotts, Roughfang, and his lawyer, as well as a few friends and acquaintances who might know the whereabouts of a certain werewolf. Things had to be rather dire for him these days with the way Malfoy and that horrible Umbridge woman were hammering the subject in the wizengamot. Regulus was sure he could think of a job or two that the admittedly brilliant Remus Lupin would be qualified for if he had any rights.
Thinking on the subject made Regulus regret that it hadn't occurred to him sooner. He was sure having a werewolf in his employ could prove to turn out quite useful. Salazar knew he had his differences with the man but that was no reason to ignore such opportunities.
He still had so much to learn.
Finishing up he called his elf who had been quietly straightening up his quarters after his colleagues had left, "Thank you; I would like you to find Hadrian Potter and audit his belongings; let me know if he's missing anything from the usual list. And, actually I'd like you to check that young Weasley's belongings as well. I recall his brothers all benefitting from a partial scholarship during their time here."
The elf nodded. "Yes my Lord." Regulus smiled.
"Thank you Kreature."