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Batch 35: Black Family (1) - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Batch 35: Black Family (1)
Wasn't getting anywhere with the "Other" requests, so I'm going to skip them and go straight to the Black family requests (Phineas and Regulus).

Something with Phineas and his family at Christmas. for Anon
"Don't worry," Ursula said, brushing fondly at Phineas's hair, and shutting the door with her wand so they didn't have to hear the shouting from downstairs. "One more week, and we'll have a whole new century in front of us."

He smiled wearily. "Actually, a week and a year. It's not as though there was a year zero to reckon with."

"I count it when the numbers change," Ursula said, unfazed. "It's not as though we haven't lost track of actual numbers of years along the way. And I'm quite excited to start dates with '19.' The '18s' are worn out. Here's to a better world of a prime number leading the way."

There was a knock at the study door, and Cygnus looked in timidly. He would have to develop some confidence to fit in at Hogwarts in September.

"What is it?" Phineas asked.

"Er, Father..."

"Go on, dear," Ursula said.

"Sirius and Phin are having an argument."

"I'm quite aware of it," Phineas said. "The Muggle neighbors are probably quite aware of it by now. Is there an end in sight?"

Cygnus shook his head, then bit his lip. "It's about Aunt Isla. Phin wants to invite her over with her husband. Sirius says that Aunt Elladora is right, and we shouldn't act like it's all right."

Phineas didn't say anything. The argument had been raging since dawn, despite the fact that the whole reason Isla hadn't been invited was to avoid arguments about her marriage.

"Are you coming down?" Cygnus asked.

"I was going to wait until they stopped arguing."

"Then can I hide with you?"

"I'm not hiding."

Ursula bit back a laugh. "You heard your father, Cygnus. We're not at all hiding. Just waiting here."

"Then can I wait with you?"

"Me, as well!" someone called musically. It took Phineas a moment to place the voice of his new daughter-in-law, Hesper. She came around the door and tousled Cygnus's hair affectionately, then looked at Phineas. "I told Sirius to change the subject immediately, but... well, he claims that Phin is the one pursuing the unpleasantness."

"Not generally untrue," Phineas said, and sighed. "Well, I suppose hiding is not the proper way to spend Christmas. I shall go downstairs and tell them both to keep their politics to themselves."

Hesper looked around. "It seems nice enough in here. Why don't we send for Arcturus and Belvina and bring up all the decorations? Let Sirius and Phin enjoy their argument."

Ursula smiled. "I knew I liked you. If, God forbid, anything happens to your marriage, I think we should keep you and send Sirius packing."

Hesper laughed. "I don't think that's a concern." She Conjured a pair of bells to go off and chase Phineas's other two children, then everyone set about decorating the study. Within fifteen minutes, the room was quite festive, and the house elves had brought up the remainder of the feast. Belvina, who had a fine singing voice, called for her harp and sang carols, while Hesper and Arcturus asked for old family stories, which Phineas was glad to tell. Ursula and Cygnus had game going, in which a ball of light she Conjured swept the floor, and he had to jump it in increasingly intricate patterns.

They'd been at this for an hour when the door opened, and Phineas's eldest son, Sirius, leaned in. "We've moved up here?" he asked.

"We have," Hesper said. "We didn't want Christmas to interrupt your argument."

"That's hardly--"

"Oh, no," Ursula said. "We've left you alone for your fun, you must leave us alone for ours, or join it, and leave the fight behind."

"I'm not pressing the subject," Sirius said.

"So we'd heard," Phineas said. "And where is our troublemaker?"

"I'm here," Phin groused from the corridor. "You're really not going to let me speak if we go in?"

"Speak all you like," Ursula said. "But don't pick fights."


Phineas raised an eyebrow and sent his best cold glare across the room. When the children had been small, they'd have run in terror from it. As it was, Phin just rolled his eyes and muttered, "Fine."

The last two brothers came inside the study, joining the family, leaving the empty rooms below to echo the memory of their argument. Surely, it would pass. It was nearly a new century, after all, and the nineteen-hundreds would surely see an improvement in their attitudes.

Regulus and Harry talking about Sirius, at any point after Teddy and James bring Regulus back. for Anon
"This was good spellwork for a sixteen-year-old," Harry said, working the fiddly little sticking charms that held Sirius's fading photographs to the wall. It stung a little, losing the perfectly preserved room... but then, the room was a little creepy, as the portrait had pointed out. They'd finally got the chizzpurfle infestation under control, but no one wanted to sleep surrounded by ancient Muggle pictures of girls in bikinis, especially now that the pest control potions had left them warped and blurry. (The picture of the Marauders together had been carefully guarded to avoid that fate.)

"Hmm," Regulus said, working on another one. "Well, Sirius could do good Charms, but I'm honestly beginning to think that Dad backed them up."


"Yeah. After Mum did the bit with the family tree, she sent him up here to dismantle the room. I thought it was my backup work that saved it, but I sort of wonder if Dad didn't do exactly the opposite of what she said. He just came downstairs and said the charmwork was too strong."

"Did your father and Sirius actually get along?"

Regulus laughed. "That would be overstating the case a little. Sirius tweaked Dad's nose as much as Mum's. Dad was just less... tweakable. And he knew Mum would have been sorry if she hadn't Sirius's chippies to come up and yell at." He pointed at the remaining pictures. "After he left, Mum would come in here and scream her head off at them."

Harry had no idea what to say to this. He hadn't given much thought to Sirius's parents, at least other than how to shut Walburga's portrait up, until Regulus had re-appeared, and made casual comments that had caused him to question any number of things. When he spoke of them, Orion sounded like a patient, forbearing father, and Walburga was nearly amusing in her overreactions to what almost always seemed like Sirius's deliberate provocations.

"You're doing it again, aren't you?" Regulus asked.

"Doing what?"

"Thinking that you must be completely wrong about whatever you thought you used to know."


Regulus shook his head. "I loved my parents. They had their good points. And Sirius had his berk-ish side. But Sirius was right, and they were wrong. He and Mum had an equal-sided war going on--at least from the time he got his wand--but he was a child. She was an adult, and should have known better. Dad should have stepped in more. And all of us should have had our heads screwed on a lot straighter, so there wouldn't have been a fight in the first place." He smiled faintly. "Though I expect Sirius would have found some other cause to fight with Mum about, if the Muggle-born issue hadn't been handy."

"That wasn't the only reason Sirius fought."

Regulus blinked, confused, then waved his hand and went back to working on the picture. "Of course it's not the only reason. I think it probably started that way, but he was quite sincere by the time Mum disinherited Andromeda. Just because it started as a stupid rebellion doesn't mean it stayed that way."

"Right," Harry said. "Of course."

"You told me once that you saw them in a Pensieve, in school."

"I know, that wasn't representative and I shoulnd't judge them by it."

"Oh, no, it was representative enough of life with Sirius and Snape. You didn't get to see the retaliatory strike--for a week, every time I put on my shoes, they turned into high heels, and my eyelashes wouldn't uncurl--but--"

"Wait... what? You ended up hexed?"

"If he'd done it to Sirius, Sirius would have found a way to turn it around and make it a joke. Doing it to me humiliated Sirius more." Regulus shrugged in a totally indifferent way, then said, "So I learned to walk in heels and didn't complain. I reckoned it might diffuse the situation. I was wrong."

"And Sirius just let him do it?"

"Are you kidding? If the school year hadn't ended, they'd've ended up killing each other with that hex war."

They worked quietly for a long time after that. Harry knew that Snape's mind hadn't exactly been on the Black brothers at the time, but he also knew how bitter that feud had been, and had a good idea how Sirius would have responded to the humiliation of his brother.

After a while, Regulus sighed and said, "I loved my brother, Harry. He was the best person I knew. He had his nasty sides, but--well, I imagine you know what it was like to be in that circle of people he'd protect. I never felt like I was in any danger. Even when I was a Death Eater, I thought that, if push came to shove, Sirius would save me. I still think that."

Harry considered this, then nodded. "I think you're right."
7 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 21st, 2012 11:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Regulus and Harry talking about Sirius... oh! I love how you write the Black brother relationship, you bring such humanity to the entire Black family. I love Regulus' insights (insights I perhaps biasedly believe younger siblings gain more readily than older siblings) about Sirius' initial rebellion becoming his passion and defining 'identity'. And the Snape/Sirius war, with Snape hexing Regulus? Never thought of it, but it's perfect.

Once again, Fern, your work has cermented its way as my headcanon. You are really amazing!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2012 03:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I figure that Regulus would be really easy target for retaliation, right there in Slytherin, and probably trying to live down his brother's rebellion.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 21st, 2012 01:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I requested the Phineas fic. Thank you! I so love your portrayal of the Blacks.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2012 03:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome. I like them. :D
graceful_bard From: graceful_bard Date: March 21st, 2012 02:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I requested the second one, thank you! It's perfect! I also agree with Anonymous, I think younger siblings often see their older siblings with greater insight than the other way around (I have an older sibling and am an older sibling). I love Regulus' insights into Sirius' character. Now I'm intrigued by the story of how their relationship deteriorated, given the fact that in your canon, they seem to have been on reasonably good terms at Hogwarts (if Snape knew hurting Regulus would hurt Sirius, then they can't have hated each other, right?)

Anyway, thank you for the ficlet, it was lovely, as always!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 21st, 2012 03:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
If Regulus went along with the ban from the family, that would have to sting a lot.

My take on the relationship between Sirius and Regulus in canon was that Sirius had an oddly... absolving?... attitude. Other Death Eaters were evil, plain and simple. Regulus was just a soft-headed idiot--the implication being that he was gullible rather than evil. For Sirius, that's saying something.
beceh From: beceh Date: March 21st, 2012 03:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree with the sibling thing... I am an oldest sibling and it's often hard to break out of the mindset that they're just little kids! Both my brother and sister have come out with some pretty accurate and insightful things about me over the years that surprises me... while I'm still trying to remind myself that my brother's not 10 years old anymore (He's 22 heh).

Great little stories, I really enjoyed both of those :)
7 comments or Leave a comment