Title: How Regulus Black Came to the Conclusion that Ice Cream is Better than Candy Floss
Recipient's LJ name: cutthroatpixie
Word Count: 2093
Prompt Chosen: As Good As It Gets
Authors notes: <3
As Good As It Gets
It had been three days since the Black brothers had left Hogwarts for the Christmas holidays. Grimmauld Place was almost completely silent and it was already driving Sirius up the wall. He felt that his beautiful voice was not being used to its full potential while he was at home. Writing owls to his mates wasn't nearly the same as speaking to them out loud. He estimated he would lose his voice after a week.
On this particular Thursday, Grimmauld Place was not quiet. It was past noon and Sirius was still drooling into his pillow when he was awoken by someone throwing their boot against the door to his room. He jumped to his feet and pulled on trousers before yanking the door open to see the culprit.
Barty Crouch Jr stood centimetres from the door, his face falling from a wide grin to a disappointed frown.
"What the hell are you doing here?" he asked, leaning down to pull his boot back onto his foot.
"What the hell am I doing here? You've got the wrong door, Crouch. Who let you in?"
"K-man, of course!" Barty leaned in the doorway to peek inside Sirius' room, a fascinated expression on his face. "I wish Reg's room had fun posters like yours!"
Sirius didn't need to look behind himself to know Barty was referring to the muggle pictures. "Yeah yeah, Reg's boring, we all know that. Go bother him, would you?"
Barty didn't need to be told twice. He took one last nosy glance at the pictures and proceeded to kick Regulus' door multiple times.
"What do you want?" Regulus responded, irritation clear in his voice.
"Open the door, Regamuffin! I brought your minions!"
Regulus scrambled to the door and pulled it open with a grin on his face. Sirius rolled his eyes and shut himself in his room.
"Oh, you mean muffins," he said, observing the muffins Barty had shoved into his pockets. He got crumbs all over the floor when he pulled them out but Regulus didn't mention it.
Barty closed the door behind him and proceeded to jump on Regulus' bed. On the bright side, he slept soundly that first night.
"Can I please go back to sleep now?" Regulus whined. It was half past two in the morning on the second day of Barty's visit. He had only fallen asleep half an hour ago because Barty had kept him awake telling him stories about the Kraken's recent kills.
Barty shushed Regulus. This situation was the complete opposite of what happened every day at Hogwarts.
"Why are you shushing me?" Regulus whispered.
"Just lean down and when you see or hear Sirius coming I'll need you to shut up so I can execute my brilliant plan of glory!"
"What brilliant plan of glory?" Regulus raised an eyebrow. He was crouched in one of the airing cupboards in the attic, painfully uncomfortable, and yawning every thirty seconds.
Barty was much more alert, and his eyes kept flickering down to the corridor below. The previous times Barty had been to Grimmauld Place for a visit he had noticed that Sirius often stuck down to the kitchen at this time to stuff his face where no one could see. Barty could be very observant when he wanted to be, and Regulus always fell asleep before him.
Before Barty had a chance to reply, he heard footsteps echoing closer along the corridor and he put his hand over Regulus' lips even though he hadn't intended to speak. Sirius was wearing only his pajama bottoms as usual and it was clear that he didn't suspect a thing. When Sirius approached the spot directly beneath them, Barty removed his hand from over Regulus' mouth and leapt down from where he was crouching to land on his feet in front of Sirius.
"VICTORY! THE NINJA CLAIMS ANOTHER VICTIM!" he shouted as Sirius leapt in fright and landed ungracefully on his backside as he tried to avoid Barty.
Regulus leaned carefully to see what was happening and he spoke as quietly as he could while maintaining a strict tone, even though it was rather pointless after Barty's cry of victory and Sirius' surprised shriek.
"Barty, what on Earth are you doing?" he hissed, watching from above as Barty silenced Sirius' grunts with a spell.
Sirius struggled beneath Barty's grip but the boy was surprisingly strong.
"Just- wait a second, don't move," Regulus ordered as he climbed carefully down from the airing cupboard. Barty obeyed in that he stayed in the same location, but he continued to tie Sirius up with magical ropes and set him against the wall. By the time Regulus arrived, he looked livid.
"What do you plan on doing with him now?"
"Well, Cthulhu said that-"
"We're not going by what Cthulhu says here, Barty. You've had your practice for tonight."
Sirius snapped at Barty once he was released but he did not insist on having the last word. It was strange for Regulus to see but he assumed that Sirius had finally realized that there was no point in arguing with Barty. As Sirius stalked off in the direction of the kitchen Regulus' lips quirked into a tiny smile. He hid it from Barty because he didn't want to encourage him.
Barty stayed in Grimmauld place for two more consecutive days, and Sirius certainly wouldn't complain about it being too quiet anymore. He swung by a magical rope from the chandelier across from Sirius' room and he insisted on looking through Dark Magic artifacts for hours trying to find a 'boxy thing' that muggles knew as a television. He amused himself for over a half hour with some things and Kreacher was left with a giant mess to take care of. Regulus had grown accustomed to the noise but Sirius liked being the loudest in the house and could hardly tolerate someone louder than him. Sirius managed to somehow avoid Barty's wrath for twenty four hours, but evidently it took practice.
Regulus usually spent his summers reading and occasionally flying. Sirius would accompany him on the odd day out but he was lonely most of the time. It was impossible to feel lonely or bored while in the company of Barty. He wasn't the sort of friend who you would sit around and play wizard chess with; he was the sort of friend that kept your brother on his toes; the sort of friend that hogged the blankets but kept you warmer than if you had been alone; the sort of friend that made each day different from the last without fail.
On a rather boring Sunday afternoon, the two boys were wandering around the city streets. Regulus had told his mother that they were only going to stretch their legs but they had already been gone for twenty minutes.
"What are you looking for?" Regulus asked, noticing that Barty was craning his neck to look around street corners and over signs.
"Fancy some ice cream, Regamuffin?" he beamed, leading Regulus over to an ice cream shoppe called Ben and Jerry's. Regulus didn't love sweets as Barty and Sirius loved them; he rarely indulged himself. Sirius had shared candy floss with him as a child and he sometimes ate plain milk chocolate, but that was all.
Regulus searched his trouser pockets for money as they approached. Then he remembered that he had never even touched a piece of muggle money before.
"Barty-" he began, but Barty had already emptied his pockets on the desk in front of the cashier. There was lint, candy wrappers, and screws amid the coins and a single paper bill, but Barty had enough money to buy them each a few scoops of ice cream. Regulus didn't ask how he had acquired muggle money, with Barty he had learned that the means to which he achieved a goal did not matter and he probably had forgotten anyway.
The cashier pushed the remains of the inside of Barty's pockets back to him over the desk but he turned away without cleaning up his mess.
"Oi, and another thing," he addressed the cashier. "Give me two of the tiniest spoons you have or I'm going to take my moneys and shove it up your arse, understand?"
The cashier nodded, his eyes wide. Barty glanced over at Regulus and grinned; the hostile expression he had worn a moment before had vanished. "Which do you want?" he asked enthusiastically.
Regulus had not had much ice cream before, he had only tasted it a few times during the past four years he had spent at Hogwarts. He had always preferred candy floss anyway. "Chocolate," he decided.
While he had been contemplating Barty had insisted that his paper bowl had a tiny spoonful of each flavour. There were a lot of flavours, so his portion of ice cream was rather larger than Regulus' plain chocolate.
They sat on a nearby bench to eat, Barty flicking bits of lint at seagulls that landed on the garbage nearby.
Regulus thought of the ninja attack on Sirius as they ate in comforable silence for a moment and he chuckled quietly to himself. Instead of asking him what he was laughing at Barty gave him a swift poke and an expectant look. Regulus swallowed his ice cream and grinned, "Your ninja prank was rather brilliant, actually."
"Of course it was brilliant," Barty beamed. "He was pretty easy to hold down, you know. Your brother is a weakling compared to me, the master of stalth!"
Regulus didn't quite agree with that statement; he knew Sirius weighed more than him but that didn't necessarily mean he was strong. He was certainly lazy enough to be seen as unfit.
"Mother wouldn't let you visit anymore if Sirius made a gigantic commotion. On second thought, if it were a choice between you or him staying with us I think you would most likely win."
Barty wolfed down his ice cream rather fast for someone eating with a tiny spoon. "Of course I'd win, there's no competition! Sirius can be fun sometimes when he's sick of being a wanker. Thank Cthulhu for smiling down upon me and giving me ninja skills!"
Regulus neglected to correct Barty for pronouncing Cthulhu differently every time he said it. As his portion of ice cream slowly diminished, Regulus and Barty argued about the so-called perils that Ninjas had to face in order for them to become a Ninja master like Barty. These arguments were different than the ones Regulus had with Narcissa or Sirius, there were no feelings of frustration.
Barty had finished his portion of ice cream before Regulus had finished half of his. He threw the empty paper bowl in the direction of the garbage can, not caring that he missed his target. Barty moved suddenly and Regulus thought that he
"What're you-" Regulus put down his spoon, his eyes meeting Barty's as he leaned over and pressed his lips against his friends'. The kiss was short and Barty's tongue was cold. It was cold and it tasted like a million different flavours of ice cream at once but Regulus didn't care, nor did he remember that they were in a very public place. They were fourteen and there was nothing but each other in that moment. No parents or essays or Quidditch practices or Siriuses keeping them apart.
Regulus had hardly enjoyed his summers the past few years because of the continuous conflict between his parents and Sirius, and in addition to that he had felt lonely. The weekend with Barty hadn't been the perfect weekend, Sirius had certainly suffered for it and Regulus had spent most of his time trying to keep up with his mate, resulting in a lot less sleep as always. But as far as he was concerned, this weekend was just about as good as any weekend gets.
Barty leaned into the kiss and gave a frustrated sigh when Regulus pulled away. He had just realized that they were in public and he glanced around anxiously to see if someone had been watching. When he turned his head back toward his friend he was surprised by a large spoonful of chocolate ice cream being pressed into his cheek.
"Oops, I was aiming for your mouth, I swear!" Barty smirked. He pulled Regulus forward to lick the chocolate ice cream off his cheek slowly and Regulus' eyes fluttered shut. The remaining ice cream was forgotten and had melted before they got off the bench and headed back to Grimmauld Place.