Marlene McKinnon/Sirius Black.
Marlene McKinnon/Sirius Black.
Reviews are, as always, very much appreciated!
A/N: This is very much NON-chronological. Therefore, I apologise if things seem a little ... muddled! It's just the way my mind works.
She stands face to face with the masked figures. She won't call them "Death Eaters" - that implies that her departure from this world will benefit them in some way and she'll make sure that's the last thing that could ever happen, even though it will kill her.
Her family is dead. Her beautiful mother, with her golden hair and words of a better future; her tall, skinny father who paid the price for falling in love with a Muggle; even her brothers, Inigo and Seb, who lie dead at at the bottom of the stairs in a pool of their own blood. And Sirius Black never even said it. Not once.
As she stands in the way of the Lestranges a cool, calm sense of self confidence washes over her.
She has nothing to lose.
She stood at the bar, cheap martini in hand and watched as her two friends bickered next to her. Rough times, these were; people didn't know if they were coming or going, what with the constant threat of obliteration and/or annihilation.
(Sometimes she thought she'd kind of like to be obliterated. Cut down in her prime. That way they'd remember everything she could have been, rather than mourn what she failed to achieve.)
"Look, James, I don't care if the Chudley Canons have won the Quidditch World Cup or it's Dumbledore's birthday, we need to get home now, otherwise you won't be ready for tomorrow's -"
"Merlin's beard, Lily, the Canons couldn't win the Cup, they're only regional!"
"James, that's not the point! How is that important when there're Death Eaters on the loose? For goodness' sake, if you're hungover tomorrow morning, you'll have Moody to answer to."
James flashed Marlene a look as if to say, "Hormones," at which she smirked surreptitiously - Lily Potter was about six months pregnant and all the angrier for it. She turned back to her drink, still smiling.
"They at it again?" a deep, smooth voice purred in her ear, one arm snaking its way around her waist. Marlene threw back her head as if to check who the man was and grinned. She saw his haughtily familiar, beautiful face in the smoky light and her smile widened.
"Christ. Watch she doesn't get him with another Bat Bogey Hex. I don't want to be looking after him like last time ... it took weeks before my dress robes were back to normal."
She laughed and turned around to face him. "Sirius, Sirius, Sirius ... if you weren't such a mother to him, I doubt you'd have these issues."
"Pssh." He paused, then placed two hands on her waist again. "So ... How've you been?" His silver eyes burned through her.
"What, since you left me so rudely last month?"
(A dark alleyway. A horrible man, huge and skulking, backing her up against the wall. Good thing she's strong.)
"Oh, shut up ... you had Goyle sorted. Besides, Dumbledore needed me for a Greyback incident in Marlborough."
"Alright. I'll let that one slide." He stroked her upper arms with his hands, sending shivers through her core. He leaned his forehead against hers and sighed.
"I really am sorry. I just knew you had that great lump in the palm of your hand ..."
(Until he slapped her across the face and her cheek bled.)
"Sirius, leave it. We both know I was fine. I don't need you to fight my battles for me."
He made a face of false hurt and pulled her by the hand on to the dance floor where there was a smattering of couples, barely visible due to the poor lighting. The music in the background wafted lazily over the room, making it all haze. She vaguely heard the Potters bidding them farewell in the background. It seemed Lily had her way after all.
(The women always would.)
They danced slowly for a while, his face buried in the crook of her neck while she inhaled somewhere around his shoulder. Eventually they drew apart as he said, "Fancy a cigarette?"
"You read my mind."
Outside, on the cool, dank street corner, he looked at her and she wondered what he'd do if he knew what she was thinking. He'd run a mile if he knew just how much she wanted from him. How much she needed from him.
He broke the silence by saying, "So ... my place or yours?"
(She wished it would never end.)
Marlene McKinnon never anticipated that she would be the sort of girl who fell in love with a boy like Sirius Black. You know the type ... bookish and headstrong with a strong sense of independence and self-will - she never thought she'd be pandering to the needs of an arrogant, beautiful boy like him. Never, in a million years, did she dream that she'd be the one listening to his empty promises and sighing over a faded black and white picture of him. Besides, she wasn't like that. She didn't consider herself pretty or charming - she was Marlene. She came from a family of boys and climbed trees. She was clever but not much use at the little things; she didn't know what dresses to wear or what to do with her face to disguise how it had caught the sun. She made herself heard but faded into the background when it came to odd, teen rituals; Good, sweet Marlene. Good for a laugh but she'd make a poor bed fellow. Her peers were never cruel; she was popular, beloved even, but never desired. She was happier with her nose in a book. The other girls in her dormitory used to stay up late at night, gossiping about Potter, Black and their merry band of followers; which one had caught their eye or asked them to the ball. Which one they thought they could fall in love with.
Things started to change. She'd be doing her Charms homework when she'd look up and catch his eye, and feel so ashamed that she'd blush furiously. He would let his arm linger at her back or on her arm when he thought nobody was looking. He had a string of girls he'd conquered in the past, swooning and sighing at him. She didn't want to become the latest of an overgrown list, the airheaded, dimwitted girls who were too stupid to realise that he wasn't interested.
(But then he got interested.)
"I can walk you home if you want ..." he used to say, as James Potter raised his eyebrows and smirked somewhere over Sirius' left shoulder. She let him, too - walk her home, that is. They ambled against a backdrop of corn rows and the silhouettes of yew trees they'd picknicked and played Quidditch beneath during the daytime. He held her hand when they reached the gate of her parents' house, telling her that she'd become beautiful, and she worried that her brothers were watching from somewhere in the attic, but all thoughts and anxieties melted into oblivion as he lent down, placed his lips on hers and wrapped his arms around her shoulders until they were both so entwined she felt she was trapped, although she didn't really mind for once. Usually she would have fought against it, this drowning feeling, as if she wouldn't be able to escape him, but with Sirius it didn't seem to matter, because she didn't want to escape from him.
In the morning, she woke up with less of a headache than she thought she'd have. The sunlight poured through the slatted windows and she rolled on to her side to stare at the man lying next to her. She couldn't help but smile as she watched his chest rise up and down, his brow furrowed in sleep. She was just about to reach out and trace his face from his eyes to his jaw, when -
"McKinnon, are you watching me sleep?"
(Jesus Christ. She always did.)
"No ..." she stammered.
"I think you were." He grinned. "That's frankly a little odd, my dear."
He rolled out of bed and strode into the kitchen. She wished she could show such scant regard for modesty sometimes.
"Coffee?" he called.
Shortly he waltzed back in, two cups in hand, and jumped back into bed. He smelt like smoke and sandalwood. A little stale, like he'd forgotten to wash, but in a sort of pleasant way. He was Sirius Black, after all.
"Sirius ..." She needed to talk to him. Remus had told them about no less than two families that had died last week. There was too much left unsaid.
(She hadn't said it either, mind.)
They finished their coffee in silence. She left in a huff, willing the tears not to spill down her cheeks for him to see.
She was ashamed of how much she relished him when they returned to school for their final year. Shy fumblings in broom cupboards, the envious stares she received from jealous girls. She talked to Lily Evans often, and was almost happy about the bad things she heard from her. "They're starting to dislike you, Marly ... the other girls. They don't think you deserve him." He became her conquest, living proof that you didn't need to be ostentatiously beautiful to get someone like him; intelligence, kindness and a keen wit sufficed with the opposite sex. They could get you the sex itself, although you couldn't have caught her admitting that.
It wasn't just a matter of hierarchy or dominance, however. They lay side by side next to lake and he stroked her hair, whispering things no boy had ever told her before. He needed her, she healed him. Her humour made the dark parts of his life that little bit lighter, even if only for a while.
But he never once told her that he loved her.
She didn't tell him, either. But she always held the opinion that the man should take the first step, be the first one to make himself vulnerable. Merlin knows she'd never lower herself like that. Besides, they never were officially "together". They went to the Yule Ball and spent time alone together, but they were never regarded as one entity, the way James and Lily or even James and Sirius himself were.
And before she could worry about the niceties and conventions of romance, the war came. The Order formed and she was thrilled to be in the midst of things; her parents' involvement and friendship with Dumbledore made her a key figure in the fight against the Dark Lord. It was an added bonus that Sirius Black was there with her.
(He always would be.)
"You know what? I'm sick of this! If you would just bloody well admit to it, maybe we'd be able to get somewhere!"
"For fuck's sake, Marlene, just give it a rest! Don't you know there was a war on, or are you too thick to notice even that?"
"Oh, very smooth, Black! Very smooth indeed! Calling ME and idiot when we all know the GREAT Sirius Black is the master of cunning and wit!"
Sirius Black and Marlene McKinnon were standing at either end of the drawing room of his flat, red in the face and yelling at the tops of their voices.
"No I bloody well won't. Didn't you see what happened to the Valances the other week? Both dead and there's nothing anyone can do to change it. They'd only been married a fortnight; it really makes you realise the value of relationships, doesn't it?"
He grabbed her by the arm, hissing, "I don't want to have this bloody conversation, Marly. If you don't like the way things are, you know what you should do about it, don't you?"
"Oh yeah, what's that?"
(She didn't think he'd say it. She never even dreamed he'd go there.)
"You can get the hell out. I never told you I was giving you anything, you just waltzed into my life, making all these noble assumptions about how much you could change me and make me a better person. Well I'm fucking happy the way I am! I don't need you and I never will."
Tears pooled in her eyes. "Fine," she snapped, grabbing her bag and storming out of the room, slamming the door behind her. Sirius sunk into the sofa, head in his hands.
"Women ..." he exhaled.
He couldn't ignore the gnawing feeling of guilt in the pit of his stomach.
(God knows she made him feel.)
One week later and Marlene and Sirius still weren't quite on speaking terms. They avoiding being in the same room for too long, let alone sitting next to each other or even communicating. Most of the Order were oblivious to this tension, but it didn't go unnoticed by certain members. Sirius could be often found on a lunch break seething quietly to James, saying things like, "What does she expect? I'm a free agent. I never even said we were going out ... no strings attached ... I don't know what she wants from me ..."
Marlene, however, retreated into her work and spent hours on posters and propaganda for the Order, making sure every design and sketch of her work was perfect down to the tiniest golden feather of a Phoenix or the glinting eye of a villain she wanted to belittle. Emmeline and Lily tried to distract her from her work, tempting her to come to a bar or a show with them, but she'd just roll her eyes and snap, "These posters won't design themselves! Don't you know there's a war on?"
Before they knew it they were trapped again. Marlene and Dorcas Meadows were sent on a mission - a mission that went badly wrong. She lay next to her, stupefied as she took her last breath, hit square in the chest by a jet of green light from the Dark Lord himself. It wasn't until she was able to move again that she knew she was dead. How else could the spell have been lifted?
She grabbed the portkey and whizzed straight back to Head Quarters, the body of her friend and mentor in hand. Sturgis Podmore was the first one to speak.
"Oh, Marly ..."
She was covered in blood and dirt and sweat, and tears were streaming down her face.
(Anything but beautiful.)
Before she knew it Sirius Black had emerged from the small crowd of fighters and almost violently pulled her into an embrace, sobbing, "I'm so sorry," over and over again.
That night they picked up where they had left off. It was as if she didn't need to hear it and he had already said it.
(After all, there was a war on.)
Then the day came that she knew was inevitable. Her family went into hiding. It was the claustrophobia that got to her most; not being able to amble down the street, to just get out into the night and forget who she was for a while. Nothing to do but read and draw. Being stuck in bloody Devon twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, playing Wizard Chess with Inigo and Seb, and trying to act like she was interested in her father's anecdotes or her mother's new bread maker. She was lost and now she was found ... but she was alive and now she'd drowned.
That was the worst thing. The Dark Lord made her doubt her love for her family.
Not to mention whatever the hell it was she felt for Sirius Black.
(If she could even feel anymore.)
They lay entwined as usual. Neither of them were speaking but they didn't really need to, until -
"What do you think of Gideon Prewett?"
"Uh ... sorry Marly. I guess he's not my type."
Marlene rolled her eyes in exasperation. "For me. He's asked me out for dinner."
"For dinner? Talk about your cliches." He paused and his silver eyes bored into her. "You've already said yes, haven't you." There was no questioning tone in this statement.
"So what if I have? We never go for dinner."
"We've never been the dining type."
"Whatever you want, McKinnon, God knows I'm no monogamist."
And he wasn't. They'd never even made any pretence of that. Especially not before the Dorcas incident, but not even now. There was too little time and too much to experience.
(She didn't want all that experience, though.)
They find the McKinnons, eventually. It was only a matter of time after they all realised there was a spy in the Order.
It's quick, at least. Horribly painful while it lasts, but at least she dies fighting.
(It's what she would have wanted after all.)
It unhinges him quite, and when he finds out the news he goes through the phases.
(Marly couldn't die. She's ... Marly. She's always there. You're joking, this is a -)
(Fucking bitch ... leaving me alone ... if I go next, I'm going to give her the biggest SLAP ...)
(I take it back. I didn't mean it! If I count to two hundred and I open my eyes, and that moth's still there, it'll all have been a dream ... just a dream ...)
(There's no point. James doesn't want me as his Secret Keeper, Marly's dead, fucking hell even Regulus has fluffed it ...)
For once, Sirius doesn't have anything to say.
Years later, Sirius Black will stand in a grave yard at night time, wishing he had the liberty to set foot in a Florist shop. He will look at the faded stone that reads, "Marlene McKinnon, beloved daughter, sister and friend." Below it reads, "Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway." He'll smile faintly at these words, remembering just how fitting they were for the shining, happy girl who hated being cooped up at home, away from the fight.
He will wish he'd had the courage to make it read, "Wife," or maybe even "Mother." As he turns away, form now four-legged and canine, there will be only seven words on his mind.
"I think I should have said it ..."
God knows she earned it.
Hmmm ... I don't know what to think of this one ...
Fancy telling me?
(Incidentally, the "phases" were the five phases of grief. Textbook psych. Oh dear, I'm becoming a cliche ...)
A/N: To explain the ... chronology matter ... they're at school together, then they kind of get together, then they go back to school, leave, join the Order, (their "relationship" continuing all the while - that's where the one-shotty things come in), then she goes into hiding and gets killed.
That was all a little convoluted, but I realise it's pretty confusing!