This story is mainly centered on Marisa, and her going-ons with Asriel and Lyra. Me, having always been fascinated with Mrs Coulter, decided to write a sort of prequel to the book. So here it is. With plently of MarisaxAsriel :)
Disclaimer: I do not own His Dark Materials. :(
Marisa wasn't always so beautiful. She lacked grace when she was growing up in that modest home, her parents average. She always wished that her parents were great, fantastic people, who were famous and rich and amazing. Not like the bores who never payed attention to her.
People disliked Marisa for some reason, she was never popular at boarding school. People scorned and bullied the acne-covered, scrawny, black-haired girl, who wore glasses often. They said that she didn't deserve to be at the school, being 'poor'.
Marisa wasn't always so cruel and thoughtless. But they say that parents can change a child, and hers definitely did. She grew up in the shadow of a more promising elder brother, who possessed infinite charm, intelligence, and looks. He was the shining heir, what was Marisa in comparison? Nothing. From there came her lust for the wider world, her lust for the seemingly unobtainable wealth, status, popularity and ultimately power.
"We're going to be amazing, someday," she said to her shifting daemon, who was trying out the form of a monkey, very similar to the golden monkey it was soon going to settle into, "We're going to be the stars of the world, and everyone's going to wish that they knew us."
Yet soon she discovered herself, her daemon settled, and she found herself a graceful, charming, and stunningly beautiful woman. She caught the eye of Edward Coulter at a ball she attended, and latched onto him. She was a commoner, and he was rising in the King's favour. She said to herself that he was a lucky find, as he brought her everything she wanted. Her brother then died in an airship accident, giving her the malicious glee that she was always looking for. She was perfect and favoured and jealously admired, what else could there be to life?
Her life was a whirlwind then, glamorous parties and dinners. Yet she didn't know how much everything would spin on an axis when she met a man, an interesting, enthralling, seemingly harmless man.
"Lord Asriel Belacqua, what a pleasure to meet you," she presented her hand for him to kiss. He did so, so charmingly that the golden monkey swooned at the snow leopard. Marisa, slightly embarrassed at the reaction of her daemon, quickly swooped him into her arms. The golden monkey was reluctant to leave the clasp of Stelmaria.
Asriel chuckled at the events.
"What a pleasure to meet you too, Mrs. Edward Coulter. I must say that you look stunning tonight," he said in the low, gravelly voice of his. At this time, Marisa was wishing that she had never married the eccentric Edward. She could have been the bride of Asriel, and from what she heard he had much power and wealth....'richer than a king!' some said. She immediately shook herself out of this fantasy.
"Would you care for a dance?" Asriel proffered his arm, and she gladly accepted it. From what started in an innocent waltz, turned into a dance that led to the outdoors under a large maple tree, red-orange from the coming of autumn. Together, they twirled slowly around the maple tree, their eyes only on one another. At this point, Marisa forgot her life, her priorities. She forgot her material wants, and found her heart again, found the heart she had when she was a child. She could've done anything that moment and she wouldn't have cared at all. The golden monkey was betraying her sentiments, his sharp black claws entwined in Stelmaria's fur, his normally sharp eyes glazed in emotion, Stelmaria's paws on the his back.
And then Asriel stopped the dance, his powerful arms clasped tightly around her thin waist.
"I've never met a woman like you before," he whispered, "You're so intoxicating, that I don't think I can let you go tonight without a kiss." She smiled in response to his words.
"I won't let you let me go."
And then he pressed his lips on hers, and she felt so fragile yet so full, her hunger for a man like Asriel finally satiated. Nothing mattered now, only the moment.
But as most things, the moment couldn't last forever. When they both finally let go, she took one look at him, before tearing her screeching daemon from Stelmaria's clasp and running off, her silk dress billowing behind her.
Asriel smiled, a rugged, mischievous smile to his daemon.
"Well, we're definitely in, don't you think? I wonder what Mr Edward Coulter's like..."
When she got into bed that night, she felt exhilarated, yet afraid at the same time. Then Edward entered the room, he had come back from a meeting with the King's councillor. He noticed Marisa's flush, and got in beside her.
"What's up with you, Marisa?" he asked, his beaver daemon gazing curiously at the golden monkey, who turned his head away with contempt, his head full of the images of Stelmaria and Asriel.
"Oh, nothing, dear," she lied smoothly, running a hand through her black hair. He shrugged and then lent in to kiss her, his breath smelling of spirits. She couldn't help but compare him to Asriel, and felt herself disgusted. Edward noticed her behaviour, yet he didn't suspect. He turned off the anabaric lights, and closed his eyes. When Marisa closed her eyes, she made up her mind. She was going to see Asriel again.
Marisa soon began to see Lord Asriel Belacqua regularly. What was even more convenient was the fact that her husband had been able to gain the King's favour, and was spending more time abroad or away from home.
People did suspect the affair, but not many voiced it, afraid of the sweet-faced woman and the powerful Lord. Later, when Marisa thought about Asriel, she thought of the fruit which they often shared together, graleshen. It was a sweet, papaya-shaped fruit that possessed icy white flesh with a frosty texture. It was deliciously cool, a treat in the summertime when they were both lounging around.
Yet all was to unravel when Marisa woke up one day, with a nauseous feeling. She soon discovered that she was pregnant, her usually flat stomach slightly rotund.
"I'm with child, Asriel," she announced in a small voice to him one day, "What ever shall we do?"
When the baby was born, it favoured Asriel, with its tawny blonde hair and the sharp bluish eyes which were Marisa's. Marisa, revolted at the sight, at the truth of her affair, the product of sin and shame, vomited. The baby was weak though, so Marisa nursed it for a week, before unable to look at the child any longer. She loved the baby in some ways, yet hated it in others. But she was its mother, no matter how she denied it. What would Edward see at the sight of the child? She must get rid of it; pretend that she had a miscarriage; that the baby died.
She nearly had the heart to drown the child in the River, her thoughts were maniacal and jumbled at this point in time, but all that stopped her was the image of Asriel's disapproving expression in her mind, and the fact that she couldn't drown someone once (and maybe still) part of her. So, biting her lip, she walked steadily to Asriel's lodgings, a grey hood over her head to cover her face.
"The child, Asriel," she said, "Edward will suspect. I can't...I can't..." She had never felt so weak. Yet Asriel took the baby into his arms, and smiled at the delicate face.
"Lyra, that's what will call her," he said to Marisa, with such joy on his face, "Lyra, a beautiful name for a beautiful daughter. Lyra Belacqua."
Marisa pretended that she was joyful too, before turning around and leaving back to her home. Asriel held his daughter tight in his arms, yet the joy of her soon faded. He couldn't raise a daughter, so therefore he hired the services of a Gyptian woman, Ma Costa, whose family he had known in the wars.
Marisa couldn't deny her curiosity of Lyra. She would visit every few weeks, and watch Lyra from a distance, a deep hood shrouding her face in shadow. She did not tell Asriel of her presence. Her daughter slowly grew, from a tiny baby into a one year old, then a one and a half year old. Once, she was even brave enough to walk up to Lyra, who was playing outside with her daemon, tumbling around in the grass. Lyra was two. The Gyptian woman was elsewhere.
Marisa, from some strange impulse, wanted to pick Lyra up and take her home. She didn't know whether this was love or what.
Lyra looked up at Marisa with Marisa's own bluish eyes. It made a shock ripple through Marisa's body, yet as usual, she concealed it well.
"Hello, my Lyra," Marisa whispered, her voice smoothly sweet. Her golden monkey bent down to capture Pantalaimon, a squirrel, and rock Pan in his arms, a little forcefully perhaps.
Lyra looked at this with curiosity, and then at Marisa. Marisa reached out to pick up her daughter, who didn't struggle, feeling some strange connection with this strange, glamorous woman.
"Who is you?" Lyra asked Marisa, and Marisa felt something strange, a painful thump in her heart.
"Oh darling, it may be hard to believe, but I am your..." Marisa was ready to announce her relation, when she heard a familiar voice.
"Put my daughter down and turn around," a low, gravelly voice shouted, a gun pointed to Marisa's hooded head. Marisa turned, to see Asriel there, with the Gyptian woman by his side. She lifted her hood, and the sunlight cast down on her face to show her beautiful features.
"Daddy!" she heard Lyra call, "Daddy! Who is her? Mummy?" Lyra must have noticed the resemblance between Marisa and herself, "I want a Mummy, Daddy!" Neither Asriel nor Marisa felt any tears come from her words.
Asriel walked towards the two of them in the sunlight, his gait powerful and strong.
"Marisa, what are you doing here?"
Marisa Coulter, for once in her life, found herself dumbfounded. She felt that she couldn't explain her actions. What was she doing here, carrying the daughter which she had once wanted to drown?
She automatically stretched out her arms, to allow Asriel to take her daughter from her arms. Asriel did so, and Marisa placed a small kiss on Lyra's head.
"Goodbye Asriel," she touched his arm hesitantly, lifted her hood, and ran, unable to meet anyone's eyes. As she ran, she felt that she was leaving something of hers behind, like leaving a wallet, some important possession. From this moment on, she wanted her daughter badly, Lyra was a possession was going to get.
Marisa was putting her coat on, ready to embark, when she felt a tight grasp. Shocked, she tried to swirl around, yet the grasp was strong, and she couldn't fight it.
"You were planning to tell me, weren't you?" she felt the all too familiar voice of her husband, Mr Edward Coulter, his breath misty with alcohol.
"Tell you what, my dear?" she felt her breath hitch. The golden monkey was baring his teeth at the beaver.
"The affair. The fact that the child you bore wasn't miscarried. That the child was another MAN'S! The fact that you slept with Lord Asriel Belacqua and shamed ALL OF US! The fact that you BETRAYED me!" his shout echoed around the room. He knocked her against the wall, and Marisa felt weak for the first time in a long time. It felt like the time her father was beating her over stealing her brother's stylo. She screamed as he slapped her and continued to knock her against the wall, taking the breath out of her lungs. Then he kissed her, possessively, fiercely, like he was marking that she was his.
Suddenly, he stopped, wheeled around, and left. Marisa lay weakened on the floor, clutching her stomach, the golden monkey whimpering beside her. She heard a click, it was the cabinet. The cabinet where he kept the gun.
Marisa immediately got up, sweeping her daemon with her.
"Where are you going?" she whispered at her crazed husband. He payed no attention.
"WHERE ARE YOU GOING!" she screamed as he slammed the door in her face. He locked it from the outside, and then wrapped another cord around the handle, forcing her, locking her in. She beat at the door in frenzy, whimpering, "No, No, No. Not my Lyra!"
It was gossiped about endlessly. It was everywhere. Marisa found herself blank, her husband had died....everything was so messy! Slowly, she came out of her reverie, and discovered that she actually felt free, free from the suffocating embrace and shadow of her dead husband. She even considered marrying Asriel. How scandalous.
Yet then came the law cases, and she found Asriel stripped of everything. The man was poor now, and Marisa couldn't associate herself with such a poor, powerless man! The child....she wanted nothing to do with the bastard. She heard that Lyra was sent to a Priory, so that was off her hands.
She then began to build her life up once more, trying to gain her three goals. Wealth, status and power. She advanced, she scored powerful friends, she and her golden monkey were known everywhere. She joined the Church, and found even more power in her hands. Everything was perfect.
And once everything was perfect, she had spare room for thought on her hands. And those thoughts turned to Lyra.
She began to desire the child; Lyra became her obsession once more. She travelled on a train to Oxford, to Jordan College where she heard that Lyra was being raised. Lyra was seven.
She walked through the high-ceilinged rooms of Jordan, to meet with the Master. She was going to take Lyra away, and nobody was going to stop her. She burst open the doors of the Master's Office, to demand Lyra, when she saw the one person she longed for, yet also did not want to see.
"Asriel." All her bravado was stripped, was gone, in the gaze of his eyes. The golden monkey wanted to rush forward to Stelmaria, who lay motionless on the ground, her eyes flickering this way and that, yet Mrs Coulter kept a firm hold on her daemon.
"Marisa." It was a statement, nothing else. The Master held his breath, caught between two powerful people who shared a passionate past.
Asriel cleared his throat before continuing, "Fancy meeting you here, Marisa Coulter," he placed unnecessary emphasis on her last name, "What are you here for?"
"It's now or never," her daemon thought, and she nodded, inhaling deeply and turning on her womanly wiles.
"I wish to take Lyra away. I'm her mother, and I want her. She has been kept from me for too long..."
Asriel interrupted by stand up, his eyes blazing with anger.
"You gave her to me, Marisa," he hissed, "And she will stay with the Master. You will not see her, and you will not take her. She will not see you, I forbid it."
Marisa felt her anger begin to rise.
"She is my daughter, our child, Asriel! How could you forbid me from taking her! How dare you, how dare you prevent me from getting what is mine! I bore her, I suffered from her birth, and I can't have her? What is this?" she shouted passionately.
"You left her. You handed her to me. You didn't take her, that day when she was two. If you did, I would have let you take Lyra. When our....affair," Marisa winced slightly at the word, "Was discovered, you said you never wanted to see her, or me, again. You never wanted Lyra because she was Lyra, your daughter. You wanted her because she was a possession you never got. You would have never fallen in love with me if I had no money, no status. That was proven after I was stripped of everything. You're a terrible person, Marisa, and you know it."
She shook her head in vehement denial, her beautiful eyes on his.
"I still love you, Asriel, no matter what you or I have done," she whispered, inching forward, "And I think I love Lyra. So please, give her to me. We all deserve another chance."
He, once more beginning to become intoxicated by her presence, leaned forward too, the scent of graleshen seemingly wafting in the air. The golden monkey was already in Stelmaria's grasp, and Asriel let his hands take Marisa's.
"Damn you Marisa," he whispered, "You're the worst thing that's happened to me."
"You too," she smiled, "If I had never met you, I would have been happily married still."
"Pah," he spat, "That Coulter man was a bastard. No wonder you sought me out."
Marisa lent in for a kiss, just like the one under the maple tree so many years ago, but Asriel lifted his hand and touched her lips, before walking away, Stelmaria following him, leaving the golden monkey where he was.
Marisa turned to the Master, who had been looking at them with an afraid-yet-curious-all-the-same expression on his lined face.
"I'm sorry, Mrs Coulter," he bowed before leaving. Two seconds after the door closed, Marisa screamed, and then walked out calmly, only to be met by the sight of Lyra walking alongside with Asriel. She was about to run up to them, to defy Asriel, when Stelmaria appeared. She growled at the golden monkey, who raised his own hackles. The two fought, causing Asriel to stop in his track. He said something to Lyra, who went to sit on a bench, her legs kicking wildly in energy. Asriel walked up to face Marisa.
"You will not have the child. She thinks I'm her Uncle, and that her parents died in an airship accident. If you really think you love her, don't you ever approach her, or I will kill you," he growled menacingly, like Stelmaria. He turned around, back to Lyra, leaving Marisa there biting her full lip in silent anger. She couldn't directly defy Asriel. The feeling of his fingers on her lips still lingered, and she brushed her own fingers across her lips.
"Fine then," she said sullenly to herself, "When I am all powerful, you'll see me get Lyra. You'll just watch, Asriel." Her monkey nodded as well, his little horny hands outstretched, imagining Pantalaimon in them.
She walked purposefully to the stench filled hall, Iofur Rakinson in her mind. She smiled cruelly, she was going to have Asriel out of her way for good. She was going to get rid of his project which frightened her immensely, she was going to gain favour, and she was going to get Lyra.
Later that year, she watched beside Iofur as Asriel was dragged into the rotting hall, saying things such as "We can talk this over like gentlemen, boys!" and "Really, what's all this fuss? I'm not that special..." Once his eyes saw Marisa, his lips went white with anger.
"Marisa, fancy seeing you here," he muttered, as Mrs Coulter (she preferred using her dead husband's last name frequently these days as it had a wonderful effect, aging her) walked around him.
"Yes, Your Highness, this is the prisoner," she smiled coyly, and she put a finger to his lips, returning the gesture. Asriel growled, a deep throated, angry sound.
"You'll regret this, Marisa," he whispered to her, "Of all the things you ever did, you'll regret this. Because...I think that you still love me." And she slapped him hard across the face, making him shout with anger. The bears restrained him even further, and she smiled triumphantly, her beautiful face breaking into a cruel grin that hid her mixed feelings. The golden monkey looked up at Marisa and then at Stelmaria, who was growling fiercely, rubbing against Asriel's leg. He was about to make for Stelmaria, to free her, yet Marisa shook her head and controlled the golden monkey. She wasn't going to break.
And so came the night when Marisa walked into the Jordan Dining Room, and whispered excitedly to Lyra. When she placed a delicate hand on the girl's shoulder, she triumphed. Lyra was hers now. Mother and Daughter, just how it was meant to be. Lyra was definitely going to like her; Marisa was going to make sure. Lyra would be useful too, of course. Smiling, she remebered the time, once upon a time under a maple tree, where she twirled in a seemingly harmless man's arms.
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