a/n: Written using prompts from the "Prompts from the Mods" thread over on the forum Prompts, Prompts, Prompts. Rated T because Marlene has an awful mouth on her.
prompts: fighting fate, empty bottles, nothing left to live for, frozen.
I dedicate this fic to the absolutely wonderful paintthesummer, who consistently reviews my work and because she loves SiriusMarlene as well. Hope you enjoy it, lovely!
the stars that fill polluted skies
don't tell me if i'm dying, 'cause i don't wanna know
if i can't see the sun, maybe i should go.
angels on the moon – thriving ivory.
He finds her with her back pressed against the bleak, stone wall with a cigarette poised between her fingertips. She's got her don't talk to me face on and he knows he should stay away because she'll most likely cut him to shreds with her tongue but she looks kind of lonely and he's lonely too. So, being Sirius Black and doing the only thing Sirius Black knows how to, he takes the risk and walks up to her.
She doesn't even look at him at first, her eyes turned skyward and her free hand tapping out an unknown rhythm against the wall. After a few minutes of silence and Sirius just looking at her, she lets out a small sigh and takes another drag on her cigarette, finally making eye contact. With a cock of an eyebrow and a twitch of her lips, she says, "What do you want, Black?"
"Harsh," Sirius comments, sliding down the wall so he's now in a sitting position. "Right between the eyes, eh, McKinnon?"
"You know me too well," Marlene replies, joining him. "What are you doing out here?"
He raises his eyebrows, scrutinising her. "What are you doing out here?"
She shrugs, twiddling the cigarette between her fingers. "Bored of the meeting. Tired of pretending to care who wins this war. You know, the usual." She smiles sardonically. "Tired of Apparating home at the end of each day thinking that my family's been murdered. Tired of going to meeting after meeting and having to agree with whatever cocked-up plan Dumbledore comes up with. Tired of watching every fucking member get picked off one by one."
"Me, too," says Sirius quietly, and they lapse into silence for a while. He finds himself idly examining the criss-cross rhythmical cracks on the cold concrete, watching them dance away from one another only to be reunited a few tiles later. Next to him, he can hear the sound of Marlene's breathing, in out in out, broken as she sticks the cigarette back in her mouth.
"Do you ever feel like we're fighting fate?" she asks suddenly, stubbing it out on the ground.
His eyes slide over her face and come to rest on the wall next to her. "Sometimes."
"Do you ever feel like this is all useless? That they're going to win eventually?" she says, tapping her toe against the ground. Click click click, go the soles of her shoes. "I mean, Order of the Phoenix, Death Eaters, who fucking cares, right? It's so—I'm just sick of it. And I feel like I can't talk to Emmeline about it and everyone else is—well, you're the only other semi-sane person around here who doesn't worship the ground Dumbledore walks on."
Sirius remains silent.
"I'm just—I don't know. Merlin. I'm just sort of… drifting. Like I'm a puppet and someone's cut my strings." She shakes her head. "I'm lonely, you know? Dorcas, Gideon, Fabian—they're all gone, and I'm still here." Marlene laughs bitterly. "Funny that, isn't it? The people who are so wholly good and bright and fucking blindingly beautiful are the people who end up dead. Then there's people like me who're still alive."
"You're not half as bad as you think you are, you know," says Sirius honestly.
She gives him a small smile. "I disagree, but thanks for trying." Silence falls again, until Marlene breaks it with, "I wish they weren't all such Gryffindors, running off into battle and thinking they're big heroes and then someone has to drag their dead body out of there because they were so fucking reckless. Leaving me with nothing left to live for."
"You've at least got your family," Sirius points out, fingers gliding across the cracks in the ground. "And Emmeline and Caradoc. That's more than I have."
"Shut up," she says. "You've got James and Lily, and Remus, and Peter. And everyone bloody loves you."
"I wouldn't say I had Remus any more," he says, shaking his head with what could be a hint of sadness. "I barely have Peter either. James and Lily… I don't see them that much any more."
Marlene pulls out another cigarette and lights it with her wand. "You've all fallen apart, haven't you? I remember when you joined… The four of you, and Lily. You gave a lot of us hope because you were all so close and smart and brave. Not me, of course. Even then, I knew better than to hope. But a lot of the other members… Emmeline, Benjy, Sturgis, Dorcas—they all believed in you." Something like a smirk plays around her lips. "Look at you now. The Marauders—completely disintegrated into nothing."
"Has anyone ever told you that you should've been in Slytherin?" Sirius asks, pointedly ignoring her.
"Many times," she replies, before ploughing on with, "But you four—don't you see what everyone else saw? You had something special, this bond that held you together. Even I saw it. Fucking hell, Sirius, you need each other. Look back to five years ago. Would you ever have imagined that you'd all fall apart like this? I bet you thought you'd be friends forever… Invincible. Infallible. Always the Marauders, no matter what."
"I did," Sirius admits. "Then I fucked it all up in sixth year—couldn't keep my big mouth shut, could I? Ruined everything and Peter was the one who had to put it all back together. We've never been quite the same since. And I just—just knew, really, that we wouldn't last forever. I hoped we would. We seemed to pull it together again in seventh year and then it all went to shit."
"You remind me of myself," says Marlene, tilting her head back and letting the moonlight highlight her face in white. (Full moon tonight, Sirius thinks, and there was a time when he would never have forgotten that.)
"In what way?" he asks.
She gives him a twisted smile."You destroy everything you touch."
"Thanks a fucking lot," he tells her, caught between anger and melancholy, making as though to stand up, but Marlene catches his hand, tugging him back down.
"Don't go," she says.
"Why not?" he asks. "You're fucked up, Marlene."
"I know," she says, "but you are too, so it's okay. Right?"
"Fuck off." The words don't come out half as harshly as he had intended. Instead, they come out broken and skewered and lose all meaning as they twist through the air.
Marlene just laughs and it's like the frozen surface of a pond in winter. "I've heard that so many times it doesn't even affect me now."
He sinks back onto the cold concrete. "I wonder why."
She doesn't reply for a while, and he goes back to counting the cracks. One, two, three, fifty nine, seventy four—they go on forever, stretching from one end of the world to the other. Eventually, he looks up at the sound of clinking bottles. Marlene's rummaging in her bag and then pulls out an almost-full bottle of Firewhiskey.
"Want a drink?" she offers, holding it out.
Sirius eyes it. "Just how many have you got in there?"
"Oh." She laughs. "Just this one. The rest are all empty, you see. Don't worry." She rolls her eyes. "I didn't drink them all tonight, if that's what you're thinking. So you want some or not?"
"Why not," he says, and she passes him the bottle. He tilts his head back as he takes a swig and feels it burn a tract down his throat. And it hurts, but he can remember the very first time he tried the drink. During the summer after fourth year, he and James had snuck down to the kitchen long after James' parents were in bed and found the bottle in the cupboard. They took it and went back to James' room, climbing out the window and sitting on the roof, passing it back and forth and occasionally spluttering from the strength. They had woken up with the worst hangovers and James had been grounded for two weeks after his mother found out. (His father thought the whole situation was hilarious.)
He swirls the liquid in the bottle around absently, watching as it sloshes up the side, coming dangerously close to slopping out the top. "Do you ever just want to go back and do it all again?"
She takes the bottle from him, drinking deeply. "Do what?"
"Everything." Sirius waves a hand carelessly. Marlene's eyes are on him from where she hides behind the bottle. "I just want to go back and stop me from royally cocking it all up, y'know?" He takes the bottle that she offers him, having another drink. "Jesus. I've never said that out loud before."
"I'm flattered," she says dryly, slouching against the brick wall.
"Should be," he replies.
The stars gleam in the sky, twinkling all too happily for Sirius' liking. They're bright, blazing, and so far off in the distance. He kind of wants to touch them, but he's so far away, stuck rooted to the earth, and they're up there, shining. "Look," he says suddenly, pointing at a star. "There's me. Sirius. The dog star."
"The brightest star in the sky," Marlene murmurs.
"Until it crashed and burned and turned into a bloody big black hole," he says, taking another swig.
"I don't think you're a black hole," says Marlene, blinking in the moonlight.
Sirius rests his head against the wall and turns to look at her, watching the way the pale light dappled her face, some of it thrown into a deep shadow. Her eyes are gleaming; hazel – just like James'. Her lips are cracked under her lipstick, the lines thrown into shadow in the starlight. "Do you believe in wishes?" he asks – and in all honesty, he's not too sure where that question came from. Of course he doesn't believe in wishes. He's Sirius Black – he doesn't need wishes to get by, he goes out and makes things happen instead of waiting for destiny or something to sort out his life for him.
"Wishes?" repeats Marlene. "I used to."
She smiles somewhat bitterly. "I grew up."
"Ah." Sirius nods, and then, "I used to believe in them too."
"I don't know," he replies. "I outgrew the magic, I guess."
"You're a wizard," she points out.
He shakes his head somewhat sadly. "Wishing requires a different type of magic."
"Oh," breathes Marlene. "And you've lost it."
They're silent for a while, and then, in a very different voice, Marlene says, "Dorcas once told me that even when you've lost that magic, you can always find it again." She gives him a sad little smile, tugging the bottle from Sirius' firm grip and taking another drink. "She was always spouting little things like that. Before she went and got herself fucking killed."
"You swear too much," he tells her.
She laughs at that, her bracelets rattling on her arm as it clanks off the wall. "I'm not even properly drunk yet."
"Does the hurt go away?" Sirius asks suddenly. "Or does it just… stay? Forever?"
"What sort of a fucking question is that," she says. Her eyes glitter strangely in the moonlight.
"Just answer it."
"Fuck, Sirius," she says. "Of course it doesn't go away. It just eats and eats and eats and eats at you all the time, every second of the day. Every minute, every hour, every day," her voice rises with each word, "and it never goes away. And you can never forget about it and then the regret starts and you wish you weren't such a bitch and you wish you made the most of it all and you wish you'd done something—and, fuck." She groans. "I want Gideon back."
They fall silent, until Sirius says, "Do you think you'll make it?"
"Me?" Marlene snorts. "No. I've survived up until now but until the end of the war? That's pushing it a bit."
"It doesn't seem to worry you."
She shakes her head. "I've had a lot of time to get used to it. Just as long as my family's okay, because—"
"Because they're the only thing in the whole wide world that Marlene McKinnon actually cares about," he finishes.
She laughs, taking another drink. "Pretty much."
"I wish I'd known you sooner," he says. "You know, properly known you like this, instead of just… knowing who you are."
"Yeah?" she asks sceptically. "Why's that?"
"You're not as bad as you think you are, McKinnon." His lips twitch upwards in a smile. "For all of your bitchiness and bravado."
He swears he sees a smile flit across her face—a real one, not one of those plainly false ones she's always sporting. "Yeah? You're not too bad yourself, Black." She tosses him a large grin, the biggest he's ever seen. "C'mon." She pulls him to his feet, eyes bright (she's so close, Sirius thinks dizzily—Merlin, what's wrong with him? He's never got a problem with girls being this close. Bloody McKinnon).
"What are you doing?" he asks slowly as her hands find the collar of his shirt, her red nails shining from the flickering street light.
"What I've wanted to do since the moment you walked up to me, Sirius bloody Black," she tells him, and her lips crash onto his, hard yet soft, moving in perfect synchronisation with his. Kissing Marlene is even better than he'd ever imagined. His hands tangle in her blonde waves and hers rest on his back. She pulls away eventually and he stares at her in disbelief.
Collecting himself, he grins roguishly and says, "Never thought you had it in you, McKinnon."
She laughs, slapping him across the arm. "Shut up, or I won't do it again."
"Shutting up." Sirius winks and initiates the next kiss, taking her by surprise.
They kiss some more, fuck later in his flat and Marlene's found dead along with the rest of her family not even a week later. Sirius cries once, goes back to the dingy street, drinks too much and never does manage to forget Marlene McKinnon.
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