There is a tree out by the Black Lake that Sirius calls the McKinnon Tree. Marlene, of course, protested the naming, saying it was a silly name that she didn't even like. But he always said that Blacks and McKinnons must stick close by, and so the McKinnon tree it was. She smiles at the memory as she looks out toward the distance. Everything around her is peaceful; everything around her is lying in wait. The sun is just rising over the horizon, peeking over the greenery and the forest surrounding the silvered darkness of the water.
For Marlene, this is the last sunrise she will ever see at Hogwarts. After the ceremony tonight, she and her classmates will be on a train to London, ready to pursue their futures...Whatever that might mean.
But she isn't thinking about leaving school. She isn't thinking about the future. She is not even thinking about graduation or the massive stain in the dress she was planning to wear tonight. Her mind is not clouded by thoughts of Healer training, The Order, or the war brewing out in the not-so-distant future.
Instead, she is thinking about the boy. That damn boy who has been pulling at the edge of her mind for weeks. They are friends, to be sure. Right mates. They make fun of Lily and James, sit next to each other at every meal and save each other from awful dates when the case arises. She helps rid him of weepy girls during the morning after, brings him clothes to avoid the walk of shame, and holds his hand under the table when the Howlers from his mothers arrive. He pokes fun at her small string of boyfriends, carries and puts her to bed when she is too drunk to stand, and holds her when the death counts in the Prophet make her too upset to rise from the breakfast table for a few moments. They endure death together; they stood side-by-side at Mr. And Mrs. Potter's funeral. They endure life together; they have sworn to be each other's dates to Lily and James' wedding.
Marlene and Sirius just...fit. And Marlene knows it. She has thought it over since Lily and James got engaged at Christmas and the thought has not let her go since. But another thought is edging that one out, climbing from the base of her stomach to the middle of her throat and sticking there. Tomorrow, the next time she sees a sunrise like this one, all of that will be gone. The sneaking around the corridors, the chuckling at the fireplace, the holding each other up when things get too hard. That will all be gone this time tomorrow. Color rushing from her skin, she rests her weight against the body of the tree while staying balanced on her tall branch.
And there he is.
She doesn't even look down at him, knowing that he will find his way up the tree either way. Instead, she keeps her blue eyes focused squarely ahead, counting the seconds of the sunrise. She listens to his body struggle up the tree until he is on the branch just below her.
"Not even a good morning for your best friend?"
"Remus is my best friend. I'll be sure to say hello when I see him," she deadpans, looking straight ahead.
Sirius scoffs and reaches up to the sturdy branch she is sitting on. Grabbing it with his strong hands, he pulls himself upward, stretching the wood down ever so slightly. Marlene is suddenly glad for the reinforcement charms Lily insisted that they place on the old tree.
"Now, that doesn't even hurt me because I know that's not true," he quips, snark dripping from every word.
He finally settles himself beside her on the tree and looks out into the great beyond. She is staring intently out there, but he sees nothing but the same view that has always been.
"What are we doing?" He whispers, dragging each word out as sarcastically as he possibly can.
She is unfazed by his attitude; he has no patience for sitting in silence unless absolutely necessary. There are certain character flaws in Sirius that she has accepted. His hatred of reading, his prejudice against Slytherins, and the love of his own voice are just a few. Today, she will not be baited by his impatience. She humors him instead.
"I just want to memorize it," she mutters, her eyes sweeping across the edges of Hogwarts' expansive grounds.
Her fingers clutch into fists as she tries to cram every single detail into the corners of her mind; eyes straining, she feels the first waves of a painful headache coming on. Sirius chuckles at her.
"You're not really nervous about graduating."
He states it as a fact because he knows it to be true. And it is true. The graduating part is not the thing she is nervous about. The leaving him behind part is.
She turns her body so her back is against the tree trunk, and she sets her legs on either side of the branch so she can look at Sirius.
"Your turn," she says simply, furrowing her brows jokingly at him.
Looking at her reproachfully, Sirius leans away from her.
"You're gonna memorize me?"
Today, he senses something deep in Marlene; after carrying her friendship for so long, he knows when she has something on her mind. Beneath the playful attitude of this staring contest, Sirius feels a nervous undercurrent ripple between them.
"Yep," she says, popping the 'p' and reaching her hands up.
Her fingers graze either side of his chin before travelling up toward his cheeks. She holds him in place, and gazes at him. A scar on his jawline. Grey eyes like lightning clouds. Dark hair that never wants to settle on a length. She could stare forever and not memorize him.
"Sirius?" She asks, her eyes meeting his.
Eyebrows travelling up, Sirius makes a light "hm" of acknowledgment. He could not tell her, not now and perhaps not ever, that this is a silence he could endure forever. A silence with the only girl to ever win his heart so completely.
"What's going to happen to us?"
This is not the question Sirius expected.
"We'll see each other in a few days," he says, the ghost of a laugh accompanying his words.
Marlene shakes her head and pulls her hands away from his face. He doesn't understand.
"Can you promise me that?" She asks, her words not barbarous, but not forgiving either.
Sirius nods and responds without hesitation. He does think he can promise, at first thought. They have had the date set for ages; he needs dress robes for the wedding and Lily trusted no one but Marlene to ensure that his accent colors were just the proper shade of red.
"Yes," he says in immediate response to her question. Why shouldn't they see each other?
Her hands clench together so hard that her very skin throbs. She furrows her eyebrows and responds caustically.
"You can promise me that you will see me in three days? You can swear that the train won't crash or the Death Eaters won't come after me or I won't die of Alcohol poisoning before then?"
She whips her gaze around to her dumbstruck companion. His eyes are wide and confused. Marlene does not act like this, not ever. She gulps in a thick breath of air and settles the frustration in the bottom of her stomach. This time, she tries to approach it in another way. She stumbles over the first few words for a moment, but finally manages to ask her question. She must ask it because she may not ever get this opportunity again; this is their last day and she has to know what will happen to them.
"What if we weren't going to see each other in three days? What if I left King's Cross and never saw you again? What would you say to me then?"
Silence like the grave stretches between them. He does not move. She does not move. They do not breathe. Even their thoughts seem silenced. Marlene looks down at her trembling hands, feeling like the Queen of the morons. Perhaps she was the only one invested in hers and Sirius' relationship after all. Perhaps she misread him. Perhaps she misjudged his feelings and overestimated her own-
"I would say that you shouldn't go at all, then."
Her thoughts stop doing their never ending game of spinning cups and her breathing ceases in her chest.
"What?" She asks, tilting her chin toward him, trying to piece the thought together.
Sirius smirks and shrugs, as though this is a simple problem with a simple solution.
"I would tell you to stay. You can't very well disappear if you don't leave me."
Sirius chuckles through the words because he cannot even approach the idea of a world without this damn McKinnon girl at his side. He tucks her into his arms, balancing precariously on the branch, to hide the emotions crossing his face.
"And what then?" He asks, almost nervous at what she might say, "What would you say to that?"
Marlene sucks in the smell of Sirius. She would ask him why he smells like wet dog, but she doesn't think he would find the joke funny. Instead, she breathes the smell of nicotine and ink and something vaguely woodsy.
"I would say that you can't tell me what to do."
Sirius nods; if she is being honest, that is truly what she would say. Marlene has a nasty habit of doing the precise opposite of everything Sirius asks of her.
Marlene smirks and holds him a little tighter.
"But I would stay anyway."
They remain like that for a long time, holding each other together and knowing that he will not ask her to stay and knowing that she will not stay unless he asks. They pretend, though. They pretend that this story has a happy ending. But, eventually the sun comes up and someone calls for them to come down, ending the momentary dream. They break apart as if they are young lovers, abashed and embarrassed, as though they are caught in the act of something disturbing or forbidden.
"Well," Marlene begins, straightening her sweater, "We should go in now if we want to make it on time."
Instead of moving toward the ground, though, he reaches out and holds her cheeks in his fingers.
"But I didn't get to memorize you."
And, as they sit there and let the sound of the sunrise drown out the shouts of Remus, who was sent to shepherd them inside, Marlene feels an odd sense of confirmation settle in her bones. It is a feeling that will not save her life or spare his suffering. No, it is just the overwhelming feeling that she is truly loved by someone whom she truly loves in return.
Woo! So this was another response for the Harry Potter fan Fiction Prompt Exchange! I am actually writing my own Blackinnon story (full length) right now, but this one was difficult because my own concept of this relationship is pretty far from Fanon, and I wanted this story to play more by the rules of the general fandom rather than my own personal head canon of them. Anywho, I hope everyone enjoys! Please read and review!