Prompt: Marlene/Sirius; Yule Ball. The song featured in this chapter is "Baby Please Come Home" by Darlene Love. Please read and review!

When that songwriter said, "there won't be trumpets," he certainly had not been talking about Sirius Black asking a girl to the Yule Ball. Because, in that case, there were just enough trumpets, cherubs, frills, fireworks, string quartets, and tuxedos to make Marlene McKinnon turn a satisfying shade of bright pink. And, of course, say yes.

Marlene and Sirius were inseparable from the day, the very moment they met. Sirius tried to sit in hers and James' compartment on the first train ride to Hogwarts, and nothing was ever the same. They spent every holiday together at the Potter household (to escape their families, of course), ate every meal side-by-side (so his stream of girlfriends would have no opportunity to steal away his feeding time), and spent many nights sitting up in his bed, talking by candle light to escape the world around them (so neither of them could ever complain of being lonely).

So, to Sirius, it is only natural that she be the girl on his arm at their Seventh Year Yule Ball. Just like everything else that Sirius does, it is a huge production that took weeks in the planning, but Marlene would have been just as content had he walked up and said, "So, I guess we're going to the ball together, right?"

So after all the pomp and circumstance, Marlene cannot for the life of her understand why he disappears so suddenly in the thick of the ball. Classic wizarding tunes pour from the band, dancers flood the floor, and Christmas spirit fills the Great Hall to the point of overflowing. The image is perfect. But her date is gone. The image is incomplete.

She asks around, pulling on jackets and tapping on shoulders, until finally she gives up the enterprise completely. If he wants to waste his evening, then fine, but she will not let him blow her evening too. Leaving behind the crowd of Gryffindors surrounding the-now spiked- Egg Nog, she throws herself into the crowd of dancers, easily picking Lily out from the throng. The night takes on a merry tone once more as the party surrounds her friends.

And then, the music cuts. The lead singer of the band, The Scary Snitches, clears his throat and drops his hands from his instrument.

"Sorry, everyone. But we just got a request from a poor bloke who's been waiting for us to talk to him all night. This moron told us it would make his date fall in love with him, and we're suckers. So, clear the floor."

He makes a great show of waving his hands to the side so the dancers move out of the floor's center; Marlene and Lily give each other a glance and roll their eyes. What twit would think a song could make a girl fall in love?

But, when a single figure moves to the center of the circle from behind the stage, Marlene nearly slaps herself for not guessing it sooner. That twit is her twit. Of course it is. And, as he crosses the circle and nears her, smile as wide as his face, he holds his arms out to her.

"One, two, three, four-" the band's lead vocalist mutters into the microphone.

Drums. Piano. Guitar. The sound explodes and couples rush to the floor to show off their steps. It is Marlene's favorite Christmas tune, and the sound makes her heart race in her chest and her breath hitch. How could he possibly know? She narrows her eyes. He ditches her and then embarrasses her? Her arms cross her chest and she quirks an eyebrow as Sirius stands there, stupid smile across his stupid face and stupid arms outstretched to his stupid date.

"C'mon, Marlene. You know you want to."

She bites the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling. She should be furious; he invites her and then abandons her and then expects things to be alright? But then, he quirks his own eyebrow, his smirk grows infinitely more pronounced, and he calls to her over the music.

"Marls. Lene. Marley Bear," he drags the words out, getting closer and closer until his arms are around her waist and their noses are touching.

Pushing away from him, she throws her hands in the air before smoothing her dress down.

"Fine! Fine."

Sirius' face lights up and grasps her wrist, taking a few steps backwards as he gauges her reaction.

"Do you remember the dance we did at the Potter's Christmas Party last year?"

Marlene gives him an indignant look.

"Remember it? I was the one who choreographed it."

And, so, Sirius pulls her out onto the floor, counting the eights in his head as the pair flits between step-touches and turns and lifts, ignoring the feeling as every pair of eyes in the hall trains on them. Sirius feels the overwhelming relief that, for once, his plans for he and Marlene worked out precisely as he dreamed. Marlene is just relieved that she has no more reason to be angry at him. They laugh and their eyes twinkle and, for a moment, everything is simply perfect.

Somewhere along the way, she supposes the music stops and changes. Hers and Sirius' steps reform themselves to something more slow and intimate; she ends up in his arms as the tune to "I'll be Home For Christmas" wafts through the air. The crowd around them thickens. Eyes pull away from them. The lights dim and false snow begins to drift down from the enchanted ceiling. She feels Sirius' arms close tightly around her, his head resting atop her own.

"Sirius?" She mutters into his dress robes.

His eyes raise.


She readjusts her body and holds him a little closer as she thinks on the words that the band spoke before their dance interlude.

"You know this doesn't mean that I love you, right?"

The music tenses between them, dancing along the floor thickly. She hears Sirius breathe out something of a laugh.

"I wouldn't have it any other way."

But, in the swell of the song's chorus, both knows that the other is lying. Sirius knows that Marlene is every bit as in love with him as he is with her. And Marlene knows that Sirius could never stand it if she wasn't.