I put one foot in front of the other one. (Oh oh oh!)
I don't need a new love or a new life just a better place to die.

"Mate," James began, pinching the bridge of his nose, "You are ridiculous."

Sirius smirked, his teeth gleaming in the moonlight. "It's a masquerade party."

"Then why, the hell, are you not wearing an undershirt?"

"You don't like my tie and dress jacket combo?"

James rolled his eyes, fixing his own undershirt. "Not your best look, Padfoot."

"I feel the need to advertise my best features."

"And your best features are your abs and pecks?"

"…Why are you even acting like this is a discussion?"

James cocked his head back and laughed heartedly. "Okay, mate. I'm not even going to fight you."

"Good." Sirius muttered as they approached the front door of the Prewett residence. "I wouldn't want you to waste what little physical strength you have."

"You wish you had my slender physique." James countered, adjusting his glasses and ruffling his hair, the arrogance practically rolling off of him. "I've heard a couple birds even refer to me as, 'walking sex.'"

"They were just referring to your hair, mate."

Knocking on the door, James nudged Sirius with a wink. "Keep telling yourself that Paddy."

Sirius snorted under his breath at his best friend. It was the middle of June and Alice Prewett was hosting the first real party of the summer, so of course as leaders of the school Sirius and James felt it was their duty to attend. Remus was still in southern France with his family and Peter was still on house arrest for missing curfew the week before to go bar hoping with them, so for tonight only two Marauders would have to do.

Alice Prewett stood at the front door in a sleek silver dress, that hugged her tall lean figure. Her brown her shaped around her round, kind face sweetly. She rolled her eyes when she saw the pair of them before giving them each a hug.

"I should have known." She snorted.

"You invited us…and then you are surprised when we arrive?" Sirius questioned, raising his eyebrows at her. "You're an odd bird Prewett."

Alice poked his bare chest. "I was referring to this."

"If you are talking about my blatant sexual prowess, you are correct. You should have known."

James roared with laughter, moving past Alice. "Thank you for inviting us."

"Well I suppose I couldn't have a party without the two of you." Alice teased, but then she frowned. "Where's the other two?"

"Vacation and grounded."

"Which one is grounded?"


Alice shook her head, letting Sirius in and shutting the door. "Why do I have the feeling that it is completely and entirely your fault he's grounded?" She said placing a hand on her hip.

"Because you are cynical and always see the worst in us." James answered with a grin.

"And because it's true." Sirius replied, craning his neck to see above the crowd in the next room and see who had arrived. "Where's Frank, Alice?"

Alice fixed her hair and said, "Um, last time I saw him he was in the kitchen playing bartender."

"Well I'm off to give him a purpose," Sirius wrapped his arms around Alice suggestively. "Unless you can give me a reason to stay…"

Laughing loudly, Alice squished his cheeks and pushed him off of her. "You are a prat Sirius and fully aware that I'm never going to give into your offers."

"Doesn't hurt to try now does it?" He winked at her before walking away.

Alice turned and saw James was still standing next to her; his eyes were locked on a certain redhead in the distance. "James, please don't make her mad tonight."

"How would I do that?" He asked innocently.

"I don't know, maybe like the time you, Sirius and Remus came with Mary, Dorcas and Lily to a muggle carnival. And instead of getting a seat, you jumped on the side of the ferris wheel and hung there until Lily agreed to go on a date with you."

James snickered. "You have to admit, it was funny."

"To watch you dangle hundreds of feet in the air with just your scrawny upper body strength to save you?" Alice mused, "Yes, hilarious."

"Relax Alice," He kissed her cheek. "You know I had it under control."

Alice sighed softly. "Well I'm going to mingle, you make sure Sirius stays in line."

"I can only do so much."

"Well try harder." She chuckled, her heels tapping on the floor as she walked away.

Lying on her bed, her blond hair fanned out around her, Marlene played with her silver heart-shaped necklace absentmindedly. The light from the dying sun flickered through her blinds, drawing out the sunny warmth of her hair. Her eyes were gazing wildly at her blank bedroom walls; they used to hold pictures of her with her sisters, but since her mother died and her father remarried she didn't put any pictures of her family up. The thought of surrounding herself with images of people she might never get to see again was just too much. Last week, when she heard the oh-so-glorious-news of her 23-year-old sister Olivia's engagement, after vomiting and owling her eldest sister Ava, she gained perspective.

This summer and following school year would have to be the best year of her life, because as soon as she graduated, the second she said goodbye to Hogwarts, she'd have a ring on her finger. A tight, constricting ring, which she would probably have to amputate her finger to get it off, would be on her finger far too soon for her liking. If Marlene actually had a real choice in the matter she would never get married. It seemed like a steel trap, incasing its victims into bottomless, endless, hell.

Especially marriage to a respectable pureblood.

But it was a logical thing to do. One of her brothers, and soon both of her sisters, would all be wed to honorable matches. So she had to follow suit, maybe she'd even get lucky like Ava did and get someone she could fall in love with, but she didn't like her odds. Rastaban Lestrange didn't seem the type of person that grows on you, more like the type of person, who acted as though every living creature is beneath him and liked to torture chubby children.

Yawning, Marlene considered her options for the evening. She could A) stay put and write mental stories about how tragic and awful her life would soon be, B) She could take a few laps around the lake…again, C) or she could go to her, only Gryffindor friend, Alice's, party.

As if Satan himself had heard her question, her stepmother opened her bedroom door, without knocking or even a thought of considering her stepdaughter's privacy.

"Marlene," Gretchen said crisply, her pale brown eyes narrowed. "What are you doing?"

Marlene's legs and arms were spread and she was still wearing her hot pink bikini, from her swim hours earlier. "…Resting."

"Resting? From what exactly?"

"You know," She said sardonically, "thinking, having deep thoughts."

Her stepmother fixed her raven hair in the only mirror in Marlene's room. "You better not get used to that, Marlene. Soon you will be an obedient wife."

"…Why, it's not like you are." She muttered under her breath.

"Excuse, me?" Gretchen snapped, the threat clear in her voice.

Jaw thinning; Marlene said, coldly, "I'm going to a party."

"When you go," She paused for emphasis, "do try to remember your place."

"Oh," Marlene began in the fakest voice she could muster. "I will, Gretchen."

"Good, because you know the consequences."

Marlene grinned as wide as possible. "…I sure do."

The smile fell off her face the instant her door shut, and Marlene laughed, an empty, hollow laugh, under her breath. Though after Olivia's engagement announcement, her stepmother had gotten considerably warmer, Marlene knew that this was just the calm before the storm.

Picking herself up, Marlene kicked out her oddly long legs out and went into her large and spacious walk in closet, to find something suitable to wear. Thankfully, since she was supposed to be seen out and about often, she was given quite a large clothing expense account in order to maintain her family's status. In no time at all, she wiggled out of her swimsuit and into a short black dress, with sheer sleeves. Then she added make-up and straightened out her hair so it looked longer and sleeker.

By the time, she slipped on her six inch black heels and apparated to Alice's house she looked about five years older, and ten times hotter. Alice's thin eyebrows raised when she answered the door and took in her longtime friend.

"I didn't think you would come Mar." Alice said, the surprise still evident in her face as she kissed Marlene on the cheek. "Not really your scene."

"Why because there are blood traitors and half bloods here?" Marlene questioned with a smirk, "I think I'll manage."

Alice gave her a stern look. "No, I meant because I know your …betrothed doesn't like when you go out without him."

"Well that's really his problem, isn't it?" Marlene teased Alice, before snatching a shot of alcohol and dunking it back. She winced before putting the tiny glass back. "Great party already, Alice!"

Snorting, Alice shook her head at her amusedly. "You are something else Mar."

"GET ON MY LEVEL ALICE!" Marlene shouted over the crowd of people, before disappearing into the next room.

Sirius would wage he was into his sixth firewiskey when he started really feeling something. Not only did he get his father's temper and dashing good looks, but he had also inherited his tolerance for a great deal of alcohol. Which was good because he wasn't quite ready to stop drinking quite yet. This party was just getting into full swing and it would be a pity if he missed that, or rather it would have been a pity if everyone else were forced to miss him.

His tie, magically, had stayed on throughout the course of the night despite him doing a keg stand and dancing with just about every girl in the room, that didn't have a man attached to them. Not that it really stopped him if a pretty girl happened to have their boyfriend near, it just gave Sirius more of a reason to get on his A-game.

Across the room he spotted James, and a large spacious grin, made it's way across his face as he saw who his mate was cordially talking to. He'd recognize Marlene McKinnon anywhere, mostly because she was one of the very few blondes in the room, but also because he'd recognize that snooty expression anywhere. She was the typical, uptight bitch that got by on dad's money and her own model esche good looks. He could see she would most likely spend the rest of her life cleaning up after her husband or something trivial and weak like that. If she didn't have that snappy tongue of hers, Sirius wouldn't bother with her at all. Her friend Kara Rosier, for example, was headed down the exact same path, but Kara was boring. Marlene had a sharp edge to her, which was just enough to keep her relevant.

"Well well well, if it isn't Mrs. Lestrange." Sirius drawled loudly, clapping a hand on James shoulder.

Marlene's face went from neutral to unpleasant in five seconds flat. "Black, why don't you crawl back into the bug invested hole you crawled out of?"

"Oooh!" He put a hand to his bare toned chest, dramatically. "That hurt!"

She rolled her full cobalt eyes, nursing her drink to her dress. "What do you want, Black?"

"I was looking for James." He mused innocently, his eyes subconsciously eyeing how her dress managed to line her long legs and narrow waist.

"What?" She addressed James, ignoring Sirius's blatant lack of dress. "You can't leave the house without telling him where you've went?"

James raised his hands. "I'm staying out of this. I'll see you around, McKinnon."

She gave him a mini salute before crossing her arms and giving Sirius a scathing look. "What?"

"Nice dress."

"See, I'd take that compliment, but I know there's a disgusting ridiculous string attached to that."

"Why must you always see the worst in people?"

"Because that's all there is Black. You should know that. Unless your parents were really nice to animals or something."

He twitched as she stabbed his biggest nerve as viciously as he had stabbed hers. "Well at least I had the balls to get out, instead of just being sold off to the highest…or probably in your case the lowest bidder."

She laughed coldly, though there was no amusement on her pale face as she rounded on him. "Why? So you can squat at someone else's house? Wow! Excuse me! You are right, you're soooo brave for just sleeping at your rich friends mansion, pouting about how mummy and daddy were mean to you."

"And what, you think you're smart for marrying a cockless, rich pureblood?"

"It's sure a better idea than…what is it you plan to do with the rest of your life? I'll wait…"

Sirius seethed, "Well good luck with your loveless lifeless relationship. I'm sure he won't you know…cheat on you and have a bunch of illegitimate children."

"What's it going to be like Black, when Potter inevitably marries the virgin ginger, Lupin has an honest marriage and you are left…all…alone."

"Bitch." He growled, his voice dropping a couple octaves. He stepped forward, now they were only inches apart.

Marlene's breathing became uneven and her voice grew higher as she glowered up at him hatefully. "Scum of the earth."

Marlene thought out how great it would feel, if she just socked him right in his perfect face. Maybe she would be able to even make his sharp jaw line crooked or something if she hit hard enough, thereby ruining the only thing he really had going for him. While she contemplating that, Sirius honestly considered rethinking his stance on hexing women first.

"Okay! Okaaaay!" Mary McDonald interjected, her tall, slender figure slipping between them. "Sirius, go!"

"But-!" He insisted, his eyes blazing with anger.

Mary gave him a stern look. "Just go Sirius!"

"Yeah, listen to mum Sirius." Marlene mocked him callously, enjoying, with a sick satisfaction, the color that drained from his face when she said it.


Mary used her tiny but centered beater strength to keep him back, by pushing his wide shoulders. "NO! SIRIUS STOP! GO!"


"I DON'T CARE! GO!" Mary said, her brown eyes narrowing and her pale pink lips thinning. "There's a line of girls over there! Snog one!"

Sirius let out a low note of fury before stalking off, knocking a few cups in his wake.

"Bloody idiot." Marlene muttered, her jaw still clenched in anger.

"McKinnon, why do you always have to fight with him?" Mary questioned defensively. "You know he's a hot head."

"He started it, McDonald." Marlene replied, taking a swig of her drink. "It's not my fault if he can't finish it."

Mary shook her head. "You don't have to be such a bitch about it."

"Actually, I do."

Marlene strutted away, with her head held high as she did so. She wasn't going to let Mary McDonald, the vice president of poise and virtue tell her what she was and wasn't' supposed to do. She hadn't even been talking to Black in the first place! Potter had come over and talked about Quidditch with her and then the stupid, blundering idiot came over and picked a fight with her. Yet was he seen as an asshole? No, she was seen as a bitch because she didn't swoon and faint at the sight of him. Naturally.

Dirk Creswell, crossed the room over to her, with a small sympathetic smile as he put a hand on her shoulder. "How are you doing, kid?"

She looked up and beamed, "Dirk!" Marlene pulled him into a tight hug, "I thought you were in Scotland still!"

"I couldn't miss a Prewett blow out."

"Awful choice of words."

He shrugged earnestly, his amber eyes twinkling. "I try. Like my haircut?"

"The buzz cut really brings out your cheekbones, and your glorious eyes." Marlene sneered.

"Sometimes, I look in the mirror and I think…this isn't fair to others. This brain…and this face. Simply unfair. If I were a Hufflepuff, I'd play it down for the sake of humanity."

"But you had the good sense like me to chose Ravenclaw."

"That I did."

He draped his arm over her shoulder lazily, "So what's the status of the room?"

"Nothing remotely interesting." She sighed, giving him a smile.

"I saw you about to throw down with Black." He nudged her. "Are you going to give him a…wait for…a black eye?"

Marlene tried not to laugh, it wasn't the first time he had made the joke in their ten year friendship about Sirius, but she couldn't resist when she saw the adorable look on her best friends face. "You are ridiculous."

"But that's what makes me endearing."

"Ah huh."

"Where the hell is everyone else?"

Marlene frowned, "Kara is on vacation in Sweden, Al is at Quidditch captain camp, and Sloan, Alexandra, Tanya and Gale wouldn't be caught dead at a Gryffindor hosted party."

"Alice is a pureblood…I don't understand. We aren't even in school." Dirk lowered his voice, the annoyance evident.

Marlene shrugged, "I don't know what to tell you."

"How am I ever going to get Tanya to date me, if she never shows up to anything?"


Dirk gave her a dirty look. "I'm actually starting to side with Black now…"

"Oh sod off!" She pushed him with a laugh. "I'm a horrible person, we've established this."

He nodded, "Heartless to the end."

"I feel like that should be on my family crest somewhere…" Marlene said with a wistful look on her face.

"Nah because then they'd have to kick your sister out."

A bright smile flitted to Marlene's face, "You're right. Olivia is far too sweet to be in my family."

"Enough talk," He snatched her drink away, "Let's show these people what dancing really is."

Marlene snorted knowing both of them were going to just jump up and down like idiots. "As you wish!"

Sirius could have gotten in a fight so easily right then; he was already at his limit and would have thoroughly enjoyed, laying someone out on the floor. He gripped the kitchen counter, and leaned over in an attempt to calm down. Mary came over, giving him a stern look.

"Sirius…real-ly? Did you have to get into a fight, already?!"


Mary rolled her eyes, tucking all of her long warm brown hair over one of her shoulders. "You've known Marlene you're entire life. Why are you still shocked?"

"I'm not… I just hate her."

Mary snorted. "The feeling is more than mutual, I think, so you don't have any problems there."

"Where does she get off?! Why is she even here? Why doesn't she go buy some furs or whatever socialite bitches do?"

"You were pureblooded your entire life and still you have no idea what your people did in their spare time."

"Because they weren't my people." He spat bitterly. "They never were."

"The point is, you need to find a healthier way to deal with it." She crossed her arms, with a sensible expression on her pretty face. "Your blood pressure must be through the roof and the last thing I need to do is to get a new partner for Quidditch. I don't have time Sirius, I really don't."

Sirius smirked at that. "You like being my Quidditch partner."

"Oh god! I say one nice thing and you let it go straight to your head!" She let out an exasperated sigh.

He softened. "Fine, Mary. I will find a better way to…vent my emotions."

"I'm just saying, channel your anger better." She said, patting him lightly on the back. "I'll see you later alright?"


He watched Mary walk away and got an idea. Yes, Marlene McKinnon was a bitch, but she, in a matter of seconds, managed to almost effortlessly slice into five different pressure points at once. Sure they'd grown up in the same world, but they'd never spent any time together that wasn't spent arguing or throwing cheap shots at each other. She didn't really know him, and what really bothered him was that she knew him well enough to know how to get him angry. He normally was more controlled. He normally would have won.

There was no way in hell he was going to let himself get defeated by a hundred and twenty pound blonde in six-inch heels. No, this was war and if there was one thing Sirius was good at it was battle. And this was one battle he wasn't going to lose.

"Game on, bitch."