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Chapter 1: On a Quiet Street Where Old Ghosts Meet
This may not be Sirius Black's finest hour. He sits in the pub in a darker part of London, reflecting on all that has happened in the time that's slipped past him so quickly. Four years have passed since his Hogwarts graduation, and he has created a few moments quite like this one- moments spent alone, wallowing in a few bad decisions that lead to one massively terrible choice. But today's blow seems even worse. He swishes around the drink in his hands, watching the amber contents ebb and flow like an ocean only he can control. Finally, something he can control. He smirks lightly, but not enough to make him feel even a little like his old self. Twenty one years old, and he has lost total and complete control of his own life. His work for the Order? He might as well be trying to move a mountain for all the good his work is doing. And, as far as his personal life goes, he can never look at James and Lily without the slightest twinge that they have something immeasurable that he doesn't have. And he tries. Oh, how Sirius tries at the life James and Lily have. But every time he thinks he's wrapped his hands around it, that life disappears in his grasp like a thin puff of smoke.
Across the dark pub, a man breezes through a copy of the Prophet. The cover contains today's body count, and the names of the victims. More that the Order could not save. He cannot bear to look at it another moment, nor can he delay the inevitable fight he is about to find himself in. Sirius downs the rest of his drink in a single gulp and rubs his mouth with the back of his hand. Paying for his drink, he nods to the barkeep as he passes through the door.
He is tired. Exhausted, really. Body, mind, and (if he would allow himself a moment of any kind of reflection, which he doesn't) heart are all fractured. His eyelids sag in front of his deep grey eyes. His shoulders brace themselves against the soft summer rain. He does not make eye contact with the few people on the street who pass him by. His steps are slow, dragging. Gone is the spring that once graced his step. Gone is the light in his eyes. Now, there is only indifference. Now, his is the mind, the body, and the spirit of a soldier.
The year is 1981. The month is August. And Sirius Black is a broken man.
Marlene McKinnon, on the other hand, could not be doing better. She does not hide herself away in a dim pub, but instead choses to lose herself in the overcast, drizzly morning. Seated on a park bench, she stretches out across it leisurely, letting her back rest against the arm of the outdoor furniture as she gazes at the street before her. The rain does not bother her; the fresh air does her a world of good in spite of the wet layer developing on the outside of her summer jacket. She uncurls her body, stretching her long limbs as far as they will go, absorbing every bit of the world around her. Marlene does not get out much, but when she does, she cannot help but enjoy every breath that life has to offer her. There is a color in her cheeks, a lightness in her eyes, and a freshness in her manner that says sitting on this bench has been the best thing she has had in a long time.
She has been done with Hogwarts for some time now, four years, and her life is going at an even slower, less controlled pace than Sirius'. She does not control her life, her schedule, or her future. No, those decisions are best left in the hands of those who know better than a dumb twenty one year old. But those thoughts do not matter now. With the rain, the wind, the air all around her, Marlene simply doesn't care about trusting her fate to a few old wizards. She can't care, nor does she want to. Instead, she wants to enjoy the world around her and take it in for a few moments (for a few moments is all she is allowed).
But her moment of peace is disturbed by the sound of shouting and cursing. She stiffens in fear for the briefest of seconds. Is it an attack? Have they found her so soon? She only left home a few moments ago.....
The year is 1981. The month is August. And Marlene McKinnon is about to fix what is broken.