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Union by Kelosia
Chapter 1 : Chapter One
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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“The thing is,” Bella said, striking a match and bringing it towards her face, the small flame bravely trying to light up her features that took on a slightly desolate glow in the half-light, “I feel like I have achieved nothing in my life.” 

“You know that’s not true,” Her companion replied, stretching out a nicotine-stained hand holding a cigarette towards the flame, cursing quietly when the match blew out before it was lit. “Really, Bella, why don’t you just buy a lighter?” 

“Muggle invention,” Bella replied shortly, then: “I suppose this is a way of showing that I can achieve something in my life.” 

“You want to talk about achievement? How about receiving The Kiss before you’re twenty? Even your parents want you to wait until graduation at the very least. What’s the point of rushing into this, B? We have years yet to think of all this stuff-“ 

“Stuff! This will be our lives Max! Why wait another year in limbo to start living them? We have to start thinking about the future, beyond Hogwarts. We all do each and every one of us – even you!” 

There was silence, stretching out between the two girls –women, almost – and then:
“Are we quarrelling, B?” 

“I don’t know, are we?” Bella said, on the point of surliness .There was the trickle of liquid being poured down a bottle and into a throat, followed by a swallow. 

“That better not be the lighter fluid,” Bella spoke up again, “I need it for my fag.”
 Her friend gave a purr of amusement, with a flick another flame crackled into life. Two cigarettes were swiftly lit and again the fire vanished. 

Two synchronized inhaled breaths and then, speaking on the exhale:
 “Seriously B. I know I need to make a decision. But, please, just wait. One year, that’s all I’m asking. And then...we can do it together. Maybe.” 

Another pause ensued, not as awkward as the last but ponderous and filled with expectation. 

“I’ll think on it, Max. Really, I will.” 

*** 

“If I were Dumbledore, which I’m not thank Merlin, could I not think of some more interesting mode of transport. I mean, really, a train? Why not chariots pulled by winged horses; Durmstrang has a ship for Circe’s sake!?” 

“The Hogwarts Express is merely an object used from getting from place to place, Cissy; its aesthetic flamboyance is not of any concern.” Bella cast her eyes up and down the platform, searching. “Max is late. Would it kill her to be on time?” 

“What’s new? Marina can never decide on anything, from deciding what time to set her alarm on the first day of school, to more, um, important matters.” Narcissa glanced up at her rather intimidating older sister from beneath long eyelashes, receiving a sharp glare for her efforts. 

“Hold your tongue, Cissy, do not speak of matters you do not understand. It’s harder for Max, her circumstances are...unusual.” 

Another five minutes later and Bella sent Narcissa ahead to their usual compartment with their bags. She remained outside the train, a lone figure amongst the bustling families. She eyed with faint distaste the weeping mothers and choked-up fathers. She and her parents had bid a dignified farewell at home, with just the right mix of solemnity and cheerfulness. 

“Are you waiting for me, Bella dear?” A quiet voice reached her ears. It was the kind of voice that would induce one to lean forward to hear it better. After years of friendship, Bella still idly wondered whether it was cultivated to be that way or was in fact entirely natural. She doubted whether she would ever really know.
 
She turned to see Marina Chase walking calmly and infuriatingly slowly towards her, despite the lateness of the hour and seemingly devoid of any trunk or bags to encumber her. Instead her hands had been thrust deep inside the pockets of an oversized herringbone blanket coat cinched tightly at the waist, paired with burgundy knitted over the knee socks and scuffed ankle boots. The famous hair had been carelessly knotted into a horse tail and brought over one shoulder, the waves loosely curling over the lapels of the coat. Looking at her friend, and trying to conceal her fondness of her, Bella reflected on how very, well, English she looked. Both of their families had come over from Normandy in 1066, making them both two of the oldest influential pureblood dynasties in the country. Although the Blacks retained strong connections to their French heritage, the Chase family had fully embraced English ways, including, it seemed, a penchant for tweed. 

“Finally.” Bella held out her arms impatiently for a hug, even though she had seen Marina merely days ago. They had decided to have a quiet night, staying up late drinking gin and talking of the future. Well, Bella’s future. “You seem to have forgotten your baggage,” she said over Max’s shoulder, drying to avoid catching a mouthful of mane. 

Drawing apart, Marina laughed bitterly, “My baggage? It’s all up here, B.” She tapped her temple, then her smile crumpled in on itself, “Though now you mention it, my trunk does appear to be missing.” She looked so mock-forlorn that Bella snickered, as if this didn’t happen more often than not.
 
“It will have been sent on ahead by your household, scatterbrain. Now can we please get on the bloody train before it-“her words were interrupted by a shrill whistle coming from the red train. “Come on,” and, grabbing Marina’s wrist she dragged them both on to the train before it pulled out of the station without them. 

Inside they slinked through the narrow corridors of the Express, dodging any miscellaneous collections of escaped wildlife, with Bella baring her teeth at any stragglers dragging over-packed trunks that got in their way. They halted outside their usual compartment. Bella withdrew her black sleeved hand from Max’s wrist and slipped both of them inside the pockets of her immaculately tailored black wool trench, mirroring Max’s nonchalant stance. Marina had joked that its military cut betrayed Bellatrix’s destiny as a sergeant major, to which Bella replied that she was not far off, rather putting a stop to the light-heartedness of that particular conversation. 

“It’s rather full in there,” Bella told Marina, after peering through the door window. “Are you ready to start our seventh year?” Max responded with one of her secretive half-smiles, that didn’t exactly answer the question. 

As Bella made to open the door, a deep voice called down the corridor, “Don’t be a stranger, Reg.” They turned to see Regulus Black give a curt nod someone they couldn’t see before he turned and almost bumped into them.
 
“Sorry ladies,” he said smoothly, masking his brief surprise, “Are you going in?” He opened the door for them, even going so far as to offer them the slightest hint of a bow, which made Max smile. 

Bella stalked inside, but Max lingered, offering Regulus a friendly though indifferent look. “Who-?” 

“My brother, Sirius,” he volunteered the information without waiting for her to finish phrasing her question. “He seems to think that despite running away from home this summer and leaving me in the lurch, he and I still retain fraternal feelings towards each other.” Max’s indifference melted slightly, she had of course heard about this Black family scandal and knew of the increased pressure Regulus must feel now he was the only Black heir left. Every pureblood of her acquaintance knew a fair bit about parental pressure. “Of course, I relieved him of any misapprehensions that he had about that,” Regulus was quick to add. 

“Of course, she replied neutrally, and they entered the compartment together.
 
It was indeed as crowded as Bella had said. Every inch of seat was taken, and several people even had to make do with the floor. Despite being late, Bella had found space beside Rodolphus Lestrange, her boyfriend. The rest of the seats were taken by his brother Rabastan, Lucius Malfoy, Narcissa, Evan Rosier and his sister Heloise and Severus Snape. Yaxley and Sorbi had had to make do with the floor, Regulus joined them swiftly.
 
Catching sight of Marina, Evan greeted her with a loud hello and pulled her into his lap. “There you are! I’ve been waiting for you, love. You’re looking ravishing as always.” He gave her a mischievous smile. Marina settled herself more comfortably, returning Evan’s eager greetings.
 
“Hey cuz, everyone.” She received a broad range of replies, from non-committal grunts to actual words or phrases. 

As she settled into being with her friends again, Marina automatically reached for her lighter and cigarettes. She lit up, and sharing puffs with Evan, looked around at her friends. Snape was reading a book, the slight line between his brows told her of his disapproval at her smoking so early in the day, when really it was almost noon. The younger kids, Narcissa and Regulus were talking amongst themselves. Bella and Rodolphus had eyes only for each other; his usually sharp brown eyes were soft as he carefully traced Bella’s features, not listening to a word she was saying about her plans for the coming year. 

Marina had this way of smoking that made it interesting to watch for the idle viewer. She would inhale lightly, and then breathe in deeply a second time, waiting for several seconds before she blew out again noisily. She never smoked absent-mindedly; concentrating on what she was doing and flicking away excess ash with a calculated care. 

The contented atmosphere was marred by a loud exclamation and a slam as the door was slid open as far as it would go. “I can’t believe you, Chase, smoking on the Hogwarts Express! That is strictly prohibited!” 

Marina looked up, “Evans,” she nodded politely, with a lazy swish of her cigarette. “I don’t see any signs.” 

“I...well...it’s bad for you!” Lily Evans thundered, cursing inwardly at her stuttering in front of Marina. Something about Marina Chase always made her feel loud and clumsy, and that she should apologise straight away for interrupting her peace. 

“Really,” Marina blinked slowly up at her, “I had no idea.” 

“If you want to inhale pollution,” a male voice came from behind Evans, directed at Marina, “why don’t you just suck on a car exhaust pipe? It’s free.” 

“Potter,” Evans whirled around, “I do not need you to keep coming up behind me and butting in on my duties! If we have to work together then you need to respect me and trust me to handle these things on my own!” 

“But Lily Flower, they’re Slytherins,” James Potter frowned, bringing a hand to muss up his already fashionably dishevelled hair to match his fashionably dishevelled school robes. Scruffy robes that were now decorated by a shiny badge, the responsibility it signified belying the trouble-making persona of the boy it was now attached to. “And besides, I’m Head Boy, and you’re Head Girl. We are a team, a united front.” His eyes glazed over slightly at the idea of Evans’ ‘front’. 

“I’m sorry, what kind of Girl?” Bella smirked. Immediately, Potter’s gaze sharpened as he looked at Bellatrix. 

“Watch it, Black,” he said with narrowed eyes. “As Head Boy I’ll be keeping a closer eye on you than before.” 

“What fool made you Head Boy?” Malfoy asked, almost curiously. 

“Although we have all been wondering this ourselves, Lucy, that really is none of your business,” a new voice intercepted as Potter had been about to bite back an angry retort. 

“Christ, here come the cavalry,” muttered Evans to herself as the Marauders appeared, adding to the now almost overwhelming claustrophobia of the area as they stood crowding the doorway.
 
Sirius Black scanned the compartment, which if things had gone differently in his life, he would probably have been sitting in right now. The renegade Black, the (hah) ‘White Sheep’ of the family had only recently fully escaped the confines of his pureblood family. Although even he could not escape the genetics which revealed his family connections: the chiselled face, the stormy grey eyes, the hair like liquid charcoal, and of course a few of the personality traits, pride being foremost among them. 

A third figure, Remus Lupin, spoke up, “Just put it out, Chase, and we’ll be on our way.” Weariness and experience beyond his seventeen years seemed to be infused in his every word. A fourth boy could barely be seen from behind Lupin, though even if he could have been he would not have had the courage to say anything.
 
Fixing Lupin with a pale green-eyed stare, which although not hostile was not exactly warming to the blood, she leaned over and tossed the offending cigarette out of the window. 

“Thank you, Marina,” said Evans, after clearing her throat and feeling rather foolish. “We’ll just be on our way.” It was rather a comic sight to see the Gryffindors turn stiffly to troop away. 

“Oh, and one more thing,” Potter had turned back, “Fifteen points from Slytherin.” 

“What!?” screeched Bella, “You bloody little-“ 

“Now now, cuz,” Sirius Black had swooped back to hover by the doorway, “You don’t want to waste the insults which I’m sure you took such a very long time to think up over the summer so early into the school year. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to use them when we actually arrive at Hogwarts. We’ll no doubt run into each other rather a lot. Ta for now.” 

And with a meaningful look at Marina, he left to join his friends.
 Evan, who had caught the glance as well, looked to Marina for an explanation, “What was that, Max?” 

“Oh, that” she reached for another cigarette, “Sirius Black has decided to save me.”




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