Chapter 1 : Angels Can't Sing
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Angels Can't Sing
With eyes like diamonds and kisses like lightning, she hypnotised me. No questions asked, I fell in love. Her angelic nature was mesmerising at the best of times and she brought out the best in me. She was in every aspect an angel, sent from somewhere far holier than I could ever hope to go.
Angels weren’t supposed to die, but die she did. Naively we joined the cause and in turn the cause destroyed her, taking with it my bliss. Ignorance should have been my saviour, yet I wanted to know it all. I could see it on their faces though I still desperately searched for reality in my friends’ eyes, hoping to see something there. I had begged to know the truth, for nothing to be withheld. Pityingly, they complied, delivering the news and shattering my hopes and dreams in one foul swoop.
Though darkness and hardship surrounded us, death evaded us. We rose above it, our love protecting each other. We did not accept sadness or depression. It became a game to see who could remain the most cheerful, who could cope with the devastation that inched its way closer to us. She was deliciously competitive; losing was never an option for her. But she and I lost it all that night.
I had never been a gracious loser and so I felt completely and utterly justified to cry and scream, to lock myself away with my bitter thoughts. It was not just a game to me; winners and losers were now separated by life and death. Those that won pitied me whilst part of me died.
She, out of all of us, had so much to live for. Her plans were on a grand scale, she set her sights high. I loved that about her; when she told me of her dreams and hopes I believed that anything was possible. In return, my love gave her wings; together we soared. Without her now, my senses were unremarkable, regular. Marlene soothed my soul; she loved it like no one else could. She saw through the façade by believing in me.
Someone having faith in me was a refreshing change. How many times had my family told me how useless and worthless I was? I was tired of being a disgrace to my noble name. I wanted to be me, and Marlene accepted that. She told me how much she loved me and in return I let her. Everyday I saw things in her that reminded me of why I first fell in love with her.
We met on a gloomy summers' day when the sky was overcast and threatening. It was the first Order meeting I had attended; I had missed the others as I had been otherwise preoccupied. Finally, my best friend had dragged me along and I reluctantly obliged. My forehead creased and my brow knitted, I approached the small gathering of Aurors and tried to appear calm, as if secret vigilante meetings
were part of my everyday life.
Then I heard her voice; it sent the hairs on my arms aquiver. It seemed to carry on the wind, mingling with the clouds and cutting through them like a butter knife. Her voice enchanted me, for even though it was not remarkable, I fell hard. Every song she sang was filled with hope and joy, and the thought that her eyes were sparkling with the love of life enthralled me. I wanted a piece of it; I wanted a piece of that joy to keep for myself, to let it remind me of all the wonder of the world. I wanted to forget the rejection of my family, the pressure to always do the right thing. A sound so natural soothed the soul. I loved her even before first sight; my emotions took control of me.
For such a confident voice, her shyness surprised me. Her mannerisms were humble and controlled, although her eyes were shrewd and bright. They did not rest on any of us favourably, she had time for everyone. We did not speak until after the contract was signed, until we had signed our lives away. Every one of us did so without realising what the consequences would be, how easily our lives would be destroyed years later. There were few survivors; remembering that day was like walking among a crowd of fading ghosts. They had left something of themselves in this world by fighting, yet only their names remained. Marlene went the same way.
We did not speak to each other for some time until small talk was absolutely necessary. Small talk turned into large talk until it became a very different kind of talk altogether. Matters like discussing the weather no longer held any meaning for us. We both had much more important things on our minds. I wanted to fight for what was right and she wanted to fight for us all. She saw in us a kind of hope, a chance to redeem herself.
“What on Earth could you possibly ever regret?” I asked her a month after we met, shocked after she had expressed her desire for redemption.
“There are some things that I have seen that I shall never forget. They will haunt me until the day I put right the wrongs that I walked by.” Her voice was soft and gentle, yet there was a note of pain and sadness behind the sweet tones that chilled me.
I never asked her to reveal what she had seen, although I did bring it up once again. I learnt not to speak of it, for when I did she withdrew from me, she hid herself from me. I hated it when she did that; though I had always thought I had a way with women, she was so unlike the wily females I had grown up with that I was at a loss as for what to do. For when she shut herself away I longed to stroke her dark hair, to kiss the strands of gold that ran through it and tell her not to worry. I wanted to spirit her pain away, to stop her from being afraid. These times were rare; usually she was the strong one.
And still, though years since we first met, I wanted to take the pain away from her. Beneath the cold grave lay a pure heart that had never deserved to die in such a harsh way. Beside her, her family lay; together they died and together they would comfort each other where I could not reach. My hard eyes never left the name engraved on the headstone, wondering if all that remained of Marlene was her name. She would always be more than a name to me; she set me free from myself and gave me a new kind of courage. I could only half believe that I was standing in front of her grave, contemplating her fate. Had I been told that this was her future I would have laughed. She was so full of life, so vibrant and alive that death was not possible. She had assured me that it was not an option, for either of us.
“I want to be with you for always,” I told her one cold night as she sang to herself. I was reading through some notes from a previous meeting, fear rolling me in its palm.
She stopped singing to smile at me. “You will be. We’re not going anywhere. You’ll see.”
I did see. I saw it as I read the name on the headstone and I saw it as I was told she was gone; our love would stay intact but I would be the one to bury her. I would be the one to lay flowers on her grave and I would be the one to grieve for her.
Her death was not a surprise for many of us in the Order; she was not the first nor the last to die for the cause. When we signed up we all said we’d do whatever it takes to bring down forces of evil, yet I didn’t think we really appreciated what kind of courage that took. Deep down, we didn’t want to die. I would have rather fought for the rest of my life than die at the hands of my enemy. Marlene must have felt the same.
We were one and the same, she and I. Our differences only intensified the passion we shared. It was a desperate kind of longing, a feeling that made me feel like our time was limited. I was not hesitant in making the first move, and when we kissed for the first time I felt something within her unleash.
The meeting drew to a close, and we were left to tidy up the remnants of the notes. We had only spoken briefly before and so we collected the parchment in silence, our hands reaching and collecting in synchrony. Place by place around the table we moved closer, eventually meeting at the last piece of parchment. Our hands collided, a clumsy accident that led to me grasping her fingers tighter in desperation. As our eyes connected, something stirred inside of me. Her crystal eyes scanned my face in surprise as I drew her hand to my heart. Although I had long to hear her sing again, it was really my heart that wanted song. Our lips met hesitantly at first, each of us testing the other. Then her lips parted and we were lost to the music of our souls as they connected, joined for ever more…
Or not; how could I still love her when she was so irreversibly gone? I did, though it hurt me to admit it. My need for her had not dwindled, my love had only intensified and a strange kind of longing had grown in me like me fear had grown towards the end. Her good-natured smile had promised a future that was now destroyed, her innocent eyes hid the truth from us all. Though she still sang to me, her voice sounded force. And now she could not sing at all. My heart, too, became mute.
I tried to stop her, I really did. I knew what she was getting herself into, yet my attempts were in vain. My mind continually cast back to that overcast day we first met and I begged for time to have rewritten, for something to have changed her mind. I could never have done it myself, though I still blamed myself for letting her get in too deep. The information she had discovered was enough to bring the Dark Lord down, she told me. It would all be over soon, I was assured. But all her snooping, all her spying and my anxiety had gone to waste. It had killed her as surely as I knew my name was Black. She was known to be the best witch of her age, and we all thought she was untouchable. I had never accepted the possibility that she would not be around. I couldn’t think of my future without Marlene, it didn’t make sense without her. She was my lighthouse, the one who lit my way through stormy seas; under her watchful gaze, I was protected from the rocks. Without her I couldn’t survive.
As I laid a flower on her grave, part of me still couldn’t accept that she was gone; it was as if I was placing the flower on the grave of someone I didn’t know. Shock still sent me into waves of horror every time my eye caught the name that sat boldly in front of me. I still didn’t believe this had happened, even though it had been nearly a year since she was taken from me.
I stood by the door, waiting for her return. My eyes were fixed on the view out of the window, convincing myself that she would arrive in a minute, in just a minute. I wouldn’t be waiting long, I assured myself as I started to shake. My angel would return soon, her smile as beautiful as ever. She’d have killed those she had finally pinned down, returning triumphant, the winner of the game.
“She’s not coming back, Sirius,” James said softly, laying a hand on my shoulder.
“Give her a minute,” I whispered, trying to convince myself more than James. I had been waiting there for three hours. “Just a minute more!”
“She’s dead!” James said through gritted teeth. “Marlene’s dead.”
“No,” I said angrily, tears spilling down my cheeks. “She’ll be home in a minute.”
James looped an arm around my shoulders and gripped me firmly as my legs started to wobble. “She’s gone, Sirius. There’s nothing you can do.”
“She wouldn’t leave me! She promised we’d always be together. She promised!”
I sank to the floor, wiping my cheeks as I did so. He was lying, I was sure of it. She had told me only that morning we’d be making love before we knew it, that I shouldn’t be worried. That it would all be over soon…
And so it was. It was all over now, all of it. My love was worthless and I was useless to protect her. Redemption had cost her her life, yet she got it and left behind an emptiness that I couldn’t escape. It strengthened my resolve as I drew myself deeper into a shell that was made up of angelic lies and promises. A broken heart remained, a lone spirit for all to see. Marlene had fought to the bitter end and so I would do so, in the hope that my redemption could be half as significant as hers. Then, one day, my heart would sing again.