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Penultimate Year by GREX101
Chapter 23 : So Close and Yet So Far
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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 Helloooooo!!! Welcome to chapter 23 :) we're getting there with the whole Marion/ Sirius relationship- I promise, don't hit me! Sorry but I love imagining your faces when they get so close and then I snatch it out from under them :P Ok, normal shout outs- Maddy, Hannah, Helen, Vicky, Laura and a new reader: Zoe!! Love you guys long time :D college wouldn't be the same without you xxx

Okay, here we go...

Christmas Eve was meant to be a happy time. A time to spend with family and friends and to feel completely care free. Sirius however was feeling anything but care free. Right now he was sitting on his bed, staring at the presents he had bought. There was one for Remus, James, Peter, Mr and Mrs Potter and one last one on the end. He wasn't sure about whether or not to send that one. He knew she didn't like him at the moment, and a present may make her think that he was bribing her...

His thoughts were cut short when James knocked on the door, asking for entrance.

"Hey, Pads, mate? You in there?" He called from the other side of the door. Sirius acted quickly, shoving James' present under the bed and tucking the book for Marion under the covers before his bespectacled friend entered, closing the door behind him. 

"Alright, mate?" Sirius said, greeting him as subtly as he could. James walked over to the bed, eyeing the presents. 

"Ooh. So, Padfoot, what do we have here?" He asked slyly.

"Nothing for you, Prongsie." He joked. James lifted up the smallest present, wrapped in magically animated wrapping paper on the end.

"Who's this one for?" He inquired. 

"Your mum and dad. It's the least I can do for them after they took me in." Sirius explained. James shook it at his ear a little.

"What is it?" He wondered aloud, plonking down on the bed and feeling something hard and flat beneath him. "What it that?" He said, getting back up and pulling back the covers, revealing the book. He looked at Sirius, who wore a mortified expression as words failed him. James picked up the book and sat down once again. Silence lapsed over them as he read the cover.

"Mate, what are going?" James asked after a significant period of silence, "I thought you were letting go of her."

"Don't read too much into it I-I... I wasn't even - I don't know if I should even send it." Sirius managed. A broad grin then spread across James' face.

"Oh, my God!" He cried, throwing the book aside and leaping up, grabbing Sirius in a headlock and giving him a rather rough noogie. "Mate! GROW SOME FUCKING BALLS!!" He shouted gleefully over Sirius' struggles and protests. He managed to back the two of them into a wall while wrestling with James, squashing him and making him let go.

"What the fuck?!" He shouted at James, who was grinning like an idiot.

"Seriously, bro, grab some nuts and talk to her. Don't just send her some bribe. She's smarter than to accept it anyway. Look, you and I both know Michael is a prize winning dickhead. But she's never gonna listen to me about it because she'll just think I'm trying to big you up. Apologize for whatever the fuck it is you did and get it over with!” James ordered with an encouraging pat on the back. Sirius swatted him away.

 

 

 

   “I did. She won’t believe me.”

 

 

 

   “Oh, Fuck. Why did she pick now to learn that lesson?” James asked sarcastically, frustrated. Sirius gave him a scolding look.

 

 

 

   “Look, I’m just trying to make peace. Nothing more than that, honest to God, mate.” Sirius said as sincerely as he could manage.

 

 

 

   “It’s not me you’ve got to prove that to, Pads.” James said, looking suddenly serious. Sirius nodded and put the book in the top draw of the nightstand by the bed. He then turned back to James.

 

 

 

   “So what did you come up here for?” he asked, changing the subject.

 

  

 

   “Just came up to let you know mum and dad need our help with the decorations downstairs.” James sighed in defeat, retreating to the door with his friend on his heels. Sirius turned back to look at the collection of gifts sitting on his bed from the doorway. He thought hard for a moment before continuing after his friend, closing the door behind him.

 

 

 

   Later that afternoon at the Preston house, Marion lay derelict on her sheets with gut-wrenching fear twisting knot after knot in her stomach. Lily had gone to her house to talk to her parents and sister before bringing them over, her mother had gone out for the day with her ‘boyfriend’ to do some last minute gift-shopping, and Johnny was downstairs reading and listening to the radio in the conservatory alone. Marion clutched a small folded piece of parchment to her chest, the angst it caused her forcing her to ball up and rock gently back and forth. Bracing herself and stretching herself back out, she slowly unfolded it and read the words she wrote one more time.

 

 

 

   Michael,

 

 

 

   I’m not going to tell you yet again that I don’t care about Sirius, because the fact is, you’re right, I do. And there is nothing any of us can do about it. Me, you, or Sirius. However, although as I said before I’m finding it tedious to repeat, I’m not afraid of you, and I know he isn’t either. I’m not going to play slave to you, and, quite frankly I’m offended that you thought I’d go along with it. I’m actually quite smart, and I’m not going to be my mother and sleep my way out of the situation, so to speak.

 

 

 

   If you’re as devious as I think you are, you’re probably wondering why I wrote you a letter bluntly stating that I am breaking the terms of our agreement. Well, as I’m sure my reputation doesn’t precede me, I’m actually prone to being rather civilised about these sorts of things, however that also gives way to the fact that I find myself in these situations often, which  is true, regrettably.

 

 

 

   Just meet me at Renford Green at 5 today and, if you will, please be alone. I don’t want any trouble, or surprises, I just want to talk. Please be there?

 

 

 

   Marion

 

 

 

   She winced hard one last time, then sat up and reached an arm out across the room, clicking her tongue and wiggling her fingers to get the attention of her owl, Midnight. He fluttered towards her on demand and perched on her outstretched forearm as she folded the letter up again and placed it gently in the bird’s beak. She then stroked the black, matted feathers on his head and whispered to him ‘Be quick.’ On cue the bird rose and flew majestically out of the window. The sight of seeing him leave, however, did not ease the tension. Marion recoiled into a ball and again snuggled into the bed sheets awaiting the reply.

 

 

 

   What seemed like hours later, the bird returned with another note in its beak. Marion dreaded having to stand up to get it. The adrenaline racing through her was making her feel literally nauseous. She reluctantly stood and walked over to the window sill and took the message from Midnight, ruffling his feathers with her right forefinger as she used her left hand to hold the letter to her face.

 

 

 

   Marion

 

 

 

   I don’t want to hear any excuses. We agreed on what we agreed on. But, seeing as you’re being so ‘civilised’ as you put it, I may be able to meet you halfway. I’ll be at the Green alone at 5, but at 5:30, if we haven’t reached an agreement, my brothers will be on standby.

 

 

 

   I suggest you think of a clever way out of this. You’re a smart girl aren’t you? You said it yourself.

 

 

 

   Michael

 

 

 

   Marion sighed, half from relief and half from terror. At least she had got what she asked him for; a chance. Maybe she could sort this whole thing out in half an hour and get back to her dysfunctional family without anyone ever having to know. Not her mum, not Johnny, not Lily, not James and not Sirius. This situation really put this Christmas into perspective. She had been so self indulged, whining about not being with the Potter’s and her mothers’ newest fling. Right now she’d give anything just to have this one evening with them all without any drama. She then looked at the clock, it was half 4 already. Steeling herself for a moment, she tucked the note into the copy of The Daily Prophet on her desk and grabbed a jacket on the way out of the bedroom.

 

 

 

   On the way out, she peered into the conservatory to see Johnny, his back to her. He sensed a presence behind him and turned, seeing her in her knitted beanie cap and long purple suade jacket. He smiled kindly, but it soon faltered.

 

 

 

   “Where are you going?” he asked, although he knew she wouldn’t tell him.

 

 

 

   “Just out.” She assured, trying to mask her fear, “I’ll be back before mum and the Evans’ get here. I promise.”

 

 

 

   “I’ll hold you to that. If I have to entertain mum’s ‘boyfriend’ and Lily’s horsefaced sister alone for over 10 minutes I think I might just die.” He tried to joke. Marion gave way to an amused half smile, which quickly faded as she turned to leave.

 

 

 

   “I’ll be here.” She called over her shoulder. She then walked directly to the front door without looking back and exited the house.

 

 

 

   She was at Renford Green at 5.10 and still Michael hadn’t shown up. She stood in the middle of the frost covered field rubbing her upper arms and tapping her knee-high boots on the floor.

 

 

 

   “Sorry I’m late.” A voice said behind her, causing her to jump and turn around. Michael strode up to her and looked her up and down. She eyed him suspiciously and looked around, her hyperaware senses listening, smelling for another presence. Nothing came to greet her. She looked back at Michael’s pink, flushed, cold face. He smirked at her and shrugged.

 

 

 

   “I told you I’d be alone. I’m a man of my word.” He said smugly.

 

 

 

   “That’s what I’m afraid of.” She sneered back. Michael raised his eyebrows coldly.

 

 

 

   “So after all that you are afraid of me?”

 

 

 

   “You wish.” Marion taunted.

 

 

 

   “That’s what you said.” Michael teased

 

 

 

   “That’s not what I said. Anyway we’re here to work something out.” Marion returned icily with a glare. Michael smirked at her again and motioned for her to continue. “Just leave us alone, please. I don’t know who you think you are, or what you think you’re getting out of this, but this whole thing is way out of control. Why are you even doing this? Are you lonely? Or do you just enjoy fucking people about? Either way I’m not going through with it. I’m just asking you, one… person to another, just leave it and I promise it’ll be a no harm no foul deal.”

 

 

 

   There was a few moments of silence and Michael’s expression appeared to soften. Marion looked into his eyes and, for a moment, she thought she saw a glimmer of hope. Then, Michael suddenly let out a loud cackle that rocked the crisp, cold air around them. Marion’s face contorted to a look of concern.

 

 

 

   “That’s your clever way out? Making an appeal to my better nature? Listen here, bitch, no one- NO ONE- makes me work this hard with the threats and all the arrangements and then just expect me to call the whole thing off like it’s no big deal. I’ll be honest, I liked you. I really did. I thought that you were different. But you just lead me on and then blew me off for some other fucker so don’t you DARE ask me to call this off like it’s all just some game.” His face then turned serious and scary and he leaning into her, snarling in the face. She wasn’t scared of what he would do to her, and her poker face reflected that. However, this meeting could end up having the opposite of the desired effect.

 

 

 

   “I honestly thought you were smarter than this, Preston. I didn’t even think I should meet you here but I thought you may have thought up some elaborate and entertaining dodge to my scheme. And you went and disappointed me. Now it’s not just me you’ve disappointed.” He lifted an arm and pulled back his sleeve, revealing his watch. He thrust it in Marion’s face. It was about 5:25. “And would you look at that, your times up.”

 

 

 

   He pulled his sleeve back down over his wrist and began backing away from the brunette beauty, whose face now showed signs of panic and confusion.

 

 

 

   “I’m gonna go and call my brothers now. And you have about 5 minutes to try and warn Black, if you want to. And you say I’m not generous.” She stood staring at him for a moment, dumbstruck, “Go!” he hissed. Marion turned on her heels and hand in the opposite direction as fast as she could. Michael sniggered at her efforts as she disappeared through the trees towards the Potter Mansion, which she knew the way to from all angles. He them looked up to the tall tree on his left and signalled to three owls perched on the top branch. The mean-looking birds then took to the wind and Michael turned and walked away.

 

 

 

   At the Potter Mansion, Sirius had returned to his room. He had put all the other presents under the tree and was now holding the book in his hands. He had been staring at the cover for about 20 minutes when the door opened and James poked his head in. this time when he saw his friend and the object in his lap, he was more understanding.

 

 

 

   “You alright, mate?” he asked.

 

 

 

   “Yeah.” Sirius answered without looking up. James gave a small, unseen smile and nodded.

 

 

 

   “Alright, well me, mum and dad are going to the shed at the back of the garden to get the rest of the decorations. Honestly I cannot fathom how mum thinks what we spent all day putting up isn’t enough.” James joked. Sirius gave him an appreciative smile for his attempt at cheering him up. “We’ll be back in about 30 to 130 minutes knowing her. You sure you’re ok?”

 

 

 

   “Yeah, I’m fine, mate. Now go before your mum has both our heads for front door ornaments.” Sirius assured. James nodded and left, closing the door again behind him. About 5 minutes later Sirius heard the back door shut and he was alone again. His gaze returned to the book in his lap. It even baffled him that such a small object could spark so much intrigue.

 

 

 

   Marion looked at her watch. It was 5:28 and there was no one in sight, yet. She pounded down the Potter’s front path. She whipped out her wand and jammed it into the lock at rapid speed. Her wand was recognised by the spells the Potter’s had put on the door and it swung open. Entering the empty foyer, which was full of Christmas decorations, she looked around in a blind panic and called out.

 

 

 

   “James! James, are you here?! Howard! Arabella?!”

 

 

 

   “Preston?” an alarmed voice called from the top of the staircase causing Marion to wheel around.

 

 

 

   “Black!” she cried, relieved to see him safe. Seeing the state she was in, Sirius ran down the stairs, skipping the last few and rushing to her side. She pushed him away.

 

 

 

   “No! No, you have to get go! You have to get out of here now!” she screamed. Sirius looked baffled.

 

 

 

   “What’re- what do you-?” he was cut short as the back door was blown open and three figures on broomsticks whooshed in, sending the decorations flying in all directions, smashing them on the floor and against walls. Debris from outside was carried in with the ghastly wind, causing whipping gales to sweep both Marion and Sirius off their feet, flinging them to opposite sides of the large room. Marion was thrown harshly into the wall on the left by the powerful backdraft, knocking her out. Sirius got up, acting fast and pulling his wand out from his pocket, forgetting that he was forbidden to use magic outside of school. The three figures on the broomsticks shouted encouragements to each other as they circled about Sirius, creating a whirlwind and shooting spells down on him in a hailstorm of reds, greens and yellows. Sirius fought back valiantly, sending amazingly accurate counter-jinxes back at them at almost every interval. He sent one of the figures flying off his broom and out of a window, which smashed on impact with a flipendo jinx. This further enraged the other two. One of them charged Sirius, flying right at him. Sirius froze and could only wait for the impact. None came however as the assailant was sent flying out of the broken window after his associate in a jet of red light.

 

 

 

   Sirius looked behind him at the source of the blast. Marion had come to and had joined in the duel. The last broomsman flew around them in circles, so fast that neither of them could line up a decent shot. Suddenly, in a flash of yellow, both of their wands flew from their grasp and they were forced back to back as the broomsman spun faster and faster around them, causing the gusts of wind to become more powerful and making harder for them to breathe. He raised his wand for the attack when he was thrown through the air and hit the opposing wall with a loud thud. Marion and Sirius doubled over, gasping for breath as the wind calmed and the debris from outside and the broken decorations came to rest on the floor. Sirius got up first and patted Marion’s back as she coughed. They then both saw the person who had saved them. Howard Potter was standing at the back door, wand still drawn. His wife and son stood behind him, Christmas decorations littered around their feet.

 

 

 

   Howard nodded to Arabella and James as he cleared the room of any other danger and lowered his wand. Arabella rushed forwards and tended a still-coughing Marion while James jogged over and patted Sirius on the back.

 

 

 

   “What the hell happened here?!” Arabella cried in confusion. Marion, who had now caught her breath, stood up properly and took a few steps away from her, looking down guiltily.

 

 

 

   “It was my fault. I’m so sorry. I tried to stop it I-” she couldn’t finish. She buried her head in her hands and sighed heavily. Sirius edged closer to her.

 

 

 

   “I was upstairs and I heard her calling for you. She sounded really scared, I’m sure she had no idea this would happen.” He assured. James then picked up the robe that the last broomsman had shed as he had flown through the air towards the back wall. As he examined it, Howard dragged the three unconscious assailants to three chairs that had survived the rampage and used his wand to bind them.

 

 

 

   “I highly doubt that this was all your fault Marion, dear.” Arabella said as she surveyed the damage to her home, “Three overage wizards on broomsticks pillaging our home hardly makes it sound like they were after you.”

 

 

 

   “That’s because they weren’t.” James cut in, holding up the robe. “This robe says ‘Jack Paulson’. That’s Michael’s older brother. Come to think of it, he has three older brothers. I can think of one reason why Michael would be sending his brothers here.” There was a pause, “Me.” He finished much to the surprise of everyone in the room.

 

 

 

   “Why you?” Sirius asked.

 

 

 

   “After we got back from Hogsmeade that day, he and I had words. He was not happy about it.” James explained.

 

 

 

   “Yes, but that’s hardly cause for all of this.” Howard put in.

 

 

 

   “He’s right, mate. Not even Paulson is that psychotic.” Sirius added. After a few moments of silence everyone looked at Marion expectantly. She looked at the floor, then sheepishly up at Sirius.

 

 

 

   “They were here for you.”

 

 

 

   “Me?! Why?” he asked, flabbergasted. Marion looked around at them all and tears of panic and guilt welled up in her eyes despite her efforts to force them back. Sirius and James saw them and nodded to each other. Sirius stepped forward and gently placed a hand on Marion’s shoulder.

 

 

 

   “Maybe you and I should talk. Alone. Come up to my room.” He said softly, guiding her up the stairs as Mr Potter called the aurors and Mrs Potter cleared up the mess. The walked down the corridor in silence and Sirius courteously opened the door for her, motioning for her to walk in first, then walking in behind her and closing the door. They stared at each other for a moment.

 

 

 

   “Have a seat.” Sirius grunted nervously. Marion gave a small, awkward smile and sat on the bed tentatively. Sirius remained standing in front of her. Again they said nothing. Marion stared at her feet.

 

 

 

   “So I suppose you want to know why there were three broomstick crusaders storming the house looking for you.” She sighed.

 

 

 

   “That would be a good place to start.” Sirius nodded. Marion nodded in agreement and took a deep breath.

 

 

 

   “Well, Michael he- the night after Hogsmeade- he was- he-he-” she tapered off. Sirius looked at her with a mixture of frustration and understanding. Marion rolled her eyes and chose to resign to the simple way of explaining. She saw a cloth on the other side of the room laying on the desk and pointed at it, “Look, it’d be easier for me to show you so can you hand me that please.” She demanded in her normal superior ‘Marion’ tone that Sirius was secretly glad to hear. He handed her the cloth and watched as she began to dab and wipe tenderly at her nose, revealing a patch of puce coloured bruises covering it. His jaw dropped and his nostrils flared furiously. She looked away coyly, then undid her jacket and pushed her shirt collar aside, revealing the large bruise he had given her outside Hogwarts. Sirius was speechless.

 

 

 

   “He hit me in the nose the night after we went to Hogsmeade. It was a total cheap shot and I hit him back but it still fucking hurt.” She explained. Sirius squinted and sighed angrily.

 

 

 

   “What?” Marion asked him.

 

 

 

   “That night! I spoke to him. I told him to treat you right and he got majorly pissed. That’s why he hit you, because of me.” Sirius stressed, stomping his foot loudly out of frustration towards himself. Marion shook her head.

 

 

 

   “It isn’t your fault.” She assured. He raised his eyebrows at her in disbelief.

 

 

 

   “Oh yeah? Then when did you get the other one?” Sirius snapped. Marion sighed before answering.

 

 

 

   “Well, he… he saw me talking to you the day we broke up from school and he got mad. But that was my fault. He had warned me to stay away from you.” She tried to make him feel better but she knew he wasn’t going to buy it.

 

 

 

   “Don’t blame yourself, that’s what he wants you to do.” He said bitterly with a defeatist attitude. Marion rolled her eyes and then continued.

 

 

 

   “Anyway, after that he asked me straight out if I liked you, but it didn’t matter what I told him because he was dead sure I did. He made me an ultimatum: either stay with him and keep you safe or leave him and have the rat pack down there unleashed on you. At first I said I’d go along with it to keep you safe but, no offence, no one takes my integrity. Plus, that arsehole isn’t calling the shots on me, who does he take me for? So I asked him to meet me earlier and I begged him to reconsider but he wouldn’t budge so I ran over here as fast as I could to try and get you out and now here I am. Looking at you looking at me.” She finally finished. Sirius looked at her silently for a while, slowly processing what she had said. He then lifted his head slightly and looked at her questionably.

 

 

 

   “What did you tell him?” he asked. Marion looked confused.

 

 

 

   “What do you mean?”

 

 

 

   “You said he asked you flat out if you liked me. What did you tell him?” he questioned again.

 

 

 

   “Persistent much?” Marion avoided stubbornly. Sirius raised his eyebrows at her and she sighed.

 

 

 

   “Ok. I told him I didn’t like you. Happy now?” she snapped. There was a pause.

 

 

 

   “No.” he answered plainly. Marion looked slightly taken aback by the comment. She opened her mouth to say something, but he shushed her and came to sit beside her on the bed. They just stared at each other for a moment before Marion found her tongue.

 

 

 

   “Look, you and me? Regardless of whether or not we like each other, I’d be too complicated.” She reasoned. Sirius shook his head defiantly.

 

 

 

   “Hey, just answer me this, without any judgement or lies; how to you really feel about me? Do you like me or don’t you?” he queried. Marion avoided his unyielding gaze. “Answer me.” He demanded softly. She looked up at him and all reason seemed to leave her mind. Her turquoise eyes connected with hiss chestnut brown ones in a silent confession. No words needed to be spoken.

 

 

 

   Marion barely had time to nod before Sirius gently descended his lips onto hers, lightly caressing her cheek with his soft palm, careful not to knock her nose. They lingered in that position for a moment, holding on. Savouring each other for as long as they could. When they slowly parted, Sirius stroked a thumb over her cheekbone and she smiled at him, their foreheads resting against one another.

 

 

 

   Suddenly, she grasped hold of the scruff of his collar and pulled his closer, his lips colliding with hers once more. This time however, they indulged in more passionate kisses. The thrill they felt in their first kiss in the owlery was magnified tenfold. After a few moments, he traced her bottom lip with his tongue and she opened her mouth willingly, tongues dancing. This time there were no consciences arguing with them, just fervour and desire for one another. Keeping his left hand cupping her face, his right trailed down to her waist and he gently lowered her down onto the bed, laying on her, but careful not to put all his weight on her with the bruises she had sustained on his account.

 

 

 

   They lay there just kissing for a few minutes before Marion groaned and pushed on Sirius’ chest, forcing them to both sit upright again. She looked away from him, exhaling deeply.

 

 

 

   “Sirius, I need to talk to you, seriously, about those things you said to me on the balcony.” She started.

 

 

 

   “I told you, I’m sorry I said them. I didn’t mean any of it.” He interrupted, going to kiss her again, but she swerved her head away.

 

 

 

   “But, some of it was true. Whether you meant it or not you really gave me a wakeup call. I do tend to rush into relationships with the first guy to show interest to get over the feeling of being dumped. I guess I just don’t want to have to handle that feeling without having someone else to support me.  I need to work on that.”

 

 

 

   “So what are you saying?” Sirius questioned, starting to sound worried.

 

 

 

   “Look, I like you, Black. I really do, despite myself and I think you’re probably the best choice I could make…”

 

 

 

   “But?”

 

 

 

   “But I think I need to figure out how to do this alone for once. So I guess I’m saying, for now, I don’t think I should be with anyone… I’m so sorry.” Marion muttered mournfully. Sirius nodded in disappointment and understanding, letting go of her. She gave him a tender peck on the cheek and stood up to leave. But then, Sirius remembered something and grasped her hand once more.

 

 

 

   “Wait a moment.” He said as she turned back. He plucked the song book from behind the pillow where he had previously left it and handed it to her, “Merry Christmas.”

 

 

 

   Marion’s eyes widened when she saw what it was he had given her. She beamed at him, “Thank you so much! Oh, God, now I feel bad I didn’t give you anything.”

 

 

 

   “You just did.” Sirius said cheekily, his signature smirk once again gracing his face, Marion returned it, and then left.

 

 

 

Watcha think y’all??????


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