Chapter 1 : Couldn't Possibly Be
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Forcing her feet to move, Marlene manoeuvred the red carpeted steps to an intricately carved wooden door. She went to reach for the gold handle, when the door swung open, causing her outstretched hand to land on a toned chest. She looked up, blood already rushing to her cheeks at the intimate touch, to be met with a pair of twinkling grey eyes. Sirius.
“Ah, Mars, was just about to come looking for you, love.” His jovial voice made her smile.
“Sirius, are you sure you chose the right place…This seems a bit…classy?” In answer to her question, Sirius just smirked and moved her hand from his chest to a firm grasp in his own palm.
“You like it, right?” She couldn’t help but smile. Marlene couldn’t deny that she was one of those girls. She loved classy restaurants and cheesy romantic gestures. She didn’t even know how she ended up with Sirius. He was the polar opposite of her ‘ideal’ other half. He was careless, he detested anything classy and posh and did not know any table manners at all! But after many attempts at dating these ‘ideal’ guys, Lily managed to convince her that Sirius, was in fact the perfect guy for her.
Their relationship went strong for two years, their last two years of Hogwarts. Then they took a break in order for Marlene to pursue her four years of healer training at her dream school in France. But after one year, Sirius woke up to a woman asleep beside him. Marlene. She had missed him. Sirius accepted her back and they had a long distance relationship, an outcome in which their friends were very pleased.
Sitting down at the table, Marlene was brought back into reality by Sirius’ passionate gaze. As she focused on it, her face lit up, the fire in his eyes making the blood rush to her own cheeks.
“So, what you would like Mars?” He asked, grinning.
“Sirius? Don’t we need the menus first?”
“Damn. I can’t believe that I already ruined the night!” He started muttering. Marlene couldn’t help smiling- she had never seen Sirius as nervous as he was then.
“Stop being nervous, it doesn’t suit you.” She smirked. Sirius grinned.
“Fine. Caught me.” He held his hands up in mock defeat as she laughed. Sirius beamed- Marlene’s smiles just had that effect on him. That thought reminded Sirius again of the dreaded, yet anticipated deed he was going to have to do.
“What are you nervous about anyway, it’s not like it’s our first date.” Marlene grinned as she picked up her napkin and laid it on her lap. She picked up the fork and started fiddling.
“Well, it’s our anniversary, isn’t that good enough?” Sirius raised an eyebrow. Marlene dropped her fork on to the table. She had forgotten. Marlene had gotten used to Sirius not remembering that she hadn’t bothered to, either.
“Oh for the love of Merlin! Sirius!”
“It’s okay, I know you didn’t remember, I accept your apology.” Sirius was smirking, he knew that he had won over Marlene this time.
“You idiot! You weren’t meant to remember!” And instead of looking apologetic, Marlene looked cross.
“Wh-what?” She never failed to surprise him. Sirius gaped at Marlene, his eyes wide with surprise.
“Yes, you prat! You were meant to forget! So now I feel bad!” He still sat there gaping. “I believe an apology is in order.”
He didn’t reply. Marlene reached across the table and waved her hands over his eyes. In one swift motion, Sirius caught them and pulled her in until their lips touched. She froze up before melting into the kiss.
“Apology accepted.” She mumbled into his lips as they pulled away. Sirius still had on that arrogant smirk of his.
The whole dinner progressed too quickly for Sirius’ liking. He saw Marlene almost everyday, but only for very short periods of time. They had dinner together at least three times a week and the weekends were always spent together. But Marlene had been very preoccupied for the past few weeks, and it took Sirius longer than usual to cheer her up. But he knew that she had every right to be tense.
A middle aged couple caught Marlene’s eye, they reminded her of her own parents. Her parents, she hoped they would be okay. These were dark times; she was old enough to know that. Her sister, Natalia wasn’t. She was oblivious, oblivious to all the murders. Oblivious to the fact that their parents could be killed any day. Both their parents were high in the Ministry and firm supporters of Dumbledore, therefore making them prime targets. Marlene got nightmares each night about the death of her parents, and more frequently, Natalia.
Sirius paid the bill and was about to start his speech to Marlene, when he noticed the small crease between her eyebrows. Whenever Marlene was deep in thought, the crease would appear. He loved kissing it away.
“Mars, love, what on earth are you thinking about?” Sirius tenderly reached up and brushed his fingers against her cheek.
“The war.” Marlene was never one to hide her thoughts. Sirius’ smile disappeared immediately.
“Don’t.” Sirius wasn’t one for hiding his thoughts either.
“How can I not, Sirius? These are dark times and mum and dad-“ Marlene’s voice started rising. The tables next to the couple grew quiet.
“I know, Mars. I know, love. That’s why I’m going to do this.” Marlene noticed a determined glint in Sirius’ eyes.
“Wha-“ She started, but her own gasp interrupted. Sirius stood up and got on one knee. The restaurant grew quiet and the waiter who came to collect their plates, stopped in his tracks.
“Marlene Annette McKinnon, sweetheart, I’ve loved you for Merlin knows how long. I only dated you from sixth year on, but even before, my eyes they always had special room for you. I remember in our fourth year, you changed your soap from something floral to pineapple?” Sirius trailed off, his head subconsciously cocked to one side.
“Vanilla.” Marlene whispered back, her hands covered her mouth and fresh tear trails were visible on her cheeks.
“Oh yes! Vanilla! Anyway, from then on, what do you think I smelt in Slughorn’s cauldron on Amortentia? Vanilla. And, when you left after our seventh year to France, I couldn’t do anything! That was when I knew that I was in love with you. And, when I woke up beside you that one day after a year of not seeing you, I knew you loved me too. And Mars, I hope you’re still in love with me, ‘cause, I know that I can’t want you more than I do now. And, damn, I don’t know what to say. But, I love you and I want to love you forever. Will you marry me?” Sirius ended with a hopefully gaze in his eyes and Marlene looked shellshocked. That expression didn’t go away as she slowly nodded her head.
The whole restaurant cooed as Sirius grinned, jumped up and wrapped his arms around her. Marlene broke out in sobs and squeezed him back. But he pulled away almost immediately.
“Mars, why on earth are you crying? You could have said no if you didn’t-“ But he stopped as she swatted his arm. She looked up, wiped away her tears and started laughing.
“Because, you were just romantic! I thought you were just a good for nothing, arrogant prat!” She managed to get out, in between giggles.
“Love you too, love.” Sirius retorted dryly. But Marlene just giggled and sealed his lips with a kiss. When they broke apart, both were grinning widely. The restaurant customers were still focused on the couple- the young customers grinning and the elderly ones smiling happily, their cheeks red at having witnessed such intimate behaviour.
“Sirius?” Marlene turned around smirking, a new realisation dawning on her.
“Yes, love?” Sirius was happy. Finally, he had given her something perfect, he had made no mistakes.
“Well, normally, in engagements they the guy gives the girl a ring…” Marlene trailed off, an eyebrow raised. The restaurant crowd burst out laughing.
“For the love of Merlin’s saggy underpants! I just thought that I’d gotten something perfect! Here it is.” Sirius searched around in his pockets for a little while before removing the small, square box. Marlene opened it and grinned.
Inside the box was a simple silver band, with a small circular diamond in the middle. Marlene was one of those girls, but this is where she varied, she didn’t want an extravagant, huge ring. She wanted something…well, something exactly like this. Sirius gingerly picked it up and showed her the inside. There were two small engraved words, Marlene Black. Marlene teared up again. Sirius tenderly got the ring back from her and went to slip it on her ring finger. On Marlene’s right hand. Grinning again, she shook her head and guided his hand towards her left. He slipped it on, his face taking on a slightly reddish tinge. Sirius looked up and met Marlene’s blue eyed gaze, smiling softly.
“I’ll apparate you home.” Sirius’ voice was gentle, almost intimate.
“You better.” Marlene tried to make it sound funny, but her tone matched that of Sirius. She was engaged, yet, it didn’t sink in. Engaged…she had a fiancé…a fiancé. Wow, when they arrived outside of her house, she was still trying mouthing the word ‘fiancé’, trying to familiarise herself with it. She took a step forward, shooting an excited gaze down at her ring. But she couldn’t move. Sirius had held on to her hand. She turned around, expecting a quick kiss, but his gaze caught her off guard.
His eyes were steely, his gaze pointed at her house. The look in his eyes scared her.
“Sirius, what’s wrong?” She shook his bicep, trying to get him to speak. But he stayed still, his gaze not wavering from her house. She spun around to look at her house, and all her blood ran cold. The door was wide open and one of the hinges were broken. A forced entry. Not one sound could be heard and a quick inspection of the ground revealed large footsteps, trampling all through the grass and her mother’s flowerbeds. Marlene’s eyes widened and she tried to walk towards the house. But Sirius pulled her back again.
“Stay here. James and Lily are at work today. I’ll go get them.” Sirius’ voice was stony.
“What? Why?” Marlene responded, hysteria creeping into her own voice. “That door was old anyway, I mean, Tahlia probably just ran through it and it broke! It was totally rusty, not to mention, you’ve seen her on a high- she probably ran through the flowerbeds herself!”
“Marlene,” Sirius steely tone vanished and a soft one replaced it as he turned to look at his fiancé, “we both know that this isn’t the work of your sister.” Sirius was right, Marlene did know that, but she was hoping that she was wrong. As soon as those words came out of Sirius’ mouth, tears pooled in her eyes. She didn’t know what to say. Sirius continued.
“Everything’s going to be alright. Stay here, love, I’m going to go get James and Lily. Remus and Peter are probably with them too. I want you to promise that you won’t go in until I come back.” Sirius reached up and tenderly touched her cheeks, just like he had done before. This time, Marlene closed her eyes and imagined that she was back in that moment. “Promise me, Mars.”
“Fine Sirius. I promise, just come back quickly, please.” Sirius shot her a suspicious gaze, Marlene was usually very stubborn. Marlene caught his gaze. “Sirius, if they are…if they are… if something happened to them, me going inside won’t help.” He looked convinced. He leant down and gave her a quick peck.
“I love you, Mars.”
“I know, Sirius, please, hurry up.”
As soon as the crack indicated his leave, Marlene’s tears leaked out of her eyes. Silent sobs raked her body as she wiped them away furiously. Her mind transformed into her enemy as it brought up scenes from her childhood, everywhere she looked. Her and Natalia taking turns to swing on the tyre that hung on the big oak tree, held up by a string and lots of magic. Their dad building a tree house (mostly using magic) for Natalia's sixth birthday. Their mum laughing as the sisters played tag, weaving in between all the huge pillars at the front of their three story mansion.
A high pitched scream pierced the air, bringing a heartbroken Marlene back to reality. She looked up sharply. Natalia, she instantly recognised the voice, it was her sister’s. Marlene looked to the spot where Sirius had apparated just a few minutes ago. He still wasn’t back, she didn’t know what was taking him so long, but, she couldn’t, no, wouldn’t wait until he came back. Marlene wouldn’t wait, especially if it meant that she sitting here waiting for her sister to die. Making up her mind, Marlene got up and sprinted through the front door.
“James!” A scream punctured the air of the Potter home as the messy haired man collapsed on the sofa, stood up abruptly. A beautiful redhead appeared, her eyes narrowed.
“Lily, love.” The man stood up and went to reach out for her.
“James Potter, you idiot! Did I not tell you to put away the glass and porcelain before letting Harry on that toy broom?” She squealed, and James wrapped his arms around a protesting Lily. The toy broom that Sirius had given for Harry’s birthday had soon become one of his son’s favourite toys.
“Lily, love, I’m sure everything will be fine!” Lily couldn’t help melting into James’ hug. That is, until the crash came from the dining room.
“James Charlus Potter! You better go fix this mess right now!”
“Right, definitely, I’ll get straight on to it!” James was obviously flustered, but when he reached his son’s mess, he couldn’t help but grin.
“Lily, sweetheart, come see this.”
“James, bloody- if thats not fixed-“ She appeared in the doorway and stopped speaking when she saw the broken mess.
“Don’t want to fix it now, do you?” James grinned.
“Well… But, we probably should. Petunia gave it to us for Christmas.” Lily seemed doubtful.
“But, Lils,” James whined, “It’s so ugly… We could just leave it and say that we couldn’t fix it...” Lily couldn’t help smile at the childish nature of her husband.
“James, Petunia knows about magic!”
“But she doesn’t know about Reparo, now does she?” James lifted an eyebrow as Lily smiled. She leaned in for a kiss and James accepted, as Remus and Peter walked in.
“No PDA please.” Remus walked in smirking. Lily drew away blushing as James walked over to his mate and clapped him on the back.
“Remus! Peter!” He addressed the short blonde fondly.
“What are you two doing here?” James asked.
“Lovely to see you too, mate. In answer to your question, we wanted to visit Lily and Harry. Anyway, aren’t you meant to be at work?” James grinned, briefly wondering why Peter looked so nervous.
“Yeah, but they owled and told me that they were going to call in a senior. Apparently there’s a new intern or something that needs to be trained…” James trailed off.
“Ah, now, doesn’t this feel weird? Padfoot’s not here to tease us.” Remus chuckled.
“Why isn’t Pads here?” Peter asked. He hadn’t been around for a while so he didn’t know.
“Oh, Wormy, I can’t believe you don’t know! He’s proposing to Mars!” Lily joyfully exclaimed. Ever since she had convinced them to go out in their sixth year- she had been rooting for their marriage. And finally Sirius was proposing.
“I hope everything goes well for them.” Remus spoke, a soft smile on his lips. It made him wonder whether he could ever find anyone. But, his furry problem came to mind, and he dismissed the idea of a soul mate. James’ loud laugh brought him out of his daze. James opened his mouth to speak, before shooting a knowing gaze at his werewolf friend. Once again, Remus pondered how his friends knew him so well.
“What could go wrong? Mars is head over heels for Sirius!” James exclaimed, pulling up a chair from the dining table and collapsing on it. But he soon stood up as a loud crack pierced the room. Sirius appeared a steely look in his eyes.
“Marlene. Her family. They’ve been attacked! I-I went to the Auror office, but you-you- weren’t there.” The whole room’s cheery atmosphere vanished at Sirius’ announcement, his voice panting. James chair went toppling as he got up, his wand already out.
“Let’s go.” James went to apparate, and Lily grabbed on to his arm. Both leaving with a loud crack.
“Peter, look after Harry.” Remus ordered, spinning on the spot and leaving, Sirius soon followed.
As soon as Marlene entered her family home, she skidded to a stop. She felt sick.
“No.” That’s all she could bring herself to say. Her parents’ bodies were on the ground of their living room, so silent, so still. She’d never seen them this quiet. Her gaze soon found her sister, her beautiful Natalia, collapsed in a heap beside the fireplace. Her body didn’t have any visible cuts or blood, but many bruises; she had been handled roughly. And she was still alive.
“No!” Marlene found her voice and launched herself across the room, tenderly picking up her sisters body and cradling it. She was wrong, there was blood, at the back of her head- her beautiful blonde hair stained red, the same red that covered the walls and carpet where Natalia previously laid. Natasha’s breaths came out short and shallow. Marlene tilted Natalia's head until her eyes found her sisters.
“Mars, it hurts.” He sister whispered, her voice coming out weakly. Marlene’s eyes released her tears, the salt water landing on Natalia’s face in small puddles.
“Sh, it’s okay, sweetie. I’m here, Tahlia. Everything’s going to be fine.” Marlene whispered back, her own voice groggy due to the fresh tears streaming down her face.
“How sweet.” A cold voice pierced the tender atmosphere. Marlene’s neck snapped to the two hooded figures in the corner. Their mouths twisted up into cruel smirks.
“Avada Kedavra!” The second voice yelled and Marlene closed her eyes, expecting it to be the last thing she did, but, it wasn’t. She felt the small figure in her arms go weak. She opened her eyes, which immediately met those of Natalia . They had killed her sister. Poor, innocent Natalia.
“Tahlia! Lia, sweetie, please look at me! Natalia!” Marlene’s own body collapsed, covering that of her sister. Sobs raking through her whole body. She then abruptly stopped and stood up. Running over to the man who shot the curse, she grabbed his collar and shook him.
“How could you? How could you, you bastard? What did she ever do to you? She was only a squib! She didn’t know much about this!”
“Squibs, love, contaminate our magical society. We don’t need them.” The word choice of ’love', and the glinting ring on her hand reminded her of Sirius. She wished he would never come- she didn’t know what they’d do to him if he did.
“Stop the small talk, Travers.” The other man commanded in a gruff voice. Travers, a man wanted for questioning due to suspicion of involvement in Death Eater activities. She remembered it from one of Sirius’ long rants on the wizarding world being infiltrated with You-Know-Who’s followers. Oh Sirius, how she’d miss him if she were to die here. To Marlene, none of this had sunk in, it was just another nightmare. The only sentence going through her mind was, ‘My family’s dead.’ Yet, she didn’t know what to do. All she could do was accept her own death too.
“Okay, okay, Now, we need you, Marlene. Join us, join the Dark Lord’s followers. It’s very rewarding.” Travers had an ugly smirk plastered on his face. That combined with the stench of blood that hung in the air, made Marlene want to gag.
“I’d rather die.” She said, the tears still running over her cheeks.
“Then be it so!” The other man aimed his wand at Marlene. Travers put his hand over it, directing the aim away from her.
“Think about it carefully. You would be of great use to us. You’re part of Dumbledore’s group, what do they call it... yes, the Order of the Phoenix. And, a plus point, you’ll live, too!” Travers again flashed a grin, still as twisted as the previous smirk. In her mind, Marlene could still see her parents' bodies, sprawled over the ground, as if they were useless. She could still see Natalia’s expression of hope and helplessness slipping into the empty void that was death. Death. Her sister, her whole family was dead! It couldn’t be.
“Like I said before, I’d rather die.” Marlene’s voice was tough, her gaze steely, but tears still leaked down her cheeks, thinking of her sister and her parents. They’d killed her family. Her heart ached, she’d never understood what people meant by that before, but she did then.
“Be it then.” Travers raised his wand and pointed it at her. “Shame really. Come on, one last chance, love.” His twisted smirk taunted her.
“Go to hell.” She wouldn’t go down without a fight. Her wand had fallen out of her pocket, and now was beside Tahlia’s body. So she attacked him with her hands. Marlene only got one punch to his face before he uttered the deadly words. The last thing that caught her eye was the shine of the ring on her left hand finger.
“Avada Kedavra.” Marlene refused to show any fear, but a shriek escaped her mouth, just as she saw a green light escape from Travers’ wand. The last thought that went through her mind was, ‘I’ll never be Marlene Black.’
A shriek pierced Sirius’ ears as he landed in the frigid atmosphere of the McKinnon front yard. This was still soon followed by a thud. His knees buckled immediately. That was Marlene’s voice, he knew it was.
“No. Please, no.” His voice was barely a whisper, but escalated into a yell for the last word. But he had to be sure. He picked himself up and trudged through the front door. Lily’s hands were clasped over her mouth and tears covered her cheeks. James was holding her up, looking scared. Remus looked sick.
The scene that assaulted Sirius and the others’ eyes was not forgiving in any way. They bodies of Marlene’s parents were sprawled across the floor. Marlene’s sisters was in a pile in the corner, Sirius felt nauseous, it wasn’t natural for a body to be in a pile. His eyes soon found Marlene’s gaze. It wasn’t there, her gaze wasn’t there, she wasn’t looking at anything, her eyes were unfocused, dead. Sirius’ knees buckled again. He fell to the ground as sobs went through his body.
James immediately left Lily and went to Marlene’s body, kneeling besides her. His wife soon followed. Remus stood by the door, he didn’t want to take a single step in. ‘No,’ he thought, ‘not now, not to Pads. Not Marlene! No.’ An eerie silence filled the room. Sirius sobs were the only sound that could be heard. His whole body was shaking. Lily could no longer look at her best friend’s dead eyes, she moved over to Sirius and collapsed on to her knees, beside him.
Sirius looked up and crawled to her body. He picked her up and held her in his lap. Her shirt was stained with blood, he knew it was her sisters. He buried his head in her hair. Vanilla. His tears came quickly and silently, soon her hair was wet. How could someone who had been so alive just fifteen minutes ago, be so…dead. A new wave of tears came at the word, ‘dead’.
Lily re-joined James and Sirius at her best friend’s body. Her shaking hands reached out and closed Marlene’s eyes. Sirius’ tears fell at a faster rate. James’ own tears fell onto his cheeks. Remus stayed at the door, also crying. Sirius didn’t see any of this, all he saw was his fiancé’s body. He picked up her left hand and kissed her ring finger and the gleaming ring on it. She would never be his. She would never put ‘Mrs’ before her name.
She would never be Marlene Black.
A/N: Hey Guys! So, really really different from what I usually write. So, this was written for a challenge where the host picked out something that you've never written before- so I got Horror/Dark. I hope I pulled it off well :) I hate sad endings, so I feel a bit hypocritical with story, but, whatever- it was fun to try something new.
So, the usual. Comments and Constructive Criticism is always appreciated, even if its only one line! :D
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