AN: I logged on to tumblr today and i found out Blackinnon week 2021 had started this week. So here i am, a little late but i got here before it ends :D
Day 4: Last picture
Two figures materialize at the southern end of Diagon Alley, in front of a trinket shop that neither of them has ever bothered to enter. They do not attract anyone's attention, it is usual for wizards in a hurry who want to avoid going through Muggle London to appear in that place, one of the less crowded in the area.
The shorter figure walks to the large window of the shop. She looks at herself in the glass, the tousled brown fringe and wrinkled nose in disapproving expression. She tries to comb her hair as she turns to her companion.
"Are you serious? Did you drag me from the door of Caradoc's house to come to Diagon Alley?"
The boy, a head taller than her, stands next to her and runs his hand through his hair looking at his reflection in the same glass.
"Of course I am" He smiles cheekily. "It was a routine meeting, Marlene. Reports on the last missions, in which we participated. Nothing we don't already know"
He turns to look at her and winks.
"Besides, there is something more important that I have to do today"
She doesn't remember, but few days ago, she gave him the perfect idea for Harry's birthday present. He had been searching for an ideal gift for three months, until she told him about the launch of a new line of children's brooms.
A toy flying broom fits the profile of what Sirius was looking for: something fun and rebellious that allows him to get on Lily's nerves. That is the reason that has led them to Quality Quidditch Supplies. That day is the launch of the new Shooting Star 3000 toy broom and Sirius is willing to get one before they are sold out, he will spare no expense.
Sirius offers his arm, in a formal gesture he only does when he's in good mood and flirty. He smiles seductive. Marlene rolls her eyes, but accepts the gesture and puts her arm around him. The corners of her lips betray her and curl upward. They start their way to the store. As they get closer, the number of people in the alley multiplies to become a large crowd at the doors of the premises.
"It will take hours for the queue to advance," the girl complains as she receives shoves and tries to find a clerk in the crowd, "that if the brooms don't run out first.
Sirius finds a shortcut.
A boy his own age in a blue robe with red edges approaches obediently.
"How long is the waiting list for the Shooting Star 3000?"
"Well ... they'll probably be sold out before half the people here can be served."
Then Sirius does something that surprises Marlene and the store clerk: he puts one arm around the girl's shoulders and places his other hand on her belly. She fixes her expression immediately, understanding Sirius's plan.
"The child will be born in five months." He reads the name written in the pin of the boy's tunic. "I'm sure you could do an excited couple of future parents a great favor, Marius."
Marius stares at Marlene's flat stomach in disbelief, then moves on to her hair, Stevie Nicks styled, which gives her a bohemian look. She smiles at him sweetly. The boy then notices Sirius's shirt that says "The Who", with an arrow sticking out of the 'o'. They definitely don't fall into the stereotype of responsible future parents. It was probably an oversight by the young couple, but neither seems displeased with the idea.
To finish convincing him, Sirius takes out a generous amount of money and shows it to him. That ends up dispelling his doubts.
Moments later, Sirius Black walks out of the store with an elongated package and a childish smile. Marlene comes out laughing next to him. They have gotten away with it.
"Do you know what else you should do?"
When he turns his head toward her with interest, she continues.
"Instead of giving him the broom wrapped in that bland brown paper, you could wrap it like Muggles do, with what they call wrapping paper."
Sirius takes the advice, leaves the toy broom at The Leaky Cauldron and they head out the front door onto Charing Cross Street. Sirius has visited the Muggle world several times, but to attend concerts or visit music stores and bars. He has rarely been to large shopping malls or gift shops. He definitely has no idea where he can get the paper that Marlene mentioned. He is guided by her to a large building through which people enter and leave all the time.
"I once came with Lily and Mary to find a gift for James." She explains as they walk through the large doors of the mall.
They don't take long to get to the place they are looking for; but they do take a long time to wait for Sirius to choose the layout of the paper. Marlene, tired and bored, goes out window shopping while Sirius finishes making up his mind. As she turns to retrace her steps, she spots a photo booth out of the corner of her eye. A beaming smile spreads across her face as she quickens her pace to return to Black.
"You just stepped on me!"
"If you would just stop moving around so much, I might be able to accommodate myself fine."
Finally, they stop being a jumble of legs and arms, and manage to sit in front of the camera.
"When the count hits zero, they'll take four pictures of us, okay?"
Sirius nods inattentive, he's more interested in understanding how the machine will take four photos of them and deliver them to him as soon as they come out without using magic.
"The muggles' ingenuity never ceases to amaze me." he says, his brow still furrowed when the first flash blinds him.
Marlene laughs with amusement.
"Relax your expression and smile for the next one. Remember that these photos have no movement."
Then, he shows that smile with which he used to melt hearts at Hogwarts. The flash illuminates them again. She turns to look at him and adjusts a rebellious lock that fell over his left eye. Sirius looks her square in the eye and smiles at her, mischievous and genuine. Both are lost in the gaze of the other and everything else disappears. The cabin lights up with the last flash.
The session is over.
When they go out, Sirius expects the photos to appear in his hands, as they would if it were a magical photo booth. Marlene scoffs at his ignorance once more and sticks her hand in the groove. She hands the boy two strips with four photos each.
He examines them, detailing box by box. He smiles at his own confused expression on the first and Marlene teasing on the next. His face turns serious with the last one, a photo that portrays the complicity and intimacy between them both. A photo that could turn against them if it falls into the wrong hands.
"Take them yourself."
Marlene looks at him confused. He explains, all trace of joy has disappeared from his face.
"There is… I think there is a traitor in the Order. If someone sees me with these photos... no one can know about us."
She nods and receives them. She caresses his cheek lovingly, understanding how worried he is.
"They'll be under the loose tile on the ceiling of my room, okay?"
He nods. He knows which tile she means; they've kept things there before.
Thirteen years later, a large black dog enters the McKinnons' abandoned house. Inside, safe from prying eyes, he transforms into a slim man with a dirty and unkempt appearance.
Sirius has returned to London as soon as he learned that Harry's scar had hurt again. He takes advantage of his return to recover memories buried under the tile of the last room to the right of the second floor, Marlene McKinnon's room.
He holds his breath as he searches for the tile. Contrary to what he expects, the tile is still there. Still after more than a decade.
Its precious content had also survived time.