It's on a dig in France where Marion learns to drink. Not only to sip wine or cordials, but to pound back the good stuff -- or the stuff that passes for almost lethal. She's thirteen years old and this is a concerted effort on her part. She needs to learn this as much, if not more, than she needs to learn her Latin or maths.
This is part of survival. She's old enough now to recognize how the workmen on Abner's sites act, how they look at women, and how very dangerous it is to be a woman in this world -- her world, their world, any world. And she will not be a victim.
She might be Abner Ravenwood's little girl, but Marion grew up a long time ago...or started the process anyway. There has not been etiquette, piano, nor singing lessons since her mother died and left her all alone. She still remembers how to curtsy, vaguely, but a kick to the shin and a right hook are more her style now. If only mother could see her --
-- she'd be proud, Marion thinks, knocking back a shot full of something foul and burning as the men around her laugh, the barmaids smiling, chagrined and ever-watchful over the little girl in their midst.
He's older than most of her dad's assistants, that's what Marion first notices when she opens the door to the library to meet the new kid -- older and slumped, tired and worn out, but boyish at the same time.
Abner's talking to him, a mile a minute, hands flying and the kid's nodding, paying attention but not quite. Marion kind of likes that, really. She stopped paying full attention to her dad years back, tired of treasure hunts and being dragged off every summer -- though for any excuse to escape the Chicago summer, she'd be almost grateful, almost -- to some exotic locale.
Exotic her eye.
She's been dragged hither and yon her entire life, and this kid -- because despite the rumpled suit and a hat that has seen better days, he's only a few years older -- is asking for it. Poor dumb bastard has no idea what he's getting into.
But when Marion drops her books loudly on the table -- Abner Ravenwood's little girl always knows how to make an entrance -- the kid looks her way and smiles. Full out grins, with a quirk of mouth and knowing eyes and instantly Marion knows that maybe the Ravenwood's are getting more than they bargained for.
It has become her job to turn down the house at the end of the day, to secure it against the night. That's how Marion knows he falls asleep before the fire in the front room most nights.
She likes watching him like this, with his shoulders slumped, head nestled into the corner of one of Abner's ancient wing chairs. Legs splayed in unconscious relaxation, and a book and a hand over his heart.
Indy hasn't been courting her, and she hasn't been batting her eyelashes at him. He is in no way her beau, and if he had intentions -- for as much as Abner loves Henry Jones Jr. like a son -- he'd be banished from their house before any of them could blink. And Indy loves his books, loves his knowledge and gateway to adventure too much to risk it all on her.
And Marion is certain that day will come to pass. It's inevitable, whether Indy knows it or not. But she does.
So, she doesn't take anything for granted. Not the discussions and bickering around the dinner table, because Indy's like the stray dog he's named after and Abner has a soft spot for foundlings. Not when Indy stops to listen to Marion's thoughts, her insights, while her father rambles on. And not when he looks at her like she's not some sixteen year old kid, and smiles, and it's all warm and heady and perfect, and then they remember who they are and where they are, and the dream comes tumbling down.
But this is their time, unguarded and sleep soft. This is the time Marion feels so confident and bold, at least enough to lift Indy's hand, and set the book on the side table. It's the only time she will feel daring enough to slide into his lap, replacing that arm and hand around her waist.
It is the time that Indy will wake up, not screaming from a nightmare, but laughing softly. And they will stay like this for hours, talking quietly and laughing, or kissing deeply, hands caressing, or heatedly as when Indy's hand sneaks under Marion's gown to travel the length of her leg. Those are the times when Marion extends her hand and waits for him to follow, but he never does.
"Are you scared, Jones?"
"No," he grits out, as if the worlds hurt to say. "But you should be."
"I'm not scared of anything."
"I know. I guess I have to be cautious enough for both of us."
So it ends in a stalemate, every night. His resistance never wavers, and neither does her determination.
Seasons pass, and despite her better judgment, Marion falls in love with him. With Henry Jones Jr., nicknamed after a dog, with floppy hair and ill fitting clothes, and the most brilliant student her father has ever taught. She's in love with him, a mere child to all that he's seen in his young life, but the strange thing is that Marion thinks he loves her back.
For once in her life, Marion's not fighting. She's not the little girl, or the kid with the crush, she's a woman in love, and she's happy dammit. Marion thinks she finally understands all those tablets, scrolls, and statues she saw growing up, because this, yes, must be what love looks like.
And, she thinks, wickedly, the stalemate broke in her favor.
It's a kiss, simple and chaste in the botanical gardens at the University, and Marion has to hold her hat on and stand on her toes and it's utterly forgettable, except that that it's not.
She'll never forget Abner's face as long as she lives, the disappointment and betrayal and sadness.
Marion tries to borrow into Indy, have his arms hold her tight.
All she can feel is his arms letting go.
Wind and steam in the station are already turning like a whirlwind, and Marion once again has to hold on to her hat to keep it from falling off, and she idly wonders if she'll be repeating this gesture her whole life.
And then she sees it, Indy's battered fedora and the familiar slump of his shoulders, the world weariness of someone twice his age on his frame.
"Jones!" she yells, waving her free hand with glove and bag in the air to catch his attention. "Jones!", Marion yells again, this time jumping up and down. She knows he heard her this time, and expects him to turn around laughing at her. Marion has her scowl set in place, ready for it, but when Indy does turn around; face grim and determined, the air is pushed out of her lungs.
"Marion, you shouldn't be here."
"I've got an offer, Marion. To teach, and enough time off to do what I'd like."
Marion snorts and rolls her eyes. "Oh, yeah? I know exactly what that is. I'm not some innocent, Jones, and certainly not the first girl you've taken around the block."
"No, you aren't. And you won't be the last, Marion. But you deserve better."
"Don't you dare tell me what I deserve!" They are starting to gather a crowd in the busy station, but Marion doesn't care. Judging from Indy's face, he doesn't either. "I love you, you ass!"
And though the train whistle blows then, it looks as though Jones says he loves her too, but by the time the whistle stops, he is already walking to his train, head down and hand firmly on his hat.
"Marion, I need to go."
"You said you loved me, right there, you said it. I couldn't hear it, but I know you, Jones."
"Maybe not as well as you think."
And in a flash of anger, Marion lashes out and does the first thing she thinks of and kicks Indy's shin with the point of her shoe. Hard.
"Ow, dammit!" he growls, rubbing a hand against his shin. "Didn't anyone ever teach to fight like a girl?"
"Sorry, Jones. It's just the girl you fell for!" With that, Marion turns away until the train starts to pull out of the station.
Only then does she turn around, hoping to say a last goodbye to the iron hulk of an eastbound train. But Indy is waiting for her, leaning out of the train's window with a sad look on his face.
Marion does not cry. She does not wail, or rail, or carry on in any way. She checks the toe of her shoe for damage and decides she needs a drink. Some sort of rotgut she can't pronounce.
Marion Ravenwood had the chance to be a proper young lady -- bright, pretty, and witty. She could have had a top rated education, traveled the world, and could've had any man she desired.
Instead, she forgoes a university education after two years, believing that any degree would pale in comparison to what she has learned hanging around Abner all these years. She travels from city to city, country to country, seeing the world just enough to learn, but never enough to become attached.
It takes years of saving, of swindling, of bets in bars that would scare Marion if she was sober, but one day, she finally has enough to buy a small bar in Nepal. It's not much, but it's hers, and the locals don't give her any trouble. She could ask for more, but why would she want to?
And then one night he walks back into her bar. Marion's eyesight and balance might be off, but the sight of Jones at her threshold proves to a sobering effect.
Inevitable, that's them.