Crashing Down

by Lara Wilson

Sitting at her dressing table, Lilith carefully applied concealer to the dark smudges beneath her eyes. Eight months pregnant, she wasn't sleeping well--and the growing nightmares as the war deepened weren't helping--and the baby was still riding high and making every movement uncomfortable. Severus knew she was tired but he didn't need to see it on her face as a constant reminder.

Make-up finished, she picked up her brush and pulled it through her hair, frowning at the brittleness of her formally soft blonde curls. Twisting the locks into a knot she pinned it tightly to her scalp and frowned deeper at her reflection.

Two hands landing softly on her shoulders startled her out of her contemplation and she glanced up at her husband.

He leaned down and murmured, "You look tired, love. You don't need to go tonight."

Yes, she did, and she patted one of his hands in response, then rose awkwardly to her feet. He let her pass him to reach the dress hanging from the front of the wardrobe, and she felt his eyes on her as she slipped from her robe and pulled the pale green velvet dress over her head.

She hated green, but the white gowns she usually wore to Court were beginning to irritate the Dark Lord as reminders of her place in the light, so she'd only sighed when Severus had suggested green, and whipped up three gowns in different shades and materials. This one had an empire waist, low round bodice and long sleeves coming to points over the backs of her hands. It did little to disguise her pregnancy, but then nothing did at this point.

Sometimes that put the Dark Lord in a good mood--a future Death Eater--and sometimes not as it reminded him again of her betrayals and that the child could take after her.

Lilith walked a finer and finer line at Court, but, despite Severus' suggestion, there was no choice but to attend. As she slipped her feet into black patent leather flats she glanced at her husband, noting how impeccable he looked, as always, in his black wool and silk. The only color outside of his pale skin was an emerald and gold snake tie tack--a reward from the Dark Lord for killing a second level ministerial assistant in Magical Artifacts.

He'd had no choice. The woman had come upon him and two other Death Eaters by accident and Severus had the only and obvious open shot.

As she gazed at the reward for murder, Lilith sadly wondered if Severus would ever talk to her about it.

If he'd ever break down.

A part of her prayed her wouldn't, because she was afraid if he did, he wouldn't stop.

As their days grew darker, the stain on his soul was growing and she was helpless to prevent it.

The baby kicked suddenly and she let out a whoof of air. Severus was immediately at her side, wrapping his arm around her thick waist, concern on his face. Lilith forced a smile to her face.

"I'm fine. She's fine. Let's go so we can come home sooner. If I have to spill some beans, the sooner, the better."

A tightening of his lips was the only sign of his displeasure at that thought as he led her out of their bedroom.

*****

As soon as they appeared at Court, Lilith forced the blank look of someone on Obfuscare onto her face and wrapped her fingers into the arm of Severus' coat. Walking at his side, she kept her eyes forward and as empty as she could manage, but she did notice several of the Inner Circle. As they passed Lucius, he gave her such a look of hatred she nearly glanced back at him, but she knew he was really hating her sister, not her.

Inwardly she smiled at the thought of Narcissa and how close they had grown over the last two months.

And how happy she was with Remus.

Now, there was a pairing no one, not even the greatest seer, could have foreseen.

Severus stopped them in front of a group of his former students and as he talked to them Lilith listened with only half an ear, thinking of Draco and how he'd have been in this group if he'd not taken that bold step to free himself.

Maybe, subconsciously, she'd influenced a few members of her family more than she'd realized.

As they turned, they came face to face with her father, and Lilith knew this was one family member who would always be evil. At the dark look of distaste on his face, she nearly shivered and forced herself to remain still.

"Good evening, Severus."

"Cedric."

"Lilith, you look well. Green is definitely your color."

She resisted the goading jab and ignored the smirk.

"I hope you have something important to share with our Lord tonight." Her father benefitted as well as Severus from her revelations. "Do you?"

As it was a direct question, she could answer, although she kept her voice empty of emotion. "Yes, father."

Cedric Frost grunted and turned away from his daughter to discuss a business deal with Severus. Lilith tuned him out and went over again in her mind what she would reveal.

She hated having to give away any of the Order's plans, but if she didn't, the consequences to both her and Severus would be catastrophic. Voldemort's threats to her hung over their heads and she couldn't do anything wrong, especially not now, only a month from when the baby was due.

A shiver went through her and Lilith caught herself from turning.

"My Lord," Severus said smoothly.

"My Lord," her father stammered, bowing obsequiously low.

With a guiding hand, her husband turned her to face the enemy.

"Severus, may I have your lovely wife...in a dance?" There was just enough of a pause to send another shiver of horror through her, and she struggled to keep all emotions off her face.

"Of course."

Severus hated it--she could tell, even if no one else in the room ever would--but he transferred her hand from his sleeve to Voldemort's. As he led her onto the quickly clearing dance floor, the softly playing music rose in volume into a waltz. Taking her hand and her waist he gently spun her towards him.

"Look at me."

Trapped, she obeyed that hissing voice, her eyes meeting his malevolent ones.

And they started to dance.

"Tell me what you see when you look at me."

The truth, oh gods she had to tell him the truth on Obfuscare, but if she did, would he strike her down? "A monster."

A slow, almost pleased smile crossed his flat face. "A monster. Yes, I am that." His hand tightened at her waist, his fingers splayed across the space her child slept. "And what do you see when you look in a mirror, Lilith Snape?"

"A prisoner."

He laughed at that response, a dark sound that made her want to tear away from him and curl into a ball, but she held her ground, letting him guide the dance. "You amuse me tonight, Lilith. Your sister used to amuse me for quite different reasons. She hated me so very much but obeyed my every command. Will you?"

Oh...no...he couldn't...no. Feeling the panic welling inside her, she fought it down, fought for the emptiness. Her mouth went dry and she licked her lips before finally forcing out, "If you wish." Not, if her husband wished. Never, if she wished.

Voldemort's fingers moved over her distended stomach and a wave of revulsion crashed over her. "Not yet, of course. I wouldn't wish to harm this darling creature. But, soon." He leaned in and whispered, "You will serve me as Narcissa did, my dear, but you will be willing. What else could you be?"

Lilith couldn't help it, she couldn't take it, not the thought, not the fear.

She jerked back from him.

With a harsh crow of triumph, Voldemort grabbed her chin with one hand, and snaked the other around her back, dragging her stumbling against him. His eyes burned into hers and a sneer formed around the hole that was his mouth. Around them the music stopped and voices raised, and Lilith could hear one louder than the rest, but couldn't make out the words being said.

All she could really hear was the thundering of her heart.

"I knew it." His fingers tightened, digging into the soft flesh of her cheeks, and Lilith flinched back from him as best she could, pinned so tightly to him. "Welcome to my world, Lilith Frost, my beautiful liar."

"My Lord," Severus said evenly from a few feet behind her. "Did she say something to displease you?"

"Oh no, Severus, she said nothing at all. Her reactions, however..."

His cruel hand left her face and, out of the corner of her eye, she saw him raise his wand. Panicking, she reached for his arm to stop him, only to find herself pushed aside as he murmured the curse.

The cry torn from Severus' lips as the cruciato curse hit him was echoed by one of her own as she fell heavily to the floor, instinctively catching herself on her hands before she landed on her stomach. Lifting her head, whole body shaking as terror screamed through her--how long had he known?--she saw Severus on his knees, back arched, teeth digging so deeply into his lip blood leaked down his chin. His hands clenched, his body shuddered, and then the curse cut off and he collapsed, panting.

Trying to drag herself to her feet, her only thought to stop this, Lilith saw Voldemort reach down, entwine his fingers in Severus' hair, and yank up his head.

"I should kill you."

"My child, my Lord, I couldn't risk it." Severus voice was filled with pain but amazingly strong, his determination to protect her and their baby leaking through every word.

"Has she lied to me, Snape? Have all her visions been lies?"

"No."

Bending lower, he harshly hissed, "How?"

"Imperius."

"Show me." Releasing Severus, he stepped back and gestured for the man to rise. He did so, struggling against the pain still lashing through him.

Lilith looked up, then reached up for him.

He didn't take her hand.

"Get up, Lilith."

The coldness in his voice nearly choked the breath in her throat, more so than the panic still racing through her. Eyes widening as the truth hit her, she struggled to her feet.

The imperius curse could be a thing of the moment--placed on a person to make them do a certain thing, then released--or, held by a strong enough wizard, for as long as both parties lived. If Severus really had her under it, she'd obey any order he gave her with the thought of the curse behind it.

And, in front of Voldemort, he couldn't put it on her for real. Whatever he ordered her to do, she'd have to do without thinking.

As she reached her feet, the baby kicked and tumbled and her stomach roiled with nausea, but she fought it, trying to help save them all as best she could. Silently, breathing so shallowly she felt light-headed, she waited.

"Kiss me."

Instantly she moved to him, lifting to her toes and pressing her lips to his in a hungry kiss. Her hand cupped his cheek, the chill of his skin in his fear sending a fresh wave of terror through her, but she didn't break the kiss.

Severus did, stepping back and letting her hand fall from him. She met his eyes, trying to portray in her own how sorry she was for failing him, and nearly cried when he looked away from her. "Kiss him."

He was looking at Voldemort.

No.

Even as she thought the denial her feet were moving her the few steps to the Dark Lord who waited, a calculating look in his eyes, his wand loose in his hand. Forcing her emotions, her panic under control, Lilith stopped in front of him, placed one hand on his chest and kissed him.

He tasted like...death.

Revulsion turned her stomach but still she kissed him, managing not to flinch when his snake- like tongue wrapped around hers, dragging it into his mouth. The kiss seemed to last forever and she made it as good as she possibly could, knowing too many lives depended on it. Her knees grew weak and she gasped for breath, but she didn't stop.

"Lilith, stop," Severus said softly from behind her, and she did, stepping back, panting for air, every muscle in her body tense, every bone aching, a throb of pain forming in her temples.

The vision hit like a lightning bolt and she curled in on herself, her voice screaming in her head. Arms wrapped protectively around her child, she shook her head in denial as the images flashed behind her eyes.

Severus' arms came around her, stopping her from falling, and his voice was cold and hard in her ear. "What did you see?"

"Myself...in his bed..." Her voice was broken, her throat painfully constricted, and her eyes flooding with helpless tears.

Voldemort smiled. "And it will be so, one month from the day you give birth, or your deaths-- all three of them--will be spectacular." He cocked his head and narrowed his eyes as his smile turned to a sneer. "Yes, Severus?"

"As you will, my Lord." The chill in his empty voice sent shivers through her and her stomach painfully clenched.

"Always." The Dark Lord waved a dismissing hand at them. "Get out of my sight. You are not yet forgiven for your treachery. Pray her performance tempers my anger."

Severus bowed and turned them, his arm going around her waist, guiding her towards the exit. Sagging against him, trying to stop crying, Lilith saw a wide path form through the crowd--no one wanted to be tainted by the disgraced couple--and turned her face into her husband's shoulder.

*****

She didn't know how she got home, only felt a constant chill as if she was turning to ice. Awareness returned to find her standing in the middle of her sitting room, Severus' hands sliding off her. Shocked and hurt and so terribly frightened, she silently watched him turn from her and shrug out of his coat. For the first time, the unrelenting black of his outfit reminded her of what he was, by circumstances, forced to be.

"Sev?" she whispered, begging him to look at her.

He didn't turn back, simply walked to the sideboard and poured himself a large measure of whisky.

Tears stung Lilith's eyes again and she slumped down onto her favorite chair, her hands tight against her stomach as if to hold in all the pain and fear as well as protect the baby. "I'm sorry."

"It was too much to expect of you," was his cool response, as he continued to face away from her and sip from his glass.

"Please don't be angry with me."

"I'm not angry with you." But his voice was so bleak she didn't believe him, and bowed her head as the tears resumed.

Several minutes passed before she found the courage to ask, "What are we going to do?"

And another passed before he answered, "If we haven't won the war one month from the day our child is born, to save us all, you're going to give yourself body and soul to the Dark Lord," and the answer shattered her.

Sobbing, blinded by burning tears, Lilith pushed her way to her feet and fled.

*****

Hours later she lay wide awake and curled around her child, her mind dulled by fear, her eyes sore from crying. The nausea had gotten the better of her and she felt drained and sore and lost.

And he hadn't come to her.

Not even when she'd been sick.

As she lay in her lonely bed, her mind fluttering from thought to thought, Lilith began to realize that despite her absolute terror at the idea of sex with Voldemort, even worse was the fear she was losing Severus.

That...couldn't happen.

Ignoring the twinges in her stomach, she pushed herself out of bed and wrapped her robe around herself, before leaving the bedroom.

She found her husband in the sitting room, staring into the fire--the only source of light in the room. An empty glass dangled loosely from one hand. His other hand was clenched around the arm of the chair. Quietly Lilith approached him and, when he didn't look up at her, she placed one trembling hand on his shoulder.

"Please..."

"Go to sleep, Lilith," he said softly, his voice betraying no emotion.

"Don't do this, Severus, please. I need you." She wasn't above begging. She was scared and she was sick and she wanted so badly for him to hold her. When he didn't respond, she awkwardly dropped to her knees and wrapped her fingers around his forearm. "I'm sorry, so sorry. I tried, I..."

"Get off your knees."

The harsh, guttural tone of his voice shocked her and she released him but didn't rise. Slowly he turned blazing eyes on her and her own widened. "Do you know who you sound like? Look like?" Now his voice had that deadly, silky quality that scared her so much more than anger. "Begging on your knees for forgiveness. Have you sunk that low, Lilith?" In a sharp, violent move, he flung the glass into the wall where it shattered, then grabbed her chin and dragged her forward as he lowered his head towards her. "Have you become weak like your sister?" A sneer formed on his lips as he added one final slur, "You've certainly become his whore just like her."

Fury slammed into her, dispelling the fear and sorrow, and she grabbed his wrist, yanking his hand away from her. "You son of a bitch!" Too ungainly to stand easily, she pushed back from him, reaching for the other chair to lever herself to her feet. By the time she did so, panting with anger and exertion, Severus was again staring into the flames, one finger lightly tapping on his chin. "I begged you to quit spying. I begged you to come to us fully. I warned you I wouldn't be able to keep this up. I'm not you. I don't wear treachery like a second skin." Hot tears stung her eyes and she brushed them away with an angry swipe of her hand. "Look at me!"

He didn't, but his soft voice carried over her heavy breathing. "It was my decision to take you off Obfuscare. I knew the risks. I will take the blame for this, but I can't look at you, Lilith. Not now." His tapping finger stilled. "You don't want to be anywhere near me right now."

"And if I won't leave, Severus? Will you do what my brother-in-law would do to his wife? My father to my mother? Will you hit me?" The pain was returning to mingle with the anger and the baby turned heavily in her stomach making her gasp.

"...I don't know."

It was an honest answer that made her heart pound in her ears. She'd never...been afraid of him. But, she had to keep trying to bring him back. "There's a way out of this," she began quietly. "We leave here. We go to the Order and we barricade ourselves behind the wards of Grimmauld Place."

"You know if we do that, the war is surely lost."

Lilith knew he wasn't speaking boastfully. Without his place at the Dark Court...

And she knew she couldn't ask him to let her go.

That left one option.

It took her several minutes to voice it.

"When he's...when he's done with me, will you want me back?" she whispered, her voice so small and empty.

And, again, his answer was, "...I don't know."

A heart-broken sob escaped from Lilith and she dropped into the chair like a stone, curling into as tight a ball as she could, her chin tucked against her chest, her hair shrouding her face. Images played through her mind, horrible, terrifying images. They had been shared unwittingly with her months before, her sister's memories of her pain and suffering at Voldemort's hands. He'd been a monster, then.

And he was even more monster than man, now.

How could she survive that?

A shudder went through her and if there'd been anything left in her stomach, it would have come up as her stomach sank and her baby kicked. Exhausted, she closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around herself, turning away from her husband as best she could.

There was a long silence, broken only by her hitching breath and the crackling of the flames, until finally Severus spoke again, his voice soft but still empty of emotion, "Go to bed, Lilith, before you make yourself sick again."

"No." Her throat hurt, closed tightly around her voice, but she forced out the denial. "I won't go to bed with this between us." Slowly she looked back at him, saw him tighten his grip on the arms of the chair.

Severus didn't respond for several minutes and, when he did he ground out, "There should never have been anything between us."

Her heart hurt, but she reigned in her temper. "So you wouldn't have to care?"

"I told you once that what I don't share my possessions." His eyes snapped to her, blazing in the dim light. "I don't know if I can with...him."

"So, it's not really me that matters, it's the fact that he wants what you see as yours." Their eyes met and held, both so incredibly bleak, until Lilith couldn't bear it anymore and dropped hers to the mound of their child. "I wish you'd left me on Obfuscare," she murmured sadly.

Anger entered his voice. "You'd wish certain deformity on our child?"

And Lilith retaliated with her own anger. "I wish it wasn't your child."

Severus paled, his eyes going even darker, and then he was up, reaching for her to drag her from the chair and shake her, sneering, "The true crux of the matter."

She grabbed his arms, trying to stop him as his fingers dug into her through the thin robe, and she shook her head. "I didn't...I didn't mean it!"

"Yes, you did," he hissed softly, lowering his head until all she could see was the fury and pain in his eyes. "I should never have allowed you so close. You weaken me, and at a time of crisis I can't afford to be weak."

"Then cut me out of your heart, Severus. Send me to Voldemort without a single care in you."

"I don't know if I can," he ground out as he pulled back from her, shrugging off her hands and releasing her as if she disgusted him. "Damn you."

A hysterical laugh broke from her. "We're both damned already." She choked back another laugh. "Stuck in the darkness because we know it's the only way. I can't leave you and you can't let me go. We're trapped by your lies and my truths. If we run, we lose the war, and so we stay and lose our souls." As Lilith ranted, her voice rose in volume and pitch, her face turned red, and her eyes went wild. "I never asked to be a martyr. I never asked for you to rescue me. I never wanted any of this! All I wanted was to be with Sirius!"

The blow that snapped across her face shocked her into silence and she stared at Severus. His hand was still raised, his breath coming harshly from between tight lips, and he took a step towards her.

Crying out, Lilith stumbled back in fear.

Severus faltered, his hand beginning to shake as it dropped to his side. "Lilith," he whispered.

"You hit me," and her voice was that of a shocked child, as her hand went to her stinging cheek.

Drawing himself up, he turned cool eyes on her. "You will not speak to me like that."

Tears burned the corners of her eyes but she refused to let them fall. "I guess we now know the answer to the question I asked earlier."

"I'm a Dark Wizard and that's all I'll ever be."

"You can keep lying to yourself, Severus, but don't ever touch me again." The strength was back, the hysteria gone, and she glared furiously at her husband. "I'll stay with you and I'll do whatever your evil master wants, but the day we win the war is the day our marriage ends."

"I've known that all along." Ice dripped from his tongue and he glared right back at her.

Lilith sneered. "You're just a little boy, so afraid to be hurt that you've pushed everyone away."

"You wouldn't have stayed, Lilith."

"You wouldn't give me a chance! It was fine for me to sleep with you, but you never opened your heart. You wouldn't let me in."

"I won't let you hurt me." His voice remained quiet but anger and passion were breaking away the ice.

"Life is full of hurts, but also joy, and you never let me give that to you."

"You don't love me!"

"You'll never know that," she yelled back, the tears finally falling as her heart broke. "I'm so sorry I couldn't maintain the charade. I'm so sorry Voldemort wants me. I'm so scared, Severus, and I came to you for comfort and you wouldn't give it to me. Maybe I'm a stupid little Gryffindor to have expected it, but not all of us can wall off our emotions like you."

He stared at her for a long moment, then cursed beneath his breath. "Why can't you understand that if I let myself feel anything, what he wants will destroy me."

"And you think it won't destroy me?" Shocked and hurt, she blazed, "You selfish bastard!"

"Yes," was his grim reply. "You were a fool to expect anything else."

Lilith felt her stomach drop again, as if an abyss had opened at her feet, and she knew that if she didn't do something, anything, she'd break into a thousand pieces. What came out of her mouth shocked her. "To hell with the war. I can't stay here another minute." As she turned to leave the room, Severus was on her, his hands gripping her shoulders with painful intensity as he dragged her back against him. Lilith struggled and his arms lowered, wrapping beneath her heaving breasts, holding her tightly.

Leaning over her shoulder, he hissed into her ear, "You're not going anywhere."

"You don't own me!"

"But, I do. A Dark Wizard owns his wife, his children. You are mine, and I won't let you jeopardize all I've worked for over the last few years. You'll stay here and play the good little wife, and if I want you, Lilith, you'll spread those lovely white thighs for me." As he murmured the last phrase one of his hands slipped up to cup a breast, and Lilith froze, the breath choking in her throat.

She shook her head in denial until he bit the soft skin beneath her ear.

"I won't let you be anything to me but a willing body."

"I'll never be willing again," she cried, her voice rising in pitch as he sucked at the spot of his bite.

"Liar." His other hand slipped between the folds of her robe, past her belly to her thighs and he pressed his fingers between them.

"Please...please don't do this." Against her back she felt him rise, and her own desire flooded through her, mingling with the despair and fear to make her moan. Her eyes fell shut as helplessness gave in to want.

"Tell me 'no', Lilith," Severus murmured seductively, licking at her earlobe, making her squirm.

She shook her head but all that came from her was another, heartbreaking moan.

Severus dragged the robe from her and pushed her against the wall. As Lilith braced herself, she heard the rustle of his clothing, felt his hands and mouth on her back and shoulders, and silently cried.

But, didn't say 'no'.

*****

Afterwards, she let him scoop her limp, trembling body into his arms and carry her to their bed. The tears had dried on her sore cheeks, her eyes ached, her heart hurt, and she knew the awful truth.

He was her weakness as much as she was his.

And she loved him.

End

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