Six months earlier...
Hearing the pop, Sirius looked up from the map of possible sightings spread across the desk in his Library, then frowned at the sight of Snape brushing imaginary dust from his black robes.
"What do you want?"
A sneer crossed the former Death Eater's face. "Good evening to you too, Black."
"Again I ask, what do you want, Snape?" Sirius set down his glass of wine and glared up at his long-time enemy.
"I bring news."
"Take it to Dumbledore, I'm not interested at the moment," Sirius replied with an impatient wave of his hand.
Severus continued as if he hadn't been interrupted. "Of Lilith."
Eyes widening, Sirius sat up from his slumped position. "What? Where is she?" He jumped to his feet, every inch of his body taut.
"Calm yourself. She is well and safe."
"Where. Is. She?"
Frowning, Severus settled into the chair on the other side of the desk, and gestured at the nearly rabid man across from him. "Sit down, Black. This is a long story and not an easy one."
Gritting his teeth, Sirius sank back down into his chair. "It's been a month since she disappeared. We've searched everywhere for her. How is that you found..." He stopped, eyes widening again, then closing for a moment in horror. "Voldemort has her," he finally forced out, his whole body beginning to shake.
"No. Not quite." At Sirius' next look of fury, he continued quickly, "About five weeks ago Cedric Frost came to me and asked me to prepare the Obfuscare Potion."
"Obfuscare? But that...It's one of the illegal potions."
Severus simply arched a brow and continued. "He did not inform me as to why he wanted it, but, in my role as a Death Eater and potion master to the Dark Lord, I couldn't deny him. I prepared the potion and delivered it to him. A few days later I found out what he wanted it for." He took a deep breath and steepled his fingers together, his elbows resting on the long arms of the ancient chair.
"Frost brought Lilith to Court, drugged to the gills."
"...Her father's had her? But...he disowned her."
"Which was fine when she was a non-entity. Not fine, apparently, when she returned to our world and, worse, to your bed." Severus nearly smiled as Black paled. "To put it bluntly, he offered her to any man who wanted her."
"NO." Sirius nearly came out of chair as he howled in response.
"Calm yourself. I told you that she's fine. The Dark Lord decided to offer her in marriage to whichever of his inner circle wanted her. He didn't want her damaged or destroyed. He wanted her sight."
Realization hit Sirius and he paled even more. "The potion only fades a person's memories and ability to think for themselves. It doesn't hinder their power and with no censor on her thoughts..."
"Yes, she would have revealed everything. But, the Dark Lord made a grave mistake in not questioning her first."
"Dammit, Snape. Stop dancing around and tell me who he gave her to!"
The smirk returned. "Well, McNair stepped forward. He's buried four wives already. I heard he flayed the last one. And Cambrey. He likes little boys or the pretty white bums of slender women." Glee went through him as Black looked about to explode. He couldn't help himself, tormenting his nemesis was just too much fun. "Don't get your knickers in a twist, Black. Or, perhaps this will twist them even more. I married her."
Silence fell for a few seconds, then Sirius howled, "You bastard!"
Sighing Severus crossed one leg over the other. "And here I thought you'd be grateful. After all, we're on the same side."
"Bring her here, now."
"Don't be an idiot. She's being watched, her movements traced. She has no understanding of the spells on her so she can't break them, and you know that no one else can."
"Why has it taken you a month to come here?" Sirius was barely hanging onto his anger and his knuckles were turning white as he gripped the edge of the desk and leaned forward.
"Because I've been watched as well. The Dark Lord had to test my loyalty once again. As soon as the watch fell away, I came here."
"I want to see her. Take me to her."
"Please, is that the best you can do? She is safe where she is. I've modified the potion so that she only shares the most basic of visions with the Dark Lord. Everything else is blocked and warded."
"Then why haven't you taken her off the potion?"
"Would you use your minuscule brain for a moment? You'd make a horrid spy," Severus snapped, rolling his eyes. "I'm not convinced Lilith is a good enough actor to fake being under the influence of Obfuscare. For all our safety she remains as she is."
Sirius shook his suddenly aching head, both fear and anger warring in him. "Do the right thing for once and set her free, Snape. Bring her here or to Hogwarts where she'll be safe."
Severus wasn't surprised at the suggestion, but he couldn't keep the contempt from his voice. "And ruin my cover?"
"I don't give a shit for you or your cover."
"Yes, but you're not the whole resistance, are you. Ask Dumbledore what he thinks. No, don't bother, I can tell you. The good of the many outweighs the good of the few. I'll repeat one more time, she is safe."
"With you?" Sirius nearly choked on his anger.
"As my wife," Severus replied smoothly.
"You're loving this."
"If you touch her..."
Severus rolled his eyes dramatically. "Again with the idiocy. You know the Dark Lord truly trusts no one. She was wedded and bedded before half the Court."
Blinded by fury at the knowledge that his Lilith had been used by the man across from him, Sirius launched himself at his enemy, knocking them both to the floor. "I'll kill you!" The chair went over with a large crash and they began to fight, hitting and scratching at each other.
The door flew open and Remus and Tonks dashed in.
"What the hell?" The young Auror fell on both struggling men, trying to yank them apart.
"Stop it, both of you," Remus shouted in the loudest voice any had ever heard from him, causing them all to still. Tonks moved first, pushing her cousin off Snape, who picked himself up, the sneer firmly on his face.
"Be glad the Dark Lord didn't invoke the droit du seigneur. Even in her dimmed mind, that might have been enough to destroy her totally." With a wave of his wand, Severus apparated away.
"Noooo!" Sirius grappled with Tonks, as if he could make Snape return, before collapsing into harsh sobs in her arms.
Carrying a trug and a pair of floral shears, Lilith strolled through the acre of flower gardens, stopping every few feet to cut another bloom. It was a warm day at the height of summer and she wore a simple sleeveless white dress decorated with pale purple moons and stars that flowed nearly to her ankles. Her hair was piled haphazardly on top of her head and her face was free of make-up.
The school term had ended two days before and Severus was due back any time. She planned to fill the house with flowers, and serve the leg of lamb that she'd just taken out of the oven, and then seduce him.
A smile crossed her face, a bit of surprised one at that, and she lifted a sprig of lavender to her face, breathing in the scent. Placing it in the trug, she ducked beneath the branches of a weeping willow that stood next to the duck pond, and made her way to the edge of the property. A hedge ran most of the way around, but there was a gate at the end of the path she was on and alongside it grew honeysuckle, heavy and sweet this summer.
Selecting a branch she cut it and placed it in the basket, then, as she began to turn to head back to the cottage, a large, black dog came up to the other side of the gate. Startled, Lilith stepped back, then froze, her eyes locked with the dog's.
The air rippled and the dog grew, changed, until Sirius stood before her, haunted relief etched into his rugged face.
She stared blankly, stunned into silence.
He held out his hand to her across the top of the gate. "Come with me." When she didn't respond, he frowned and shook his hand at her. "I know you're confused, probably don't even know who I am, but I'm a friend and I..."
"Sirius," she interrupted.
He was the one to look startled this time. "Okay, you know who I am."
"He took me off the potion nearly four months ago," Lilith whispered, her heart pounding in her ears as emotion swamped her.
Frowning deeper, Sirius moved to open the gate, and she backed up. "Lilith, come with me. There's nothing holding you here."
"I...I can't. Sirius, you shouldn't have come here, shouldn't have tried to find me."
Frustrated at the fact that she was backing away from him, he lashed out, "What the hell are you talking about? I love you. I've been searching for you since your disappearance."
"Severus told me he told you where I was."
"With him," Sirius sneered, "not where."
"I can't blow his cover."
"Fuck him." The ice in his voice made Lilith shiver despite the sun warming her shoulders. "You're not his prisoner."
"I'm his wife."
"A technicality." Angry and frustrated, he stepped onto the property.
Lilith's eyes went up as she glanced quickly around. "He'll know you're here."
"I don't give a shit. Come with me, Lil. We can apparate out of here and be home, safe."
All she could do was shake her head.
And then Severus was there, all in black, looking very foreboding, very cold. "So you finally found us." Coming up behind Lilith, he placed his hands possessively on her shoulders.
Sirius' face turned nearly purple. "Let. Her. Go."
"No, I don't think so."
Lilith felt her husband's hair brush her cheek and turned her head to look up at him.
"Go inside," he said softly, squeezing her shoulders lightly.
Nodding and forcing herself not to look back at Sirius, she turned to go back to the cottage.
Tuning out the angry conversation behind her, she picked up speed until she was running, the trug banging against her side. Once inside, she dropped it on the floor and bolted for her bedroom.
It wasn't until she hit the mattress, burying her face in the pillows, that the sobs broke free and tears stormed down her cheeks.
Some time later, the loud sobs having faded to whimpers, the tears dried on her cheeks, Lilith lay limp and exhausted, her arms wrapped around a pillow. The bed next to her depressed and she opened her eyes in time to see Severus' hand reaching to brush tangled hair from her face.
"All these tears, Lilith," he began softly, sadly. "He's not worth it."
She didn't answer--how could she?--simply accepted his fingers combing through her hair, gentling her.
"Why didn't you go with him?"
His fingers never stilled, though it took her awhile to answer, her voice rough from weeping. "The resistance means more than my own happiness. I have no right to be selfish." She knew the answer had to be a disappointment to him, but he remained gentle.
"You know he'll come back. He won't give up. He *is* selfish."
Lilith nodded. "He has a right to be after thirteen years in prison, separated from every..."
Severus interrupted sharply, "That's an old argument, Lilith. He's not the only one who has suffered in life. Don't make him out to be more than what he is." The hand left her head and she felt him rise from the bed.
Opening her eyes, Lilith pushed herself up and off the bed, her legs shaky from the crying bout. "You're letting your jealousy eat you alive, Severus."
He turned on her, eyes blazing with anger, and she flinched back, her arms going protectively around her stomach. He so rarely showed her the true darkness within him. "I am *not* jealous of that man."
"He holds my heart and you can't stand that," she pushed.
The sneer on his face spread and he reached for her, catching her by surprise and dragging her to him, his grip on her upper arms tight. "Do you think I love you, Lilith? Is that it? That I resent that my wife loves another man and not me?"
"Yes," she whispered shakily.
Severus shook her once, hard, and her head snapped back, her startled eyes staring up at barely contained fury. "I know nothing of love. I claimed you to protect us all, but what I claim, I possess. And I don't want my possessions thinking about other men while in my bed."
She paled, tried to pull away from him. "Is that what you think? That I...think of him?" she stammered. "I would never do that, Sev." As she tried to raise one hand to touch his face, he pushed her away and she stumbled backwards, falling onto the bed.
"Prove it to me," he snarled darkly, his hands yanking off his robe, freeing the buttons of his shirt.
Fear hit her, and Lilith scrambled up the mattress, pushing with her feet, trying to get away as he came closer and closer.
Where had the gentle man of only five minutes before gone? "Sev, stop. Please don't do this." Even as she raised a hand in supplication, she was off the bed on the other side, backing quickly towards the door.
He blocked her as he pulled off his shirt and tossed it negligently to the floor. "Why didn't you go with him, Lilith?"
"I told you," she whispered, pressing herself against the wall.
"The noble sacrifice," he sneered, moving quickly to pin her to the wall, his hands on either side of her head.
Tears welled up in her eyes as she watched his nostrils flare, his lips tighten. "Sacrifice is a necessity of war."
"And barbarity is often the outcome." And his hands found the straps of the dress, yanking them down her arms and baring her full breasts.
Lilith squeezed her eyes shut and remained still until he barked a cruel laugh.
"And now we have the martyr."
It was the laugh that snapped her out of it, and her eyes flew open. She saw the sneer distorting his face, the anger and lust in his eyes, and she slapped him.
Severus stumbled back, more from surprise than the force of the blow. As his fingers went to his reddened jaw, he looked at her and saw an answering anger in her.
"I am not a martyr. And I am not a sacrifice. I am your wife."
"Never given a choice," she countered. "You, you bastard, you used me while I was too out of it to care. How often did you bed me, Severus? Weekly? Nightly? Twice a day? It certainly didn't take you long to get me pregnant. Did the darkness inside you drive you to it? Or did you just want to take what belonged to Sirius Black?"
"I took you off the potion and moved out of this room. You were the one to come to me."
"You took me off the potion because it might affect the baby. You moved out because you knew I'd say 'no' if given the choice. And what was the last thing you did while the potion wore off, Severus. You took advantage of me one last time," Lilith lashed back.
"Then why in the seven hells did you come to me willingly and give yourself so sweetly and make me care?" Severus yelled, the question knocking some of the anger out of her.
"I...I don't know."
"Feeble," he sneered.
"I don't," she protested loudly. "I love Sirius." His automatic flinch sent nasty pleasure through her. "Yeah, wince about it, but it's never going to change."
"And yet for a month you've shared my bed, betraying him ever so willingly with spread legs and a smile on your face."
Lilith paled at the insult but held her ground. "Are you calling me a whore, Severus? Is that the kind of woman you're used to?"
That seemed to startle him and he started to shake his head. "I would never call you that."
"He might." Her anger fled and her heart thudded painfully in her chest. "Why did I come to you? Because the war is going badly, and he will probably die in it, and I probably won't, and this," she touched her stomach beneath the doubled layer of dress, caught there by the mound of their child, "this is yours, not his, and it brings us together, a family. Not one I would have chosen, I'm sorry. But not one I can disregard. If we survive, the only safe thing, the only smart thing, is to remain married, and I'm not a believer in platonic marriages."
"You'll make a life with me," Severus said slowly, obviously digesting her heartfelt words.
"I *am* making a life with you." She gestured out the door. "Did you see the dinner I made you, the flowers I cut to fill this room with heavenly scent? I've made this cottage a home for us, and I wanted to celebrate your return with food and cuddling and..." She sniffled, then turned away and finally thought to yank the top of her dress back up.
"Lilith," Severus entreated gently, watching her shoulders tremble, an answering shudder of longing going through him. He'd nearly hurt her. Even now he could see bruises forming on the pale skin of her arms. He'd sworn to himself to never set the darkness upon her, and he'd broken that vow.
"Everything was going to be special tonight," she wept softly, wrapping her arms around herself.
"I ruined it."
At this flat voice, she shook her head and wiped futilely at her eyes. "We needed to say these things, Sev. I've kept so much buried."
"You have every right to despise me," he said slowly, swallowing hard and waiting for her inevitable agreement.
"Yeah I do, but I don't." Slowly she turned to look at him, seeing the pain and fear and self-loathing on his face. "I don't hate you. I'm not angry at you. I really do want to be with you."
"But you love him." The sadness in his voice nearly broke her heart.
"So what does that make me? What kind of horrible person am I to love one man and make a life with another?" He lower lip began to tremble and she raised watery eyes to his.
"Not horrible at all." Gently he touched her shoulders and when she didn't pull away, cupped them in his strong hands. "I didn't give you a choice and you're making the best of a bad situation."
"But, it's not bad." Her hand slid over her stomach. "This is a miracle and one I will never regret, nor will I ever regret that you are the father, no matter how the baby was conceived. You've sacrificed, too, Severus. It took me a long time to realize that. Why would you want to marry me?"
"Don't be foolish," he replied gruffly, his thumbs sweeping slow, circular patterns along her collarbone. "Only a fool would pass up the chance."
A sudden smile quirked her lips. "And you're no fool."
"No." Regret passed over his face and he ducked his head. "Please forgive me for what I attempted, my anger and...yes, jealousy."
"I forgive you," Lilith said easily, truthfully, "and please believe me that when I'm in your arms, they're your arms." Raising on tiptoe, she kissed him softly. "These are your lips." Her hands played across his nude, muscular chest beneath the silk shirt. "Your body that cradles mine, your arms that hold me, your hands that make me moan in pleasure. You drive everything else away with one kiss."
With a swoop of his head, he kissed her hungrily, and she responded wholeheartedly.
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