Halloween was fast approaching and Lilith was determined to make it as normal and cheerful as possible. It was a bright, warm October afternoon and she was in her garden setting out Jack o'lanterns and clearing the paths of fallen leaves. She was using magic because if Severus caught her lifting a pumpkin or a broom he'd probably turn her over his knee.
Warmth lit her face and she hoped he'd come home tonight. He'd been doing Voldemort's bidding for three days straight and she worried that the strain would do irreparable harm to his psyche.
As she placed candles in the strategically placed Jack o'lanterns, the baby somersaulted in her stomach, kicking her and making her gasp. She pressed one hand against a tiny foot and smiled before heading to the garden gate where spooky lanterns hung from the posts. Looking past the trimmed honeysuckle to the fields across the lane, bare of the summer crop, she heard him first.
A bark and a growl and then the large, black dog leapt across the hedgerow into the dusty lane.
Lilith sighed at the inevitability and opened the garden gate, but didn't step out.
Sirius shimmied and changed and didn't step in, either.
His eyes landed hard and shocked on her mounded stomach, pressed tightly against the light wool dress.
"That's...obvious." His eyes were still locked on her stomach and she smoothed her dress down awkwardly. She'd known the truth would come out eventually but she still wasn't ready to deal with it...or him.
"It's why Severus took me off Obfuscare."
Sirius' eyes snapped up to hers as he snarled, "He should have taken you off it immediately."
"He wasn't sure if I could fake it, but he couldn't risk our child. I will be eternally grateful to him for that. You know what Obfuscare usually does to babies. Chances are she'd be deformed, if she even managed to be born. And I did and do manage to pretend still to be drugged. I have to, for her."
"I just...I can't believe this. You let him..." Emotions choked off his voice as he shook his shaggy head in denial. "Oh, Lil, it was never supposed to be like this."
"I know, but it is. You have to accept it, Sirius."
"No wonder you won't leave him," he replied bitterly, stepping towards her until only about a foot and her child separated them.
"That's not why. I've told you over and over again why. It's even more important now, since the war began. He can't give Voldemort any reason to suspect he's disloyal."
"You don't have to live with him! You can do what you have to do at Voldemort's Court and still be with me. You could have all this time."
"Voldemort spies on us, Sirius," Lilith ground out. "I have to be here. I can mask that I'm not on the potion any longer but he'd know if I wasn't here."
"Then you don't need to share that bastard's bed," he yelled, his voice full of pain. "Oh gods, Lil, just the thought nearly kills me."
"I'm sorry, Sirius, but this is my reality," she cried back, desperately trying to convince him. "I'm married and pregnant with my husband's child and will not regret her for a second, not even in the face of your pain."
"You were supposed to have my children," he whispered, eyes full of sorrow and loss.
"I know," Lilith replied equally softly, trying to keep the situation under control. "But, that's not reality. Reality is that I've been blessed with a child when a hundred women have lost theirs to the war. This child is hope of a better world. I want her. I love her."
"I'm not saying you shouldn't. I know the child was created while you were on the potion and you couldn't do anything about it." Sirius' face darkened and he growled, "Snape made it very clear that he took you that first night and continued to do so. He raped you, Lil. You had no control, no way of consenting. It was rape."
Her face flushed and she swallowed convulsively. He had to understand! "Voldemort forced Severus to consummate the marriage before the entire court," she replied strongly. "I could have become pregnant that night."
"But I'm guessing you didn't," Sirius snapped back.
"No, but you know what the potion does and how easily Voldemort could slip into my thoughts, see what I was doing. He...spied on us, Sirius, got some disgusting, perverse pleasure from watching us in bed. Severus had no choice but to continue."
Sirius flushed in anger. "And he told you that and you just believed it?"
"Do you think me such a poor witch that I can't feel the wards on myself? Recognize them as His? While on the potion I couldn't do anything about them. Once off, I could mask them, give him false impressions."
"But, they aren't false anymore, are they."
Lilith wilted beneath his anger but kept her eyes focused on him. "...No."
She could hear Sirius grinding his teeth as he bit out, "That's what's killing me, Lil. You willingly sleep with the bastard."
"Yes," she whispered, struggling not to drop her eyes in the face of his suffering.
"How...how can you do that? We were faithful to each other. You're the only lover I've ever had, ever wanted. I thought it was the same for you."
The pain in his voice made her want to weep, but instead she captured his eyes with hers and spoke, her voice calm and soft. "He's my husband."
"Why are you letting that mean anything?"
"Because it does, Sirius. I'm sorry, but he means something to me."
Somehow he managed to force out, "Do you love him?"
Did she? Lilith had been struggling with that question for months and there was only one possible answer. "I don't know."
"Do you love me?" He hadn't sounded so young in years and it tore at her heart.
"Yes! You know I do. I never stopped, but...he's my husband."
"Did you turn to him out of loneliness, desperation, fear? Gods, Lil, why? Why did you continue to let him touch you? Why are you willingly sleeping with him?"
"That's none of your business, Sirius," she cried, letting the anger, frustration and confusion seep past the deep sorrow and loss she was feeling. She watched as his hands clenched into angry fists at his side.
"How can you say that? You were stolen from me! I can understand when you had no choice, and I can even believe Voldemort was spying on you and Snape continued to touch you to protect his precious position at the Dark Court, but what I will never understand is how you can stand to let that slimy bastard fuck you now."
"Shut up, Sirius," Lilith yelled, angry and hurt by his accusations. "I refuse to allow you to treat me like this. I'm not a whore!"
"I never said you were," he snarled in response. "Is that how he makes you feel?"
The sneer spreading across his face inflamed her and she lashed out again. "He never makes me feel anything but cherished. Gods, Sirius, grow up!"
"I did grow up, Lil, in Azkaban, away from you," he replied solemnly, the frown on his face deeply etched.
Her anger deflated at the reminder of all he had suffered and her shoulders slumped. "Please go home, Sirius. I'm not leaving with you, no matter what you say."
"And if I grabbed you and disapparated us away?"
"He'd come after me."
"He has no right to you."
Lilith sighed tiredly. "He has every right. This is futile, Sirius. Please, just go."
She could see him struggling internally as he tried to find some way to convince her, but what came out of his mouth didn't really surprise her.
"Is he that good in bed?"
"Don't," she forced out, her voice trembling with frustration and bitterness. "Don't make my life with him into a tawdry affair. All you're doing is pushing me farther away."
Sirius' eyes went cold then empty. "Is that even possible?"
For a long moment they stared at each other, then Lilith turned to go. If he wouldn't leave, she would because she couldn't take any more of this.
"No, I'm sorry, Lil, please."
At his pleading, she turned back, her heart clenching sorrowfully as he hovered right on the boundary of their property, only centimeters away from alerting Severus to his presence. "Will you leave?"
Slowly Sirius nodded and Lilith felt a flood of relief. It hurt to see him in such pain, but she knew he was only making them both more miserable by coming here.
"I'll leave. I don't want to put any more strain on you, and I can tell I am." His eyes lingered on her stomach and a quivering smile crossed his lips. "You always wanted to be a mum." At her nod, he continued, "So, I'll leave and I won't come back, not until all this over and we've won. Then I'll be back, and I'll fight for you, Lil."
"I'm not a prize to be battled over, Sirius," she replied, bristling. "I'm not a helpless maiden. Why do you insist on treating me like one."
The smile vanished into a deep frown. "I know you're not helpless, but if you think I'm going to let that bastard keep you..."
"Stop it! Stop calling him that. If you really want to ease the burden of my pregnancy stop referring to my baby's father in such unflattering terms!"
"Someday you'll see I've been right about him all along," he replied smugly.
Lilith sadly shook her head. "No, you'll be the one to see."
"We're meant to be together. We've loved each other since before we knew was love was. We survived all those years apart. I'll wait. You're worth the wait."
Swallowing painfully, she forced back the gathering tears. "Sirius...I don't know what I'm going to do."
"I do." In his eyes shown the conviction that she loved only him.
If only her heart was so certain.
With a last tender look and a wave of his wand, he disapparated, and Lilith slowly turned to go back into the cottage. As she lifted her eyes from the cobbled path, she stumbled and grabbed the air for support, shocked by the sight of the man standing only feet from her. Severus was at her side in an instant, his arm around her to steady her. Lilith felt herself flushing.
"How long have you been listening?" she asked with a bit of trepidation, trying not to squirm beneath her husband's hooded gaze.
Assured that she had her feet beneath her, Severus released her and stepped back. "Long enough to hear you haven't decided to leave me," was his cool reply, making her flush even deeper.
"I won't. I can't make that decision now."
"Because of the Dark Lord." He wasn't going to make it easy for her.
She flashed him a helpless look and settled her hands over her burgeoning stomach. "My home is here with you."
"And if we win the war?"
Her eyes dropped to her stomach. "I don't know. How can I answer that now?"
"I know you love him still." He snorted. "Why, is beyond me. He doesn't deserve to walk in your shadow."
"I know, you'll defend him to the bitter end," the slightly mocking tone shifted as Severus' eyes widened just slightly. "But you defended me as well."
"Because you're not the man he sees." Gently Lilith brushed the tips of her fingers across the stiff plane of his jaw. "You're a good man and you've been nothing but kind and caring to me."
He snorted louder this time. "A good man would have restrained himself, come to you only when necessary. I took you almost nightly, apparating from the school after the students were long asleep, unable to stay away from you. You had no way to stop me, and every night I wrung a response from you and didn't care."
"Severus, stop," she whispered, her heart breaking at the look of despair on his face. "Please."
But, he ground out, "You accused me once of squeezing one last response from you even as you came off the potion, and you're right. I wanted you so desperately I was willing to have you return to awareness as you did. I expected you to accuse me and revile me..."
"But, I didn't," Lilith interrupted his self-tirade. "I couldn't. You saved my life."
"It doesn't matter," was her passionate cry, "because you still did it, and you can't tell me that in the last seven months you haven't changed. I've seen it. I've felt it in your touch."
"If you went back on the potion tomorrow I would still force myself on you."
Severus shot her a startled look and she gave him a self-deprecating smile. "I do know you, Severus, warts and all, and I know you want me. You prove it all the time."
"I'm not a good man," he barked.
"You can keep saying that. I'll just choose to ignore you."
His look turned exasperated. "Why the hell do you want me, Lilith?"
And she returned a gentle smile to him. "I don't know." Raising her hand again she let it rest over his quickly beating heart. He was agitated. She loved how she could buckle that cool exterior of his.
"I can't be that good a lover."
"You please me well en..." Lilith's eyes widened and she turned bright red. "Oh gods, you heard Sirius. Sev, please, don't listen to him. My reasons for staying with you have nothing to do with how good you are in bed--and you are very good. I hope you know I'm not that shallow."
"It's duty that keeps you here."
His voice dropped like stones into her denial. "Then it's duty that brought you to my bed."
He was determined to see the worst in himself and Lilith scowled at him. "Stop it! It wasn't. It..." She deflated a little as the memories of that night came back. Her only thought had been to comfort him and she'd known the method he'd choose and she'd been prepared to let him do what he needed.
She really hadn't expected to enjoy it.
"Perhaps that first time, when I came to you during your nightmare, it was, not out of duty, I'd never say that, but out of compassion and caring. I didn't feel obligated. I wanted to comfort you. I didn't expect the passion or the pleasure, I'll admit that, and if that makes me less in your eyes, I can't help it. I don't regret that night. If I had, I wouldn't have come back the next. It was a choice I made, and one I refuse to regret."
The hard, dark look drifted from his eyes, replaced by an odd combination of fear and wonder. "Lilith, how can you want me?"
Lilith smiled at that and moved a step closer, bringing her stomach to rest lightly against his. "I don't know, I just do. You're all I..." Her voice faltered as she realized what her heart was telling her, but continued to smile as it sank in.
Sirius wasn't her present and she didn't know if he'd be her future.
But Severus was and would be if she'd allow it.
Raising on her toes, she brushed her lips across his, tasting his worry and love for her-- unexpressed as it possibly would always be, but real--and felt his arms go around her, cradling and protecting her, and her heart nearly burst.
"I love you, Sev," she murmured before kissing him again to stave off his automatic protests. If he wouldn't hear her, she'd show him.
Because it was true. She loved two men.
And she wouldn't feel guilty about that.
Finally, Severus broke the kiss and their eyes met. He didn't protest her words, though. Instead, he smiled in wonder and softly said, "He's wrong, you know. You're not a prize to be won. You're a gift."
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