Many Shades of Gray

by Lara Wilson


For Rhi because she's made Severus much more important to me than he was supposed to and he's taking over the damn universe.

It was nearly midnight when Severus arrived home. The battle had wound down by nightfall, but then he'd had to make an appearance at the Dark Court to report that his cover was intact, and welcome the handful of new recruits from the sixth and seventh year students. He wasn't surprised at the ones who'd turned, but he'd faked his admiration for them and shook their hands, all the while his stomach turned at their corruption. They were just children.

But, then, the Dark Lord had always liked them young.

And while they sickened him, he'd been grateful to see that Draco had survived the battle. While he'd been forced to watch from the sidelines, he'd known his favorite student and nephew by marriage was out there beneath a black hood. Had he killed?

Undoubtedly.

Severus had seen the boy at Court, watched him remove his hood and receive the Dark Lord's congratulations to the survivors. Draco's face had been empty of emotion, but his eyes...

Severus had seen that look in his own reflection. Dead and numb beyond belief.

He couldn't help but believe somewhere he'd failed Draco. The boy had shown such promise, and now that promise was all going to waste as he became just another killer.

Shaking his head in sorrow, Severus magically unlocked the door to his cottage and stepped inside. It was dark but a whispered spell lit his way to his bedroom. He hoped Lilith was sleeping, but he also hoped she was awake. He...needed her.

Quietly pushing open the door to the bedroom, he saw that his wife was asleep, burrowed beneath the duvet. She lay on her side facing the center of the bed, one hand on his pillow. Longing filled him, and the need to cleanse himself in her. He knew it was selfish, but he couldn't stop himself from lighting the lamp next to the bed.

Lilith stirred, and Severus watched her frown slightly, mumble something, then she blinked.

"Sev?" she mumbled groggily, raising her hand to shade her eyes. "What...?" As she came more awake, she noticed the ravaged look on his face, the trembling of his hands, and her stomach dropped. "What happened?" she managed to whisper, as she awkwardly pushed herself up against the headboard.

Severus set his wand on the night stand, then unfastened his robes and dropped them negligently over a chair. "The beginning." He pulled off his shirt, then sat down on the bed, his back to her, as he leaned down to remove his boots.

"The..." Horror filled her and she choked. "What happened? Severus, please."

"The war began," he replied, his voice empty of emotion. "They attacked Hogwarts." She gasped behind him, but he tossed his boots to the end of the bed and continued, "It was a slaughter".

"Oh gods..." Images exploded into Lilith's mind and tears sprang to her eyes. Pressing one hand against her mouth to keep in her screams, she dragged herself to her knees and pressed herself against his back, her free arm wrapping around his chest. As the tears began to fall, she buried her face in his neck. "Tell me."

She felt him slump against her, a shudder of emotion going through him, and held herself to him, so very afraid. She dreaded the details, but she had to know.

Who had fallen... Harry? Draco? ...Sirius?

"It began early in the afternoon. Dozens of Death Eaters and Dementors swarmed through the gates, attacking anything that moved and trying to destroy the building itself. Albus called in the Order and several of the students joined the fight but...So many died, Lilith," he whispered, another tremor rocking him.

Lilith's tears fell heavier, but she knew he needed to get it out, and she needed to hear it. "How'd they get through the wards?"

"...Ginny Weasley."

Shock made her lift her head. "What?"

"She's been a Death Eater all along, for years, probably since the incident her first year at Hogwarts," Severus replied sadly.

"No...Oh no. She's just a little girl."

"She stood on the steps of the school and destroyed the wards from within. None of us saw it. The Dark Lord hid her well." Bitterness ate at him, but he forced himself to continue. "We fought to a stalemate, well, I didn't. I was forbidden to join in the fighting in order to maintain my cover." He was bitter about that, as well. "None of the members of the Order were killed, though there were several injuries. Several Aurors were lost. Several Death Eaters, as well. Albus had some kind of attack, but he's stable and Poppy believes he will recover."

He took a deep breath before finishing bleakly, "Over one hundred students died. The Dark Lord chose his targets well. When you kill children, you leave a world too shocked to respond and parents too lost in grief to do battle."

Lilith desperately wanted to deny his statements, but she knew they were true. Sorrow flooded her and she wept openly for the loss of so many young lives, but she was grateful that her friends were all alive.

And Sirius.

Pulling away from her husband, she wiped the tears from her cheeks and got herself under control. The beginning of the war had been inevitable.

She just wished she'd seen it.

Severus remained slumped, head bowed, shoulders trembling, and as her own sorrow settled into a painful lump in her chest, she reached out again and brushed her hand over his back. Another shudder went through him.

"Come to bed, Sev," she murmured. "We both need the comfort."

He turned to face her, and she immediately saw he needed more than comfort. A raw and bleak hunger shone in his eyes. He lowered them and cursed softly. "I shouldn't have come here tonight. I need...too much."

"It's okay."

"It's not okay, Lilith. My need for you is wholly selfish. I need your touch to make me forget the horrors I witnessed. I need you to cleanse me of the blood spilled while I stood by helplessly. So many deaths, so many young deaths. My..." A sob broke from him and he quickly looked away. The hand returned to his back in a gentle caress, and he turned, reaching for her, burying his face in her lap. "My students...So many dead. Such needless death," he sobbed, wrapping his arms around her waist and pressing his face against the mound of their child. "Oh gods, Lilith, why did this have to be this way?"

Lilith had no answer for him. All she could do was stroke her hand over his head and shoulders, trying to comfort him the only way she could. Severus' emotional collapse was so out of character it touched her deeply. He'd never been this vulnerable, this...human.

As he began to calm down, she felt his fingers moving over her spine, kneading gently at sore muscles. The baby was riding high and heavy, pulling on her back, and she didn't like relying on spells to relieve her discomfort. Severus was doing wonders with his hands, though, and, as he stimulated the nerves, endorphins flooded her body and she softly sighed.

He looked up, his eyes rimmed in red, the lashes still damp with tears, and murmured, "I need you, Lilith," before rising to his hands and knees, and leaning forward to kiss her.

In the soft brushing of lips to lips she could taste his sorrow and fear. Lilith cupped his cheeks and deepened the kiss, her own need for comfort and touch springing to life as a warmth deep inside her. One of his knees slid between hers and she let her legs part, her nightshift sliding up her thighs. Her breasts began to ache, and she slid one hand down to the ties holding her gown closed.

Severus broke the kiss and followed the movement of her hand with his eyes. Sitting back on his heels, he pulled the open sides of material apart, baring her full breasts. Lilith's nipples were dark pink and swollen, begging for his touch. Lowering his head, he fastened his lips around one, as his hand cupped the other breast, his thumb rubbing circles around the nipple.

Moaning in sudden pleasure, Lilith closed her eyes and relaxed back against the pile of pillows and the headboard. It wasn't the most comfortable position, but the desire growing in her beat out the strain on her back.

He knew, though, and after only a few minutes, he moved them, sliding her down onto the bed and onto her side. As she wriggled her gown off, he rose and removed his trousers, then rejoined her on the bed, lying on his side facing her, his head propped on one hand. "Are you certain?" he asked hoarsely.

Her answer was a teasing hand sliding down his chest to his groin. As her fingers wrapped around the head of his hard cock and her thumb tickled the sensitive slit, he groaned and stuttered her name.

He retaliated by delving his own hand between her legs, sinking his fingers into her wet heat, and rubbing her swollen clit. As they both gasped loudly, Severus wrapped his free arm around her neck, pulling her towards him. Their lips and tongues twisted together in an openly carnal kiss, as they caressed each other until both were trembling with need. Lilith felt the shudders beginning deep inside her and broke the kiss, crying out softly as she arched into his touch and squeezed her fingers around his cock.

"Now, luv?" Severus panted against her lips, his forehead pressed to hers as he fought for control. "Are you ready?"

"...Oh yes," Lilith moaned in reply, pumping him harder as she rocked on his thrusting fingers.

"You're going to have to stop touching me, luv," he added, a bit ruefully. "Or I'm going to embarrass myself.

Lilith blushed and released him, then began to turn so that she faced away from him, but he stopped her.

"I want to see you," Severus said softly, making her blush even more at the pure desire reverberating in his sensual voice. Rolling onto his back, he pulled her with him, helping her straddle his hips, his hands supporting her at the waist and upper thigh. One thumb brushed across the mound of her stomach, as he murmured, "The life inside you has never meant as much as it does tonight. We made life, Lilith."

Emotion choking her, she nodded wordlessly, and carefully guided him inside her. As she sank down, she closed her eyes and arched her head back, moaning softly as sparks of pleasure shattered through her. She began to move, rocking her hips and rubbing her aching clit against his pubic bone. She could feel his cock sliding in and out of her, stimulating all the nerves inside her, making her hot and wet and wanting to wriggle wildly.

Severus controlled her movements, though, his hands on her lifting her and guiding her, keeping the pace slow and steady. He wanted this to last, but he was about to burst. Lilith was so incredibly beautiful and so giving. For the hundredth time he thanked whatever gods had given her to him, even for a brief period of time.

And for the blessing of their child.

He needed that now, needed the life inside her to stem the tide of deaths in his mind. Closing his eyes, he groaned and thrust into her, his hands sliding up her sweat-slickened body to cup her full breasts. As he gently squeezed her nipples, she whimpered and shuddered, her inner muscles squeezing his cock. He growled and bucked his hips up, driving deeper into her, making her cry out and grab his arms for support.

Lilith's eyes flew open and her breath caught in her throat. The pleasureful tension had crept up on her gradually, but she was now caught on the edge of orgasm. She strained against him, rocking harder, guiding his hands to fondle her breasts. A hiss escaped her, his name, drawn out on a sibilant sigh, and the sound sent a jolt of pleasure directly to Severus' cock. His hands tightened on her breasts, his fingers pinching her nipples, and the pressure inside her exploded.

Crying out, Lilith shuddered wildly, her orgasm flooding through her and leaving her limp and gasping, held up only by his hands on her waist and her own pressed against his chest. Severus gritted his teeth and thrust at a quick, shallow pace, letting her muscles clasp and suck at his cock until his own release came and he spilled himself inside her.

Panting, Lilith slid awkwardly off of him and onto her side, letting her head fall onto the pillow next to his. She watched the tension drain from him, his body finally relaxing.

And she started to cry.

Severus quickly opened his eyes and turned onto his side, reaching for her and pulling her head to his chest. "Lilith, what is it? Are you," he choked and forced himself to continue, as his hands ran over her body. "Are you hurt? Did I hurt you?"

She shook her head, her fingers digging into his shoulder as she clung to him, weeping, all the horror finally getting to her. "The children," she finally forced out.

Silently cursing himself, he rocked her gently. He'd told her his need was selfish, and he'd used her for comfort. She'd been strong and giving and wonderful, but inside she'd been crumbling as well, and he hadn't seen it.

Slowly her tears and the hiccuping sobs stopped, and she rested exhausted against him as he stroked and soothed her. "Never let us go, Severus, please," she whispered hoarsely. "Swear it."

Emotion choked him, but he nodded. "I swear."

Holding each other, they drifted into uneasy sleep.

*****

Lilith awoke to an empty bed and a dull throbbing in her temples. Rolling awkwardly onto her back, she groaned as the baby kicked her right in the bladder. Knowing from experience that delaying would only make things worse, she forced herself to get out of bed and head for the bathroom.

Fifteen minutes later, showered, dressed, and feeling half-way alive, though still trying not to think of the events of the previous day, she slipped her swollen feet into slippers and left the bedroom. The smell of fresh coffee and cooked sausage drew her to the kitchen, where she found Severus standing at the open back door, cup in hand, staring into the gray dawn.

"Breakfast is in the warming oven." He didn't turn to look at her, simply sipped from his cup.

Seeing no evidence of any dirty plates, Lilith frowned. "Did you eat anything?"

"No."

She sighed, but had no idea what to say to him, and her rumbling stomach sent her to the warming oven to retrieve a plate of sausage, eggs, and crumpets. Sitting down at the table, she poured herself a cup of coffee, liberally adding warm milk and sugar, and reached for her knife and the butter dish. As she slathered butter onto the hot crumpets, she watched her unmoving husband.

"Severus? I really don't want to talk to your back."

"Then don't talk. Eat."

Anger exploded in her, white hot, and she rose to stomp over to him and grab his shoulder. He neither budged nor looked at her. "Damn it! Don't you dare shut me out. You need me more now than ever, you idiot." She smacked her fist against his shoulder blade, then winced and shook her throbbing hand.

"Lilith...go eat," he said softly through clenched teeth.

"You swore you'd never leave me."

"I won't."

"You already are," she replied, her voice clogged with fresh tears.

Severus' shoulders slumped and slowly he turned, his head bowed. She could see dark circles beneath his eyes, new lines on his face. He was miserable. "The last thing on earth you need is me, Lilith."

The sorrow in his voice broke her heart, and she took the cup from his hands, setting it aside, before pressing herself against his chest and pulling one of his hands to her stomach. "You're wrong," she swore softly. "We need you now more than ever. You have to keep us alive, Sev, and, so, you have to stay alive, too." She felt his hand hesitantly caress her stomach, and the baby kicked against his palm, startling him. "See? In three months our baby will be born and she's going to need her father to protect her."

"I'll fail," he stated bitterly.

"You don't know that, and I don't believe that."

He gave her an exasperated, confused look, but his hand remained pressed to her stomach, gently rubbing in soothing circles. "Why do you believe in me, Lilith? Why do you trust me? After all I've done..." He shook his head and she reached up to cup one of his cheeks, stilling him.

"I just do. I just...know." Lowering his head, she raised her own for a soft kiss, as her other hand slipped beneath his shirt to rest over his heart. "There's so much good inside you.

"I'm a nasty, mean, old git," he snorted.

Lilith tried to suppress her grin. "Yeah, that, too, but a very good and decent and honorable man is in here as well." Their eyes met and her expression sobered. "They don't see that in you-- our companions, my friends. They don't see the reformation or the struggle for redemption. Even after all you've done, most of them don't trust you." As bleakness filled his eyes, she hurried on, "They're limited by their own short-sightedness and prejudices. They don't see."

"I see," she stressed. "My gift and my curse. I see what you are and what you may become, the path you're on and the ones before you." Her eyes lost their focus. "I've seen you holding our daughter. I've seen you laughing with her."

"Sometimes you scare the hell out of me, Lilith," Severus replied, his voice choked with emotion.

Shaking her head slightly, she returned to herself and smiled. "Yeah, me too." Her stomach growled again. "Come eat with me. I need to know what's going to happen next."

"You're the one with the visions."

She laughed at his grumbling and tugged him over to the table. "There's enough for two, make that three." As she settled awkwardly into her seat, Severus waved his wand and reheated the food. Lilith dished some of her eggs and sausage onto a second plate and handed it to him, then poured his coffee-- black, of course.

"I don't get any crumpets?"

Lilith gave her plate a guilty look. Four crumpet halves were stacked and buttered before her. "Er...no?"

Lips quirking, Severus conjured up a hot crumpet for himself, then pointed to her plate and sternly said, "I expect you to eat all of those."

"Not a problem," she replied, taking a big bite. "These are delicious."

"Severus Snape, crumpet baker," he sighed, acting the martyr.

"And a damn good one." Finishing the first crumpet, she went for the sausage next. "So...what happens next?"

The light mood vanished but was replaced by a natural sobriety and not the tension of before. "The school will not be reopening anytime soon. I haven't had a chance to talk to Albus, but I'm expecting a report some time today from Minerva or Lupin."

"You said Professor Dumbledore had some kind of attack? Is he okay?"

"He was stable when I left the infirmary. He's not a young man and the stress and shock could have caused anyone to collapse. Personally, I think his heart broke. Hopefully we'll know more soon." Severus took a sip of coffee before continuing. "I slipped away to the Dark Court. I knew it was expected of me." Bitterness crept into his voice. "The Dark Lord made it quite clear that he no longer sees a need for me to spy for him."

"That's a good thing, isn't it? I mean, you've had to feed him some things, just like I have."

"In that aspect, yes, it is a good thing, but..." His voice drifting away, he stared at his eggs for a long moment before forking some into his mouth. Lilith let him remain quiet for a few minutes, eating her own breakfast, and pondering the future. After a few more bites, Severus pushed his plate back and picked up his coffee. "I will now be expected to be active as a Death Eater."

That was one thing she hadn't considered, and she paled slightly at the implications. "Oh."

There was a bleakness to his voice as he continued that left her cold. "I am in hopes that I shall be able to use that to discover more of His secrets and plans than I have while working both sides, but in order to do so, I shall have to take part in the battles."

"In the killing."

"Pull yourself out, Severus," Lilith pled, suddenly very frightened for her husband's emotional well-being. "Take your place and make your stand with us."

"You know I can't do that, Lilith. The best position I can be in is the one I'm in, a member of His inner circle and one of his most trusted advisors. The information I gain could be vital to our world's survival and to our victory. If I give that up, all I am is just another warrior for the side of good."

"We need more warriors."

"But, we only have one spy."

"I don't care."

"Yes you do," he said firmly. "You know it's for the best."

"It's not the best for you, Sev. Can you do that? Can you go fully into the darkness and still emerge whole?"

He gave her what almost constituted a rueful smile. "Lilith, I've never been whole. I can never make up for the lives I took, and if I have to take more, my soul is already damned, so one, ten, a hundred more, in that regards the number makes no difference." Tears filled Lilith's eyes, and Severus felt like a fist was wrapping around his heart. "Don't cry...please, luv."

She sniffled. "I can't help it. I hate that you see yourself that way. I hate that you're going to end up doing more harm to your psyche. I hate...Him...the darkness. I don't want it in our lives, Sev."

"And so I take the best path available to free us all from the darkness."

"You're a hero."

At that, he snorted loudly, dark humor filling him. "Oh, my dearest wife, I am so far from being a hero."

The tears dried up as she grew instantly indignant. "I'm a Gryffindor. I know heroes, and you're a hero."

Severus actually chuckled, and reached for her, pulling her onto his lap as if she weighed nothing. As she squirmed into a comfortable position, he held her tightly and buried his mouth in her throat, then trailed heated kisses up to her ear. "If you say so, wife," he murmured.

"I...do," she gasped out, desire sparking in her as she licked the sensitive spot behind her ear.

Urging her to her feet, Severus lifted her easily into his arms to carry her out of the kitchen.

"What about my crumpets?" she asked, a bit petulantly, though she was quickly wanting him more than food.

Muttering a quick spell, Severus swept into their bedroom where the sun had broken through the clouds to spill warm light across their bed. "I'll feed them to you as foreplay, luv." The plate of crumpets settled on the night stand.

Lilith grinned and kissed him passionately. "Good."

End

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