The next morning still proved to be tense between the two. Neither of them had slept. Marie's mind raced at all the possibilities last night's meeting held as far as her future was concerned. Severus stared at his bedroom ceiling, cringing at what he was being forced to do. He now felt and shared in the anguish Draco had faced, except for the fact that Draco had legitimate feelings for Marie. How was he supposed to open up the subject, let alone perform the act?

Lazily shuffling about the kitchen, Marie set a pot of water to boil for some tea. Sitting at the small table in the corner, she rested her head upon her hand, still obsessed with her unanswered question. Lost in thought she almost missed Severus entering the kitchen as well. Her eyes slowly drifted in his direction.

"It must be worse than I thought," she began, shifting in her seat. "You're wearing color… sort of." Marie added sarcastically.

Severus had not worn his typical depressing black button down – only the white one. "So what?" He asked, sounding worn down. He leaned over the counter, waiting for the water as well. I would much rather prefer a real drink.

"In the seven years I've seen you around the school, you've always been able to keep yourself together. That's the only reason I noticed." Marie rolled her eyes and stood when she heard the water begin to whistle. Severus turned to reach for a mug in the cupboard but instead bumped into her as she reached for her own.

Stopping himself from completely exploding on her, he took a step back. "Why don't you get them? I'll get out of your way." Severus then took a seat at the table, feeling as if the walls were closing in around them. Dammit, I don't want to talk to her. He picked up an old Daily Prophet to distract himself, pretending to be interested in the pages.

Marie bit her tongue and continued preparing tea for the both of them now. "The usual, I assume?" she asked as she reached for the sugar, still attempting to be civil. All she heard was a rough grunt which she assumed meant "yes". Handling both mugs Marie set them on the table, took her own seat, and folded her arms.

"I know you're not reading it – I can clearly see that it's two weeks old." She grinned at Severus when he glared at her over the top of the paper. After a few moments he began to calmly fold it and set it aside. He ignored her stare and took a sip of tea. Surprised the brat ever managed to remember my preferences…

Marie sighed obnoxiously. "Are you going to tell me what happened last night or not? I understand if it's because you came back late but – "

"If it's alright with you, I would just love to be awake for more than twenty minutes without listening to your constant whining." Severus almost slammed the cup on the table.

"Oh, I'm so sorry that I whine about being hidden here with only having you to talk to, oh and being raped!" Marie spat back, becoming angry. "I get that you don't want to be 'babysitting' me, but I didn't force you to take up two spying jobs!"

"Don't you dare use that against me. You know nothing of what I've been through." Severus's fists clenched beneath the table. "If this was just about my work would I have even shown my face around here? Would I attempt to hold a conversation? I even somewhat celebrated Christmas with another human being for the first time in years. Perhaps you should learn to stop assuming everything." His tone increasingly deepened.

If Marie didn't let up he was sure he would lose control of his temper. The stress of the last devastating months had finally gotten to him. Marie bit her lip and looked away. "If you resent my presence so much you should have just let me kill myself the night I found out about my family." The sadness crept up in her voice. "You have more important things to take care of and I should be having a normal life back at Hogwarts." She unfolded her arms and wiped her eyes on her sleeve.

Severus relaxed himself. He didn't like to see her cry, and it seemed it was the only thing she ever did. "Just settle down, will you? What I was told last night was rather… shocking. I only needed time to gather my thoughts so we wouldn't handle it poorly like we are now." Hearing him explain, Marie nodded and drank her own tea.

"I'm sorry." She said quietly, looking down into the cup. "I would still like to know… when you're ready of course."

If avoiding it only brought on fighting, what the hell could telling her bring about? Clearing his throat, Severus began to lift the lid on what seemed like Pandora's Box. "I need to ask you a question first. Before you jump to any conclusions, hear me out." Marie nodded again. "When you were around Lucius, did you mention anything to him about me?"

Marie furrowed her brow, wondering what this meant. "Well, I don't really remember what was said… only what was done."

"I don't ask this to upset you again, but I implore you to remember – it's extremely important." Severus attempted to coax the information from her.

"Okay, okay. Let me think…" Again Marie furrowed her brow, trying to fight the horrible memories of that week, searching for anything she might have said concerning Severus. Then it clicked. Lucius tricked me into saying I wanted Severus instead, but… was it really a trick? I still haven't figured it out myself. Marie's face grew red and her posture became defensive once more. "I don't remember anything."

"So it's true." Severus could see the answers he had been searching for all over her face. "I see… Well, because of your condition, and Lucius's inflated ego, this knowledge is now public. Voldemort has shifted the task… to me." He finally finished the sentence. Marie looked at him quickly, still thoroughly embarrassed.

Marie opened her mouth several times to respond but simply couldn't. She had no clue as to how to respond. Lucius had exposed something she had been attempting to bury for awhile. Chalking it up to just latching onto Severus for support after being here for so long, Marie didn't believe the feelings were of anything serious at all… or was that just a trick made up by her own mind as well?

"I- I thought you said you weren't like them…" Was all she could think of. Marie knew very well Severus was not, but she just wanted the attention shifted off of her for now. Admitting it to herself was hard enough, but to admit it to his face? Never.

Severus looked confused. "Did I ever give you any reason to believe I was? I'm rather disappointed you would say such a thing." Marie looked away again. "And for your information, this is one order I simply refuse to obey." He stood up and brought his cup with him to the stove, hoping the water was still hot.

I… I can't. If Voldemort knows this, and Severus refuses, they'll kill him. That's what he does to people who disobey him. Will it be my fault? Is the entirety of the past year my fault? Why am I dragging so many people down with me? Marie held her hand over her mouth and rushed out of the kitchen, a faint crying sound escaping her lips.

Severus turned from the counter and barely saw her fleeing. Sighing heavily, he returned to the table. Closing his eyes and leaning back, he thought of what the next step should be. I'm going to pay a heavy price for this, aren't I? I've managed to do some good after so much bad, yet I'm right back where I started. I still want to protect her – it was my mission. Do both sides have the same outcome then? Is it both good and evil that wills me to do this? I don't know anymore…

The two of them seemed to have found a somewhat usual routine whenever more information came to surface. They would get along, have pleasant conversation and then an event would take place that would have them begging to be on opposite ends of the world.

It didn't take long for others in connection with Voldemort to hear about Marie and her feelings. Every time Severus showed his face in a meeting, other Death Eaters would make remarks just loud enough for him to hear. Show her a good time for all of us! Make sure you fill her up nicely! It took all of his willpower not to hex them into oblivion. Severus was starting to feel the pressure from his comrades, especially Lucius.

To her dismay, Marie had a letter delivered to her by owl post. She knew who it was from by the writing on the front. Draco knows… Why else would he be contacting me? Marie had been staring at the envelope on her bed for nearly an hour, coming up with all assumptions of what was inside. She was sure he felt lost, confused and most certainly betrayed. But we were never together, and I made it clear we couldn't be. He's probably still furious though… I wonder how exaggerated this all was? She groaned and fell back onto a pillow; the temptation to open it was killing her, but ultimately she would feel like the bad person in all this – again.

Marie sat back up when she heard a knock on the door. Waving her hand, she opened it. Severus eyed the unopened letter. "Still haven't done it yet?" He was just as curious as Marie was about the contents. She shook her head slowly, her gaze fixated on the evil thing. "Perhaps his father never told him – it could be good news for a change."

"I doubt it." Marie muttered, slowly reaching for it. "Nothing ever goes right…" Sliding a finger under the wax seal, she held her breath.

Severus watched her begin to read through squinted eyes, as if the letter itself was going to cause her harm. He assumed there was nothing terrible in the words because she did not cry or react at all. Or maybe Draco just saved the worst for last. His thoughts broke when he heard knocking at the front door. He left Marie with her letter and headed downstairs.

Her heart sped up with every word she read. Draco's letter contained nothing of her fears – in fact it was good news. "He's moved away until this is over…" Marie continued reading and her tense muscles relaxed. "He left with his mother before any of this was leaked. Thank Merlin…" She hopped off the bed to compose a reply when she heard Severus arguing with someone. Hearing her name repeated by him and the visitor, she set the letter back down and quietly made her way down the staircase.

When Marie reached the bottom floor, she caught a glimpse of the visitor standing with Severus in the living room. Shit! She hid in the hallway, not daring to move any closer. Lucius had decided to grace the two with his presence – mostly to bother Severus about his orders. Marie listened in, careful not to make a sound.

"I thought you would have been more excited than this, Severus." Marie could almost taste the arrogance in Lucius's voice there was so much of it. "Why can't you just do as you're told?"

"If you've come here to bully your way into changing my mind, you're sorely mistaken. I'm not a child anymore, Lucius. This isn't Hogwarts either – those days are over with." Severus firmly held his ground.

Lucius chuckled for a moment. "This isn't a game, my friend. Well… with the choices you've been making you might have turned it into one. Gambling with your life isn't very smart, is it?"

"Threaten me all you want."

"Oh no, no, no. It isn't me who would want you dead, not at all. I'm having too much fun observing this whole thing." He laughed again. "I just came here to warn you, as a friend of course, that He isn't going to wait much longer. Either you finish your duty and give Him a child, or you'll be giving him your blood."

Marie's head lowered. I knew it. He's too damn stubborn so he's going to hand over his life – just like that! There has to be some way I could change his mind. He has a lot to live for, and so do I. I'm not letting him commit suicide when I can stop it. She made her way back upstairs as Severus was showing Lucius to the door. Rushing to get back into her previous position on the bed, she clutched the note, pretending to still be reading it.

"Sorry about that," Severus began, somewhat quietly. Marie looked up and seemed confused.

"Oh! No, I'm sorry; I was so frightened this would be bad news I completely forgot you were there!" Marie faked a smile. "Well, don't worry about a thing. Draco hasn't heard anything, and he has left with his mother to another country to avoid being dragged into further rubbish."

"Ah… I see. I'm glad at least someone has made it out of here." Marie noticed he was becoming increasingly detached. She knew Lucius's threats were still ringing fresh in his mind. "I think I'm going to turn in early. I'll see you tomorrow." Severus turned from the doorway and Marie watched him walk down the hall and disappear into his own room.

It was nearly two in the morning and Marie was bent over the bathroom sink, brushing her teeth and still thinking of ways to make this work. Wiping her mouth and looking up at herself in the mirror, she realized she had been going about this the wrong way. Talking won't work… but action might. Marie tugged on the band keeping her long hair in a messy bun, letting it fall around her shoulders. I can't believe I'm going to try this…

Inspecting herself one last time, she pulled the sleeve of her oversized tee off one shoulder and slipped off her pajama bottoms. So much for any lingerie… Opening her bedroom door, she stared down the dark hallway, feeling as if his door was miles away. With each step she reassured herself of her actions. He's protected my life… I should be saving his as well… I should – I can't! Marie's trembling hand lingered above the doorknob.

Composing herself, she reached for the knob again. He left it open… It's opening. No turning back… Nervously pushing the door, Marie could begin to see inside the dim lit room. Looking around she saw that it was exactly like the rest of the house – filled with more books and plainly decorated. Her eyes fell to where Severus had fallen asleep. Moving closer she saw a near empty glass of Firewhiskey along with an open book on the nightstand. I'm sure he's truly passed out.

Severus had fallen asleep in the middle of his bed, leaving room for Marie to sit next to him. The black comforter had slipped off from his tossing and turning. Just watching him sleep made her blush. I didn't think I would get this far. What should I do? Marie almost squealed when he shifted in his sleep and his hand fell onto her thigh. You're an idiot, Marie.

Gathering up some courage, Marie outstretched her arm and lightly brushed the hair out of his face. Actually now that I'm here… he is pretty attractive. Carefully moving his hand, she inched closer and sat back on her knees. She had never been this close to him before and she decided to study him. Before Marie could even take in a few more moments, Severus's eyes began to flutter. Oh no…

"W-what are you doing?" Severus demanded, sitting straight up. Marie moved back and began wringing her hands. "And where's the rest of your clothing?" At a glance he could see clearly up to her knickers.

"I – I know Lucius was here earlier. I heard him say you would be killed and – "

"I've made up my mind and that's final! If I have to be murdered because I think participating in this is wrong, then so be it!" Severus yelled at her.

Marie felt slightly ashamed in her appearance. "You're right. Who am I to come in here and try and change your mind?" She folded her hands in her lap, trying to pull down her shirt to cover herself. "I just wish you weren't so selfish." Her tone deepened and her attitude quickly changed.

Severus raised an eyebrow at being challenged. "And how exactly is trying to do the right thing 'selfish'?" Marie kept quiet and before he could say a word she crawled over to him and grabbed his shoulders.

"Your version of the right thing is protecting me like Dumbledore wanted. My version is repaying you by saving your life, which just happens to mean sleeping with you. Lucius told you I felt something for you – great. I'm tired of caring. Last time I checked I was still an adult and I could still make my own decisions." Marie's grip tightened with every word.

He was surprised at her strong demeanor and that she didn't just run away crying as usual. Severus looked her up and down for a moment. Marie was right – she was an adult. I told her ages ago she should be able to pick who creates the heir… This is still choosing. She could have let me die. "So is this just 'repayment'? Is this pity?" He refused to give in.

"Why are you twisting this?" Marie reached up and held his face in her hands. "I'm not someone you need to be fighting with. Please believe me." She pulled his gaze back to her when he looked away. "If anyone deserves to be a father to children of such status, it's you. Yes, you can be the coldest man on the planet and an ass, but I've seen past that while I've been here." Marie rested a hand on his chest. "That person is in there."

Severus said nothing and only acknowledged her statements with a nod. After sitting in silence for so long, Marie thought saying any more would be pointless. "I've only bothered you again…" She let go of him and began to make her way off the bed.

Watching her walk toward the door, Severus was still fighting with himself. He was still not convinced that lying with her was acceptable, but he also realized that Marie would most likely blame herself for his death. He knew what that felt like; to carry something so horrible with you for the rest of your life. "Hold on," Severus moved to the edge of the bed, swinging his legs over the side. Marie turned around and hesitantly returned to him.

Standing directly in front of him, Marie waited for him to finish his thought. "There's nothing else to talk about. You know how I feel, but if being some sort of martyr means more to you, then I cannot stop you."

"I'm not one for sparing the feelings of others. I want you to understand that this does not mean there will be a 'fairytale' ending. You may have been through horrors of your own, but believe me when I say that what is out there is even more terrifying." He knew he was rambling at this point.

Marie sighed in exasperation. "If you're trying to tell me that you will never love, or even like me, I could have guessed that on my own. I can live with that. What I cannot live with is you making the ultimate sacrifice, when you've done so much already."

Severus grew tired of fighting her stubbornness with his own. "Alright." Marie perked up a little. "Just… not now." She nodded and again made her way to the door. "Don't try so hard next time. I don't find any beauty in what someone wears." Marie had paused in the doorway but did not face him. Believing it was best to keep quiet, she exited and closed the door behind her.