Hilda knelt before the triple goddess statue left to loom over a cold empty hall.
"Have we caught your ire in some way? I never thought you to be a jealous thing. I thought that to be more Lucifer's style. Did our working with him anger or displease you? Would you really blame us for ties forged for us? Why? Why have you forsaken us now? We did everything you could want. Zelda worked tirelessly to exalt you, to build up this coven in your name and in your worship. How dare you fail her now! How could you do it? How could you let that sweet child fade away from us? Why should I be brought back but not Sabrina? I don't understand.
I honestly don't know if you're even listening or if you've ever heard me. But I know you've heard Zelda. So are you listening to her now? Because I am, and what I hear is the worst pain I've ever bore witness to, and between us your High Priestess has been no stranger to suffering. She's suffering now. You're supposed to be a maiden and a crone but also a mother. Are you so unmoved by another mother's cries? I've had to comfort my fair share of grieving mothers, but this? Watching Zelda grieve for her child so viscerally, blood be damned she was her mother, I... If I had the power to take that agony away, to give Zelds even a moment of peace I would. Because she… I'm terrified for her. I don't think she can go on like this.
Aren't all us witches supposed to be your daughters? Zelda believed that. She believed in you so fiercely. Well she needs you now. She needs… I don't know... something! She needs a sign or some sort of hope that it will get better. Please. If you don't want to listen to me, at least hear her. See to your priestess before it's too late."
"Hilda?" Lilith spun on her heel but saw no one, nothing more than the halls of Pandemonium around her. She could have sworn she had heard the British lilt of the younger Spellman sister as if she were but a few feet away.
She needs you now…
See to your priestess…
Her priestess? She hadn’t had one of those since… Lilith’s breath caught. The last person to pray to her had been Zelda Spellman. Surely that voice.. Hilda Spellman’s voice… But why would Hilda be reaching out to her, Lilith wondered. Surely they had grown relatively close, if that could be the proper word, during her stay at the academy. They had offered her sanctuary and saved her from being torn apart in childbirth, had destroyed a King of Hell to protect her. Zelda had. Zelda had done all of that for her, even stopping her from ending it all. And now, if the voice was to be believed, Zelda needed her. That thought pulled at something within Lilith.. a place she couldn't identify.
The last time she had been to the mortal realm had been for the funeral. Sabrina Morningstar and Sabrina Spellman. Two parts of one whole pain in the ass. But Lilith had gone to pay her respects to the girl, girls, that had caused her endless frustration yet had ultimately made where she was now possible. Lilith had stood in the back and watched, listening to Zelda Spellman pour her heart out between two tombstones.
The knowledge that Hecate's High Priestess was suffering, that her sister would be so concerned for her well being to call out to the universe, was no great surprise. She knew what it was to be a mother without their child now. And for that she would answer Hilda's call and for all Zelda had done to keep her standing.
In a cyclone of hellfire, Lilith arrived on the outskirts of the Spellman Mortuary and began to approach the quiet home, the sun having already set on the day. She stopped as a sound hit her ears, the sound of glass and stone, and turned to find the source.
There between the pair of tombstones once more was Zelda Spellman, only now she lay upon the cool hollow ground seemingly unconscious. And if Lilith ever thought she had a heart it surely dropped at the sight. No. She was meant to answer Hilda's prayer. She couldn't be too late, could she, she feared as she rushed towards the copper-haired witch.
"Sister Zelda," she called out, eyes scanning for a cause and landing upon a near empty bottle of bourbon. The witch couldn't have possibly drunk herself to death with just that, she thought before dropping to her knees and reaching out to feel for a pulse or any sign of life. As her hand came to be around the witch's throat, green eyes greeted her. Lilith would have been happy to see it if not for the emptiness behind them where she remembered such fire.
"How good of you to finally make your move," she heard Zelda's voice just as devoid of life. "Go on. Finish the job."
"What?" Lilith's brows bent to almost join in confusion as she looked down at the witch. And her eyes widened, not quite in fear but in concern, when she felt a cold yet soft hand clasp about her wrist. As if to keep her hand about the delicate throat, and realization dawned on the Dawn of Doom, if she was even that anymore. It took both great amount of strength to pull her hand out of said grasp, a swift movement akin to pulling your hand from a flame. And she looked to Zelda now with terror and offense. "What sort of motive are you accusing me of coming here with?"
"Oh," came the response with a groan and further deflation of the redhead into the ground, and those green eyes were looking off to the side now. "I thought you were the other one. The mortal woman whose likeness you took. An easy mistake to make in the dark. One I’ve made twice now and with completely opposite results. How… ironic,” she finished with a bitter laugh.
“Were you out here waiting… Do you want Mary Wardwell to kill you?” The Queen of Hell sat back on her heels, looking over the witch’s face and hoping to find some kind of hint that her deduction couldn’t possibly be right; did Zelda Spellman want to die?
“Mm.. Well it doesn’t have to be Wardwell,” she answered, lifting herself slightly to prop herself up on her elbows. “I’m not picky.” It was stated with an air of having an indifference, a shrug at the end implied, and Lilith would have been annoyed if it wasn’t becoming so clear that what she was witnessing before her was what Hilda feared so terribly. Zelda wanted someone to put her out of her earthly misery and send her to Hell where the pain could at least make sense; the torture would be physical and leave scars rather than eating away at her soul and leave her feeling empty. Lilith would pity the witch if she didn’t understand her so perfectly.
“The great Zelda Spellman not picky? Now that doesn’t ring true at all,” Lilith replied. If she could just act the way she always did, with just enough arrogance and all to coax any reaction from Zelda, then maybe… Yet the reaction she got was a harsh laugh.
“Who,” she asked, rhetorically obviously, and shifted upright and suddenly too close to Lilith. Face to face almost, but the former demoness couldn’t flinch. “Don’t you know? You of all people? That woman doesn’t exist. She was a mask, a carefully constructed costume. Piece by piece I put her together. But none of you were satisfied to let me live in it. No, you all had to come along and pick at it as you wished. Everyone took their pound of flesh and fucked off. So here I am. This is what’s left. A pathetic creature who probably can’t even convince someone she both betrayed and saved to put her out of her misery.” Her eyes raked over Lilith’s face. And Lilith had to marvel at the shift, how Zelda could have spoken about being devoured yet made her feel she was the one on full display and vulnerable. “You won’t do it, will you? There’s nothing in it for you. Unless I beg. Do you want me to beg, Lilith?" She had moved to be barely a breath between them, her eyes holding beautiful blue until she saw them drift downwards. Well she had to smirk at that.
Lilith couldn't help her wandering gaze. She could count on one hand the number of times she had been in such close proximity of Zelda. Each time she felt affected, and now was no exception. Not when Zelda held a stare so intense and spoke of begging. Contrary to what she wanted anyone to believe, she was indeed made to be human. But she couldn't succumb to her urges, not with Zelda in the state she was in.
"Zelda," she breathed out on a sigh. "You don't really want me to kill you. This is just your grief talking. Perhaps the bottle too. I'm not judging you," she was quick to amend, but she could already see the rage in Zelda growing.
"Don't you dare," came the growling reply as shaking hands grabbed hold of the collar of Lilith's dress. The fabric might stretch but Lilith didn't care. If this was what Zelda needed..
"I'm sorry. You're right. I shouldn't have said that." Lilith knew it wasn't what Zelda wanted to hear but really she should have known better than to bring up her grief at this point. Proving her right, she heard Zelda groan in frustration and her grip tightened.
"No. Stop that. Stop doing that and fight back. I don't want to hear you apologize. I want to know why. Why won't you do it? I told you I would beg, and I am. I'm begging you, Lilith. Put your hand back on my throat and do it. Just.. just let it be over. I can't… You can fuck me first if that's what you want." Lilith's eyes grew wide but Zelda shook her head. "Don't bother pretending to be scandalized. Your eyes have a habit of wandering and I'm not that oblivious. So is that it? Is that your price?"
"Zelda, stop. I'm not going to fuck you like this, and I'm not going to kill you."
"Then why the heaven are you here," Zelda asked, her voice raised but cracking.
"Because your sister asked me to help you-" Her words were cut off as she felt herself being violently shoved backwards and away from the redhead, and she watched Zelda stand with a level of grace Lilith would have thought impossible for someone so inebriated.
"My sister." Zelda turned her back on Lilith, taking a step or two before stopping. "My sister contacted you and said what? Did she come to you with her lovely little British lilting voice to tell you all about how I'm self-destructing? Did she complain to you over a cup of tea?" Zelda spun back around with a pout, nearly losing her footing. Lilith quickly got to her own feet and tried to close the distance between them. She would at least try to catch her should she fall, but Zelda stayed upright.
"No, that's not what happened. It was just her voice really. I'm not sure if she was praying to me, but her intent was clear. She's worried about you. She didn't really say why."
"So you decided to answer her prayer and pay me a visit? Well isn't that sweet. Almost ironic considering you never answered prayers before.” The comment was intended to sting and it did. While under Lucifer’s thumb, he had made it clear how it enraged him if she acknowledged women praying to her, that it was a betrayal and they should be made to learn that he was their source of power. Then when she finally took the throne… well it had been so short-lived. And the only one she ever heard pray to her then had been Zelda. It felt… odd, to respond to the woman’s prayers then after all that had transpired between them. But Lilith couldn’t exactly explain that to her now.
“Yes. Well.. Hilda can be quite compelling when she wants, and given the circumstances…”
“Oh so its pity that has brought you to me tonight. How flattering,” Zelda replied, voice dripping with a velvet venom.
“No,” Lilith said after a moment of thought. “Not pity. Empathy perhaps. A desire to… see for myself, see if Hilda was overstepping and being overly concerned. She was overstepping. I do believe that. I know I would be enraged over her presumptions that I needed to be sought to if the roles were reversed. However she does have a right to be worried if you’re so eager to get yourself killed. Yet I do understand that as well. You know… you stopped me from doing similar the night The Returned came to Greendale.” Lilith wasn’t sure why she was doing this, what was compelling her to bare herself to Zelda now. But Zelda wasn’t fighting her, so that had to be a good enough sign or reason to continue. “I was ready to plunge that spear into my heart and end it all. I even called out to Hecate for her to give me the strength I thought I needed. But I think she sent you instead,” Lilith explained, her voice soft as she took a chance and reached out to push a stray lock of red hair from Zelda’s face and was pleasantly surprised when her hand wasn’t smacked away. “And then you told me of Lazarus and gave me a reason to keep fighting. I do believe Hecate listened. She sent you to me at just the right moment. Maybe she’s sent me to you now?”
“Foolish of her then, because she is the one I’d like to fight most,” the redhead replied, a small wry smile pulling at the corners of her lips. Yet the smile fluttered away just as quick as it had come. “I begged her, Lilith. I prayed and chanted and pleaded with her to watch over Sabrina, to keep her alive. She had provided for us, for me, every time before. Why did she stop? What did I do wrong? Did I ask too much? I don’t understand. Was it not enough? Was I not enough?”
“Stop,” Lilith’s voice raised just above Zelda’s cries, and she took her face into her hands. “Zelda, stop. You’re going to drive yourself mad. I.. I wish I had the answers you seek, but I do know this. You were my High Priestess once, so listen to me when I say you are enough. Hearing you pray to me was everything. The feeling it gave me was indescribable. I’ve never met a witch with such conviction.”
“Yet you never answered those prayers,” Zelda responded simply. She looked small in that moment, fragile, and Lilith hated it and wondered if that was how she looked to the voodoo priestess before granting the boon.
“That was my mistake. You see, I wanted to. But I couldn’t bring myself to. I had let you Spellmans become too close to me. We had worked on opposite sides and then together. I believe I saw you too much as an equal.”
“What,” Zelda asked on a whisper of a breath, her eyes wider now.
“Never you mind that now. We can get into that another day. But for now we should get you inside. You’re shaking and cold, and really woman you should know better than to be out here in a sheer robe and nightgown. Not that it isn’t incredibly fetching, of course,” she attempted to give a saucy little smile and was relieved to see a small smirk in return, some life returning to the witch.