Eileen had known her pregnancy would end in disaster from the start, when the mediwitches told her there were two heartbeats in her womb. Twins. Her family wasn't known for twins and neither was the Snape family. Out of nowhere, unexpectedly, there was going to be two squalling infants to quiet down so that Eileen could avoid being struck for not moving fast enough, not being good enough, not being perfect enough.
Two more lives condemned to a lifetime in hell.
Potions had always been her strong suit, and sometimes that skill managed to save her life. Her husband needed to sleep, but going deep into his cups left him even more belligerent and quick to violence than before. Eileen had no other avenues than to deal with the marriage. She had cut off her ties to her family and she was far too proud to go groveling back now. There was no use even thinking of her husband by name sometimes; that made it easier to distance herself emotionally from what was happening in the marriage.
The mediwitches told her that the pregnancy was progressing well. They kept silent about the bruises and sprains, the lies Eileen had to tell in order to save what little face she had left. It was an open secret, but she couldn't string the words together that would force the mediwitches to do something about it. Is there a place to relax and rest, dear? one of them always asked her, especially when there was bruising on her inner thighs. Any friends to go to?
No. No, there wasn't. That was rather the point when she left home to marry her husband. Eileen had burned all of her bridges long ago.
Her potions skill had often saved her life, so it should be able to take it.
Only somehow, she lived. And so did one child.
The mediwitches clucked and were so sad when they discovered the loss of one heartbeat. The remains were quietly magicked away, no spells used to determine what it had died of. Eileen hadn't asked to know and they probably could guess what had happened.
One child survived.
Dear Merlin, Eileen couldn't handle that knowledge. Another life to be responsible for, another soul she couldn't save in this disaster of a marriage. Tobias could guess what happened, the bastard. He kept closer watch over her, fists heavier than ever. Eileen didn't have another opportunity to try again, and she watched her belly swell day by day with growing dread. He would kill this child sooner or later, just as she had killed the other, just as she wanted to kill herself.
She lied when she said Severus was an old family name, just as she lied when she told him that her doctors thought brandy and gin could be medicinal. He didn't care enough to check. It didn't matter as long as he had a son, as long as there was another focus for his temper.
Eileen looked into the dark eyes of her infant son, her heart shredding in her chest. Merlin, she loved him so fiercely already, and she knew she was a failure. "I'll do what I can," she whispered in his darkened nursery as she rocked him to sleep. "But the world is a dark place, my love. It will crush you and leave you for dead. No one ever gets out alive."
Years later, Severus discovered he had a twin that died. He never asked after the details, never seemed to notice the pain it caused Eileen.
It was just as well he didn't know how easily it could have been him.