Mercy's story

Lord Voldemort was in an evil mood. Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore had rescued four members of the Order of the Phoenix just two days ago. In the process, they had captured almost a dozen Death Eaters. Voldemort was running low on lackeys, as he was not able to recruit more with the War going badly for him. He was alone now, and he considered his options carefully. After nearly 36 years, he was losing, something he only admitted to himself. He had to find a way to survive, without being captured. The problem with that was the link with Harry Potter. As long as both of them survived, the other one would be able to feel him in times of stress and great emotions. Tom Riddle needed to destroy the link, so he could hide from everyone until he was ready to try again. The flush of power had undone him 30 years ago, that and the inexperience of youth. If he could just gain a breathing space, a few years to finish his research into immortality, he would be impossible to stop.

Lord Voldemort thought about his problem for a long time. He had to change enough to break the link while maintaining his own personality. A thought struck him, and he picked up one of the books he had recorded the results of all his research in. Very few wizards had delved as deeply into the magics of aging and body transfers as he had over the last thirty years, and none of the others had been dark wizards. That simple fact had opened doorways into magics no ethical wizard would even consider. He found the section he was looking for, and read it again. This would be perfect. Now all he needed was a witch, and his survival would be secured. The next couple of hours passed quickly as he planned.

"You wanted to see me my Lord?" Voldemort looked up from the parchment he was working on and smiled at his servant.

Voldemort needed a witch for his plan and after due consideration, Ariel Redstone was the only real choice. She was a pureblood witch with strong personal power. She was also intelligent, good-looking and under his own "Imperius Curse" spell, which meant she would do everything he wanted, whether she wanted to or not. "I did indeed Ariel," he purred in a silken tone. "You and I have some business to discuss." Voldemort considered his slave and smiled. "I have chosen you to bear my son."

Ariel stared at him in shock. She said, "That is an honor my Lord." Deep inside herself, where her thoughts were her own, Ariel was screaming. "He's lost his mind. How do I get out of this?" Voldemort's controlling spell had her obedience, but her inner self was still her own. Even as she planned the spell and things she needed to do with him, deep inside she was trying to find a way out of it.

As Ariel prepared for the wedding and wedding night over the next two days, she tried repeatedly to break the " Imperius " spell that held her. Voldemort needed the wedding to cast a difficult spell binding the child of their union to him, and prepare the child for the even more difficult spell that would exchange the child's spirit with his. Voldemort figured that the process of mingling the child's spirit and his, and then changing bodies would break the link. If nothing else, when the Order of the Phoenix found his residence, they would take his body away, and he would be free to continue his work. It might take a few years while the body matured but that would just give Albus Dumbledore more time to die. Without Dumbledore, the Order didn't have the power to stand against Voldemort.

While the preparations for the ceremony were going on, the Order of the Phoenix had captured almost half of the remaining Death Eaters including Lucius and Draco Malfoy. Voldemort was making plans to abandon the remaining Death Eaters and hide until the baby was born.

Ariel was laying her own plans. She had tried to break the Imperius spell and failed, and Tom Riddle kept her under control, preventing her from using her magic except at his orders. Knowing that she could not do anything against him openly sent her mind down other paths. Once the ceremony started, there was a short time when Voldemort would have to release her magic, as she had to help cast the one part of the spell. He would still have her body under control, but that was her only chance to do anything. Her decision was made while she listened to Voldemort talk about how he would use the baby's body to hide in. She smiled inside, where her will was trapped. She might not be able to openly defy Riddle, but this would be almost as good. Lacking access to spellbooks, she was forced to carefully work out what she would need to do in her head.

The day of the ceremony came and Ariel was ready. She had tried everything she could to escape, but since that had failed, she was going to ruin Voldemort's plans another way. Attended by the four Death Eaters that would be assisting in casting the spell, she faced Voldemort waiting for her chance. The four lackeys took their positions, and Voldemort began the spell, and they began their part of it. The Muggle priest that had been taken and controlled for the ceremony was instructed to begin, and Ariel could feel the magic flowing through her.

Ariel's chance came about halfway through the ceremony. As the Priest asked her to love, honor and cherish Thomas Riddle, Voldemort had to release her Imperius spell for her to cast her part of the spell that would insure her fertility this night. Ariel cast the spell, with the little change she had made, and waited for one of the others to notice what she had done. Busy with the much harder spell that they were concentrating on, none of the others noticed the change, and Ariel's glee blazed inside her as she thought of Tom's response when he did figure out what had happened. She sobered suddenly, as she realized that Voldemort would surely kill her, but then she relaxed. She had known he would be the death of her since he put the spell on her, and this merely hastened the day.

The ceremony complete, Voldemort gave the priest to the four Death Eaters that had assisted in the spell, and led Ariel down the hall to his rooms. Ariel could feel the spell lodged under her heart like a warm spot, and the knowledge of what Riddle was about to do to her drove her hidden mind to the brink of madness. Voldemort led her to his bed, and with a single brutal pull, stripped the robes she had worn from her.

Two days later, when the bruises and welts had been healed, Voldemort had her examined by a Death Eater that knew something of Mediwizardry. The witch was complete, and when she was done, she went to Voldemort with Ariel in tow. "My Lord, your wife is fine, and the baby is growing well. You will have a fine daughter in nine months." Voldemort sat there, and at first Ariel thought he had not heard the one critical word. The burning look he turned on her told her he had heard it.

"Did you say daughter?" he hissed, and the woman paled. "I know I cast a spell to insure the firstborn was a boy, so what could possibly have happened Ariel?" His first question had not required an answer, but as the silence lengthened, Ariel realized he was waiting for the second one to be answered. She brought her head up, knowing she was about to die. Her sole consolation was that Voldemort would get neither her nor the child in her womb. She only had two choices now, to try to anger him so much he merely killed her, or to die after her finished torturing her.

"I changed the sex, during the ceremony. I decided you would like being a girl Tom. After all, you're already a spoiled whiney brat, now you'll be able to be a spoiled whiney bitch." Ariel looked at the fury burning in Voldemort's eyes, and pushed harder. "You should thank me. All that time with the Malfoys couldn't have been just business. In addition, Peter was always sniffing around your butt anyway. Now, you'll be able to let them do to you what you've done to all of us." Ariel stopped suddenly, as Voldemort drew his wand.

Ariel closed her eyes, waiting for the spell that would end her life, and she heard Riddle start the killing curse, when everything changed in the blink of an eye.

Two explosions rocked the cave that was Voldemort's final stronghold, and wizards were suddenly pouring in through holes blasted right through the walls. Chaos and confusion was running rampant, and Ariel took advantage of the mayhem to hide in a nearby niche. Voldemort took control of his forces, and Ariel had a front row seat for the final battle between Harry Potter and Voldemort. She was one of only four people that saw the expression on Harry's face as he killed another human for the first time.

When the fighting was over, and the prisoners rounded up, Ariel was brought out with them. Despondent with the death of their lord, and facing a lifetime in Azkaban, the remaining Death Eaters gave the Order of the Phoenix no trouble. Ariel went along, trusting that everything would be straightened out quickly.

Ariel's trial was one of the last, and there were no witnesses that had been at the ceremony. Voldemort and all four of the Death Eaters that had been there had fallen in the last battle. There were however, more than a dozen witnesses to Riddle announcing their marriage, and the fact that she was carrying his child. Ariel protested, but every wizard that had come up had claimed to have been controlled, and the judges were sick of hearing that defense.

Ariel was sentenced to life in Azkaban.

She would bear her child, and then, since the baby was innocent, it would be taken and fostered among wizards if it was a wizard child, or given to muggles if not. Ariel fainted at the sentencing, and missed hearing Albus Dumbledore promising to look after the child.

The next six months were long ones for Ariel, as she waited in the prison for the dementors to come around. What she never quite realized was that the loving thoughts she had of the child she carried kept them away. As long as she had the child with her, she could not be brought to the total despair that the dementors needed to drain her. They were also fleeting months, as she knew that when the girl was born she would be taken away, and Ariel would be alone in Azkaban for the rest of her life.

She made what arrangements she could to make sure that her baby got her inheritances from both the Riddles and her, and at the one meeting with Dumbledore, who would be the child's guardian, she told him what she had decided to name her.

Mercy.